Kindly indulge me as I attempt to look at the lighter or romantic side of our Presidency from the First Republic to date. I intend to present the “Most Romantic President and Wife Award” by the end of this piece.
Fortunately, in our practice over the years, all our presidents have come into office duly married. The question I beg to ask is that, apart from the politicking, do these our leaders in any way contribute to the building and strengthening of some of our key social institutions such as the Marriage and the Family?
Do the spark in their love lives inspire the younger generation to want to get married (I know those who are anti-marriage will come after me).
Some of them by the display of open affection with their spouses have made impact on the minds of those who believe that the expression of affection in a relationship helps to avoid a possible break up.
I know many Ghanaians –myself and friends included- after assessing our presidential candidates in the 2012 elections, shifted the microscope on to the potential first ladies, marking their beauty and eloquence. Unfortunately our favourite, Mrs Ayariga, could not make it to the Flagstaff House.
The First Lady by societal definition becomes a mother to the entire populace and symbol of pride to the women especially the young. Through her speech, fashion, appearance and entire personality, she is expected to carry herself in a dignified manner. Ghana has had many first ladies with different character and temperaments. Some were calm, motherly, others were aggressive and love their fans. Some of these First Ladies really made their presence felt. They rubbed off their uniqueness on their husbands to make their tenures successful and memorable.
I am motivated to eulogise the love and family lives of some of our leaders because I am of the conviction that if we mirror some of the positives of their family values, the surge in divorce cases and the breakdown of family values will be halved. The family unit and for that matter marriage are sacred. They are beautiful creations that underpin the very foundation of human society.
Nuptial arrangements are expected to last a lifetime but many marriages are breaking-up at a rather faster rate. Divorce rates in the country keep soaring. According to the Ghana Legal Aid Office, a total number of 790 divorce cases were recorded in 2009, 1016 in 2010 and 447 in Greater Accra alone in 2011. The Greater Accra, Ashanti and Western Regions have the most number of divorce cases.
Marriage Counselors and Priests alike have prescribed and maintained that successful marriages are the ones that keep the flame of affection burning and this flame is kept burning by hugging, kissing, holding hands, or offering subtle nonverbal or verbal gestures or communication. We must acknowledge however that affection and the expressions of our love have cultural significance and are influenced by societal images and ideologies. It is prudent that we are aware of the appropriate and inappropriate displays of affection within our society.
Individuals who purposefully display affection through either holding hands, hugs, kissing, flirting, or some other nonverbal or verbal gesture or communication are more apt to have healthier forms of communication. For, it is these expressions that reinforce the relationship’s core foundations of trust and intimacy.
It is to reiterate the need for open expression of love and affection that has forced me into ranking our first couples.
As a people and a country, we need leadership in every facet of our lives. We need leadership politically, economically, spiritually and morally. The best president is the one who leads us positively in these areas (by my marking scheme and power of my single vote). This is why it is not just any public figure or celebrity who can be described as a role model. A public figure who punches his spouse, an alcoholic, womanizer, or with deviant children CANNOT be a role model. By the same token, any public figure or celebrity who exhibits strong moral character worth emulating must be mentioned and celebrated.
At least I can, from literature and a few visuals I have come across, recall Presidents Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his wife, Fathia Nkrumah, Dr. Edward Akufo Addo and Adeline Yeboakwa Akufo Addo, Dr. Abrefa Busia and Naa Morkor Busia, Dr. Hilla Limman and Fulera Limman, Flt Lft. Jerry Rawlings and Nana Konadu Rawlings, Mr. John Agyekum Kufour and Theresa Kufuor, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and Naadu Mills and finally at present, Mr. John Dramani Mahama and Lordina Mahama.
Osagyefo displayed some open affection with Fathia before the cameras on some occasions, which led to the nickname “Fathia fata Nkrumah”, to wit, Fathia fits Nkrumah so well. From the Akufo Addos to the Limmans , it can be argued that the couple have exhibited some love and affection in their own ways. We saw President Kufuor with Mama Theresa on the screens on some occasions but the two were not that “tight,” maybe old age played a role. They barely whispered to each other let alone hold hands.
The late Prof. Mills used to hold the hands of Naadu to wave to the crowd although in most cases Naadu walked behind him as he also walked his “somewhere”.
Undoubtedly, President Rawlings (Papa J) and Nana Konadu are unparallel. Wow! From the days of the revolution to their democratic terms. From State Banquet to National Theatre and then to games at the Elwak stadium, there was open display of love and affection.
Papa J boogies, “kisses”, chats and holds Nana at any least opportunity. The recent one being at the inauguration of President John Mahama at the Independence Square on 7th January 2013- Papa J when he was called together with President Kufuor and Busumuru Kofi Annan to go and pay homage to the newly inaugurated President on the other side of the dais, was the first to rise from his seat, stepped forward and patiently stretched the palm to “Naana” who gently placed hers in his and they locked each other and walked majestically to President Mahama. The “walkings” of possibly Ghana’s most charismatic First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings can never be matched by the worlds’ top model, Joanna Krupa.
However, I have noticed some resemblance of the Rawlings display of affection with the current President, John Mahama and his wife, Lordina. At the president’s inauguration, it got to the turn of First Lady Lordina to go and pay homage to her husband, the President. With both couple clad in white apparel, the First Lady shook the hands of the other high profile personalities on the dais and then finally she got to the president.
That was my moment of interest. The First Lady looked into the eyes of the president who waited anxiously with open arms and then gave him a “tight hug”, to the admiration and applause of everybody. The First Couple couldn’t have done otherwise. That would have been a gargantuan disappointment. Like a friend whom I sat behind the TV set to watch these presidential love birds on that inauguration said, “First Lady Lordina Mahama did not hug the president but FELL into his arms”. Kudos, the first couple.
But President Rawlings and his wife remain unmatched even in their old age. Sir and Madam, keep it up! We are learning from you.
Source: Gabriel Nii Otu Ankrah - [email protected]
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