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A Tale of Two Sisters: Jane And Jean   
 
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21-Feb-2020  
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Mrs Jean Mensa, Ghana- EC chairperson (left), Justice Dr Jane Mayemu Ansah- Chairperson Malawi Electoral Commission (right)
 
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Charles Dickens would be smiling and turning in his grave that he is still copied, quoted, paraphrased and even parodied more than 150 years after his death.

And who can tell me that he doesn't quote Dickens knowingly or unknowingly? Everybody does that I know for sure. After all, everybody, once in a while, uses the expression "...Oliver asks for more".

That's right from Dickens's beautiful novel, Oliver Twist.

Dickensian novels

Please, if you have not read any Dickensian novel, you could easily read one online. Dickens was great. His novels, themes and style are timeless.

(At page 61 of The Closing Chapter, Lord Denning described Dickens as "the master of the short sentence who occasionally used the long sentence to give effect.")

Nowadays, books and their synopses are easily obtainable online, some for free, others for just a token, you are good to go.

When I see the abundance of such material online these days, then I remember, with pity, how difficult it was for my generation to study literature.

Material was difficult to come by. We mostly depended on commentary written by pamphleteers and, sometimes, movies at the British Council just to study a piece of academic material.

I depended on the commentaries of Mr Michael Agyeman aka Agyengo of Susec, Mr Sarfo Abebrese aka Labimus and then Mr Lawrence Lazagla Mensah now Mr Justice LL Mensah of the Court of Appeal.

He wrote a very useful commentary on one of Shakespeare's less known tragedies, Coriolanus. It was for A'Level literature nationwide. Anyway, back to our tale.

Apart from Oliver Twist, Dickens wrote other novels: David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities etc. It is based on the last novel that I have this parody of a title.

Settings

Dickens's A tale of two cities has London and Paris as its settings. My "A tale of two sisters", on the other hand, has Ghana and Malawi as its settings.

My two characters are Jane and Jean. (never mind the spelling, just focus on the sound). Jane Ansah and Jean Mensa.

Both characters are lawyers by training, both married to Ghanaians. Jane is however Malawian and Jean is Ghanaian.

Both are the chairpersons of the Electoral Commissions (EC) of their respective countries. Both are hard nuts to crack. Both are under pressure, yet they are unyielding.

Appointments

Before Jane Ansah was made the EC chair, she was the Attorney General of Malawi and Jean Mensa was the Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a Ghanaian policy think tank, co-run by her husband, Charles Mensa, formerly of the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO).

Both Jane and Jean were appointed to their positions by incumbent presidents Peter Wamutharika and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Malawi and Ghana, respectively.

And so the fear of the opposition in the two countries is that Jane and Jean will, not might, pander to the interest of the two incumbents. But the two iron ladies insist the fear of the opposition is misplaced.

The position of Jane has become rather tenuous following the recent cancellation/annulment of last year's presidential election which re-elected Wamutharika. Jane supervised it.

Jane was appointed by Wamutharika, a lawyer and former law lecturer in the US. His presence in politics is by happenstance.

When his brother Bingu Wamutharika died as President, Bingu's vice, Joice Banda, took over as president. Loyalists persuaded Peter to come home and wrest power from Joice.

In the election that ensued, Joice, who continued the remaining term of her boss, lost power to her boss's younger brother, Peter. Joice contested last year's election against Peter, losing once again.

Jean was appointed by President Akufo-Addo, a lawyer born into a political family.

John Mahama, as Vice-President, had taken over as president from John Mills who died as president. President Akufo-Addo contested John Mahama on two occasions: lost one, one won.

For the past few days, the opposition in Ghana has been up in arms against the Jean Mensa-led EC on a new biometric register it intends to introduce. Jean stands firm, unshaken, unflinching.

The Malawian opposition demonstrated against the Jane Ansah-led EC, padlocked the EC's premises and called for the dismissal of Jane Ansah. But Jane, like Jean, is unshaken, as firm as an oak.

Take it or leave it, like them or hate them, Jane and Jean seem to have some things in common.

Both of them seem to have taken leaves from Kenyan Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai's book, Unbowed, one woman's story.

Jane and Jean, I doff my hat to you, not because I support or don't support your position, but because I admire your obduracy or obstinacy. Great girls, go go gooooooo.

 
 
Source: Graphic.com.gh
 
 

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