Half Masts and Red BandsBy Frederick S.

Half Masts and Red Bands

By Frederick S.

Published on Fri, Aug 03 2012 by Frederick S.

When the clock ticked past 14:15 GMT on July 24th 2012, Ghana lost its President. A few weeks before his passing, President John Mills returned from the United States, where he had undergone a "routine medical checkup" ostensibly to ready him for a campaign onslaught towards elections in December. The issue of the President's deteriorating health was a paradox:  many people acknowledged that something was amiss, yet few were privy to exact details. But all the speculations ended on that fateful afternoon, when he passed away suddenly while on the job.

Ever since Mr. Mills death, flags in the country have been flown at half-mast. Exactly a week post-demise, a minute's silence was observed across the country, with citizens and non-citizens alike pausing to honor the man who is the only President of Ghana to have died in office. In many Ghanaian sub-cultures, the first week following someone's death is when family's meet to plan funerals and officially begin mourning the departed. The chosen colors for this occasion is usually black and red, and on the 31st of July 2012, the entire nation was painted in red and black, as people mourned the dead leader.
Human beings were not the only ones wearing black and red that day. Cars, buildings, bridges, and streetlights were all decked in mourning colors, as Ghanaians from different political backgrounds set aside their differences. Obviously, individuals from the late President's party felt the loss more, and sometimes it appeared that mourning had a political undertone, as these individuals blended the official mourning colors with those of Mr. Mills' party, and this naturally made some political opponents slightly reluctant to openly join in the mourning.
The fallouts from Mr. Mills' passing are many, but Ghanaian seem to coping well. Barely six hours after the death, the vice President was sworn in as the new President, John Mahama, by the Parliament of Ghana. As the late President was the Presidential candidate of his party for the December 2012 polls, other political decisions have to be taken. On Wednesday 1st August the new President nominated a new Veep for parliament to approve. Other issues are whether Mr. Mahama, who was Mr. Mills' running mate for the upcoming elections, would be an automatic choice to run for his party in light of Mr. Mills' departure. This looks likely to happen. The second issue is whether the new Vice President, if approved, would be Mr. Mahama's running mate. This looks likely as well.
A funeral committee has been formed to steer the burial ceremony. A burial site is yet to be finalised, as government wishes that he is laid to rest in the capital, Accra, in contradiction to Mr. Mills' family, who preferred that he be interred in his hometown in the Central Region of Accra. A detente is in the works as an alternative arrangement of burying Mr. Mills in Accra temporarily in Accra while a befitting mausoleum is erected in his hometown as a final resting place.
Overall, the take home message from many observers, both local and international, is that Ghana has conducted herself maturely as it weathers this storm while holding steadfastly to the masts of democracy that it has been flying over the past twenty years of uninterrupted civilian rule.


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