Patriotism or Partisanship – What Our Dominant Political Symbols Tell Us

Written By Prosper Senyo – Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ)

Two things grab my attention of late, each raising several questions on its own, but all intricately interwoven. First, I see party paraphernalia everywhere around social media and yet I hardly see any national emblems around. Second, there’s so much fanfare around political propaganda, reminiscent of a Hearts vs Kotoko match, masking the critical issues that confront us.

So then, as these two parties adorn themselves with party flags everywhere they go, even at state functions, you wonder: “Where’s patriotism? Where’s nationalism? Where’s love for nation?”

The Bible says “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Clearly, the priorities of our polity manifest themselves in the emblems they communicate. Judging by the evidence, the national interest is nowhere near a priority.

The two major political parties, it appears, have carved the nation into two fiefdoms, evaporating the space for nationalism in the process. That is what the partisan paraphernalia tell us. And it explains why there’s so much cronyism, nepotism and tribalism in our system.

And in that spirit, we see men, women and children clad in party colours, singing, dancing in all sort of merry making, as if politics is merely a pastime for some overfed billionaires. This picture is a delusionary one. There’s more to politics than that.

In truth, politics is about the homeless people we see on the streets; it’s about the unemployed youth that we see on the streets; it’s about the shelter to hide us from the rain; a whole lot more. Our health, our education, our lives. A life and death business. It is not a Hearts Kotoko match.

So then we expect to hear about education, health, shelter, employment, many more, each time politicians and their surrogates encroach on our space, and if they can sincerely paint a rosy picture of those, then they can go on carnivals.

And for those who choose certain fiefdoms over the nation, here’s what we must know.

We can, through partisan patronage, buy the trendiest cars in town, but we can never build the road on which to drive them. We can travel abroad for medical assistance, but we would still die for lack of paramedics in cases of cardiac arrests or asthmatic conditions. We can live in a world of luxury, and yet live daily in fear of dangerous unemployed criminals.

We need a strong and healthy state for our health, security, and much more.

Simply put, the social contract still offers the best for any citizen in any country. Patriotism couldn’t be a folly. Extreme partisanship certainly is.

I still hope that a strong generation shall one day arise, with the firm conviction that the parties exist for the state: the state does not exist for the parties.

And when national flags shall replace party flags at rallies and state functions, then we would have arrived as a nation.

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Feint & Margin

Feint & Margin is a weekly, online, Pan-African publication featuring writings and thoughts from Ordinary Africans who have Extraordinary minds. We represent the True Voice of the African Citizen.

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