Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, former first lady of Ghana, is rumored to be preparing to unseat sitting president John Evans Atta-Mills in the NDC primaries for the 2012 elections. This will be the first time in our short, democratic history that a sitting president has not been allowed to run for a second term unchallenged in his own party.
Nana's bid is interesting for the above reason. But it is also interesting for another reason: She is a woman. As first lady for 19 years (11 under military rule, 8 under democratic rule), she saw, first hand, the way Ghana is run and will bring that experience to bear in running it (her?) herself.
Let's suppose she can win the primaries.
Her husband, former president Rawlings, has been accused of not being able to fully withdraw from the presidency to assume a more statesmanlike role, hence, Nana's run will make some uncomfortable. It is clear that Mr. Rawlings would have a say in how she runs affairs, but how much of an influence would he be?
Mr. Rawlings has openly criticized Prof. Mills time and again for not being effective in tackling corruption. He has also expressed misgivings about Prof. Mills' calm approach in dealing with issues. In short, he wants to see action! I have no doubt that if Mrs. Rawlings becomes president she will bring some new perspectives to the presidency and to politics in general, but I also have no doubt that Mr. Rawlings would be an overbearing figure who will not be ignored. In effect, Ghanaians will be subjected to 4 more years of the Rawlingses--or at least Mr. Rawlings--a thought most of us cannot bear.
Ordinarily, a female candidate might win sympathy for her courage and pioneering spirit, but Mrs. Rawlings is a different kind of woman. She has history. She has baggage. So, sadly the novelty of her gender may be overcast by her sullen history.