Yvonne Nelson and Prince David Osei (INSET) Halifax being whisked away by the police
The celebrities-organised demonstration, which attracted thousands of Ghanaians on Saturday, was nearly marred by what could have been the lynching of a presidential aide, Halidu Haruna, whose unexpected appearance at the procession incensed many who spotted him.
The presence of Halidu Haruna, a member of the ruling NDC communication team, as he held a local paraffin-wigged lamp, did not go down well with the demonstrators because of his earlier insulting comments.
As the procession went on, the protestors, mostly women, spotted him and could not stand the presence of the man who described the likes of Yvonne Nelson (the movie star who spearheaded the ‘dumsor must stop campaign’) as prostitutes for organising the demonstration.
They pursued him as he took to his heels to the waiting safety of policemen, who assisted him to board one of their vehicles, with his pursuers showering obscene words on him in frustration.
One of the policemen could be heard telling him to wind up the glass of the vehicle as it sped off from the scene of the angry demonstrators.
While some wondered why he took such a risk by turning up at a place where he was obviously unwanted following his obscene reaction to the demonstration when it was mooted, others thought he was seeking to make good President Mahama’s demand on him to be soft on women.
Many Ghanaians saw for the first time, by the success of the demonstration, the power of social media which Yvonne Nelson used to galvanise support for a vigil against the biting energy crisis in the country, as thousands turned up in response.
The crisis has persisted for more than three years, defying every solution prescribed by the Mahama administration.
It kicked off with a peaceful procession at 4:30pm from a spot close to the Legon Total Filling Station amid tight security.
Majority of those who participated were middle class Ghanaians who wore black dumsor-branded t-shirts with lighted candles, torch lights, lanterns and ‘bobo’ to express their grievance over the power situation with a single but simple message – ‘bring back our lights’.
Key among the celebrities who took part in the vigil were actors Van Vicker, Prince David Osei, Afia Schwarzenegger, musicians Barima Sidney, Wanlov Kubolor, Efya, E.L, D-Black, comedian DKB, movie director Pascal Amanfo and producer Socrate Sarfo.
David Oscar, a comedian who distanced himself from the agitation earlier, surprisingly showed up at the place, chanting ‘dumsor must stop’. He said his business was equally suffering and he was even contemplating relocating to Koforidua in the Eastern Region where, according to him, the power situation was better.
Also present were high profile individuals including Director of the School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Prof Audrey Gadzekpo, Lawyer Ace Ankomah, banker Yoofi Grant, Kofi Bentil, lawyer of the celebrities, Samuel Atta Mensah popularly called Samens, CEO of Citi Fm, Dr Mohammed Amin Anta of think tank, ACEP and several other professionals and everyday people who wanted to express their disappointment over the poor handling of the power crisis.
The peaceful procession caused heavy vehicular traffic on the Tetteh Quarshie -Legon stretch of the road, giving over 300 police personnel a tough time in directing traffic.
A lot of drivers showed solidarity with the protestors by either tooting the horns of their cars or giving them light.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read, ‘bring back our light & stop talking nonsense’, ‘dumsor must stop’, ‘JDM you are sleeping on the job’, ‘wake up, Ghana is suffering’, ‘Mahama bring back our light’, ‘Dumsor president’, ‘National Dumsor Corporation of NDC’, and ‘Tweaa Mr John wonnye smart koraa’.
Interestingly, on the day, the entire stretch of the Legon-Shiashi road which had often been without functioning street lights saw a reversal of the situation, with the lights shining like stadium floodlights.
Apparently, hours to the event, electricians were sent to fix all the street lights in the area since they were seen by some of the protestors who arrived earlier, replacing bulbs and so on.
Since Friday, the power situation in Accra has also improved drastically, with most households having lights for three continuous days.
Midway through the vigil, a group of young men who were later identified as members of the Tertiary Education Institutions Network (TEIN) of the NDC at the University of Ghana, Legon campus, joined the walk with black t-shirts with inscriptions like ‘JDM will fix dumsor’ and ‘dumsor, JDM is working on it.’
The young men who numbered about 10 were nearly lynched but for the security men.
Some of the protestors saw their behaviour as an act of provocation and confronted them, resulting in arguments which nearly caused them some beatings.
The security men had to whisk them to safety but not without being stripped of those t-shirts, some of which were burnt or shredded into pieces by the angry protestors.
When the protesters finally converged on the final destination around the Tetteh Quarshie interchange, the celebrities took turns to address the crowd, giving reasons why they thought government had not done enough to end the power crisis.
For them, the vigil was part of efforts to send a clear message to government to expedite action in resolving the anomaly, urging Ghanaians not to taint their action with any political colour, since the dumsor was affecting not only the jobs and industries but also human lives.
By Cephas Larbi & Charles Takyi-Boadu
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