Unless you spent the last week or so under a rock or in space (even then you’d have no excuse what with all those satellites roving around the Earth) you would have heard about the young lady who is currently dividing opinion among Ghanaians.
Francisca Oteng Mensah, 22, 23 or 26, depending on which media house you trust, won the NPP parliamentary primaries in the Kwabre East Constituency in the Ashanti Region of Ghana by defeating the incumbent MP, Kofi Frempong and will thus contest in the 2016 general elections. There have been many arguments for and against her suitability for such an important position and those arguments predictably have centered around her age, assumed naivete of politics and her experience, or lack of. I have listened to various arguments from different people on both sides of the divide and most of them made very compelling points. As with most arguments, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of the two opposing views.
What I have seen very little of is praise for a young lady who comfortably defeated an incumbent who has been in the seat for more than ten (10) years in an arena that is predominantly male. She must have made an impression because quite a number of them, over three hundred (300) in fact, decided to plump for her as the right person to lead the party in that constituency in what would surely be keenly contested elections in 2016. In an environment where unemployment is the norm and there are very few opportunities for the development of young people, it is refreshing to see a young person challenge herself and excel in what is a hostile environment for young people. Like 20 year-old Politics student Mhairi Black in the UK and the then 19 year-old Proscovia Oromait of Uganda in 2012, Miss Oteng Mensah has not only made history but served as an example to young people around not only in Africa but around the world. Miss Oteng Mensah has used the opportunity she has been afforded in interviews to buttress this point with statements like making the youth “believe in themselves” as well as highly recommending effective use of time with her example of campaigning for the parliamentary primaries while still studying Law at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi.
Finally, as with any political victory by a person of such a young age, Francisca Oteng Mensah’s victory has been attributed to “her father’s money”. This allegation is extremely laughable as its clear that her campaign as with any other needed funds and one of the fastest, easiest and safest places to generate funds is from family. A number of people have even gone so far as to allege her victory was as a result of bribery. Freedom of Speech is a wonderful concept but can Ghanaians refrain from spreading allegations without any proof? Defamation of one’s character is an ugly tactic and should not be tolerated in our society. It will be a massive indictment of our society as a whole if we always attribute achievements of individuals to dishonesty and corruption.
So the next time you hear another argument about Miss Oteng Mensah’s capabilities, why don’t you instead point out that she’s already achieved something if she’s Ghana’s biggest topic of conversation.