Webster Ghana Hosts First Virtual Public Lecture on Impending 2020 Elections in Ghana and the USA | Webster University Ghana

Webster Ghana Hosts First Virtual Public Lecture on Impending 2020 Elections in Ghana and the USA

Adapting its signature Public Lecture event series to suit the times of social distancing, Webster’s only African campus – Webster Ghana – took its popular panel event online last Wednesday, September 30th, 2020. Themed Presidential Elections 2020! What is at Stake in the USA and Ghana? the very timely webinar explored the key axes along which voters in both nations are likely to be making their decisions as Americans and Ghanaians head to the polls in November and December, respectively. From the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic stagnation in both countries to racial tensions and speculations of voter suppressions, many interesting yet contentious topics were discussed.

Dissecting what promises to be one of the most important elections in US history, Dr. Jean-Germain Gros – who joined from St. Louis, Missouri and has taught at Webster Ghana as an adjunct visiting lecturer - served as a speaker exploring the American landscape. Professor Gros initiated his lecture giving a look at the dire situation of COVID-19 in the USA. US President Trump was fully aware of the impact COVID could have but downplayed it in order not to cause mass panic. Over 200,000 people in the US have died of the disease, with cases continuing to rise despite safety measures instituted across states. Gros expressed he foresees a slow recovery for America and maybe a full recovery closer to 2022. America currently faces economic collapse, with many having lost jobs and healthcare along with their employment. The stock market took a crest fall, with stock values plummeting to lose all gains since 2019. Dr Gros further broached the 2020-defining racial antagonism in the US that the world received front row seats to, likening the Black Lives Matters movement to South Africa’s Black Consciousness movement. Incised by countless, senseless killings of African Americans by the police; this demographic will require a lot from either a re-elected Trump administration or a newly elected Biden cabinet. Gros also dissected the discomfort around political inclusion and exclusion as well as ‘The Kamala Harris Factor’ – the first African-American woman to have been chosen as a VP by a major party; putting her in a strong position to be the next Democratic nominee for US president. In conclusion, he declared the US to be on the verge of a political crisis which would destabilize the rest of the world.

Webster Ghana Holds 5th Commencement Ceremony
(left to right) Dr. Jean-Germain Gros, Dr. Seidu Alidu and Professor Audrey Gadzekpo

Well-known political analyst Dr. Seidu Alidu, was the Accra-based speaker who thrilled the online audience with a deep-dive into the upcoming Ghanaian elections. Also, a senior lecturer in the Political Science department at University of Ghana, Alidu teased out some interesting similarities between the US and Ghanaian democracies. He mentioned the civil unrest happening at the Togoland border as well as the occurrence of female flag bearers, highlighting selection of Professor Nana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, as VP for the National Democratic Congress. Ghana is often lauded as an African nation with free and fair elections since 1957 independence, with low incidence of violence during government transition. He spoke about what seems to have become electoral traditions and myths – two successive terms and male presidents, for instance. Some of these have been dispelled and citizens coaxed from voting along these lines. He also looked at the COVID pandemic in Ghana and how the challenges will impact voting. As at September 2020, Ghana’s Ministry of Information reports just over 46,000 confirmed cases and about 300 deaths since March 2020.  As is happening globally, livelihoods and the economy have been shattered and political campaigning is not as visible as normal, where rallies occur far and wide. Ghana’s projected growth is abysmal and Professor Alidu shared statics to further demonstrate the concerning state of economic affairs including a loss of 42,000 jobs. All of these, he said, have led to a general apathy amongst citizens, many of who confess they do not plan to vote.

Both speakers ran polls to engage the virtual audience of roughly 100 registrants, and results, as well as questions, were teased by the moderator, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo – a Communications expert, university dean and Webster Ghana board member. The audience voted racial tension to be the most important issue that will impact the US elections. Gadzekpo kicked the Q&A session off with questions for each speaker around if we can expect to see an upsurge in people of color voters this year in the US as well as if parties outside the major two in Ghana ever have an opportunity of winning. Event attendees also participated with inspiring inquiries for the speakers concerning Ghanaians voting along ethnic lines, increased apathy, political corruption and whether President Trump has lived up to his 2016 promises. 

Webster Ghana’s 18th Public Lecture and its inaugural virtual edition proved to be yet another insightful affair, engaging audience members from across the globe in relevant discourse, and rounded off with an encouragement for all to exercise their power as citizens to vote in the upcoming elections.