Started on Twitter with the hashtag #FixTheCounrty and then spread onto streets in the form of non-violent protests. This August, Ghanaian youth have demonstrated against the political elite for the problems of all citizens: unemployment, rising inequalities and harder living standards. Are these non-violent and non-partisan protestors really going to be able to make these problems solved? That still remains as a question.
Ghana is shown as one of the best examples of established democracies both in the whole African continent and specifically in the western part of the Africa, where people live under the threat of ethnic or religious radicalism and terrorism. The country is considered free with 82 points by the Freedom House, just one point below the United States and South Korea. However, the recent spring and summer have seen an awakening of the young people under the hashtag #FixTheCountry due to major economic and political problems, which then spilled over to the streets.
Why should the country need to be fixed? Even though the general democratic structure in terms of elections and institutions is developed, young people live at a high cost of living, university diplomas do not transfer to the job market, clientelism and nepotism are one of the biggest criticisms regardless of the political parties. According to the World Bank Data, the youth unemployment rate of 12% in 2019 and the underemployment rate of 50% is above the averages of the Sub-Saharan African Countries and urgent action is needed. In addition, the country is struggling with a budget deficit of 11.7% in 2020 Not only that but the University of Ghana’s data suggests that only 10% of the university graduates can find suitable jobs in the market within one year after graduation. The situation only gets worse if one also considers that 70% of the population is below 35 years of age. Botchway (2018b) underlines that Ghana is only then can be seen as a consolidated democracy: if the youth is securely employed, rule of law is guaranteed for all branches of the government and all citizens, paramilitary and vigilante groups are nullified. The continuity of the electoral process and institutional mechanisms during that process is not enough.
A young social media influencer Joshua Boye-Doe (Kalyjay) in May 2021 reacted to the tax and oil price increases via Twitter, where he had hundreds of thousands of followers, and this criticism quickly gained popularity. On the 4th of May, Ghanian youth gathered under the hashtag #FixTheCountry via Twitter and they raised voices against unemployment, high inflation rates, and politicians who are unable to address their problems regardless of their political party. At first, the young people of Ghana planned to hold a peaceful protest on May 9th in the capital city of Accra after coming together on digital platforms. Unfortunately, it was not allowed due to coronavirus restrictions. This decision is also not welcomed. Because just five months ago, during the national election campaign process, parties were able to make rallies, and people gathered together for the sake of the elections.
Nevertheless, #FixTheCountry movement was able to hold peaceful demonstrations on the 4th of August after getting an allowance from the court. They wore similar clothes with colors of red and black, face masks to protect against the virus and chanted together for common problems of all Ghanian citizens and had cards with phrases like “corruption breeds poverty” and “fix our education system now”. They even criticized the current president Akufo-Addo by calling him “Mr.No-Vision”.
Akufo-Addo is currently enjoying his second term in presidential office after the 2020 December General Elections, where his New Patriotic Party gained a slight majority with 51.6% over their rival New Democratic Congress. Even though his rival John Mahama objected to the results, both international organizations enunciated the electoral process as free and fair. The Supreme Court and the Electoral Commission ratified the results as well. Despite all these developments in the governmental and legal spheres, socially the post-election period was bloody: five people were killed during violent clashes.
The president is criticized hugely because of his clientelistic attitudes: forming the all-time largest cabinet with 126 ministers and distributing political positions to his relatives. Some people even underlined the fact that Akufo-Addo wished to collect 16 dollars of monthly donation for a new national cathedral project, which is expected to be completed in 2024 costing 200 million dollars in total. Following the protests and the current situation former president of Ghana and the leader of the NDC John Mahama said that “the President must take his responsibilities seriously and focus on working to change the circumstances of our people, rather than the rabble-rousing skits he serves the nation.” But NDC’s stance next to #FixTheGovernment was faced with backlashes from the NPP sides as well.
In the bipolar political system of Ghana, Fix The Country is lying nowhere near the two poles. But it is a sole, non-partisan and non-violent social movement with its specific demands. They want a new constitution with greater control over the executive power, they demand legal economic guarantees for all citizens and they want to see a developing economy with job opportunities. Lately, they raised criticism over the 2022 Annual Budget Plan, which is accused of a huge tax burden and not carrying the wishes of the people. Through the use of social media, they try to inform people about their constitution and raise awareness about social issues related to injustice.
The unique position of the #FixTheCountry focusing on the problems of all citizens gains reputation and support even from the side of the NPP. For example, in the Savannah Region, young people declined the rice donations by the NPP MP as they emphasized their need for jobs. In June, a #FixTheCountry activist named Ibrahim “Kaaka” Mohammed, who is known to be an NPP supporter, is murdered during a clash with the police.
#FixTheCountry is not the only sound rising from the Ghanaian public, but it is comparatively stronger. The citizens in favor of the government answered the criticisms with the hashtags #FixYourself and #FixYourAttitude towards youth. A member of the parliament, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, even raised a bigger criticism against the youth and then had to apologize because he failed in understanding the demands of the youth.
Chenoweth and Stephan (2012) argue in their book called Why Civil Resistance Works that non-violent protests have a greater chance of achieving their goals compared to violent protests because of their ability to gather greater support from society. Additional to its non-violent character, in a two-party system country like Ghana #FixTheCountry protests stand at a cross-cutting point for all citizens. However, Ghanaians are used to changing things in their country with the ballot box, where the country has a relatively institutionalized and socially accepted electoral culture (Botchway & Kwarteng, 2018). Time will tell whether this new form of vertical accountability mechanism will get the addressed problems solved. But it is not the first time in history that civil society took initiative for a better Ghana. During the “democratization” period (pre and post 1992 Elections) NGO’s and CSO’s demonstrated and created a bottom up pressure on the military regime of John Jerry Rawlings. And it was successful (Botchway, 2018a). I also see this contribution of #FixTheCountry as a positive step to solve Ghana’s problems, because politics neither just belongs to the politicians nor is conducted only in offices or in meeting rooms.
Botchway, T.P. (2018a). Civil society and the consolidation of democracy in Ghana’s fourth republic. Cogent Social Sciences. 4(1).
Botchway, T.P. (2018b). Ghana: A Consolidated Democracy?, Asian Research Journal of Arts & Social Sciences, 5(4), 1-13. DOI: 10.9734/ARJASS/2018/39713
Botchway, T.P. & Kwarteng A.H. (2018). Electoral Reforms and Democratic Consolidation in Ghana: An Analysis of the Role of the Electoral Commission in the Fourth Republic (1992-2016), Asian Research Journal of Arts & Social Sciences, 5(3), 1-12. DOI: 10.9734/ARJASS/2018/39607
Chenoweth, E. & Stephan, M.J. (2012). Why Civil Resistence Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, New York: Columbia University Press.
Non Academic References (Hyperlinks)
Ghana: Freedom in the World. (n.d). Freedom House. Retrieved in January 2022, from https://freedomhouse.org/country/ghana/freedom-world/2021
Young people in Ghana want to #FixTheCountry. (n.d). Deutsche Welle. Retrieved in January 2022, from https://www.dw.com/en/young-people-in-ghana-want-to-fixthecountry/a-58744675
Addressing Youth Unemployment in Ghana Needs Urgent Action, calls New World Bank Report. (September 29, 2020). World Bank. Retrieved in January 2022, from
Only 10% of graduates find jobs after the first year. (n.d). Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research(ISSER). Retrieved in January 2022, from https://www.isser.ug.edu.gh/research-impact/only-10-graduates-find-jobs-after-first-year-%E2%80%93-isser
Boye-Doe, J. (@gyaigyimii). Tweets [KALYJAY]. Retrieved in January 2022, from https://twitter.com/gyaigyimii?s=20
Ghana’s #FixTheCountry protesters take to Accra’s streets. (August 4, 2021). Al Jazeera. Retrieved in January 2022, from https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2021/8/4/in-pictures-ghanas-fixthecountry-protesters-take-to-streets
Final results of Ghana election 2020: Nana Akufo-Addo win 2020 elections – Ghana Electoral Commission. (December 9, 2020). BBC Pidgin. Retrieved in January 2022, from
Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo wins re-election as 5 killed. (December 9, 2020). Al Jazeera. Retrieved in January 2022, from
Sullemana, M. (n.d). Take responsibility for fixing country …Mahama tells Akufo-Addo. Ghanaian Times. Retrieved in January 2022 from https://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/take-responsibility-for-fixing-country-mahama-tells-akufo-addo/
Fix The Country. (n.d). Retrieved in January 2022, from https://fixthecountrygh.com/
Nyarko-Yirenkyi. (n.d). Fix the country to demo against 2022 budget. Retrieved in January 2022, from https://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/fix-the-country-to-demo-against-2022-budget/
Fix The Country [@Ghfixthecountry]. (December 25, 2021). Know more about the constitution. [Tweet; graphics]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/Ghfixthecountry/status/1474771956083961862?s=20
Ananpansah, A. (July 23, 2021). We were not influenced by any party to reject your rice, we really need jobs — Busunu youth to Abu Jinapor. Modern Ghana. Retrieved in January 2022, from https://www.modernghana.com/news/1094793/we-were-not-influenced-by-any-party-to-reject-your.html
Ejura protest shooting of youth: ‘Kaaka alleged murder’ – What we know of Ghana #Fixthecountry campaigner death plus Ejura clash. (June 29, 2021). BBC Pidgin. Retrieved in January 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-57659221
Hon. Frank Annoh-Dompreh [@FAnnohDompreh]. (May 4, 2021). I would like to apologise for an earlier tweet which failed to convey both seriousness of the times and to capture the essence of what the youth is demanding. Twitter. https://twitter.com/FAnnohDompreh/status/1389510276924461060?
Photo taken from: https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-58083964
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