Ghana’s President John Mahama told global leaders on Wednesday they should learn a thing or two from the King of Pop Michael Jackson and finally turn his song “Heal the World” into reality.
Mahama, who is to seek re-election later this year, touched on some of the more serious issues affecting his continent ranging from the plight of African migrants to growing xenophobia across the world and regional leaders clinging to power.
But having been born the same year as the deceased Jackson, in 1957, Mahama could not resist a lyrical appeal to the annual gathering of world leaders who have spent the week shuffling from one crisis to the next.
“The words of his 1991 hit song ‘Heal the World’ continue to echo from his grave. It is my wish that history will record our time here in this hall as one that gave reality to Michael Jackson’s song, heal the world, make the world a better place for you and me, and the entire human race.”
Reminding the world that the fall of the Berlin Wall had opened a new era of globalisation, trade and interaction, Mahama bemoaned that refugees trying to make a better life for themselves were being made the scapegoats.
He described the harrowing trip for young West Africans seeking a better life after taking the “trek of death” across the deserts and war zones of the continent and embarking on overloaded boats to Europe only to be held in detention centres.
“Hate speech is becoming common. People complain of being tired of being politically correct. In many places xenophobia has taken over rational thinking.
“It’s a paradox of our world that nearly 30 years after (President Ronald) Reagan called for the Berlin Wall to be torn down, new walls are springing up everywhere.”
Ghana is one of Africa’s most stable democracies and voters have twice turfed the government of the day out of power at elections.
Mahama said it was too easy for bigger powers to proselytize democracy, but that some of the continent’s older leaders could work to convince those clinging to power to step down to avoid new conflicts.
“A properly functioning peer system can avoid some of the meltdowns we are experiencing in some African countries due to the desire to remain in office interminably,” he said. (Reporting By John Irish; editing by Stuart Grudgings)