Day 55: Filming Democracy In Ghana

Swiss-Ghanaian filmmaker Jarreth J. Merz went to Ghana in 2008 to film the presidential elections. After a lifetime of struggling with his own sense of identity, the director discovered that the country he’d left behind in the 1970s was finally establishing its own.

Ghana was the first Sub-Saharan country to gain independence, in 1957. In the 1950s it had the same GDP as Singapore. Today Singapore is a first world country; Ghana is definitely not. In Ghana in 1979 Merz experienced his first military coup and watched the execution of the former head of state on live television.

During the making of, ‘An African Election,’ Merz witnessed the changes in Ghanaian democratic practices firsthand. After a first round of voting was tied, the campaign began again. With it, came the beatings, mobs and guns on the streets. But when the gunshots died down he heard the voices chanting. They called out for peace. The second round of elections went ahead and the rightful winner was elected; in stark contrast, Merz tells us, to the 2006 U.S. presidential elections which relied on the Supreme Court rather than the people to pass judgement.

Much of this talk alludes to Merz’s personal journey of discovery. While he’s not there yet, he has witnessed Ghana creating democracy beautifully, proving that an African Country can rule itself.


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