Presidential boos, democratic significance – Graphic Online

There has been much commentary since September 24, 2022, when the President was allegedly booed during his speech at the Global Citizen Festival in Accra’s Black Star Square.

While much of the commentary has focused on how negative it is for him to be booed, there is a positive side to the issue, particularly the importance of the “drama”. The boos at the President were a protest against his administration and the current economic challenges the country is facing with runaway inflation, soaring fuel prices and soaring food costs.

Admittedly, the government is unaware of this, having agreed with organized labor on a living allowance (COLA) that came into effect in July 2022.
However, the audience at the music festival, the President’s reaction, and the venue are all relevant to our contemporary democratic experience.


Undoubtedly, the majority of those who supported the music festival were the youth. In college and university hall competitions, opposing teams yell “away, away” to confuse their rivals in entertainment and games when they are bored with a particular performance.

Interestingly, this mostly happens spontaneously as a feature of masses. The “away, away” is usually started by one or two people and then gains traction.
There were boos and applause at the Global Citizen Festival, showing that some protested against the President and others appreciated him.

The meaning of some boos and other applause clearly indicates the diverse voices of youth and this needs to be properly deciphered and heard, especially when Ghana’s population is young according to the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC).

We have a fantastic youth policy, but no defined policy for listening and addressing issues raised by the voices of youth.

Education and unemployment remain critical issues for youth and their involvement in addressing these challenges remains a challenge.

The President showed class in his response to the boos and applause. He remained calm when booed, respected the citizens’ right to protest, and seemed lively and cheerful when the applause was at its loudest.

This was important as we have a pluralistic society and hence the need to accept and respect differing views, opinions and expressions.


The venue of the Global Citizen Festival, Black Star Square, is also important. Black Star Square celebrates Ghana’s independence and is a symbol of emancipation.

The building was inaugurated in 1961 to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit to Ghana. It is actually an act of the gods that just days after the Queen was buried in full view of the world, the world is able to see the beauty of Ghana’s diversity, tolerance and democracy on a stage like Black Star Square, a symbol not only for Ghanaians, but also for the African Renaissance.

It shows the world that Ghana, the star of Africa, is committed to democracy despite our challenging democratic experience.

What happened in Black Star Square has not been described as badly by some, on the contrary it is a mosaic of our nation, our different views and opinions and our obligation to tolerate one another in order to live together peacefully.

More importantly, the President showed on the grandest of stages that the right to protest in Ghana is a basic human right as enshrined in the 1992 constitution.

The author is with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Lambussie District, Upper West. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.