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Caught In The Grips of Sleep At Sochi, President Oblivious To His Surroundings

It is a reality Ghanaians have become distressingly familiar with; videos of President Nana Akuffo Addo blissfully in the full grips of sleep at public functions, oblivious to his immediate surroundings and everything else going on around him.

The most recent embarrassing photo of our septuagenarian president napping in public was at the Russia Africa Summit in Sochi last week.

It is not known how long the President fell “victim” to the overwhelming and seductive powers of sleep at Sochi— I must confess sleep at odd times of the day can be irresistible — but it appears he thoroughly enjoyed the few precious moments he managed to steal to be in la la land.

Mr. Addo just couldn’t resist the temptation to nod off as Russia tried frantically to woo African leaders with an eye towards the continent’s plentiful natural resources.

He definitely missed out on some very important pointers made by other African attendees at the Summit. How sad and unfortunate.

I am not even going to touch the huge cost that Ghanaian taxpayers incurred — the hiring of a private plane to convey the President and his 20 NPP supplicants to Sochi. That is a topic for another day.

Back home, his political opponents predictably did not give him a break; they immediately pounced on this latest head scratching moment to shoot darts at him and his administration. It is always an opportunity they seek which Mr. Addo, unwisely continues giving them.

While I certainly don’t want to make much hay out of a 74-year head of state dozing at a public function of this magnitude, especially one attended by his fellow African heads of state and their Russian counterparts,

At the same time, I wonder if Mr. Addo has bitten off much more than he can chew given his advancing age, health, fatigue and the daily grind of running the affairs of a poor developing nation grappling with hydra-headed socio-economic problems.

There is one thing I would like to emphasize here; the photo of Nana sleeping at the Russia-Africa Summit in the full glare of an international audience is already making the rounds globally.

And you know what, racists in some parts of the world who hate the guts of the black man would use the photo to reinforce hateful stereotypes of the black man as a no-good lazy individual who only loves to eat and sleep.

In the 1990s Republican senators in the United States used the image of a sleeping Nigerian diplomat at a United Nations General Assembly meeting to cast aspersions on Africans. So, there you go.

Quite frankly, the President could have spared Ghana and Africa more broadly, the huge embarrassment and humiliation, if only he had elected to stay home and allowed the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, a much younger man, to deputize in his place and represent the country at this very important summit. But we can only hope; our president after all, always wants the limelight all to himself.



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