In Ghana, a political neophyte, with a household name, campaigns
Samia Nkrumah is the daughter of Ghana's first president. She's returned home to run for a seat in Parliament in Sunday's elections.
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But after spending 24 years away, she's moved back to Ghana with her husband and 11-year-old son to campaign for a seat in parliament in the remote western district of Jomoro, where her father was raised.
Children capitalizing on their parents' name is not new in politics, as the Bush and Gandhi families can attest. But in postcolonial Africa, the children of the continent's elite are often content to attend university in Europe or the US and live a comfortable life abroad.
"I just felt that this is where I should be. I have a sense of responsibility to come back and honor my father's legacy," Ms. Nkrumah says. "Here, people give me the strength, they give me the blessing, they give me the push to go on."
Instead of writing about Africa from Rome, Nkrumah's days now consist of blazing across Jomoro's dusty, unpaved roads in a four-car motorcade, making campaign stops in village after village in order to visit all 54 villages in the district before elections for 230 parliamentary seats and president are held on Sunday, Dec. 7.
As her SUV approaches each village, she stands through the sunroof, smiling broadly and wheeling her arms in a circular motion. Crowds rush to meet her, dancing and mirroring her arm movements while shouting, "Yeresesamu!" (change).
Nkrumah's professed commitment to job creation holds widespread appeal in a district of some 11,000 people, most of whom struggle for basic necessities. Nkrumah's main campaign platform honors her father's legacy, and many of Jomoro's villagers have embraced it.
Yet her name will get her only so far, analysts say. Her political inexperience is a handicap, and her father, though beloved in his home district, nevertheless was exiled from Ghana – a shadow that hangs over her bid.
Still, in a year of election crises in Africa that saw Zimbabwe plunged into chaos, Kenya's relative stability briefly shattered, and Ivory Coast continuing to postpone elections that have been delayed since 2005, a return to the political stage for the Nkrumah name is viewed as a positive sign by some.
Her father is remembered as a champion of Pan-Africanism, and was chosen as African Man of the Millennium in 2000 by BBC call-in voters. The beginnings of his daughter's political career in a country that has enjoyed peaceful democratic elections since 1992 may be a welcome contrast for the continent.
Nkrumah's running with the Convention People's Party, which her father founded in 1949. Today, the socialist party is a minority one. The presidential race, according to polls, is a close match between the candidates of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Still, Nkrumah campaigns with her father's ideals, she says.