By: Fred K. Kyeremeh and Kwasi Ntem Mensah
The truth is always a bitter pill to swallow. But it must be told no matter who it points its accusing finger to. We have all witnessed the many diabolic acts of lawlessness that has become the norm in the Ghanaian society. There are several crimes that are sometimes committed in the full glare of law enforcement and government authorities without any serious response. Corruption is perpetrated by high ranking government officials with clear impunity, Pastors insult, lie and steal from their churches without regard; Judges collect bribes and free hard core criminals. There was a lot of hullaballoo, some were dismissed; some were interdicted; some were exonerated but the harm had been done. We lost confidence in the judiciary. The rule of law had become the rule of lawlessness. A precedent had been set.
Some Radio presenters spew forth rubbish on airwaves and threaten the lives of judges. Three able bodied young men sat in their comfortable chairs and dedicated their time to threatening and casting insinuations on judges. For their gross disrespect towards the dispensers of the law, they were incarcerated. Like the Holy Ghost, the then President of Ghana granted them amnesty in the name of party loyalty and opened the gates of freedom unto them. A precedent had been set.
Only a few months ago, a young lady was brutally attacked by a bunch of men who menacingly stripped her naked, slapped and kicked her at various sensitive parts of her body. As fathers, husbands and brothers we were shaken to our very core about the inhumanity of our fellow brothers. The poor lady lost consciousness and the men still had no mercy. They pried her legs open and took photos of her private parts, they slapped and kicked her private parts, alas, a man penetrated her with his disgustingly dusty feet. What sorts of creatures have we turned into? No one was really punished. A precedent had been set.
Ghanaians hoped and prayed, we were given a new President in the name of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo -Addo. You will expect that if your party is in power you will set the example by supporting the agenda of your leader. Lawlessness continued unabated by the same people who cried for change. At the very seat of government, a group of rowdy security operatives decided to relieve a unformed policeman of his vehicle and set upon him with total abandon. There was hue and cry. Nothing came out of it. A precedent had been set.
Hooligans with the excuse that their party is in power began marauding various towns around the country, seizing offices, toilet facilities, toll booths and vehicles with an excuse that they are securing it for government, their leaders looked the other way. In fact we condoned it with the explanation that the other party also did the same. A precedent had been set.
The President, with the powers vested in him by the constitution of the 4th republic appointed ministers and other officials to carry out his mandate, yet the same people who claim to love the president, openly denigrated his authority by rejecting and sometimes beating his appointees. As if that was not enough, when their hired underlings were arrested and arraigned in court, the vigilante group, Delta Force, decided to go haywire. They practically destroyed court property and set their accomplices free to the chagrin of the entire nation. They even had the effrontery to hold a press conference to explain their actions. They had honorable Members of Parliament and ministers backing them. They were rearrested, but properly released due to “lack of evidence.” Another precedent had been set.
Sadly politics has been allowed to permeate every aspect of our lives and we conveniently justify our failures to one political party or the other. When are we going to take responsibility as citizens? Before politics God had bestowed upon us thinking minds, are we saying politicians took over our ability to think for ourselves?
Mob Violence in Ghana:
Mob violence has become part of the culture in Ghana. We have practiced that for decades. Once you are accused of being a thief, you virtually lose your dignity as a human being without regard to due process. There is a notion that the police are not committed to effectively deal with supposed “criminals” so instant justice is the best way forward. Almost every child in Ghana can recount the number of times they have witnessed the brutal beatings of a “thief”
Dr. Mensa Otabil said it best, the respected man of God said “Ghanaians have a disrespect for law and order. The only thing is that in this case it happened to somebody with visibility so we are worried but we will go back to the same culture which is the culture of disrespect for life and to rules and procedure”. “You cannot say they [the mob] have not gone to school, we cannot say they do not know human rights but in that circumstance, they chose to exhibit that behavior,” he added.
Growing up in Tema, Community 4, I witnessed many examples of this. I clearly remember a time when an accused thief was so badly beaten that when he was eventually let go he could barely move. He eventually made his way to a water reservoir to perhaps drink some water, but it was too late, he was found dead the next morning. Not a single person was questioned or arrested for this crime, it was another long tale of “foolish cases”
Canning of School Children
The beating of school children in our classrooms in Ghana is archaic and must be stopped. The tired excuse that it is the best form of discipline is illogical, it is simply wrong. As a victim of many of these beatings, I can say that made no difference in my life, other than the hatred it instilled in me for the perpetrators of this form of child abuse. I still harbor animosity for anyone who crossed the line when they beat me till date. There is a clear correlation that those who are abused as children, are prone to abuse others. Without going so much into the psychology, I will argue that if you become immune to the suffering of others, including animals it is very easy to hurt them. The very reason psychologists become concerned when someone abuses an animal is because the lack of empathy for an animal is equally transferable to human life when the opportunity presents itself. Think about it. Last year, a bunch of youngsters in a town in Accra invaded a school and brutally assaulted teachers because a teacher had whipped a student. It was only by the grace of God that no one was seriously hurt.
Many people were surprised to see a woman light a fire on the deceased body of Captain Adam Mahama. They wondered how cruel she could be to do such a wicked act to an innocent man. But she felt emboldened because she was in the mist of likeminded people who were watching to see who could inflict the worst form punishment on the “Armed Robber.” They dehumanized an innocent man just to make it easy to brutalize him to death.
We must begin by teaching our future generation the power of love and empathy. There are so many constructive ways of disciplining a child; so yes you can “Spare the rod and save a child.”
What are the Solutions?
It is high time Ghanaians started pointing fingers at ourselves instead of always blaming others.
When we steal money from our employers, when we cheat the people who try to help us, when we litter the environment, when kill in the name material possessions, when we abuse power because it is our turn to eat, when we marginalize the poor, when we abuse our so called new found wealth, when we waste essential capital on vanity, when we trample on the rights of others because we feel we are better. Nevertheless, when we dehumanize each other, innocent men like Captain Adam Mahama gets killed.
We thank God for the life of Captain Maxwell Adam Mahama. He gave his life to the service of his country; our payback was not only ungrateful, it was dastardly and cruel. Let’s change the way we think and act. There are laws to protect us, let us simply agree to follow the laws. Respect for rules is the first step to our transformation as a country, without that, no amount of economic intervention would help Ghana.
May the demise of Captain Mahama light a perpetual flame in our hearts to become better citizens for mother Ghana. May we swear to make his wife and children believe in an even better Ghana. May we give his family swift justice. Let the poignant words of our national Coat of Arms reflect in our lives…Freedom and Justice.
May the Dear Captain Rest in Perfect Peace.
Source: Ghanaian American Journal (GAJ)