Uncle Jojo’s Strange Adventure
I was awakened from sleep Tuesday morning November 8, 2005 by a very good friend with the news that Jojo Bruce Quansah, editor of the Ghana Palaver newspaper had been abducted by unknown persons earlier that Tuesday morning in Accra, Ghana. Of course, I have never met Jojo and wouldn't be able to recognize him from Okomfo Anokye. Though I read the Ghana Palaver religiously, I suffer no idolatrous devotion to its editor, and therefore had no missionary zeal to sacrifice a good sleep over his wanderings.
Yet, as with other 'chilling' news from Ghana, my friend whose political leaning is solidly National Democratic Congress (NDC) and very pro-Rawlings, wanted my opinion on this matter before he went on a radio program in Accra. He was convinced the Jojo episode was the latest in NPP acts of intimidation against the NDC and its supporters, using a popular refrain favoured by NDC founder ex-president Jerry Rawlings. I bid my friend good morning and returned to sleep promising to talk later during the day.
Upon logging onto the web at day break, I realized the story was all the chatter on Ghanaian internet forums. The story appeared horrific. Jojo Bruce Quansah had reportedly been attacked and apparently abducted by eight men at his residence in Amanfrom near Kasoa around 1am on Tuesday morning.
The story took on added dimension because Bruce Quansah as the editor of the Ghana Palaver has been rather scurrilous in his attacks on the government and other personalities of influence in Ghana, and has also been incredibly stingy with the truth in his commentary. Was someone trying to settle scores with the 'indefatigable' editor, as his admirers trumpet him?
In one typical Bruce Quansah commentary in the Ghana Palaver intended obviously to stir ethnic tensions among Ghanaians, Bruce Quansah wrote that if president Kufour were to be re-elected, the Asantehene would be made King of Ghana! The article titled (Otumfuo) 'OSEI TUTU TO BE INSTALLED KING OF GHANA' appeared on the Ghana Palaver website on November 4, 2004.
Among the incendiary claims made in that article were that president Kufour would arrest and try ex-president Rawlings and Captain Kojo Tsikata for the murder of the High Court Judges in 1982. Secondly, that companies and institutions had received orders from the Kufour government to make cash donations to the Asantehene as quid pro quo for such companies being given government contracts!
Of course, these allegations were blatant lies, and I am sure Bruce Quansah knew they were lies, too. That he was not sued (as an enraged friend suggested we do), probably emboldened him to continue such pernicious attacks on people. Others who suffered from the insidious pen of Bruce Quansah were not amused!
One George Kufour, a relation of the president of Ghana; and Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Minister of Works and Housing decided to call the editor's bluff. The upshot was a lawsuit which resulted in Bruce Quansah and his paper being slapped with nearly 2 billion cedis in fines and damages to be paid to the plaintiffs.
Thus on Friday November 4, 2005, Bruce Quansah launched a public initiative "The Save the Ghana Palaver Fund" to solicit funds to meet his court-ordered payments. As is his custom, the editor did not mince words (though this time he spoke the truth!): "The Ghana Palaver is in distress. It has a hangman's noose around its neck, set on the road to its Calvary. We are to pay two billion cedis, as we stand here, or get The Ghana Palaver closed down."
Interest in Bruce Quansah's disappearance was therefore understandable. As with similar discussions on Ghana radio stations and internet forums, the editor's case took on a partisan political bent with NDC supporters blaming the government; while NPP supporters hoped sanity would prevail in this matter.
Ghanaians didn't have to wait much longer for the issue to be turned into a soap opera. Thankfully, 24 hours after his apparent attack and abduction, Jojo Bruce Quansah re-appeared. He did that in record time! It took the good Jesus 72 hours to make a re-appearance. And like Jesus, Jojo's appearance was made public by one of his admirers.
In Jojo's case, his re-appearance was facilitated by Kwamena Ahwoi, a lawyer and former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and lately seen as trouble-shooter in the much troubled NDC, of which he is a leading member. The story gets even more interesting, folks!
According to news accounts it was Kwamena Ahwoi who had lodged the initial report of Bruce Quansah's disappearance to the police. Later, it was the same Ahwoi who would inform the police that he had been told by Jojo of his whereabouts; whereupon Ahwoi then led police officers to Jojo Bruce Quansah! According to Ahwoi, Jojo was attacked by eight men who beat him and took away his mobile phone. Then fearing for his death, Jojo was able to free himself from the eight men; and outran them to a hideout!!!
At his re-appearance, Jojo told the police he had not been missing, at all! He said he was rather sick, and had been at a hospital at Tema. Incredibly, Bruce Quansah then refused to tell police neither the name of the hospital, nor the doctor who had treated him. According to Bruce Quansah, the doctor pleaded with him not to reveal his name because the doctor 'did not want to be involved in politics'. Whew!!!
Was the much publicized disappearance of Bruce Quansah therefore a political stunt intended to create political tension? Recent Ghana history is replete with incidents exclusively involving NDC members or members of their family which would initially caused much political and security concern for Ghanaians only to be finally revealed as fraud. The most prominent that comes to mind was the case involving Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, NDC 2004 vice-presidential candidate and Member of Parliament for Kumbungu who went out at night and had a car accident at dawn.
The NDC claimed NPP functionaries had lured Mumuni from his house and tried to have him killed in the staged accident. Mumuni's hospital bed then turned into a shrine visited by the high and low in the NDC. It has been a year since the accident, and Alhaji Mumuni has not been forthright in telling exactly what happened.
Before Jojo's disappearance, I had made my check ready to contribute to "The Save the Ghana Palaver Fund". After all Ghanaians need the Ghana Palaver and other such tabloids which engage in excessive 'yellow journalism' to remind us how far (or perhaps how low) we have come!
Indeed this morning, (Thursday, November 10), I called the offices of the Ghana Palaver in Accra, introduced myself, and said I was writing an article on the editor's disappearance and wished to speak with someone to get more information. When I asked how Jojo Bruce Quansah was doing, the person I spoke with (name withheld), told me, and I quote: 'according to reliable sources, he is doing fine'!
That is good news considering the severe beating Jojo reportedly received from the eight men and Ahowi's statement that Bruce Quansah was in severe pain. When he was asked if Jojo showed any cuts, bruises, or abrasions on his body consistent with someone who had gotten such severe beating, Kwamena Ahwoi said Jojo's body showed no such marks. Ahwoi explained the absence of body marks to be the 'professional' manner in which the beating was done.
I can confirm that once my cousin beat me to a pulp yet, there was nothing on my body to indicate such beating. My cousin beat me in a peculiar professional manner by lifting my arm and hitting me only in the arm pit! I can therefore agree with Ahwoi when he insists that Jojo is in 'severe pain', the absence of bruises or cuts, notwithstanding!!
I am sure this episode would not deter people from contributing to Bruce Quansah's "Save the Ghana Palaver Fund". The Ghana Palaver editor is in serious financial need. And under such circumstances, the more creative one gets in publicizing the predicament, the better the publicity; and hence more contributions accrue.
Take the case of the evangelist Oral Roberts. In January 1987, the Reverend Oral Roberts said that God had spoken to him and told him that he had not sent out any medical missionaries from the Oral Roberts University or City of Faith. Therefore according to reverend Roberts, God instructed him to raise $8 million by March 1987 or failing that, God would 'Call me home' (presumably God would kill Oral Roberts).
I saw this announcement by Oral Roberts on TV with my naked eyes! He claimed to have raised $3.5 million already, but he needed $4.5 million more by March 31, in order to get the full $8 million and prevent God from taking him home. Enough people were so mortified by the likelihood of God taking Oral Roberts home that contributions flowed in to prevent God from 'killing' Oral Roberts or taking him to Heaven like he did Enoch in the Old Testament!!
By his singular act of disappearance and re-appearance, Jojo Bruce Quansah has garnered enough publicity to probably cause people to make huge contributions so that the Ghana Palaver may yet be saved from the 'hangman's noose', to quote Jojo. The last million dollars of contributions to Oral Roberts was made by a gambler who raced dogs for money. Perhaps he needed communion!
Are there enough people in Ghana who share Jojo's penchant for his brand of journalism to save him from perdition? Do not hold your bets!