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27.07.2004 Feature Article

Open letter To Minister Hackman Owusu Agyeman

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Mr. Hackman Owusu Agyeman, you are simply out of touch with reality! Will you just leave the Darfur Refugees alone!

Reacting to the deportation of 25 Ghanaian refugees from Italy who had travelled into the country as Sudanese Refugees, you said you found it distasteful that the young men had cashed in on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. You continued that, "the people were not refugees because nobody is being persecuted in this country" because Ghanaians were free.

I disagree with you, Minister! The young men were refugees who were fleeing persecution of a different kind. Their kind is called economic refugees. It is true the "Darfur Refugees", as they have come to be known because that is where they said they had come from, told lies and travelled under the guise of a different nationality, it is obvious that they did so to strengthen their case for refugee status, because they needed to be accorded one. Ghana is too hostile for their kind to survive. The young men were desperate and did any thing they could think of to get away from a harsh situation.

Instead of being angry and upset over the fellows who "dragged Ghana's good name in the mud", you should be gravely concerned that 25 young people from a country where you are a high-ranking member of government would risk travel on the high seas, posing as refugees, because they cannot make ends meet. You don't have to be a Rocket Scientist to figure out the desperation of the youth of Ghana today. Growing up in a country whose economy is shrinking, where governments cannot get a grip on our socio-economic problems, where it is too much trouble fending for themselves, where the future for them is bleak, our youth have become so desperate that they would do anything to get out of Ghana. I don't blame them.

Our Akan elders have a saying that ANIMGUASE DE NA EFANIM OWU, i.e., I would rather be dead than live in perpetual embarrassment. That adage, sir, reminds me of a man who was arrested in Saudi Arabia many years ago smuggling drugs into the country. When they asked him why he took that risk knowing that the punishment was beheading, he answered, "what does a man need his head for if he has no money in his pocket?". Don't take me literally, though, sir for I value my life. I only want you to laugh even as I am taking you to task. On a more serious note, however, this philosophy goes to rationalize why people take bold risks and throw every thing to the wind when they feel hard pressed. This is where our youth today find themselves, and that is what has given rise to the "Darfur Refugees".

Please, Mr. Owusu Agyeman, do not prosecute these poor boys! That would be rubbing salt in their wounds. See, I don't even believe you when you say that they have dragged Ghana's name in the mud. Our name is already in the mud, if you didn't know that. Do you think the Italians and other Europeans don't know that we can't feed our youth or give them decent jobs to do, or provide for them in other ways? Who in America or Japan doesn't know that when Ghanaians go to the hospital they are forced to cough up the medical charges before they receive treatment? Ask a tourist from most of these countries and they would tell you that all that the youth of Ghana do is to run up and down our streets hawking chains and fruits. They even know that most Ghanaians do their toilet into standing bowls that are not removed for weeks. Or worse still some don't even have the luxury of doing it in their homes. They have to walk several blocks to do it. So as you can see, Mr. Minister, Ghana's name is sufficiently swimming in the mud, and the Italians do not care that these boys added a little water to the mud recently. If you think that what I have just mentioned is not "mud" enough, then there must be something seriously wrong with your thinking!

Also, Sir, there is no need to "...regret they used the crisis in Darfur for their own selfish ends". People do it all the time. I know many Sudanese people who had been living in Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, etc., for many years before they travelled to the United States as "Darfur Refugees". Even though they had been living relatively prosperous lives as first class citizens in these host countries, they didn't hesitate to tell the visa officers that they were "Darfur Refugees" who had just escaped from the battle lines, when their papers were being screened. And these are people who are from the same country as the Darfurians. As a matter of fact, there are many Ghanaian "Darfur Refugees" in Europe, America and Japan, that if you start to investigate this "Darfur" claim, you are going to open a big can of worms that might eat you up. So don't go there at all. If I were you, I would just let these boys slip back into the country while I look the other way.

But before I let you go, sir, I want to suggest impudently that if you have suddenly found your energy for prosecution, then look for real substantial cases that are crying for action. I hate to think that with each passing day, you let Alhaji Moctar Bamba's files grow cold at the Police Headquarters. The last word I heard from the government about this case was when the Minister of Information, Nana Akomeah, deceived us that "President Kuffuor has accepted his resignation" and added that, "the resignation is without prejudice to any further police investigation into the allegations". Oh, and while you are at it, sir, you might also want to find out from the police what became of the Member of Parliament who committed insurance fraud, and the other one who fraudulently stood in as a husband and father at the Austrian Embassy in Cote D'Ivoire for a family who wanted to travel to Italy. I am sure you don't even remember these cases.

Since all the police men and women in Ghana report to you, may I ask sir, what became of those investigations. I wonder if the police are still investigating the "allegations". Well, if that is the case, then I suggest you put the Darfur Refugees issue on the back burner to cool as you pour all your new-found enthusiasm for prosecution into the above cases. I don't want you to be shouting yourself hoarse over a case that is as insignificant as the Darfur Refugees case. When Bamba's and other cases emerged, we strained hard all day long to hear you scream for their prosecution but your voice was so faint that it was hardly audible. They have a name for that kind of behaviour. People call it HYPOCRISY. B.K. Obeng-Diawuoh Bardstown, Kentucky Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

B.K. Obeng-Diawuoh
B.K. Obeng-Diawuoh, © 2004

The author has 16 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: BKObengDiawuoh

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