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01.10.2008 Feature Article

“Yes!” and “No!”

On June 2, 2008, a scuffle between the Ashaiman (Tema) police and some commercial motorists ended in the deaths of two people, namely, Mr. Moses Ofori, 22, a motorist, and Master Moses Kassim, a fourth-grade pupil of the Ashaiman Government School.

What inspired the composition of this article, however, is the fact of the mother of Master Kassim having, reportedly, demanded the compensatory package of a house and a store from the police, which institution appears to have fully accepted culpability for this tragic incident.

Ordinarily, Ms. Dedo Tetteh's demand for the compensatory package of a house and a store facility from those who accidentally and permanently took her son away from her would, decidedly, be regarded as an outright non-issue; for, it goes without saying that no human life can be aptly appraised in terms of material wealth which, for the most part, is the bona fide creation of humanity as such.

The problem here, though, inheres in precedence, which is the likelihood of other parents who accidentally lose their children to on-duty law-enforcement agents in future making similar demands. On the other hand, the argument advanced by Ms. Tetteh to back up her demand, “I want the Government to build a house and a store for me because my brilliant son would have done it for me if he had died,” could also not be readily and cavalierly dismissed (Ghanaian Times 10/1/08). Still, one could be practical, albeit gentle and diplomatic, by pointing out to Ms. Dedo Tetteh the grim, but factual reality, that had he not been fatally wounded by a stray bullet discharged by an Ashaiman police officer, her beloved son, Master Moses Kassim, would still have been left with at least eight more years of elementary and high school education, and then another four years of tertiary education, at either one of Ghana's teeming universities or polytechnics.

And, needless to say, there would have been absolutely no guarantee, whatsoever, that Master Kassim would have immediately been resourceful enough to be able to build both a residential abode and a store facility for even himself, let alone the deceased youngster's mother, even assuming that Master Kassim would have grown up intent on fulfilling the salutary fantasies of his mother. And on the latter score, barring a highly unlikely, albeit not altogether impossible, chance of a serendipitous economic bonanza, this would have taken anywhere between fifteen and twenty years to achieve. And what is even more significant, there would have been no guarantee that Ms. Tetteh would have lived that long to be graced with even such admittedly modest material wealth by her son who would, in all likelihood, have been considerably saddled with the remarkable burden of having to raise his own family, which would, by then, have assumed the natural status of his primary responsibility.

Of course, neither is there any guarantee that Master Moses Kassim would have lived long enough to have readily acquired all the preceding, even assuming that he had not met his rather premature fate on June 2, 2008. Then also must be factored the fact that his apparently modest familial circumstances (for the late pupil was also attending Ashaiman Government School free-of-charge) would not have necessarily facilitated his ready and timely achievements, as emotionally envisaged by his bereaved mother.

It is, indeed, with the complex vicissitudes of human existence in mind that we could not agree more with the other bereaved parent involved, Barima Ofori, father of the late Mr. Moses Ofori, that what ought to be required of the Government is “a respectable [or decent] compensatory package.” And we equally agree with Barima Ofori that, indeed, “no value can be put on the life of any human being.”

Still, the apparent attempt by the Ashaiman police to engage the consolatory services of both their Chaplain and Imam, in the purely self-interested process of mollifying the parents of the deceased into accepting just about any form of compensatory package proffered by the Government, verges on the outright tacky and patently unacceptable. And it is quite uncertain whether such diplomatic ploy does not have something to do with Ms. Dedo Tetteh's apparently greedy stance on the issue.

Perhaps what ought to be done, under the circumstances, in order to ensure compensatory fairness, may be either for the Government to appoint legal counsel for the aggrieved parents, by way of smoothly facilitating the negotiation process or, better yet, encouraging the aggrieved families to retain their own counsel for the preceding purpose. Needless to say, for far too long have law-abiding Ghanaians wronged by relatively more powerful public service agencies gratuitously allowed such culpable agencies to unilaterally dictate the material terms of compensatory culpability.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of 18 books, including “Sounds of Sirens” (iUniverse.com, 2004) and “Reena: Letters to an Indian-American Gal” (Atumpan Publications/lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: [email protected]
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2008

The author has 4800 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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