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04.02.2009 Feature Article

Aren't we taller than…this?

For moments, as I got seated in front of the television screen, I could not take what I saw, to be real. Two men were bludgeoned to death, whilst a big crowd watched on, and motor-cars, both private and taxi, made “safe arrows” around them, and left the “two victims” entirely to the destiny dished out by two very irate assailants, who must have felt they had a God-permitted right to kill the two men.

I observed the one already lying face-down on the street, motionless, (presumed already dead), and the second, making last desperate attempts to escape, but got a powerful whack in the back from the clubber, which rendered him motionless in his legs, (it probably broke his spine), and he had a zero chance of defending any member of his body, with what he still had, weak motions with his arms. It was too little. It was later reported, that he too, died in hospital, and I don't have a clue, as to what next. Not much would be expected to happen, for “he was an armed robber, and his colleague, who died on the spot, was one too.” Both had been killed, within hours. Who authorised the killings? You would say, “Instant justice did.”

In his historical narrative, (Patchman's Farm), the American Historian Orschewski writes about how in the late nineteenth century, and even the early 20th Century, in the American South, people then called Black Americans, or Negroes, would be lynched, if they were men, and were accused of having slept with a white woman, (not raped her). During the lynching, white men and women would be standing in absolute ecstasy, clapping their hands.

If it was a tall Negro, he was oftentimes burnt at the stake, and his testicles and phallus would drop “off his trunk”, and fall into the fire, and that too “would give cause” for jubilation among the white onlookers.

Conversely, a white man, having taken a black slave girl to bed, would be given a pat on his shoulders, and remain the envy of the place for quite a period. That was how it was then.

It is just over one hundred years ago. The two compatriots meeting their death on some street of Accra, on the 28th of July whilst we watched on, (most of us, from distances of hundreds of miles), were accused, and not convicted of any crime yet. They were accused of being armed robbers. Whereas the Negroes in the Southern States of America lived under slave-like conditions, the ones who died on the morning of July 28, 2008 were sovereign citizens, poised to cast their votes in any elections to elect a President, and a parliamentarian, or one day, be elected, had they lived.

There was another occasion, on which I saw the bodies of two young men lying on the street, in Accra, a city loaded with such incidents, probably because Accra is so big. Eight years ago, another gruesome episode was observed, whilst a CNN-camera man had focused on a young man who had been targeted by a man with a rifle from the opposing party, in the DRC.

He sprayed him with bullets, until the victim stopped yelling. He was dead. Ghana is signatory to the UN Charter that touches on human rights. We are a law and order society!!

You saw nothing of the “Freedom & Justice”, emboldened in our Coat of Arms, not the Law & Order, which should date back to the Babylonian times, on that fateful Monday for the two men, who were killed in ways, which would, (should) make all of us bow our heads in shame, as the entire world must have watched the gruesome act, coming from beautiful Ghana.

You could imagine a Brazilian tell his cousin, “Antoinette, in Ghana, they could kill you worse than if you were chicken. You are accused of having robbed another, and that's enough for you to die, in the street.” That isn't good enough for us, when only years back, the Secretary General of the UN was born, and bred here.

A man is innocent, until proved guilty. That is what the law says in a civilized society. It is an affront to our democracy, when citizens meet judgment, which is from no law-book. The pain of the handicapped, uncultured, grabbing anything they think they need, but which doesn't belong to them, angers all citizens. Innocent people are frequently victims, and at times may pay a price they did not bargain for - with their lives. But, that is the other side of the coin.

The Democracy we are aspiring to, which has won our leaders and citizens some pride internationally, does not tolerate street-lynching at the whim of law-breakers. We are indeed much taller than that.

_anonymous Columnist
_anonymous Columnist, © 2009

This author has authored 86 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: AnonymousColumnist

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