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16.06.2012 Feature Article

Killing for a coconut

Killing for a coconut
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“How come”, a colleague recently asked me, “that if people were living together in harmony for a long time, they all of a sudden turn violent and attack each other in the least provocation?” I am tempted to believe that these persons were not living in harmony after all. They were all brooding over feelings deep within themselves, but found it difficult to exhibit so they instead, waited for the opportune time.

In the past few weeks, the nation has witnessed mayhems of different nature erupting from various parts of the country. Many people were maimed and several others died. This is happening around the same time Ghana is having the 2012 Africa Peace Award conferred on her by the South Africa-based African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes in an apparent recognition of the efforts of the government and the people of Ghana at large to maintaining peace in the country. I wonder how the Center will feel after hearing that the lives of three innocent civilians were lost to a senseless clash over the theft of coconut, soon after they presented that award to the people of Ghana.

The politicians, as always, are quick to play the game to their benefit. While opposition elements argue that it is a sign of incompetence from the top and the lack of authority to maintain the nation's security, those from the other side are singing a different song. The Central Regional Minister and head of the Regional Security Council, Ama Benyiwa Doe was reportedly on radio claiming that the clashes were instigated by the irresponsible comments of the Assin North MP, Kennedy Agyapong.

I didn't expect less but that would have sounded well from the mouth of an ordinary man on the streets who heard those potentially explosive ethnocentric comments from the supposed Honourable Member of Parliament a few months back. But I'm left wondering now how the Regional Minister feels after a preliminary police report on the suspected assassin shows he is not of Ewe extraction after all. How judgmental could a Regional Security Council Chairperson be after we are told the man whose killing sparked the clashes at Ekumfi Narkwa suffered that fate from the hands of 37-year-old Kweku Mensah, a coconut seller who had come to steal from his coconut plantation?

Out of ignorance, members of a community largely belonging to one tribe invaded another, butchered people and burnt houses. How would you feel if you are woken in your death and told that the reason for your death has to do with the theft of a coconut, but not in defense of your tribe as you were made to believe before waging the war? Before the nation could come to terms with the Ekumfi Narkwa disorder, another bunch of lawless people were on rampage in Hohoe, burning shops and killing their own neighbours. Needless to point out that the Imam for whom all these killings are taking place, is himself already dead and has not authorised this massacre.

Here again, we are quick to generalise and group these people into Muslims and non-Muslims. What if there were Muslims and non-Muslims in that neighbourhood who had no hand and indeed have no interest in the senseless attack that took place in the town. When are we as a nation going to stop the generalisation and deal with crime as crime? It appears you can get away with any kind of crime in this country as far as you identify with a Political Party or a group. That is absurd.

I have no reason to believe it but I will not be the least surprised if it emerges that “the unseen hand” of the almighty politician is lurking in the shadows at all these flash points from Tishigu in the Northern Region, Ekumfi Narkwa in the Central Region and Hohoe in the Volta Region. Is it not pathetic for a country that just received an award as the most peaceful on the continent to be drawn into senseless conflicts over issues as simple and petty as the theft of coconuts? I have no intention of belittling the issue, but I see no point in the decision by a group to attack another just because a corpse of a leader was allegedly exhumed.

Have we lived all these five decades as a country without learning anything - even if not from our neighbours on the continent, then from all the various conflict areas we recorded over the years? Is this due to a lapse in the security of the nation? Is anyone responsible for that at all? I dread to say that if the situation of the past few weeks occurs during the upcoming elections, our security agencies will be overwhelmed because it could be happening simultaneously across the country and when that happens, nobody can secure us but our own selves.

We need to take action now before we are overtaken by the looming actions.

By Umaru Sanda Amadu

Umaru Sanda Amadu
Umaru Sanda Amadu, © 2012

The author has 6 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: UmaruSandaAmadu

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