A Positive Roadmap to Justice for Asawase 7
Anybody who has lived the “Wretched” life of a “Nigger” here in the United States of America, especially under the Neo-Fascist tenure of President Donald John Trump, ought to have cultivated the sort of racial, class, ethnic and cultural sensitivity that would enable the prime victim of America’s institutionalized racism fully appreciate the sort of ethnic, class and cultural stereotype that may clearly have led to the police’s shooting of the seven young male Kumasi-Asawase’s Zongo residents at Manso-Nkwanta, in the Asante Region, on July 7, 2018. At the time, it was widely reported by the media that the victims had dared to exchange gunfire with our law-enforcement agents. The circumstances under which such gunfire exchanges had taken place was, however, not let on to the general public at the time.
Still, many who had been steeply indoctrinated with the jaded stereotype of violent Zongo boys must have preemptively decided to give the benefit of the doubt to the police. More so, when our society has become increasingly violent and the only protection that the overwhelming majority of armless and defenceless civilians could count upon was protection from our law-enforcement agents, in particular members of the Ghana Police Service (GPS). Then, also, the logical question was as follows: “What were these young Zongo boys doing with these guns?” As well, the question of whether these Kumasi-Asawase young Muslim men had acquired the requisite licenses to carry such deadly weapons became a critical subject of national discussion. It also did not help matters that not long before this incident of multiple fatalities, as I vividly recall, the Assin-Central Member of Parliament on the ticket of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, had been involved in an incident in which he was alleged to have provoked another prominent Zongo boy, to wit, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, the Parliamentary Opposition’s Chief Whip and the National Democratic Congress’ representative for Kumasi-Asawase, the very constituency in which the seven armed young men had apparently been summarily executed by the police.
Well, in a swift reaction to Mr. Agyapong’s act of provocation - I do not readily recall the exact details of the fracas and, in particular, the question of which of these two gentlemen had actually initiated it – Mr. Muntaka was widely reported to have replied that he intended to severely and physically punish the “waterfall-mouthed” Mr. Agyapong the “Zongo Way,” which obviously meant the ministration of what New Yorkers call “Street Justice.” I guess what I am trying to say here is that the negative stereotype of Zongo residents’ being pathologically and wantonly inclined towards violent behaviour is often not the least bit helped by the gratuitous grandstanding of politicians like Mr. Muntaka. At the time, though, I had lightly chuckled to myself and whispered under my breath that all that the much older and relatively frailer Mr. Agyapong could do, by was of self-defence, would be to have one of his tony and brawny platoons of sons teach the street-brawling, by Mr. Muntaka’s own public account, Asawase NDC-MP a vintage lesson in how not to so intemperately disrespect his temporal superiors or elders.
Anyway, this column aims to commend the sensitive and admirably mature manner in which President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has decided to bring a modicum of closure to the pain and suffering of the family members, relatives and friends of the slain Asawase 7, by deciding to compensate them for their loss and suffering, even as the police officers allegedly involved in the fatal shootings are fully brought to account in the offing. On the latter count, it is equally significant to underscore the fact that the compensation sum of GHȻ 250,000, a piece, being offered the relatives and families of the victims ought to be envisaged more in terms of a goodwill gesture from a very responsive and sensitive and responsible government, than in terms of the placement of any monetary value on the lives of the victims. For in the end, every human life is fundamentally priceless; and yet in such sorrowful and harrowing times as these, such gestures or tokens of acknowledgement of the value of human lives can go along way towards both the natural and familial healing process that such major societal crisis entails. And, by the way, Dear Reader, I am also thinking about the relatives, family members and friends of the late Adams Mahama.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
January 9, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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