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07.07.2019 Article

To The Fainthearted Social Media Activist: Civil Disobedience Is Not A Sin, Kindly Spare Ernesto And His Folks The Unjustified Character Assassination

By Bayuoni Dramani Maazu

While in my bed combing through the cloud of thoughts conjoined in my mind, with my old phone in my hand and curiously surfing the wilderness of Mark Zuckerberg's facebook on top of my evening hunger, I came across a post, seconded with a picture and videos by a friend suggesting that one ERNESTO had been rounded up by the security of Ghana with aid from some enraged staff of parliament. Some of whom were seen aggressively assaulting the 'angry gentle advocate'. For what crime he was guilty of, speaking from the observers' gallery whiles parliament was yet in session and thus, interrupting the business of Parliament.

More precisely, parliament was discussing the $200m loan it indicated was going to be allocated to the construction of a new chamber. The arguments supporting this project, as nauseating as they are, may cause me a stomachache if I endeavour to restate them. So for healthy reasons, may we leave that for another day when I have my painkiller only a handstretch away from me.

And just as I thought this was going to be a time for all and many Ghanaians to reckon with consciousness and justice, I was even further dazed by the plenary of comments suggesting how unlawful, worse and nonsensical the action of ERNESTO was. Obviously, these people, wise as they are, do not see even a modicum of reason why someone like that, especially wearing a British jacket, should bring himself such low.

In response, I would attempt in this articulation to address the comments made against the action of Ernesto and the others who were seen as deviants of the law.

Even though I seldom consider my views as the ultimate of all, you may engage me in some arousing areas I shall be examining in this composition.

I would begin by making a case that civil disobedience is apparently the last fairish resort to having one's grievances addressed. Atleast, per what history has to teach us all.

Again, I would submit that civil disobedience may be unlawful but not necessarily or essentially immoral.

My last contention will be that, at a time when our democracy is obviously on the line, this is surely not another time to pray, it is the time to think and act.

You may now engage me.
Civil disobedience is also called non-violent campaign. Most notably, many people contend that Mahatma Ghandi developed Civil disobedience as an anti-colonialist tool. As Ghandhi himself wrote, "civil disobedience is the inherent right of the citizen to be civil, implies discipline, thought, care, attention and sacrifice". And thus, Ghandi was able to use this model to achieve some successes in South Africa and during the Indian Independence movement.

Again, the 1919 revolution in Egypt was a continuous uproar of Egyptians in the form of civil disobedience. The end of that bloodless endeavour was Britain's recognition of Egypt's independence in 1922.

Remember the Christianborg castle shooting of 1947? It was one of the events that culminated into Ghana's independence on March 6th, 1957. With three major nationalists losing their lives. This has since remained a historical event of our dear country. We are yet enjoying it 70 years today.

Know why American soldiers finally left Pueto Rico? Because Berrios disobeyed state laws to trespass a US military territory.

Know why black Americans now have the right to vote in elections and can to some extent, now seek justice in American courts? Because Martin Luther King jr decided to protest using civil disobedience against the many injustices in US at the time.

All of this is called civil disobedience. When the systems aren’t working, should citizens sit back and expect magic to happen? Maybe it’s not our fault, social media makes the campaign better for us. After all, there’s hashtag!

Just as Luther King wrote, privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Parliament is a privileged group and would not give up voluntarily on their privileges. A $200m new chamber would definitely go a long way to make parliamentarians more comfortable and have them feel important. Even the current 300 capacity chamber, as spacious as it is is seen to be small and can cause easy boxing among members of parliament who do not agree on an issue on the floor of debate. That's how good the argument for a new chamber is. Meanwhile, this comes to confirm the aforesaid quote as written by Luther king.

So the next time another devourer wants to condemn the action of ERNESTO and the others, do remember that Ghanaians have suffered a lot from irrational decision making. They have long suffered from unemployment. They have suffered from many instances of the State's injustice. They have suffered from unequal distribution of the national cake. They have suffered from choosing to live in their only motherland. Now they're tired of keeping quiet. They are tired of being constantly taken for granted. They are tired of fruitless negotiations. 'There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair' -Luther king.

Ghanaians have had enough.
Also, people who engage in civil disobedience mostly concede on its unlawful nature and are well aware of the repercussions. Are they not? Whiles aware of the plethora of challenges involved, they still take the step to fighting for their rights and what is right anyway. But mind you, yes, Laws are laws. And they are what govern any legal and civil society. But also note that even judges sometimes pronounce judgment on the grounds of morality and not just laws. A law may be legal but not moral. It is often argued that whatever Hitler did in Germany was Legal. But was it moral? I'll leave that to your own moral judgment even as I believe your guess would be as good as mine.

Thus, apparently ERNESTO and his allies broke the law but it was their moral duty to do so. As St. Augustine stated, 'an unjust law is no law at all'. If you do not have the balls to engage in civil disobedience knowing what awaits you, please keep quiet and let the consciously courageous have their way.

One must note however that I am not entirely blurbing lawlessness. What I subscribe to is civil disobedience which does not amount to the destruction of state properties and is sometimes moral even in the eyes of the law.

My last contention and plea goes to all Ghanaians of faith. This is surely not the time to pray. So kindly spare us with the "only prayers can help us" mantra. This is the time to think solutions and act together. Ghana's independence was never won through prayer, nor was Nigeria's or Egypt's.

May you note again that I am not arguing that prayer is not good or helpful. Definitely not! Even as I am writing this, I would be praying immediately I indent my last full stop. What I am saying is that, there is more to do about our bewail than saying 'yen fanma nyame'.

May I conclude by admitting that I am not exactly in favour of what Ernesto and his other folks did. But the whole point is, our democracy was designed and built on the heart of a very key consensus. Hence, at the point where the very principles that erected it are speedily becoming defunct and deceased, should we sit and expect every other person to keep mute? Or we should just come on social media and speak and not act (like I am doing now)? Or we match on to face whoever is responsible knowing we have the prospects of seeing positive results?

You can answer that in the peace of your mind.
Ernesto did not commit any sin. Kindly spare him the devouring and character assassination. Civil disobedience is a tried and tested approach. Instead of sitting back to pray, let's think and act.

It is Ghana first.
Yours in the spirit of servantship.
Bayuoni Dramani Maazu
Poet Negus; The Reformer.
Ghanaweb columnist.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."