Opinions Thu, 1 Jun 2017

A letter to the Children of the late Captain Maxwell Mahama

Dear Miss Mahama & Master Mahama,

My condolences to you for the loss of your father, which unfortunate incident occurred in Denkyira on 29th May 2017. I understand he was lynched by some of his fellow countrymen who live in the village of Denkyira. As a matter of fact, there are videos of his lynching circulating on the Internet that I have not been able to watch. I have read several comments from fellow Ghanaians about how they have been shocked by his death, but take heart you will be well.

I thought it necessary to write you a letter because most of your well-wishers who’s comments I have read have not been frank with you about the circumstances of your father's unfortunate demise and in the proper context. I believe your fellow countrymen owe you that explanation in the least.

I do not know your parents or any of your family members, but I sympathise with your plight, not because I have two children of my own but because you share a common fate with other children in Ghana who’s parents have been lynched.

Both armed robbers and innocent victims have suffered mob justice by way of lynching in our country in the past. I do not recall such an overwhelming outrage when the people who are lynched turned out to be real robbers. In most cases we believe the real robbers do not have rights or deserve the benefit of due process and that somehow they deserve to be lynched. This attitude has fed into the national psyche and as such lynching continues unabated. Consequently, your father has now paid a price for our collective indifference, my condolences once again.

As I mention earlier, the people who killed your father were his fellow countrymen, I understand the incident occurred in Denkyira but other unfortunate incidents of the same kind have occurred time and time again in other parts of the country and your father’s unfortunate death by lynching will not be the last.

Children, the people of Denkyira as far as I know have never lynched one of our finest soldiers in the history of Ghana until recently. I understand your father is the second soldier they have lynched. Well it would surprise you when I say the people of Denkyira are not killers, they may be illiterates, simple miners, and peasant farmers but they are not killers and they not stupid either. I understand they have been plagued by armed robbers for some time now, therefore they assumed a stranger with a gun is an armed robber. That’s how simple the justification for mob justice went on that unfortunate day. Children the people of Denkyira are not different from any of the peoples in our rural towns or the poor in our country (let us call them the village people).

The village people believe the police service is not there to meet their needs and therefore they must administer justice in their own way. You see the village people have been neglected over time and for so long that, they have come to accept that there is no one to protect their interest. As a result they do not believe in the police force or justice system and they will not call on them in their time of need.

Children, the reason why the village people now take justice into their own hands is that we have stolen their wealth, and they have nothing to show for it. You see Denkyira and other rural parts of our country have been producing gold, cocoa, bauxite, timber and other natural resources including food for over 150 yrs. In fact the wealth of our nation and the wealth of some colonial powers were built on their backs. Today they have no drinking water, it is contaminated, their towns are riddled with obsolete underground mines and their landscape has been dug out for surface pit mining. Their literacy level remains poor; they have no major health facilities, good roads or jobs. They don’t even have a world-class museum to celebrate their contribution to global wealth.

Children, the village people remain poor because we have plundered their resources. They have not had any protection from armed robbers for over 150yrs. We neglected them long before May 29th 2017 when your father encountered them. You see, we have to keep them poor so that we can continue to plunder their resources, that way they will not rise up against us and ask for a fair share of their resources.

Your fathers murder has shocked us all because, he is one on our finest, he swore to protect our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. He rose through the ranks and I am told he was due for a further promotion. I have seen lovely pictures of your family on Facebook and other media and you look like a perfect family, but why would some village people want to kill such a fine gentleman?

Since your father’s death I have read nice things about him and how horrible his death was, I am yet to hear a single person ask why did the village people fail to call the police if they believed he was an armed robber.

Well, I can tell you they would not have killed him if he wore his military fatigue but that is not the point. They would not have killed him if they thought he was a big man from the city or a government official. You see the village people understand that there are OTHER people such as, some big people, rich people or more important persons who they would not lynch. I have read that on the unfortunate day your father was dressed in common clothes jogging on the road with a gun on his person.

Children, even if at the time your father encountered the village people he did not look like the fine pictures we have seen of him in military fatigue or suits, did he deserve to be lynched because he wore a gun? There have been several killing of other people in Accra and other parts of the country because the victims have been mistaken for armed robbers.

The village people do not know that military officers are stationed in various parts of the country for security reasons, they have no communication or interaction with the army who is stationed in their own backyard. The village people do not know that strangers come to spend money in their villages to boost the local economy; the strangers who have come to visit them over the years have plundered their wealth. The village people do not know that strangers can be tourists who love to see how the village people live or experience their way of life and enjoy their unique flora and fauna. Nobody has promoted this business potential. The village people are simply frustrated because nobody is addressing their concerns so they administer mob justice to suspicious strangers, and if death is the consequence, then so be it.

Children, we are so shocked by your father’s death, we will send you our condolences, gifts and give him a beautiful funeral to console ourselves. I assure you we will forget about your father and the village people as soon as he is interred. We will carry on in our ways until the village people strike again, these lawless acts do not continue to happen in a vacuum.

Recently a couple of village people who call themselves the Invisible forces raided a courthouse to free their comrades who where arraigned before a judge to for a fair hearing on the crimes they are alleged to have committed. You see the Invisible forces are the thugs who fought against the NDC to bring the NPP to power, so now they are truly invincible. Subsequently, the police did not have any evidence to prosecute the thugs, and the state prosecutor declared No Further Action on the matter. Our Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Attorney General Gloria Akofo could not explain the circumstances of their escape and why the police have no evidence, again there have been no consequences for these public officials they continue to remain at post. Meanwhile, the political masters of the Invisible forces in the NPP continue to defend their surrogates on live radio and there have been no consequences there either.

Oh Children, Our Last president John Mahama also exercised his presidential powers to release his surrogates (Montie three, Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Maase alias ‘Mugabe’) from prion after they were sentenced to a 4 months jail term for denigrating and threatening judges of the apex court. Well in this case there were no consequences until we cast our ballot in 2016. Maybe we voted him out because his government through sheer incompetence caused Ghana to pay Mr Wyome over $51 million in judgement debts. Ah! You know what, I don’t know why Ghanaians voted him out, we were really upset with him for various reasons, guinea fowls amongst others. Maybe he would write a book and you can figure it out in future.

Just so you know the new government who replaced him has not made any progress in retrieving our $51 million, they are selling bonds to raise funds for development. Hopefully you will be paying those bonds off in your prime, sorry to digress.

Children, there have also been allegations of bribery amongst our lawmakers during the recent vetting of ministers but the issue was dealt with unsatisfactorily by the speaker of Parliament, Honourable Prof. Aaron Mike Ocquaye to the satisfaction of the members of the August house, but not the people of Ghana.

Not too long ago some of our Judges were involved in a bribery scandal and they where caught and sacked, but there has been no significant changes to our justice delivery system as a result of this exposure.

Children, in the circumstances where there have been no consequences for serious crimes in our county for so long, is it any wonder that there will be consequences for your fathers death. A few arrests may occur but is it going to stop lynching in Ghana?

Children, you will be surprised to know that the soldiers your father led have been unleashed on the village peoples to brutalise them as result of his death by lynching. Are you sure your father will approve of this? Surely a man who swore to keep the peace will not condone acts of brutality in his name.

My local MP Madam Adowa Safo (a lawyer & member of Parliament) has posted a comment on face book applauding the slaps the village people are receiving from your father’s colleagues. The Minister of defence has also commented on what a professional job the soldiers are doing brutalising the village people for your fathers death. Meanwhile the police who have the primary responsibility to investigate your father’s death are yet to investigate the matter and address the people of Ghana to calm them down.

Children, isn’t it ironic that your father was lynched by his fellow countrymen who took the law into their own hands, and yet his fellow soldiers have also taken the law into their hands to administer justice and avenge his death by brutalising the village people?

Children, the reason why these events are concerning is because the army took over our country in recent history when government institutions had failed us and we complained so much, just like the people of Denkyira and the army came to our rescue. The army brutalised us and shot some of my friends Daddy’s too. After 18yrs or so of military rule we were no better off, so we decided it was a bad idea. We reintroduced democracy, placed the army in the barracks and put the police in charge.

We also restored our political masters through the ballot but here we are. We have a vibrant media, a fancy parliament and an almighty presidency to whom we have entrusted all the powers of a tin pot dictator.

As a result of our commitment to the democratic dispensation we elected a new set of political leaders, we were disgruntled with our previous political masters as they were corrupt and incompetent. The new government has shown no promise of future success after 6 months and the looters from the previous government have not been brought to book. Meanwhile the new government has over 120 ministers and several other public appointments at public expense, and yet the people of Denkyira are not experiencing the benefit of good governance.

We have lynched your father and the fathers of so many because we are disconnected from government and do not therefore enjoy the benefit of effective state institutions. As a result those who have the means can buy the services government should provide and the village people will continue lynching. I am not able to bring your father back to life, but there are simple measures we can take to avert these dastardly acts of mob justice so we do not needlessly orphan other children.

I cannot say what the state of affairs will be by the time you commence your adult life, but you should respect your local police officer. We entrust our security to them, your local police officer is at the bottom of the chain of command of justice, but the most powerful person in that chain. He decides whom to arrest and investigate and therein lies the danger. If he is corrupted there will be no justice period.

In New York they refer to the local police officers as New York’s finest. In London we call them the Bobby’s on the beat or Copper. They are not the highest paid public servants but police officers are given these accolades to show them that they are revered and that they in turn will know that there is dignity in the work that they do. A police officer who knows there is dignity in the work he does is less likely to be corrupted, he is fair, just and dedicated to his job.

We must encourage radio stations as part of their corporate outreach to our communities to make short civic broadcasts during ad breaks to educate and create awareness about our individual responsibility to cooperate with the police. We must report our suspicions and volunteer information to the police, this is how we can assist the police in their duties, they are not magicians. Police officers everywhere rely on the citizens they protect for information to fulfil their obligations. Where there is no cooperation the police will not be able to generate leads to investigate.

Other basic measures we can implement include mounting signposts & street names, providing street maps that display local routes and tourist sites, and own a post box! …. Yes a post, just so we can maintain an address system and delivery routes. These are measures each local community/individual can undertake without the assistance of the central government.

As to the measures our government must adopt to improve its impact on the citizenry there are plenty. I doubt if this is the forum to discuss those issues, plus the government does not need advice from the likes of me at this time, they have all the professionals at their disposal to achieve this objective. Like me, you will grow up and wonder why there has been such limited or little impact after successive governments in 60yrs. I tell my self there must be something in he water at the flagstaff house but that just makes me sleep at night.

This letter will add to the discourse on lynching in our Ghana, it is not a solution. I do not expect everyone to agree with my suggestions but I hope it has a positive impact. You may not be old enough to understand the contents of my letter but those who have ears will listen. Most importantly it is my hope that the Internet will preserve it and that you may read it one day. I hope it brings you some comfort and closure to know that the village people of Denkyira did not know any better.

Yours truly


Rafi Abdur

Columnist: Rafi Abdur
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