Opinions Fri, 16 Nov 2007

Paedophilia in Ghana: Hospitality Gone Bonkers

She could be as little as two months or as old as four years. She is a good candidate if she is younger. Some prefer a week old baby for a strange kind of sexual gratification that is still difficult to describe. They freeze their innocence, maim their humanity and snatch their spirits from their little lives. They infest their tender beings with corruption and poison their future with something as bitter as coloquintinda or acerbe. They walk away innocently, borrowing the innocence of the victim to wear on their faces, leaving them with a traumatizing experience that requires the strength of an adult to endure.

The international hunt for Christopher Neil, the Australian born paedophile, who abused little girls in Thailand and Cambodia and had the temerity to post a recording of the sex sessions on the internet, had barely come to an end when a British consultant in Ghana was apprehended for fiddling with the private part of the three year old daughter of his Ghanaian host. In Neil’s case, he had used sophisticated computer software to disfigure his face, but the police turned the software against him and reconfigured his face, leading to his capture recently. The Ghanaian situation had been a rather silly scenario of hospitality gone bonkers. The host had left the victim and other children in the care of the British consultant while she visited the shops. On her return, the guest asked for water to wash his hands. The host later detects blood in the underpants of the victim, whereupon she mentions the venerable British consultant as the person who had made a typewriter out of her little instrument. An alarm is raised and he is nabbed.
This was followed by another incident involving yet another British holidaymaker, who succeeded in sodomizing his Ghanaian host, a 19 year old Emmanuel Adda. The 61 year old Briton had been a pen friend to the SSS graduate over a period, and had visited Ghana with his consent. He had proposed love to the Ghanaian in the course of the correspondence, and had consummated the love during his visit. He was found out only when immigration officials suspected him of an unrelated matter during his departure to Britain. The naked photographs he had taken of himself and his ‘wife’ gave him away when a search was carried on him. Adda was consequently arrested and charged.

Paedophiles are a bit like Mr. Michael Jackson: they are difficult to understand. Unless it is a sinister sexual predatory feeling born out of a personal contact with the spirit of sex itself, it is difficult to imagine how a little girl could attract an adult man. It is even difficult to imagine the kind of satisfaction paedophiles get from abusing minors who do not understand the nature of the transaction they are made to enter into. Adda’s is not exactly a case of peadophilia; he had given his consent, and he is 19, but the British consultant’s sickening behaviour with the three year old toddler is pathetic, as it is worrying. Even so, the two scenarios highlight a case of terrible exploitation by westerners who, like Prof James Watson, either believe that their hosts are not intelligent enough to know that their actions are reprehensible or indeed hope they can always get away because their hosts are too welcoming. They are virtually worshipped, and many a time crowned kings and queens. Adda had been hospitable enough to introduce his white visitor to his parents, and he had been allowed to tour the country with him. When I was 12 years old I had a pen friend in England. A few of my friends had penpals from other parts of the world. A close friend of mine had a rather engaging and generous pal in Vancouver, Canada, who showered gifts and money on him to the envy of all us. He volunteered to sponsor his education and also took care of his other needs. He had been the motivation for some of us who simply adored corresponding with somebody over the seas. While my other friends usually received good gifts from their pals, my pen friend, a 45 year old civil servant, would send me a woman’s underpants. As kids, we never understood why my friend would do that when he knew that I was a boy. I showed it to the older folks who usually proofread my letters, and they explained that whites are usually fun-loving people who joke a great deal. After a while the contact broke down and my colleagues teased me so much. When I came to England years later I contacted him, expressing the desire to visit. He had always expressed interest in visiting Africa to see me and my family, so I thought he would be happy to see me. Instead he wrote a strongly worded letter that he didn’t want to see me. I kept wondering why he would shun me this time until I started reading about the psychology of sexual predators.

In some neighbourhoods there are young people, usually boys, who are known for their beneficial contacts with penpals abroad. Some of them are occasionally visited by their pals, and we see them doing better than they had been after a while. These are capitalist-minded people, who would not give away valuables and cash for free. Of course, some of them are benevolent-spirited individuals who have genuine intentions to help friends in poor countries who want to improve their lives. My cousin in South London has named his son after Mr. Patrick Young, an incredible 70something year old chartered accountant, who has sponsored the education of a large number of Ghanaians, and still does. He has helped a lot more from other parts of sub-Sahara Africa. He sees it as a service to humanity. Mr. Young is the direct antithesis to a penpal who visited his friend in Ghana and insisted on sharing one bed with his Ghanaian pal. He had flatly rejected the hotel accommodation that had been arranged for him and had impressed on his host that he wanted to be close to him. In the end, he wanted to be too close for a very unfriendly reason. Needless to say, he wasn’t the good friend they thought he was.

We have always lived on the myth that the unspeakable does not bear speaking about, whereas the converse is what happens in societies that are governed by law. So, many crimes are not reported in Ghana. We prefer to sweep wrongdoings under the carpet in the name of the proverbial community feeling. The fear of punishment normally prevents people in a community from reporting crimes committed against them. Besides, bringing such crimes to the public’s attention will dent the image of the family. It is in this regard that I doff my hat to the parents of the three year old girl that was defiled by the British consultant. They did not behave like those peace-loving parents who would accept and name another person’s baby for their son, because they fear the repercussions of going to court and making news of themselves in the long run; they gave the paedophile up, never minding the trouble it would cause the girl’s future and their family’s image. Such is the attitude a lot us peace-loving Ghanaians should adopt. Mr. Adda’s family must bow their heads in shame for allowing their teenage son to tour Ghana with an Obroni stranger. I am not sure they would have allowed the boy to leave home if one of his poor uncles had requested his company for a week to help tend his bankye farm in Tweapease. When those in the tourism industry trumpet our Ghanaian hospitality to the outside world, I wonder exactly what they mean. Because of our hospitality, a vampire of a medical doctor came from his country to live in our midst and succeeded in drinking gallons of blood from mothers who had just being delivered of their babies, with their placenta and all still fresh. What happened to that man? Was he taken to court? Did we make sure that he was struck off the medical register in his country? And why have we confused hypocrisy for hospitality? We are not that hospitable, are we? We are hospitable to strangers than to our own. We would extend favours unto people we would never see again than we would normally give our kin look-alikes. We are happy when a stranger is able to speak a syllable of our local language. We are happy to award contracts to strangers than to our own, because we do not trust the expertise of those whom we have known for so long. We would go as far as giving loans to strangers who look like cotton to grow rice, whereas we could convert that loan into a grant for locals who are more capable. Folks who can string two or three sentences together in the English language are instantly made media beagles; substance often would not matter. So, I am not surprised that a pregnant Ghanaian lady I chanced on recently is happy that the father of her baby is a stranger with a curly hair. And, she is a university graduate. I have taken an interest in Sri-Lanka since I met this lady. For, that is where our sister is getting her curly hair from.
The trouble with strange things is that they are usually quite strange. My first landlady in the UK was happy that her children could not speak Twi. They had come to England when they were in their teens, but they speak English with a certain strange accent that is neither LAFA (locally Acquired Foreign Accent) nor FAFA (Foreign Acquired Foreign Accent). And, because strange things often beget stranger things, her children have very strange sexual habits: they are bisexuals who speak in tongues. Additionally, they use a sex toy as a book marker when reading the bible. Your guess is right that I didn’t stay long in that devil of a house; I would have been a Mephistopheles by now.
While we would expect that the laws of Ghana would deal rightly with the British consultant and the other Briton who sodomised Emmanuel Adda, we should begin to question our sense of hospitality. It appears it is built on the notion that there is always virtue in newness. And, this notion is born out of the feeling that when something is very close to you, the premium you put on it becomes negotiable. It is part of our nature to be nice to visitors; we shouldn’t tout it as if we are the only people on earth who are hospitable. Most cultures do it better than us; ours sometimes has a condescending twist to it, so it is most of the time quite contrite. We have to be nice, even nicer to those who visit us, but we would have to stand for what is right and deal effectively with what is wrong. If it is good to be nice to strangers, it is even better to be nice to our own.
We should condemn the British consultant and Emmanuel Adda’s English friend for abusing our hospitality, but we should also look within and ask how we have treated Ghanaian paedophiles and rapists. A lot of them have already escaped punishment, because we simply did not report them. We cared more about the future of the victims than the sanity in society. And, the perpetrators did not turn from their evil ways. Society will always be a loser if we fail to disgrace those who do not care about good values. And, when society loses, hospitality does not make sense; it goes bonkers.

By: Benjamin Tawiah
The author is a freelance journalist; he lives in London. Email: quesiquesi@hotmail.co.uk/ btawiah@hotmail.com

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Tawiah, Benjamin