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Sodom, Gomorrah, and the movement of Jah people

Sun, 28 Jun 2015 Source: Frankly Speaking

One of the late Bob Marley’s songs, which I believe was based on the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan as recorded in the Bible beginning from Exodus 12:31, is titled ‘Exodus, movement of Jah people’. The lyrics in part goes like this:

Open your eyes and let me tell you this

Men and people will fight ya down (Tell me why?)

when ya see Jah light

Let me tell you, if you're not wrong (Then why?)

ev'rything is alright

So we gonna walk, alright, through the roads of creation

We're the generation (Tell me why)

trod through great tribulation

Open your eyes and look within

Are you satisfied with the life you're living?

We know where we're going; we know where we're from

We're leaving Babylon, we're going to our fatherland

Why do I have to open my eyes before you tell me what you want to tell me? But Bob Marley did say so, I believe for very good reasons. To see those who are exploiting you, but fool you with nice political language and sugar-quoted promises which never fulfil. Again, he says, men and people will fight. Ah? Men and people? Aren’t men people too? The answer is obvious, but truly not as obvious as your imagination could be in Ghana.

Who are the men and who are the people? Maybe the sociologists like my friend Robert Inkoom (Kwaku Robert) and his colleagues can better educate us on this. But, let me hazard an uneducated explanation purely based on the happenings in my environment.

In today’s Ghana, the ‘people’ means the ordinary people. Those who have no loud voice which the government and its agencies and departments can hear. They are those the politicians make juicy promises to every four years prior to elections, give them some bags of rice, pieces of clothes, cutlasses, and a few cedis in exchange for their votes.

The people are those the greedy and corrupt of politicians, civil and public servants, journalists, judges, policemen, bullying soldiers, and lately some clergymen, continue to exploit and disregard. They are usually those who do all the donkey jobs for the ‘men’.

And who are the men? Oh dear reader, do I need to tell you any more? They are those we employ to manage our national natural and human resources but who end up appropriating those resources to themselves and their families. Steal our money and save them in foreign banks. They are those who are above the laws of Ghana and are never punished even when they steal millions of our money. They are only asked to pay back without any interest.

The men; they are those riding in the V8 vehicles bought and fuelled from the taxpayers’ sweat; living in 24-hour police-guarded accommodation with stand-by generators to excuse them from the impact of dum-sor; they wink to policemen and soldiers and they start acting without question.

Generally, the men never do wrong. Even when it’s very evident that they have shirked their responsibilities and completely failed to perform the duties for which we pay them, they are never questioned, let alone punished. They are those who would rather after giving us permit to build, will turn around after a few years to send soldiers and policemen to demolish our buildings and pay us no compensation.

In Genesis 18:22-33, we read that when God intended to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah due to their sins, Abraham had the chance to plead for the people to the extent that if there were just 10 righteous people in the cities, God would not have destroyed them. The point here is that God Almighty tempered justice with mercy and listened to Abraham.

Again, even when not up to 10 righteous people were found in Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels gave Lot enough time to mobilise his family and taken out before the cities were destroyed (Genesis 19:12-21). In the midst of God’s anger, He still had compassion for people - human face.

In the case of Ghana, there is a place in Accra called Old Fadama, but popularly referred to as Sodom and Gomorrah (I don’t know if the people there behave like those in the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah). This is one of the known shantytowns in the national capital, but its creation was very recent. City authorities shirked their responsibilities and went to sleep leaving the population there to grow.

Previous governments have attempted to move the people who are mostly from northern Ghana, from Sodom and Gomorrah, but at each attempt politics came in and stalled the process.

Records indicate that in 2008 the Kufuor government attempted to resettle the people of Sodom and Gomorrah but lawyer Dominic Ayine, a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), led the people to initiate a legal action to stop the process, accusing the then government of being insensitive, even though funds had been sought for the proper resettlement of the people.

In court, the government was represented by then Attorney-General, Nana Akufo Addo, now presidential candidate of the NPP. Dr Ayine who represented the people of Sodom and Gomorrah against the government is currently the deputy Attorney-General, but has not had the courage and moral aptitude to raise the same arguments he raised in 2007 against removing the people.

In 2008, the Kufuor government, following the campaign led by the NDC, allowed politics to dictate the fate of the relocation programme by abandoning it. Then deputy Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, was reported to have stated at Elmina during a Ghana Bar Association conference that the political cost of relocating the people from Sodom and Gomorrah to Adjen Kotoku was too much. So, the process was stopped.

This week, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) engaged soldiers and policemen to demolish Sodom and Gomorrah. Much as many support the relocation of the people from that slum, the current exercise has no human face as many of the people only returned from their workplaces to find their abode demolished.

There was no plan for the relocation of the people. Though over the years notices had been given to the people to move from the place, but because the authorities who usually gave the notices were reluctant to carry them through because of politics, nobody has ever taken them serious, hence just moving in as the AMA did without a fresh notice was inhuman.

If the demolition of Sodom and Gomorrah was to stop flooding, then AMA can’t do any selective demolition, as there are too many properties in Accra on waterways. Once upon a time two properties near the Kotoka International Airport were said to be on waterways. The city authorities demolished one and left one because the one left untouched was for a top member of the then ruling party – he was among the ‘men’, while the other whose property was demolished was among the ‘people’, as Bob Marley’s song indicates.

In an after-thought action, the authorities say they have made buses available for the displaced people to travel to their hometowns, mostly in the north. As we are all children of Jah (God), demolishing the people’s living places and making buses available to convey them to the north amounts forceful eviction of Jah people. No wonder they are fighting the ‘men’ as Marley prophesised.

All that they can say for now and wait for the next election campaign when politicians will visit them again with sweet sugar-coated promises is to quote Bob Marley:

Open your eyes and look within

Are you satisfied with the life you're living?

We know where we're going; we know where we're from

We're leaving Babylon, we're going to our fatherland

Columnist: Frankly Speaking