This morning, I woke up with a headache. I asked my wife if she could drop the kids at school. She said yes. I took one look at her tired face. I changed my mind. I wobbled out of the couch where I'd spent the night and went looking for a pair of shorts. It is just another day. The kids got into the car, and off we went.
The road from Kokrobite to the famous old barrier is not one designed for cars. It feels more suited for horses and antelopes. My kids were singing "Lala lala la" in many different renditions, which didn't necessarily harmonise with the clanging and tinkling sounds seeping out from the bottom of my car, as it kissed each pothole I couldn't swerve. Most mornings are like this.
In the midst of this monotonous morning, one big distraction happened. Up the hill that leads down to the old barrier, I saw a group of people gathered around a naked man lying in a gutter. I quickly sped on to prevent my kids from witnessing the horrible sight. Fortunately for me, they were too engrossed in their song.
On my way back, the size of the crowd had increased. A police man, on a dilapidated motorbike, who had sped past me had already arrived at the scene. When I got there, he was talking about how three of these robbers had robbed and raped a young married woman in the neighbourhood recently. He was furious that the guy was still alive. He started tapping his pockets, looking for something. Finally he ended our curiosity by saying he was looking for his pepper spray. He wanted to spray some into the thief's wounds so he can feel pepper. Shortly after his rants, the police truck arrived. They, obviously were disappointed that the thief was alive. One of them yelled at the crowd: "Why do you guys keep doing this? If you've caught a thief, why don't you just kill him? Why do you beat them half-dead and then dump them on us? If you had killed him, all we'd have to do is dump him at the mortuary!"
I asked the people around if any of them knew for certain that the guy was a thief. None knew for certain but they all agreed he definitely looked like one. They said he had been dumped in the gutter around 2am. He had been calling for Joyce to come to see him before he dies. I wondered who Joyce was?
I didn't hear him utter a word whilst I was there, so everything I heard, I heard from bystanders. One guy said he had been robbed recently; and if the Police hadn't arrived he would have dropped a cement block on the thief's head. He said most of these thieves come in the afternoon when the neighbourhood is quiet and everybody is at work. Another lady said this particular thief had come to spy the neighbourhood out recently. He had come to eat at one of the "chop bars" around and an old man, had warned them that the guy looked evil.
There are two main reasons why people take the law into their hands: When they can't trust the system; and when they know they can get away with it. I believe the pursuit of justice is innate and we all would love that the bad nuts in society are properly punished for their crimes but I hope more people will pause for just a second before they hurl a stone or knife at "a thief" and ask themselves: "What if he isn't a thief?"
About 17 years ago, I was nearly lynched at North Kaneshie, in Accra, where I had gone to visit my friend Patrick. I was in a batick shirt. A young girl screamed in my direction and said: "There he is! The Thief!" I had the presence of mind not to run and look at the girl. She took another look at me and said "Oh, that's not him but the thief is also in a batick shirt". Fortunately for me, that incident happened at noon, so she could properly make me out. Imagine if it had been at night. Imagine if I had panicked and started running. Imagine how many innocent people get killed in the gutters and streets of Africa everyday because someone mistook them for a thief?
Just for the sake of the one person who might be innocent, we need to stop this barbaric, lawless act of jungle justice. All God's children deserve justice.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 2/20/2014 04:47:00 pm
Normally when it starts raining, it is natural to dash for cover. Even children do that. On that mystical day, half of us did run for cover whilst the other half looked at us, wondering if we were alright.
We were drenched but they were as dry as Harmattan’s backside. And then finally, it hit us all. It was raining only on our side of the pavement. How's that possible? How could only my left had be getting wet whilst my right hand stayed completely dry? How could my left foot be wet and my right foot be dry?
Ten of us went for dinner in Luanda, Angola. The dinner bill was 5,700 United States Dollars. Our chaperon pulled out a wad of $100 bills and paid it off with the coolness with which people in London pay for chewing gum. The very following day, I discovered that just a few kilometres away from where we'd had that dinner in Luanda, other citizens survive on less than a dollar a day. I saw people eating uncooked cassava and groundnuts for supper. They live on the same pavement but it rains only one side.
I have had the same kind of experiences in Accra, Lagos, Lome, Abidjan, Dakar, Ouagadougou, Bamako, Monrovia, Banjul, Kampala, Yaounde, Johannesburg and Zanzibar. It seems to rain only on one side of the pavement in Africa.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 1/29/2014 02:30:00 pm
These are a portraits I made of you on your 41st birthday in Mauritius. That was a good day; unlike today.
May your soul rest in perfect peace, brother. We will always be proud of you. Always.
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 12/03/2013 09:37:00 pm
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 12/02/2013 07:34:00 pm
“Marriage is what smart boys and girls stay away from at all cost… Marriage is boring… Marriage is imprisonment… Marriage is death….” You can continue the list of negative things you’ve heard about marriage here…
(The photos are a celebration of the wedding of Francis and Rhoda, my favourite couple) at Kokrobite, where all the fun happens).
© Nana Kofi Acquah at 9/20/2013 08:05:00 am