Wednesday, 27 January 2021

TALKING DRUM: What Rawlings said in 1986!

On Sunday, January 17, 2021, I set off to meet two friends at the Shiashie bus stop in Accra. Jones Ronny Dedjo and Benjamin Tenkorang – professional photojournalists – were my classmates at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and are now helping roll the cameras for my talkshow ‘Talk To Solomon’ on the YouTube channel Aniwaba. We were to go to Abokobi to interview veteran journalist Teye Kitcher, who worked with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC). Mr. Kitcher was the presidential correspondent to the Castle in the era the late Jerry John Rawlings was the head of state. Coming from different directions with a common destination of Abokobi, we agreed meeting at Shiashi. So, we moved together to Teye Kitcher’s house. I got to the Shiashie bus stop, longed to sit on a chair but there was none. What I saw could replace a seat was a metallic bar. I sat on it but that did not make me as uncomfortable as the pile of refuse at the bus stop that stared at me and other commuters. The very spot the refuse occupied should have had a dustbin placed there. The absence of a dustbin had commuters dumping their waste on the bare ground. I could not really fault those who dumped their waste there as I blamed persons mandated to ensure there was a dustbin in place. Benjamin came a few minutes after I had arrived and then Jones followed. While we sat in our vehicle and headed for Abokobi, I brought up the issue of the filth at the bus stop. Scenes of filth like the one seen at Shiashie have become so normal here in Accra and in almost all the other cities in the country. At Kaneshie – also in Accra – where the Accra Metropolitan Assembly has its waste management office, the place appears to be the Mecca of filth in Ghana. Well, at a point, we chipped in a different conversation and sped off to meet our interviewee. Today’s interview with Teye Kitcher will be the second after I first interviewed him three days after Rawlings passed away. In our first interview, he had mentioned that he still had in his archives some of the speeches Rawlings delivered as far back as the 1980s. To my surprise, the man who will turn 62-years soon (but looking evergreen) had placed a brown leather bag on one of the chairs in his living room. “Solo,” he said when he ushered us into the living room, “this is the bag. It contains some speeches of Rawlings and other stuff during my days at the Castle as a presidential correspondent.” We started the interview proper and asked him how he would feel seeing the remains of J.J Rawlings– the former president– laid in state on January 27, 2021. I knew what he was likely to say. Mr. Teye and Rawlings had become so close that the former could bare it all to the latter issues that worried him. The retired journalist once told me he even shared family matters with the former head of state. When your close friend is laid in state, that could physically and emotionally drain you and that was how difficult Teye Kitcher had presumed it will be for him. In the course of the interview, I asked him to get us some of the documents from his well-kept bag of archives. He stood up, brought a bundle of papers and started searching through them one after the other. “Address by the Chairman of the PNDC Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings,” read Mr. Kitcher after he pulled out one brownish-white paper, “at the occasion of the commissioning of the Accra City Waste Management Project at Kaneshie on Friday, 18th July 1986.” That was the heading of Rawlings’ speech. When Teye Kitcher read that, I told him I was interested in that particular paper and that he should read excerpts of it. “Madam Chairperson, PNDC Secretaries and Under Secretaries, Your Excellency, Nimei, Naamei, Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen,” started Rawlings. Listening to Mr. Kitcher read this to me, I could imagine the sort of seriousness with which Rawlings read this himself. “[…] It is indeed true to say that this function provides yet another practical demonstration of the government’s commitment to strengthen the hands of Local Authorities with the ultimate aim of injecting maximum efficiency into the performance of their important function of providing essential services to the people.” Choosing Kaneshie to commission this project, I think, was strategic. As I mentioned earlier, Kaneshie today appears to be the citadel of Ghana’s filth and I presume it was as filthy in the 1980s as it is now. But, Rawlings’ drive to get Accra clean did not yield long-term results. In 2021, we are worse off than the late president imagined. Papa Jay, as many called him, knew the essence of best sanitation practices, hence, the coming into being of the Accra City Waste Management Project. Mr. Rawlings’ speech continued: “Madam Chairperson, the fact cannot be gainsaid that our major problem with the urban environment clearly lies in the area of sanitation. It is common knowledge that where healthy sanitation practices exist, the air we breathe and the water we drink and utilise for numerous domestic and commercial purposes will be free from pollution.” Why do we as a people perfectly know the results of best sanitation practices, yet we blatantly disregard such and live our lives as people who are lost on their bearings? At Kaneshie, Lapaz, Madina and all the suburbs of Accra, filth has engulfed us. Sadly, market women sell right at the spots where refuse are dumped while buyers and consumers busily buy consumables there. Are we normal? Why is it that for solid 35 years, we are still talking about unsanitary conditions in Accra and Ghana at large? If you happen to be a social science student or asked to describe Ghana, please don’t wrack your brain that much. In simple terms, Ghana is either a state without citizens or citizens without a state, arguably, the only country in the world where common sense appears so expensive a commodity. The John Dramani administration attempted to fix our mess but what they proposed as solution to the problem was actually a problem to the solution. They introduced the National Sanitation Day, which indirectly told citizens to fill their gutters with all their trash so they go back to clean it the first Saturday of every month. Is something not wrong with us? Then came the promise Messiah and his government. Then candidate Akufo-Addo promised Ghanaians Accra will be the cleanest city in Africa by the end of his first term. This task, to President Akufo Addo and his government, was so difficult and complex than the Russians manufacturing their S-300. So, they told Ghanaians the clean city promise will be delivered in their second term. A country of jokers? Not long ago, I had a chat with Bruno Sorrentino (a veteran journalist) who spent 20 years documenting the life of a girl. I told him how much I was impressed with his exemplary journalism of riveting storytelling. The documentary by Mr. Sorrentino that I watched on Aljazeera titled ‘Kay Kay: The Girl from Guangzhou’, had the journalist filming the little girl (named Kay Kay) every two years, starting from when she was two years. The purpose of the filming was to assess how Guangzhou and China would be like – in terms of economic growth – when Kay Kay had turned 20. “We can put up with all this dust and pollution if in the end it means business,” Kay Kay’s mother said in the film. The year was 1992 (when Bruno first filmed) and Guangzhou was sprouting like mushrooms. Twenty years came so quickly, Kay Kay had completed university looking for job and China had moved miles away from its gloomy past. When I had the chat with Bruno Sorrentino on January 10, 2021, it was my third time watching his documentary. If Bruno had come to Ghana to film a little girl or boy in Accra and witnessed the commissioning of the Accra City Waste Management Project, he would have wasted his time and resources on us. Ghana, a country so much blessed yet so poor in all aspects of its endeavour, is gracefully a disgrace state sitting on the surface of the earth. I am sorry to inform you that that Accra City Waste Management Project was even funded by the “Federal Republic of Germany and some friendly organisations of that country,” yet, we failed them! It is Sunday, January 24, 2021, and the time is 2:44am and I am here in my ghetto writing you this piece. I need to catch some sleep. But as I go to bed, if I tell you I have hope in Ghana I will be lying. My hope in Ghana is gone with the wind and it will only be resuscitated if only we are able to put our minds on “factory reset,” discard our backward behaviour and live as civilised people. The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General. Views expressed here solely remain his and not that of his organization. Email: Twitter: @Aniwaba Youtube: Aniwaba

Friday, 4 December 2020

TALKING DRUM: Hello Nana Addo, should I vote for you?


President Akufo Addo. Photo: Culled from the Internet

Last week at Bubuashie in Accra, a lady and young man quickly walked past my bus (trotro) which moved slowly— dodging potholes. Draped on the right shoulder of the lady was a megaphone. 

"He is number one on the ballot paper," she said. She was not an evangelist winning souls for Christ. Here was a lady campaigning for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the upcoming December 7 polls. She was on a mission to win votes for NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The Bubuashie megaphone campaigners announced that residents could dispose their refuse for free. They had brought a ‘borla’ taxi to collect all the residents’ rubbish.

If you are a Ghanaian or African reading this, I will not be surprised to hear you say you are equally not surprised of this sort of campaign towards an election on the continent. This is Ghana and that is how my people canvass for votes. When they win, you will only see them in the next four (4) years!

Sitting in that rickety bus, I felt justified for being critically harsh on politicians in my writings. The sad truth is that they know exactly how to turn around the fortunes of this country called Ghana but deliberately derelict their duties and responsibilities. They capitalize on the ignorance and timidity of the masses to rape them.

For instance, when the Nana Akufo Addo-led government assumed office, one of its policies, aside fighting corruption, was to get Accra become the cleanest city in Africa. Ghanaians were so hopeful that, at last, we had found a leader to rid Accra of its dirt.

I had no qualms about the President achieving this feat. In 1986, France and England conceived an idea to create a route that will connect the two countries. After deliberations, they settled on building a railway.

What became known as the Eurotunnel or the Channel Tunnel was not an ordinary railway line. The 31 mile (50 km) long Eurotunnel was built undersea. Yes! When it was officially opened in 1994, the world once again realized that the human brain is the most powerful thing on earth. A railway constructed undersea? Hmmm!

So, as mentioned above, when my president made endless promises to, among other things, get Accra to become Africa’s cleanest city, I never had doubts. Human beings elsewhere had been able to build railway under the waters. After all, how tedious is it to sweep rubbish and get citizens not to litter indiscriminately?

Then, few months into the NPP government administration, they boldly and proudly told Ghanaians they cannot fulfill the ‘clean city’ promise. Annoyingly, the President and his ministers kept telling Ghanaians that goal would be achieved in their second term in government. Really? A country of jokers!

As elections fast approach, the NPP and its supporters and foot soldiers have seen the need to hit the grounds to aggressively campaign as I saw at Bubuashie and we see in every corner in the country. Why was the government unable to employ these on-the-ground campaign strategies for the sanitation campaign among others the president promised? Why is the NPP able to assemble beautiful ladies, station them on our streets and hand them placards bearing the party’s so-called achievements yet unable to get them to hold placards telling Ghanaians not to litter?

This, I must say, the National Democratic Congress is equally guilty of. The Ghanaian politician thinks every Ghanaian is a fool. So, they pretend to be working right from the day they are sworn into office. When they realize elections are drawing closer, they come promising us even the more.

If you have keenly followed the Australian Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Gregory Andrews, as I have, you would realize that right from the very day he got into Ghana, he started working. He had no time to waste.

When you read comments on the Australian Embassy Facebook page, most Ghanaians who comment on his posts bitterly lament over not seeing this spirit of a sense of urgency and selfless dedication to humanity in their own politicians. President Nana Addo, after he touted his government to be one in a hurry quickly implemented the Free SHS policy and went to sleep. His government is a tale of failed promises.

Our politicians are so wicked that after they come together to loot and, at times, pamper foreigners — as we saw in the cases of Aisha Huang and Helena Huang — to rape the country of its resources, they are even unable to provide basic amenities to citizens to calm down their tempers.

Last year, I went to Tamale on three separate round trips by air from Accra. Throughout my life, so far, my being aboard an airplane has seen me do Accra-Tamale and Tamale-Accra. I have not stepped a foot outside Ghana. Nonetheless, I spend time on the internet and so I know almost every country so well and I think Ghana is perhaps the only country where common sense is so hard to find. Yes! Politically, we do not have sensible leaders.

If we had politically sensible leaders, would we have seen almost all our streets turn pitch-black at night while Ghanaians pay for streetlight services? If we had leaders who think, would we have seen them get their supporters climb these same white elephant streetlight poles to hoist their campaign flags?

In front of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, on the Awoshie-Pokuase Highway and University of Ghana (Legon-Accra) among others (all in Accra), one sees impenetrable darkness at night but party flags of both NPP and NDC adorn these streetlight poles. I am sure this situation reflects nationwide, too. Please, the question is, are we normal?

Few months ago, it took residents at Magoase near Awoshie to protest before traffic light was fixed for them on a point on the Awoshie-Pokuase Highway. When the ‘wise men’, however, fixed the traffic light at Magoase, they forgot to fix the streetlights on this same road. Are we not stupid!?


                                       Some pedestrians crossing the Aoshie-Pokuase Highway

In August 2020, I used the Techiman-Sawla stretch. The potholes on this road speak volumes of our negligence. We do not value human lives so nothing tells us to fix, at least, our major roads. We are only interested in counting the number of deaths on these roads.

On January 26, 2020, I wrote an article dubbed “What next after counting the dead?” and in that piece, I told you that: “In 2019 only, Ghana as a country lost 2,284 persons to road crashes. 2018 was nothing different. We counted 2,020 deaths of humans on our roads.”

Actually, statistics from 1991 to 2018 indicates that 46,284 people lost their lives to road crashes. if we were to fill the Accra Sports Stadium — which has a 40, 000 seating capacity — with these dead bodies, as many have put this in perspective, we would have the venue overflowing with a surplus of 6000 bodies.”

That is how alarming the situation is. However, what concrete measures have our leaders put in place to curb road crashes? None! (See the aforementioned article and read measures I suggested be taken to curb the crashes.) Nothing pushes us to be concerned about our predicaments as we made the world believe we could manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. President, should I vote for you? Honestly, I do not see any sense of patriotism and nationalism in the two main contenders in the December 7 polls. The NPP and NDC are only bent on amassing wealth for themselves. They instigate their die-hard supporters to commit all sorts of atrocities including what we saw in Banda in the Bono Region where a young man named Silas Wulochamey met his untimely death in the hands of NPP-NDC thugs. In Kasoa too, we have not forgotten the horror ‘movie’ Member of Parliament for Awutu Senya East Constituency Hawa Koomson shot.

If these people claim they want to serve Ghanaians, why do they kill and maim the same Ghanaians they want to serve? Why do they blatantly engage in corruption and rake in all the cash into their coffers while the masses suffer?

It is only an unfortunate reality that, come December 7, victory will either go to the NPP or NDC. For some of us, however, we see it as an exercise and endorsement of mediocrity if we walk from our homes and go to the polling centers to vote for any of the two leading political parties.

It may take us years for Ghana and Africa to have refined politicians with conscience leading us both in government and opposition who will place the interest of the masses before their selfish gains. The time to force these politicians to think is now.

If I had my way, I will elect Akua Donkor as Ghana’s next president so — officially — the world knows we are into comedy in our politics. Until we wake up and challenge our ‘educated illiterates’ in politics who are bent on bettering themselves, their family and friends, we will continue to ask God why we find ourselves in Africa!

The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General. Views expressed here solely remain his and not that of his organization.


Twitter: @Aniwaba

Youtube: Aniwaba

Friday, 24 July 2020

TALKING DRUM: Kasoa-Banda gunshots, how they kill for votes!

Member of Parliament, Hawa Koomson
When my brother told me that he had received his voting cards (referred to in Ghana as ballot papers), I expressed shock. “They sent you the cards? Really?” I enquired, just for emphasis sake.

He took pictures of the voting cards– three in all– and sent to me via WhatsApp. “This is Sweden. Here, there is law and order and the systems work,” he said.

I had told him how surprised I was hearing that ballot papers were sent to them to be kept in their rooms for days before the very day of the elections. In his case, he kept them in his room for two solid weeks.

“Massa, I swear that if we do this in Ghana there will be no human being living in the country the day after citizens received these papers. The NDC and NPP will map their opponents’ zones and burn them to ashes at dawn,” I said rather sadly.

We all laughed it off. But that is the stark reality in our country Ghana. 

Reading more on the Swedish electoral process, I chanced on an article on dubbed, “How to vote in the 2018 Swedish election”. Portions of the article confirmed what I was told of the ballot papers. That, “In the weeks leading up to the election, voting cards are sent out to all eligible voters from the Election Authority, also known as Valmyndigheten. These are sent to the address you registered with Skatteverket (tax agency). 

A Swede walks to vote.
 “This letter [containing the cards] will also include information about the location and opening time of your nearest polling station on election day. These are municipal buildings, usually schools or libraries. In some locations, it's possible to cast your vote in advance, starting 18 days before the day of the election; if you do this, you can use any advance polling station, but if you vote on the day, you must go to your designated location.”

Swedes cast their votes. Photo: ScanPix
When I posted about this on my Facebook wall, I had friends living in other civilized countries sharing the same account on their respective elections. It dawned on me that Ghana and her counterparts in Africa are – arguably– the ones still glued to their backward approach to development. 

Sad enough, it appears we are unfazed as a country as politicians and their supporters continue to make elections on the continent a bitter pill forced down the throats of citizens. Last week, news was rife when a 28-year old man got killed at Banda Ahenkro in the Bono Region. He was not an armed robber neither was he caught on top of someone’s wife.

Silas Wulochamey suffered his gruesome death allegedly in the hands of the supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). Media reports suggested that supporters of the NPP and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) engaged in a brawl over the eligibility of Mr. Wulochamey to register at Banda Ahenkro for the ongoing voter card registration exercise.

The altercation led to the stabbing of the young man whom we are told hailed from Banda Ahenkro. Even if he had no family ties in Banda Ahenkro or whatsoever, was it not totally senseless to kill him in his attempt to register there? Here was a graduate from the Akim Oda Teacher Training College killed in cold blood. Yes! Someone’s son who could have supported his family and friends to better their lives if he were given the chance to live and practice as a trained teacher. 

It is worthy to note that in an interview on Onua FM’s midday news, after the incident, the Bono Regional Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Police Service, Augustine Kingsley Oppong said that about three of his officers who went to ensure law and order prevailed in the Banda incident also sustained gunshot wounds. That was how grim the situation was!

Just as we could let the dust settle on Silas Wulochamey’s death, Ghanaians and the rest of the world further had to battle another infamous incident. This time, the violent act of indiscriminately firing gunshots into the air was led by the Member of Parliament of the Awutu Senya East of the Central Region, Hawa Koomson. The MP also doubles as the Minister of Special Development Initiatives. 

Madam Koomson’s day of shame was on Monday, July 20, 2020, at the Step to Christ registration centre at Kasoa. If guns are easily pulled at a mere voters’ ID card registration centres by trigger-happy political lunatics and party supporters are, as well, so senseless to stab their fellow human to death, then what happens come December 7 when the country goes to the polls?

About seven (7) months ago, I asked a friend who had returned to Ghana from South Korea just one question when I bumped into him at church. 

“You have been to a developed country and now you are back here in Ghana. What do you think we must do to be called a developed country too?” I threw the question at him.

Stirring into my face for about 30 seconds, he heaved a sigh and said, “Unless we kill all these people (referring to Ghana’s adult population) with polluted minds and let the kids take over the country with a fresh mindset. Though I’m not saying that’s what Korea did.” 

Whereas my friend, to an extent, was right we could develop Ghana if we can eliminate the adult populace, I believe that rather we should just let those who call themselves the “educated” Ghanaians step aside from public leadership. They are the very people destroying the country. 

The truth is if the so-called illiterates in society perpetrate these atrocities seen in politics we could, in a worst case scenario, find a room in our hearts to pardon them. We will agree if they plead they were not exposed to best practices in politics elsewhere before their funfair of stupidity. But, when an MP who doubles as a minister and her folks who have travelled the world instigate their followers to commit heinous crimes because they want votes, there must be no mercy for them before the law. 

This, both the NPP and NDC are guilty. When in government and they commit these atrocities, they find a way to justify their actions and the opposition courts the public to mount pressure and the same situation continues when we change governments. 

If a country like Sweden occupied by humans as those in Ghana could hold super peaceful elections without most people of the world even realizing they held an election, why can’t we do same in Ghana? Why can’t we as a people allow our brains to function for just a second? Why do we sit down for a few foolish politicians take the country to ransom that human beings are killed with impunity just because they want to win an election? And, the most nauseating thing is that if, indeed, these politicians say they only want to serve their populace by soliciting for their votes then why kill and terrorize the very people they will serve?

I used to blame Michael Jackson for changing the colour of his skin. Then, I completed journalism school, started following Ghana and Africa's politics proper and realised that judgment must be left solely in the hands of God.

If you consider the constant showcasing of stupidity by some of our politicians, one tends to agree with scientists' classification of human beings as animals. The reality is that such animals abound in Ghana and if there were a wall built around our country, we could pass for the world's biggest zoo!

Though cases of violence recorded at the registration centres are isolated, honestly, I do not see the reason why I should go to a potential death zone of a voter ID card registration centre to register. After all, without any scientific data, I can boldly say that 90% of people who have registered to vote will do so either to maintain President Akufo Addo and his NPP or bring back into government John Dramani Mahama and his NDC. 

That is the sad truth and I am not willing to commit such a crime of electing any of these political chameleons who will promise to buy you a beautiful bowl only to return from the market with a chamber pot.

However, in case I change my mind and register for the voter’s card, I will gladly vote for Akua Donkor and her Ghana Freedom Party. A friend named Fatau Mohammed once gave me a reason why he will vote for Madam Donkor and I think he makes sense. He says, with Akua Donkor’s government there will be no disappointments but only surprises. 

In that, many believe her to be a political joker so if she wins power and underperforms you know you did not vote for her to positively change our narrative as a country. Nonetheless, if she pulls magic and transforms the country’s fortunes then you know she has surprised you big time.

If we, indeed, value Ghana and want the best for the country then we must all stop acting like jokers. The Ghanaian media must, as well, desist from trumpeting peace campaigns and musicians must do same by desisting from composing songs on such. If after 60 years of independence we have not realised the reason we exist as a people then we must equally grab a chilled bottle of Coke and popcorn and read Edward N. Luttwak’s paper ‘Give War a Chance.’

Countries who listened to Luttwak have learnt their lessons, the hard way, and today they are successfully progressing. Here, when we heed to Luttwak’s call, we will look on while the NDC and NPP fight till their energy drains.

The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General [TV3/3FM]. Views expressed herein are solely his, and do not, in any way, reflect the editorial policy of his organisation whatsoever.
Twitter: @aniwaba
Youtube: @aniwaba

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

INT’L DIALOGUE: Dying in Lebanon, will Ghana seek justice for Tay?

The deceased, 23-year old Faustina Tay. Photo Credit: Aljazeera

Umuofia kwenu,” yelled Ogbuefi Ezuego the powerful orator in Chinua Achebe’s legendary novel Things Fall Apart. It was the fifth time the old man had bellowed and the crowd that had gathered at the market-place thunderously responded ‘Yaa!

The crowd of men, numbering in their thousands, had gathered after they had heard at dawn the gong of the town-crier resounding. The message was simple. That, they ought to meet immediately after the sun had smiled away the grim looks of the dawn.

“Those sons [referring to the people of Mbaino— a nearby community] of wild animals have dared to murder a daughter of Umuofia,” said Ezuego to the teeming crowd.

Chinua Achebe says in that fictionary tale that Ezuego “threw his head down and gnashed his teeth, and allowed a murmur of suppressed anger to sweep the crowd. When he began again, the anger on his face was gone and in its place a sort of smile hovered, more terrible and more sinister than the anger.”

When Ogbuefi Ezuego was done telling the men gathered that their daughter had been gruesomely murdered by miscreants in Mbaino, the men longed for blood as though water to quench their thirst.

So was how the literary wizard captured the confrontation between Umuofia and Mbaino. But, could same be said of the response by Ghana when Aljazeera reported on April 7, 2020, that its daughter— 23-year-old Faustina Tay— had been ‘found dead’ at the basement of the apartment she lived in and served as a maid in Lebanon?

A mysterious death it was!

The said story dubbed “The desperate final days of a domestic worker in Lebanon” says, Ms. Tay had sent Canada-based activist group, This Is Lebanon, messages of the abuse she suffered in the house.

Considering the horrific nature of her death, it should have been enough trigger to spark an uproar in the camp of the cult of human rights groups in Ghana if not among Ghanaians proper. But, hey, there have been an absolute silence on the front of these human rights activists who would ordinarily make ‘noise’ over trivial issues.

Well, perhaps, they are all fighting Covid-19! In Ghana, the news of Faustina Tay’s death struggled to make headlines as only a handful of media outlets carried it on their portals. Similarly, very few people posted or commented on it on social media. It was/is not surprising that the hashtag #JusticeForTay did not fly. Had it been the video of a national security minister modeling in pyjamas for a supposed ‘side-chick,’ traditional media, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook would have had an overflow of commentaries. This is Ghana, a country where we major in the minor and the reverse is true.

Nonetheless, no matter how few the people who are adding their voices in seeking justice for Faustina Tay, the fight for her and many others in Lebanon and other gulf countries must constantly be echoed.

For migration expert, MacDonald K.B. Simpson, as far as poverty continues to torment many in Africa, we will keep hearing and seeing these sort of painful deaths.

“The main culprit [here] is poverty and so to speak, drives people to leave home not at their will. Also, the demand for cheap domestic labour in that part of the world is another cause. The demand for house helps, baby sitters, cleaners and so on is in high demand in the Gulf States and Africa is a fertile ground for such domestic workers,” he said to International Dialogue in email correspondence.

Mr. Simpson says that a single mother with very little education in Ghana who is struggling to make ends meet would be tempted by a ₵1,000 monthly remuneration plus free accommodation in Kuwait, Qatar or Lebanon and do whatever it takes to take that offer.

On Saturday, April 11, 2020, when International Dialogue spoke to a Ghanaian lady living in Lebanon, she echoed same sentiments. This lady— who spoke on condition of anonymity— though educated and enlightened says she could not resist the temptation of being promised [while in Ghana] a monthly salary of ₵1,000 as a maid in Lebanon.

Barbara [not her real name] says she is fortunate to have had a couple [her employers] who somewhat treat her well with the exception that she works 17-19 hours a day with basically no rest. That, there are hundreds of her fellows in Lebanon who are experiencing hell at first hand.

“Most Ghanaian women and other maids here are being severely beaten, intentionally starved for no apparent reason and sexually molested among others,” she said.

MacDonald K.B. Simpson says, “Faustina’s death should be blamed not on her employers alone but the process that sent her there and the poverty she had ran away from.”

Here, the current lockdown in parts of Ghana has exposed the deep divide between the rich and the poor in the West African state. Successive governments have turned a blind eye on this without creatively thinking to uplift the masses from hardship. Even if Ghana had state farms, in of its 16 regions, and employed those Ghanaians who go to serve as maids elsewhere, they would have lived dignified and meaningful lives.   

“On one of my trips back to Ghana a couple of years ago, I met two young ladies on a plane who told me they were domestic maids in Erbil, the capital city of Kurdistan, and that they were going to Ghana for a one  month holiday. Kurdistan! I had never thought Ghanaian women would work there. I was surprised not at the country they were coming from but the story they had told me,” says MacDonald K.B. Simpson.

The hard truth is, we really do not value human lives as Ghanaians and so it hardly crosses our mind to think of how to protect our people abroad. In countries like America, once you are considered a national your safety to the nation is a topmost priority.

What concrete action did we take as a people after Yahya Jammeh and his soldiers freely killed 44 Ghanaians in 2005?

Somewhere last year, at the Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, Lieutenant Malick Jatta and Corporal Omar A. Jallow said that the Ghanaians were executed by the “Junglers” squad on the orders of Mr. Jammeh.

A Ranking Member of Ghana’s Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, after the Jallow confession said at the floor of parliament that government must reopen probe into the gruesome killings. This, we are yet to know whether the probe has been reopened.

However, if it is lack of commitment on the part of government, the Ghanaian media should not be slacking too. Rather, it should be fronting campaigns to get justice for such slain and abused fellows.

What the Ghanaian media must know is that it is shameful to report on an issue once and go to sleep. After the media reported on the killing of investigative journalist Ahmed Suale, it went to bed only to come back to it on the occasion of his one year anniversary. Currently, there is no news on the journalist. We will only see and hear the media at next year’s anniversary when it will be calling the police and the Ghana Journalists Association among others on ‘how far’ the investigations have gone. Can we be serious a little?

Today, it is Faustina Tay and we must not, yet again, remain silent! This is the right time for the militant feminists— the so called gender activists— to rise and fight for their own.

These gender activists must join some of us in telling the Lebanese government to abolish the Kafala [sponsorship] system. Under this system, a migrant domestic worker’s legal status is solely in the hands of their employers.

The sad reality is that, one could easily become illegal migrant should the employer terminate their contract. And the most worrying part of this law is where these employers are free to seize the domestic workers’ passports. Who does such a thing in this modern era?

The African Union must rise and engage the Lebanese government over these abuses against domestic workers as it is not only Ghanaians suffering this fate.

“On Tuesday, November 5, the 20th day of the ongoing uprising in Lebanon, an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Beirut arrived at Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport. [In] its cargo was seven dead bodies of Ethiopian domestic workers who had died in Lebanon,” says Lebanese writer and researcher Joey Ayoub in an opinion piece on Aljazeera’s website in November 2019.

The government of Ghana must as well dispel the fears of many including Fraud and Security Consultant Richard Kumadoe over the seeming inactiveness of the country’s security services to clamp down on persons who lure our women to slavery in the Gulf countries.

“I guess and suspect that the [security] agencies have gone to sleep,” says Mr. Kumadoe to International Dialogue, “so, it’s time to wake them up to take their positions and to discharge their responsibilities in curtailing the widespread of human trafficking especially Ghanaians to other countries.”

People who lure these women to Lebanon and such places are engaged in a subtle form of human trafficking. This, we must admit and act swiftly. Barbara— the maid in Lebanon— says they were smuggled through the Kotoka International Airport. They did not go through the laid down checks every passenger goes through. She did not even have the yellow fever pass!

May the soul of Faustina Tay find a peaceful rest. And may we not relent on our effort to seek justice for her. As to whether she was murdered or she committed suicide, the bottom line is that we now know there was an existing threat on her life by her employers.

Can we let #JusticeForTay trend till something substantial is achieved?

The writers are international journalists who have interest in the world’s politics with an unflinching eye mainly on what pertains in Africa. Views expressed here are solely theirs and do not, in anyway, reflect the editorial policy of this media organisation.
Twitter: @abisolo7 & @aniwaba