The title of this article actually ought to be “Capt. Mahama’s Death Must Serve as a Teachable Moment.” Lynch-mob culture in Ghana may be far more widespread than I thought. But a few salient common elements are beginning to emerge from the few readings on the subject that I have undertaken since the tragic murder of Capt. Maxwell Adam Mahama, of the 5th Battalion of Infantry of the Ghana Armed Forces, at Denkyira-Obuasi, in the Central Region, on Monday, May 29, 2017.

The first feature and motivating factor for a lynch-mob is that of being a stranger to the neighborhood or community of the would-be assailants or killers. You may be a Ghanaian all right, but if your ethnicity or language and culture differ from those of your would-be assailants, then, of course, you become fair game or prime grist for such act of the most heinous degree of criminality. In the case of Capt. Mahama, posthumously promoted to the senior military rank of a Major, his mere physical appearance of relatively lighter hue than most of his assailants must have been an adequate motivating factor.

But there is an ironic twist to this patent act of lunacy; and it is the fact that the maiden surname of the slain officer’s mother of “Bamford” immediately puts him partly into the Anglo-Fante littoral (or coastal) community of the Central Region. But among the Denkyira sub-ethnic group of Akan speakers, with a dialect more closely related to that of Asante, Capt. Mahama did not belong. You see, my search for the Fante aspect of Capt. Mahama’s identity and ethnic and cultural background did not dawn on me, until my wife kept remarking on the fact that the dead man’s mother looked remarkably lighter-skinned than the rest of the Mahama Clan’s members. And then I serendipitously came across the name “Bamford” in one of my readings of the news stories on the slain man.

I told my wife, whose own Ewe-Akan father also looks quite light-skinned that I would not be surprised if the late Capt. Mahama turned out to have been related to former House Speaker Bamford. I have yet to figure this one out; and I hope that a dear reader with such knowledge would write to inform me and the rest of my readership about the same. At any rate, it was his clearly well-established physical difference and, perhaps, his accent as well, that “betrayed” Capt. Mahama, in the practical sense of the term.

The report of him carrying a handgun or sidearm on him, as some of the initial reports indicated, may very well have convinced his would-be killers that, indeed, he was precisely the sort of perp or armed robber they were on the lookout for to mete instant justice. In the case of Ms. Afia Tenge, the Public Relations Officer of the Greater-Accra Regional Police Command, who had a close call with a Tamale lynch-mob while attending a professional training conference in the northern regional capital not very long ago, gender and clothing may have been the motivating factors (See “Afia Tenge Nearly Lynched for ‘Abominable’ Dressing” Classfmonline.com / Modernghana.com 6/2/17).

The Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) had just broken from the conference one evening and hit the Tamale city streets, to both take a refreshing stroll as well as get something to eat, when all of a sudden a mob of youths massed up behind her ready to pounce and shred her to pieces. Fortunately for her, a Good Samaritan quickly ran up to her, hailed a cab for her to enable her to escape just in time before these extremely poor excuses of the human species tore into her. But that like Capt. Mahama, ASP Tenge was, and still is, by the way, a senior national security officer, makes a very bad situation even more dangerous and worrisome. One begins to wonder what the Central Government has been doing over at least the last 10 years.

Truth be told: Our country is nowhere nearly as hospitable as some of us have been priding in ourselves and preaching to potential tourists and entrepreneurs over the decades. And the present government had better sit up and take the proverbial bull by the horn. I shall be discussing other aspects of this most critical problem as time and preparation permit. For now, however, I call on the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to earmark massive funding for the expansion and strengthening of the Ghana Police Service (GPS), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the establishment of a Volunteer or Auxiliary Police Service composed of law-abiding and responsible citizens, to augment our woefully understaffed, underequipped, underpaid and overworked and grossly disrespected police personnel.

 

Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.