We live in a country in which no matter how much noise we make about certain issues that affect the welfare of our fellow citizens, those concerned do not react to what we say!

So, shall we close our mouths, throw our pens and computers away and allow officials to do whatever they like, and expect us to pay them, although they are not responding to our protests about their inaction? That is the question journalists like me often ask ourselves, whenever we seek to draw attention to some evil or other in our society.

I am sure that most Ghanaians, including police officers and prosecution lawyers, would not condone the idea of any person taking a stick or heavy iron instrument and hitting a 72-year-old woman with it. Till she died.

However, in the “civilised” society in which we live, no person can be described as “mad” unless a trained psychiatrist has certified the person to be “mad”. So, a person – or persons – have been known to kill a 72-year-old woman in cold blood, and be treated as normal “suspects”, with bail facilities. And then, the case can vanish> Into a black hole, from which no answers ever emerge. 

We never pause to ask how the decision of the law enforcement agencies is arrived at. In the case of the 72-year-old woman, Madam Ama Hemma, for example, members of her family have been waiting for over ten years for justice to be done for her. Yet her tragic case was prominently displayed on the front page of the Daily Graphic.

Maybe Madam Denteh, who was unfortunate enough to be similarly assassinated at Kafaba, in Eastern Gonja, may fare a little better at the hands of the law. But don’t count on it. For the law enforcement section of Ghana’s administrative structure is one of the least responsive to public opinion imaginable. 

The treatment of alleged “witches” in our society is, of course, a very complex issue. Does the acceptance by many of us of Christianity, Islam and other religions that abhor the existence of “demons”, insidiously tie the hands of our law enforcement agencies? 

Police and judicial officers do take a solemn oath to treat all citizens as equal before the law. Which means that the treatment accorded to the case of Madam Amma Hemma should have no place in our law enforcement history. 

The confusion between ensuring the public good and condoning unclassified “vigilantism” was detected by the British, who enacted a law against “hunting” for witches. A book has been written about this entitled  Witchcraft in Ghana.

Yet people still still ask: “A 90-year-old woman? Why is she still alive? ”

Asking such irrelevant and, indeed, Godless questions is only one step away from triggering brutal actions that can lead to the death of another human being. Between the 90-year-old and the 50-year-old, who has a better claim to having been “blessed by God with a longer life”?

If God has ordered us, as we can read in the Bible, to “honour thy father and thy mother” so that “thy days may be long in the land which The Lord thy father has given thee”, how would He think that someone was doing His “work” if he or she bludgeoned a helpless 90-year-old person to death? 

It’s complete nonsense! And it’s about time for our hypocritical Ghanaian society to wake up to denounce and punish those who do not care to read the Bible or the Koran with any depth, but who apply passages from the Holy Books out of context, to end the precious lives of their fellow citizens. 

Look at Boko Haram in Nigeria. How could The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon him) countenance the abduction and mass raping of 200 young schoolgirls, as happened at Chibok in April 2014? And the continued repetition of these kidnappings every few months?

A major reason why certain people who profess to be believers in God’s word often fall down heavily when it comes to actually practising religion is that they don’t observe the most elementary precepts of their own religion. 

For instance, Jesus preached “love thy neighbour as thyself” and strongly advised His followers to “do unto others”, what they wanted others to do unto them. Yet we see – on videos that become viral – a so-called modern “prophet” with a large following kicking pregnant women in the stomach, or mercilessly whipping young people in public. And empty-headed media outlets continue to fall over themselves giving publicity to the “snake oil” prophecies that these false prophets advertise. 

Indifference to other people’s feelings amongst religious adherents is, of course, not new. When I was attending primary school, our Presbyterian-trained teachers often loaded a lot of Bible studies and hymn-singing into our time-table.

Well, one day, we were asked by the teacher to close our eyes and engage in “silent prayer”. Everything went very quiet as a result. Then, all of a sudden, we heard a loud voice shout in the Akuapem dialect: 

Me nkrɔfo! 

Me nkrɔfo! 

Montie m’!” 

The unexpected explosion of the voice and the unfamiliar “Biblical” Akuapem accent (we spoke Akyem Twi) convinced everyone that it was God Himself who was speaking! And we fled!

We learnt later, when we were safely outside, that one boy had joined a Pentecostal or Apostolic Church, and was exhibiting to us, the practice of “speaking in tongues!”

Do you think that boy who spoke with the “Voice of God” cared about the effect his “miracle” would have on the rest of us?

There are many officials in our society who sincerely believe that The Lord has given them the vocation they are engaged in, and who do their utmost to ensure that they carry out their tasks as efficiently as possible. But there are others who seem to possess absolutely no sense of duty.

I am sorry but no-one can convince me that a policeman, or prosecution lawyer, who sits on the docket of persons accused of killing a 72-year-old woman simply because she strayed into a house that was not her own, should be allowed to remain in their jobs.

But who will bell the cat? No probing questions have been asked of the Minister of the Interior, who is responsible for the Police. Neither have any been tabled for the Attorney-General, who is in charge of all prosecutions, to answer. I was hoping that some Parliamentarian would be humanitarian enough inclined to ask the security ministers-designate what they thought of Madam Amma Hemaa’s case.

But alas, no!

The case has gone into the Black Hole of Ghana Officialdom.

And there it will stay.

Letter From Afar by
Cameron Duodu

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