To Major Mahama, A Poppy And An Adieu

“Many and sharp the num’rous ill Inwoven with our frame… man’s in humanity to man makes countless thousands mourn”.

    Robert Burns: Man was Made to Mourn: A Dirge

RESIDENTS OF DENKYIRA-OBUASE reached the apogee of cruelty, bestiality and depravity that is latent in them by their last open murder of then Captain Mahama.  No, not all of them—the old men and women, lactating mothers who could not bear to leave their babies and watch others take the law into their own hands, schoolchildren who were at that time ‘abcd-ing’ or telling Ananse stories about life and death. Sorry, I nearly got carried away– to the family, friends and the security fraternity, my condolences.  The animalistic instinct in the crowd which lynched Mahama can hardly be appreciated by the ordinary Ghanaian.  Here was somebody– call him a stranger – in his jogging outfit, reaching a spot and purchasing some snails with the intention of returning to pick them up from the seller.  Then, in pulling out the cash to pay for the items, he inadvertently exposes a pistol.  Then the woman raises an alarm, and, presto, the people surround an armed robber! Tell this story to the marines! But for the scenes captured by an amateur photographer, holding an all-purpose mobile phone, the scene would have passed and Mahama would have been ‘lost’ since the assailants burnt the cadaver.

Well, there are more questions than answers and Mahama cannot be resurrected to answer any. The assailants have the burden of telling the tale. No, I am not talking about the criminal charges—I am talking about the morality, the African perspective and the Ghanaian hospitality. Let me repeat: there are more questions than answers—the time; any batman; the identification; what defences; instruments used; what use did Mahama make of the weapon he was bearing, et cetera.  .  In Henry IV Part I, Hotspuir says: “Now, for our consciences, the arms are fair when the intent of bearing them is just”. Some of us have borne arms before, and, mind you, it takes “an officer and a gentleman” to be confronted with such a situation, and be constrained! So, the assailants just gave “a dog a bad name” in order to hang it! And, all to a man had no compunction, no pity on the innocent man, and they mowed him down, and brutally tortured him till he gave up the ghost. And because the assailants did not wish Mahama to go to heaven, they smoked his body.  Ah! What! Ouch! Whoops! Oh! Murder! Gruesome murder! If this story were to be told to our mothers, they would find it difficult to believe it. The listeners would not believe it in modern Ghana, in 2017, Incroyable!(Unbelievable).

And look at the assailants’ faces! Like something from the forest! Shakespeare in Loves Lab our Lost wrote: “Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye not utter ‘d by base sale of chapmen’s tongues” Oh, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, Bur these assailants should not curse their maker for making them look like ogres, fiends, monsters, scoundrels.

I.K Gyasi could not view the scenes so he deleted them from his mobile phone. A lot more people have done so: a few are, however, holding on to what they have-perhaps, someday, they will be able to show the scenes to their children and their children’s children.

Why this “mob justice”? No one can tell and the suspicion is rife that it was an alleged plan to lynch the soldier who was making it difficult for the galamseyers in the Obuase area to have their way.  Those who perpetrate mob justice invoke ‘mob law’ which has no defined rule of behavior and action.  People can bet: Mahama’s ghost will haunt all those who indulge in ‘galamsey’ and those parading as ‘small scale miners’ who are flashing fake certificates as their defence.

Ex-President Mahama spoke like a statesman when he cautioned Ghanaians not to ‘politicise’ the murder of Major Mahama.  He appropriately called the murder a national tragedy! Nana Akufo Addo, the President, in his capacity as the Commander-in –Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces promoted the murdered soldier from Captain to Major. The President also set up a GH¢500,000 Education Trust Fund for his children’s education and personally donated GH¢ 50,000 to the fund. In Major Mahama’s honour, the President promised to build a monument. The promise affirmed the family’s request that “after the burial, the family wants a monument to be built anywhere in Ghana on his behalf so that in the future, we use that to remember and that in our lifetime we don’t want to see anything of this sort again”.

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye added his voice to that of the President, “This death is not yours alone.  It is a national affair.  This is a man the nation had clothed in uniform to work for us… we have heard of this request for a monument for this young man.  For Parliament and the leaders here, we are listening with very good ears and we trust that it will even go beyond that, and with the support of government, we expect that something will be done to take care of them as a gesture of respect for a fallen hero”

The loquacious Asiedu Nketia, the General Secretary of the NDC, did not pick a cue from the former President, John Mahama.  He lamentably mixed Major Mahama’s death with politics when he noted that, the murder happened “under the direct supervision of President Akufo – Addo”. Asiedu –Nketia confirmed: “NDC will sooner than later if this level of impunity persists, be compelled to engage in a legitimate social revolution to protest the inability of President Akufo-Addo to protect the good people of this country.” He sounded ominous: “President Akufo-Addo’s ‘All die be die’ despicable style of leadership shall not be allowed to fester.” Were Ghanaians expecting less pugnacious diatribe from Asiedu Nketia?

Other serious – minded Ghanaians have issued statements of condolence, and comfort at this time of national mourning.  But Asiedu Nketia is still in the propaganda garb.  That may be a good strategy for the NDC. If at the time of President Mahama, J.B. Danquah, the MP died after a ‘robbery’ attack, and the Chief of Seikwa (Asiedu Nketia’s hometown) was shot and killed, and Afoko, the Upper East NPP Regional Chairman was smeared with acid and killed; and if Professor Mills died under strange circumstances, and NPP did not connect President Mahama, why? They are two different political parties.

For him, it is opportune to campaign along that propagandist trajectory. That will be good for him and his party, he being still the General Secretary and John Mahama, a quondam president, no longer holding any particular office. The District Chief Executive, Ambrose Amoah Eshia was better advised to keep his mouth shut, not to challenge the authority of the President. As for Major Mahama, all that we can give him—for now—are a poppy and an adieu.