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Feature Article of Saturday, 2 February 2013

Columnist: Annor, Joe

The Untold Ghanaian Patriot Who Saved Lives

of RTU Players

Many of the Ghanaian politicians and civil servants are not considered patriotic, as they exploit their positions for self-economic gains. This selfish interest has in part contributed to the poor state of our economy, despite having resources in abundance. These people do not think about the generation to come or even how they can contribute to make life better for an ordinary person through the services that they perform to the nation. Therefore, corruption and non-dedication to work has become the order of the day. Despite these problems, there are some that are patriotic and honest at the jobs that they do, but they are not many. One of such persons is Mr Kofi Ababio, who for many years was the headmaster of Dwamena Akenten Secondary School at Offinso in Ashanti Region. He served the school selflessly and during his time as the headmaster of the school, the school improved considerably.

However, much of this paper will focus on how as a patriotic citizen, he was able to individually save the lives of the players of Real Tamale Football Club (RTU) in 1978 from angry mobs.
It was a typical sunny bright day during the long vacation and many of the guys at Asamankoma (a suburb in Offinso) situated along Kumasi-Tachiman (Tamale) road were hanging around in town. Meanwhile, the RTU had travelled to Kumasi to play Kotoko a day or so before and had lost the match and was travelling back to Tamale. Just as the RTU reached Offinso, a very dramatic incident occurred between the RTU and a 'wato-nyene' drive from Offinso. The late Mr Akumi Baffour, the driver of the wato-nyene was also travelling from Kumasi to Offinso around the same time and immediately he stopped his vehicle at Offinso to let some passengers get off the vehicle, the RTU vehicle also stopped and the players surrounded Mr Akumi and attacked him. It is alleged that he provoked them in one way or the other (perhaps blowing his horns to indicate that Kotoko had beaten them). Initially, the people around the place tried to rescue Mr Akumi by pleading with the players to stop, but the players turned their anger on the people as well. In fact, the players actually miscalculated when some of them kicked an elderly man who was at that time close to 60 years.
The youth in town became furious and within a very short time, the youth clearly outnumbering the players charged on the players. I still remember very vividly that the RTU driver sensing the danger sped off and some of the players had to follow the car to board it while it was in motion.
Unfortunately for RTU, the matter did not end when all the players had succeeded in boarding their Benz bus. The youth pursued them in cars and foot. Meanwhile, someone had travelled ahead of the RTU and alerted people in another suburb of Offinso (Namong) about 4 or 5 kilometres away of where the incident occurred. Incidentally, Akumi's father was from the later town. So as soon as the people of Namong heard the incident, they organised and blocked the road.
So when the RTU reached Namong, they could not proceed, but had to turn back, otherwise they would have received severe beatings. And meanwhile, those of us that had followed them originally were closing in on them. So by the time RTU reached where Dwamena Akenten Secondary School is, somewhere 3/5th way between Asamankoma and Namong, we had already closed on them. But the Almighty God provided a miraculous opportunity for them to escape our fury. They just drove into Dwamena Akenten Secondary School and that is where the headmaster despite coming from Offinso and precisely, Asamankoma, where the incident occurred, refused to hand them out. The youth were so furious that some even threw stone to the administration block of the school, which smashed some of the windows of the administration building. But the headmaster did not bow to pressure.
In fact, one guy also from Asamankoma, who had come there to obtained his GCE (exams) results identified some of those that were throwing stones and insulting the headmaster and when he requested them to stop or something like that, he became an enemy to some of the youth and for years, he could not return to town as they abused him and also, planned to teach him a lesson by beating him. In fact, just two years ago when I met him at my mum’s funeral, we discussed the issue and he disclosed how he could not visit the place for many years. Further, during and after the incident, many people abused the headmaster and as a result of that he even refused to accept one guy to become a boarder in his final year at the school.
In the end, the Offinso police could not contain the matter, as one policeman's gun was even snatched from him and thrown down on the ground. The police called reinforcement from Kumasi some 19 miles away and when they finally came and escorted the RTU, I was shocked to see that despite that the police had come in their armour car and were throwing teargas to disperse the crowd, someone dared to throw a large stone that smashed the mirror of the armour car.
I am not sure whether the RTU later on sent thank you message or something like to the headmaster, but what I can confidently state is that without his good Samaritanian intervention, anything could have happened. Given the anger and the manner the mob were going on them, it was possible that some of them might have even died because they were exceedingly outnumbered, but the headmaster did not care about the abuse and protected the players until adequate police came from Kumasi.
I must state that the players including Mohammed Choo were wrong to have attacked Mr Akumi, irrespective of how he provoked them and they were even much more wrong to turn their attack on others that tried to persuade them to stop beating Mr Akumi. But the youth were also certainly wrong to pursue the players that far and had the headmaster not provided his protection, I am sure the players would have sustained serious injuries or some even suffering fatality. I cannot imagine what would have been the implication of such a situation, either police arresting the youths or Dagombas in other parts of Offinso in turn, fighting the youth.

Unselfish and dedicated work
The headmaster also worked very hard and from all indication was not interested in corruption and bribe. In fact, at certain point he had his old Mercedes Benz broken down and that was the last time that I saw that he had a private car. I also never saw that he built a house. So in the end when he retired it appears he was not rich at all. He had all the opportunity to enrich himself like other headmasters but he did not do that.
In my view, these are the patriotic citizens that the Government should reward. For instance, people like him are those that the governments could have appointed as consultants to enable them have descent retirement, instead of basing those appointments on other factors such as party affiliations and so forth. I hope our governments will in future reward patriotic citizens.

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