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General News of Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Source: a. yeboah

COMMENT: Is pickaxe-killer Kabobo really a Ghanaian?

The murder of three Italians by a pickaxe-wielding illegal immigrant called Mada Kabobo has put a spotlight on Ghana – and not in a good way. But is this disturbed individual really a Ghanaian?

The continent of Africa is a bewildering patchwork of different tribes each with unique names and characteristics. But over centuries, shifts in border, changing trade routes, civil wars and migration have blurred the once-definite lines between ancient African kingdoms. A quick internet search reveals that there are, indeed, Ghanaians called Kabobo, but there are also a huge number of Algerians, Kenyans and Nigerians bearing the same name, probably as a result of the many factors mentioned above.

Some will say it does not matter where the killer is from but only that he took the lives of three innocent people early on a Saturday morning in a Milan suburb. But his origins could have wider repercussions for the significant Ghanaian community in Italy.

Statistics from the Commission of the European Communities back in 2001 estimated that around 10 per cent of the Ghanaian community in the diaspora lives in Italy, with significant numbers in Milan where Mada Kabobo so viciously attacked his victims that he broke the handle of his barbaric weapon of choice – the pickaxe. Chilling CCTV footage shows him walking down the road, the large tool slung over his shoulder.

Italy is a popular destination for North African immigrants in particular who take the life-threatening journey from the shores of their native countries across to Europe. Countless numbers lose their lives while those who make it are caught and deported or manage to dodge the border police and become immigrato clandestinos – illegal immigrants. It is difficult to know the exact numbers of such people living in Italy – estimates range from 600,000 upwards – but one thing is certain: the life of an immigrato clandestino cannot be an easy one.

In April last year Italian coastguards rescued around 100 African refugees from various countries from an inflatable dinghy off the coast of Sicily. They were heading to Lampedusa which, in the 48 hours prior to the rescue of the 100 refugees, had received more than 600 illegal migrants. Of the 100 refugees who were rescued many were malnourished and dehydrated after the long and dangerous journey.

How did Mada Kabobo enter Italy? Was it under similar circumstances? What made him carry out his bloody attack on Saturday morning in Milan/ Is he really a Ghanaian or one of the many North Africans who take the terrifying route across the sea in search of what they hope will be a better life. Kabobo’s violent and shocking attack is sure to stoke already raging debates in Italy over illegal immigrants but in Ghana and the rest of the continent will it cause the same consternation?

The Ghanaian embassy will meet the killer this week – maybe even today – and there will be many hoping that Kabobo is from anywhere else except Ghana.