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Opinions of Thursday, 3 November 2016

Columnist: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Lessons in Morocco’s Mouhcine Fikri’s death

For those who haven’t heard of Mr. Mouhcine Fikri, he is a fishmonger who was out on the streets in a town in Morocco selling fish.

The fish, swordfish, was supposedly caught with a drag net or was out of season or something like that and an enforcing official thought it right to throw the boxes of fish into a garbage truck not giving thought to Mr. Fikri’s expenses.

Mr. Fikri supposedly jumped into the truck after his fish and was crushed by the crushing mechanism of the garbage truck. Reports say a picture of Mr. Fikri’s head and arms sticking out from under the crushing mechanism of the garbage truck is circulating on social media and people of Morocco are in the streets demonstrating. Mr. Fikri’s sin was that he was trying to make money; something we all do daily in varying degrees.

Flash back in my memory, I remember someone’s ear being bitten off for the simple sin of being a street hawker and Accra Mayor was trying to remove street hawkers from the streets.

I remember government officials pouring out a big pot of soup from someone’s chop bar because there was a cholera scare in Accra and they wanted the chop bars closed not giving thought to the possibility that someone’s child may be home looking for school fees before he will be allowed back in school.

Closer to where I live, One Eric Garner was choked to death for selling cigarettes by the stick instead of by the pack. And who can forget Tunisia and the “Arab Spring”. All these people were trying to make a little money to live on.

Day in and day out we all go to work. Some of us are lucky to wear shirt and tie and go sit in an air conditioned room to work. And yes, some of us are that unfortunate that we have to make money any legal way possible. Some yet, in our work, get to mete out punishment to those whose work cause them to infringe our area of authority.

It does not take much to put yourself in another person’s shoes. If only we can see things from another point of view and maybe give second chances or better yet issue summons for offending persons to appear in court and give the rule of law a chance.

It easily takes out “because I said so” which is often the motivating factor when officials mete out instant punishments for offenses. In this election season, I will like to remind all that voting is not the only part of democracy. Getting a chance to challenge your accuser before a third party is also part of democracy.

Before I end, here is a story. I was in traffic in my nephew’s car once heading towards Kasoa when we heard the sound of a siren. An Ambulance was a few cars behind us. We pulled over to let the Ambulance through. Behind the Ambulance was a line of cars taking advantage of the situation to get ahead. They would not let us back in traffic. When my nephew tried to force his way back in traffic, a pickup truck with license plate number GT 2572-10 stopped right in traffic and an armed uniformed man jumped out of the truck and to the driver side window of our car and without saying a word, he slapped my nephew who was driving. Before anyone could say anything, he slapped him again and walked away and jumped backed into the truck which had created a big space ahead and they drove off. The only thing I could do was write down their license plate number.

I could only say to myself, “there will come a time when people will fight back”. Following this, I vowed never get out of the way for any siren if I am driving in Ghana. I’d rather take that chance. The Ambulance had Takoradi Polyclinic written on it. At Kasoa heading away from Accra, it could only have been heading back to Takoradi and in my view, they were using the siren to get ahead. It is this abuse that may cost a person’s life not me staying in traffic when there is a siren. If we had a functioning government, things like these would be controlled. Yes, I sent an email to '' on September 25, 2015 with a complaint and never heard back.