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Diasporian News of Wednesday, 17 December 2003

Source: Berko Akoto

Ghanaian Stabbed To Death In Chicago

Sometimes when cultures clash, it is difficult to determine which side of the coin to play. Here we are, in a country where the law is worked in such a way that fairness is not a right but a privilege. For those of us that were born and raised in the Diaspora, while it is easy to assimilate into various cultures, our offspring that are born here often become entangled in an intricate web of confusion as to whey they actually belong. Then again, some of our children over-assimilate and blend into this culture so much so that sometimes control becomes a problem. Not to say that we do not have uncontrollable juveniles back home but the extent of unruliness and how far it is taken is what is up here.

Long time Ghanaian immigrants of Chicago Mr. Martin Quarshie and Ms. Janet Bartey’s taste of this conundrum occurred when on October 17, 2003, their only child Naomi Tekuo Quarshie, 20, was stabbed to death 11 times by her boyfriend Pierre Harsworth, 22. The lovers’ spat, which metamorphosed into a stalk, had consistently been part of this tumultuous relationship till the very end.

On her way from the Target store on that fateful day, Naomi was confronted by Pierre after which an altercation ensued. Apparently, fearing for her life, she took off with an enraged Pierre at her heels. Along the way somehow, after being stabbed several times with a knife, Naomi was able to run, fight and resist her assailant and almost made it home before she collapsed on the doorstep leading to the kitchen where she was found by her mother on their northwest side of Chicago.

Naomi’s mother was at home that evening. After finishing her supper, she believes she heard a faint scream and a thud outside her kitchen window. Unsure of the sound she opened her window after which she saw the perpetrator take off. As she opened the kitchen door, she found her daughter in a pool of blood. Instincts got the better part of her as she chased the assailant all the way, caught up to him and then found out that it was none other but Pierre.

She immediately notified the police. She was sure that Pierre would be catching the Logan Square train. An alert police ordered the trains in the vicinity stopped after which a thorough search yielded Pierre with two concealed knives. He is behind bars.

According to Mr. Quarshie, the young couple met at Shorts High School in Chicago. Pierre who was two years ahead of Naomi in school had invited her to accompany him to the prom because he had no one at that time, an invitation she gladly accepted. Later they became friends and started seeing each other.

Naomi, according to her parents, was a very responsible person who tried to do her best. She had been raised to be respectful and obedient. However, when she met Pierre, her regard for them and their morals took a dive. She would spend days away from home and sometimes the nights at some shelters. The more they grew closer together, the more problems that they encountered. Pierre also on countless occasions had threatened to kill himself if ever they became separated.

On one occasion according to Mr. Quarshie, while on the job, he was approached by agents from DCFS. Apparently, under the tutelage of Pierre, Naomi had reported her parents to the organization for neglect by leaving her home alone while they had traveled to Jamaica, an unfounded accusation. The case was later thrown out of court.

Mr. Quarshie believed the stronghold the chap had on his daughter was enigmatic as Naomi suddenly became unruly and started to go against his will. Despite her insubordinations, she would still be interested in pursing her academic dream of becoming a nurse.

After yet another absence away from home, she appealed to her parents she was changed and that she was ready to go back to school. With the help of Ms. Felicia Johnson, President of African Women’s Organization, she was just about to start college when she was murdered.

As our population grows, so do the number of children that are born here. Since we do not have a social programs catered to the youth, our children become strangers to each other. Advocates have suggested incorporating our youth activities with other programs but are yet to take action. The only real gathering that permits our youth to participate in our programs are held once a year during Ghanafest. Here the children get the chance to show off their skills either by dancing or poetry recitals. However, after the event all families retreat to their homes only to wait for another year. It’s time something is done about this void.