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Opinions of Monday, 21 March 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Trust me, nothing teachable will come out of this

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
March 12, 2016

My 10-year-old son, Daasebre Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, III, did not want me to write about this incident in which a Korean pizzeria owner in Accra was reported to have slapped his female Ghanaian employee with a slice, or perhaps a pie, of pizza which Ms. Cecilia Ampadu had allegedly allowed to burn beyond edibility (See “Korean Charged for Slapping Ghanaian Worker with Hot Pizza” / 3/12/16). My son found this story to be rather absurd and downright pedestrian. The very badly wrought Daily Cartoon graphics did not help matters. Nevertheless, Nana Kwame also did not understand why Ghanaians would sit in their own country and allow foreign entrepreneurial cutthroats to slap them around and rough them up like some nineteenth-century enslaved Africans in the United States.

I must confess that I also have a problem with this demeaning state of affairs and squarely blame our governments, past and present and irrespective of ideological suasion or insignia, for setting this tone of abject disrespect for their own citizens from which these grubby Asian immigrants and settler-refugees have taken a cue. The news report, even as my son perspicuously observed, was characteristically too sketchy for the reader to make much sense of, let alone be able to fairly and objectively draw the relevant and appropriate conclusions, especially since the side or account of the alleged assailant of Ms. Ampadu is not provided the reader by the reporter. In other words, we are not provided with a complete picture of the exact nature of the circumstances under which the alleged pizza-slapping assault took place.
I, however, suspect that my son’s attention was readily piqued by the fact that he has a great appetite for pepperoni pizza and Coca-Cola as a wash down of choice. Nana Kwame also thought that the Daily Cartoon section of the website had depicted Mr. Young Gyu Lee, the Korean proprietor of the Peterpan Restaurant as a woman, rather than a man, which, at any rate, would not have mitigated the gravity of the alleged assault on the female Ghanaian victim. Not by any measure or stretch of even the most poetic imagination. For the gendering of the illegal application of force, or violence, does not apply as a mitigating factor where any such act of patent criminality is concerned. In other words, even if the owner of the Peterpan Restaurant were of the same gender as his alleged victim of assault, this striking fact of nature would in of itself not make the crime allegedly committed any less of what it indubitably is, a heinous crime of the first order.

What is clear here is that if it is true that, indeed, his employee, Ms. Ampadu, caused a slice, or even an entire pie of pizza, to burn beyond edibility, the first line of disciplinary measure definitely ought not to have been physical assault. To be certain, corporal punishment ought not to under any circumstances have entered into the equation. The first line of employee discipline ought to have been a reduction in the wages of the allegedly negligent worker/employee commensurate with the retail value of the burnt pizza. Ms. Ampadu could also have been suspended from work without pay commensurate with the amount of loss involved. And based on the employee’s general work habit or professional track-record, Mr. Gyu Lee could also have promptly fired Ms. Ampadu. Violently putting his hand on the worker went beyond the terms of his authority as an employer or proprietor of the Peterpan Restaurant. This is where Labor Minister Haruna Iddrisu could make himself more worthy of the portfolio which he has been misguidedly using to get the University of Development Studies (UDS) named after the indelibly bloody Chairman Jerry John Rawlings.

I also have a problem with the way and manner in which the Airport Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Yaw Tetegah, reportedly handled the case. First of all, CSP Tetegah ought to have rushed the assault victim to the hospital in order to have Ms. Ampadu examined by a qualified medical practitioner and her report of hot-pizza slap/assault either confirmed or disproved. Calling for more witnesses does not promptly remedy the immediate medical assistance which the victim was likely in dire need of; it would also have provided a far more forensically objective evidence upon which police prosecutors could build their case. Knowing what I have known almost from birth about the general caliber of Ghanaian witnesses, especially where the accuser of a criminal offense is a rich personality, particularly a non-African, this line of criminal investigation is unlikely to yield much that is helpful or meaningful towards the securing of justice for the victim and the necessary exaction of discipline from the alleged culprit.

There is still an intolerably high level of inferiority complex, a pathological state of collective self-alienation that was partly engendered by Europe’s slavo-colonial domination of Africans. This postcolonial trauma may be aptly envisaged to have worsened over the years, as successive post-independence governments and their leaders have proven time and time again that the average African politician is scarcely the coequal of his/her European counterpart, in terms of managerial competence and leadership and/or social responsibility. As a people, our level of self-respect leaves much to be desired, and it is this geo-cultural anomaly into which the worst behavioral traits of predators like Mr. Gyu Lee find wanton expression.

In other words, my unmistaken contention here is that Mr. Gyu Lee behaved in the boorishly intemperate manner that he did not because he was a Korean and Asian by race and/or citizenship, but largely because Ghanaians have yet to adequately demonstrate to most of the non-African foreigners who live and conduct business among us that we place a high premium or value on the worth of our African humanity.

*Visit my blog at: Ghanaffairs