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Opinions of Sunday, 7 March 2010

Columnist: Mubarak, Ras

Men with animal insticts

There was this story of a sixty year old man, Anane Dacosta, who was almost lynched by residents when they hunted him down. Anane had stabbed and killed his forty five year old wife for refusing him sex. He confessed to the killing in a circuit court in Dormaa Ahenkro. But guess what? He claimed he had been possessed by some “uncontrolled spirit” to kill the woman. What kind of demons could posses a man so much that he would murder his partner in cold blood?

Well, some even go as far as extending their turpitude on their own children, like Innocent Doga in Adidome, who reportedly hacked off his wife’s arm, killed his one and half year old son and injured another child.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the confusion and trauma that this injured child was subjected to, watching her father unleash this madness upon the family; or the eleven year old son of Anane Dacosta, who woke up in the middle of the night to see his enraged father stabbing is defenceless mother? I long for the day when children can sleep easy in the knowledge that their fathers would stop showing signs of “ basal instincts of animalistic behaviorism”.

Our country is becoming a cesspool of very bad behaviour. Ghanaian society is indeed getting rotten to the core and our leaders have ignored every motivation to address them. Hardly does a month pass in Ghana without some gory news about a husband mercilessly beating his wife or clubbing her to death.

The near-daily reports of violence in marriages and in our society generally are reminder of our failures as Ghanaians. Imagine the case of the twenty eight year old Emilia, who according to police was raped and subsequently murdered in her marital room at Odokor Official Town, a suburb of Accra. Before her murder, witnesses said she was last seen on “Thursday February 11, 2010 engaging in a fierce fight with her husband, Gilbert Nii Adjiri Barnor who is currently on the run and wanted by the police on suspicion of committing the murder. But what did residents do when they saw the couple in a fierce fight?

Nothing – Absolutely nothing! “Residents did not deem it fit to interfere”. Ghanaians have lost the cultural checks and balances that upheld good behaviour in our society. Try, for example, dropping litter in Sweden and see what happens. The offender will soon be told in no uncertain terms by another citizen to dispose of it properly. It is a cultural norm in Sweden and people largely fear breaking it.

We have a social responsibility to ourselves, to our society and to God to look out for each other. But we don’t. Some people even get thrilled out of ogling the nether regions of women whose dresses are torn in fights with their husbands. Discipline and responsibility are all relics of the bygone past. Intemperance is the order of the day. We see it every day amongst boys, amongst adults and even amongst politicians. The sort of intemperance we are seeing in our country is a reflection of failed upbringing.

All of this thugery is a sign of how little respect people have for themselves let alone others. We can restore good behavior but nothing will change if society, especially parents do not take responsibility. There is a lot to be angry about these days – (bad roads, low wages, poor social services, thieving politicians, poor customer service and so on), but my God, punching your partner? It is normal and natural for a child or an adult to be angry but anger has to be managed.

The behaviour of Ghanaian children and adults alike is being driven by the media, which thrives on promoting abuse and violence as normal. We see on television everyday where men slap and beat up women, where violence and debauchery are glamorised. Children grow up watching this madness on television, listening to expletive songs on the radio and CDs, see the intemperance played out in their presence by their families and they grow behaving with impatience and a lot of anger.

Our television stations are creating a bully culture. And the school system is just out of gear. As someone once wrote, “ending corporal punishment ended the most potent instrument of discipline”.

My wife did her national service teaching school children. As was astounded when she once said to me the cane was no longer permissible in our schools. These are the kinds of liberal ideologies which have resulted in children not showing respect for adults. We should blame ourselves when yobs from various political parties turn up at the court premises for a showdown with their opponents. Our society even interferes in the way families raise their children.

Home is where all these behavioural defects are corrected, but if parents, the same ones who are supposed to offer guidance are showing animalistic instincts, what do we think our children would grow to become? The sort of intemperance we are seeing in our country is also a reflection of failed upbringing.

Many boys grow up without responsible adult role models in their lives. Let us teach children about responsibility before we teach them about rights. There is a lot we can do beginning from the home. Charity they say begins at home.

We need decent parenting and we need lessons in our schools where these “basal instincts of animalistic behaviourism” can be tamed starting at a very early stage. We need to go back to the good old days.

Ras Mubarak