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Opinions of Monday, 20 September 2010

Columnist: Tawiah-Benjamin, Kwesi

Spinning Rwanda is Too Dangerous For Ghana

Que sera sera: What will be will be, Doris Day put it succinctly. And when it happens, it is like a spring that is wound up tight: It will uncoil of itself with the least little turn of the wrist, Jean Annouill would add. In the end, tragedy is what happens. Call it genocide. And that is being charitable. It is actually death, hell and everything else in between.

That is how Rwanda happened. We know the story too well. The spring had been wound up very tight by the Belgians when they favoured a particular tribe. That tribe had the better side of things. Tension piled up over time. It festered and infected the body politic. They had the sickness already; they wanted a cure. War broke. Radios heated things up with unguarded proclamations. There were road blocks. The cockroaches had to be fished out. They chased them to their homes. No place to hide. 800,000 souls died. Needlessly!

Was this what Justices Emile Short and Douse wished for Ghana recently? There were disturbances in Atiwa, Chireponi and Akwatia during their bye-elections. Roads had been blocked in Atiwa, where vigilante groups checked the identities of people entering the constituency. About 1,200 police personnel present at the scene were unable to deal with the violence. This, in the thinking of Justice Short, was Rwanda in the making.

As always, K.B Asante is wise. He blames the situation on political corruption. To explain any violence in a country by invoking the horrific images of Rwanda is to poison any hope that the country has in solving the problem. And for that poison to drip from the mouths of justices of the judiciary, is like mixing the poison with any possible cure.

Ironically, Justice Short chose the occasion of the World Democracy Day to invoke the Rwandan massacre. Justice Douse’s was even worse; he wished Ghana was like Rwanda, where journalists who talk crap could be wiped out with cheap machetes imported from China. What had the journalists done wrong? Well, they had written crap about him. We find it handy to employ the Rwandan metaphors to explain away little problems when the Rwandans themselves do not want to be remembered of their Genocide. Never Again, they have sworn, will it ever happen on their soil. But we in Ghana are wishing for it.

They are Hutus or Tutsis. But that was before the war. Today, ask any Rwandan his tribe. They answer such queries by saying ‘Never Again’. They are Rwandans. That should be enough for anybody who wants to know anything about them. The two tribes may have fought one another, but Rwandans will not maim and torture Rwandans.

This may be a more proactive approach to explaining the Atiwa and the Chireponi disturbances. And we can do this without fearing for an infinitesimal fraction of a Genocide of Rwandan proportions. If the law of causing fear and panic is active, then invoking Rwanda to explain anything should qualify for some punishment. Our democracy is too young to survive Rwanda. Let’s investigate the political corruption that K.B Asante spoke about. The media has also been fingered. We have what it takes to deal with these. Let’s leave Rwanda alone. For, if Rwanda happens in Ghana, we would be more broken and burnt out than Rwanda ever was. We couldn’t even handle Atiwa.

Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin lives in Ottawa, Ontario

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