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Opinions of Monday, 4 August 2008

Columnist: Asher, Bernard

The Ama Sumani Expulsion Saga. A critical analysis.

In line with the Akan and, indeed, Ghanaian practice of showing respect to the dead by not criticizing them soon after their demise, this writer and a number of well meaning Ghanaians have kept our quiet regarding the whole Ama Sumani deportation saga and her subsequent unfortunate expiration. First of all, my deepest condolences to the kin of that longsuffering Ghanaian matriarch who have had to endure the twin misfortunes of her summary expulsion from the UK and her chilling bereavement. Demire fa due! It goes without saying that the above saga has been the subject of many an emotionally charged debate on Ghanaweb and other similar Ghanaian websites as well within the motherland itself. Off course this was not entirely unforeseen for the whole saga was heart-wrenching indeed. However the aspect of these debates that flummoxed me was the hopelessly biased and jaundiced stance that many, if not all, the commentators took against the highly contentious decision to expel Ama from the UK. It was difficult to find a single individual that could make a logical argument which was patently divorced from mawkishness. This state of affairs slowly graduated from being a mere amusement to me, to a baffle and then to serious consternation. My concern stemmed from the fact that if the Ghanaian public could not disconnect their justifiably sky-high emotions from the bare facts albeit the latter was patently palpable in a case such as this, then how can they do so in the highly mercurial political atmosphere such as the one that Ghana finds itself in at the moment?

Dear reader, kindly let me indulge you with the intricacies of this rather simple case. Legend has it the Madam Ama Asumani (RIP) was granted a student visa in 2003 to study in this not so United Kingdom. Having laid eyes on the proverbial green pastures, the 40 something year-old ‘student’ deemed it right to linger in the UK in clear breach of her visa requirements. Coincidentally and at this critical juncture, the UK government was being buffeted by the Tories on one side and the threat of terrorism on the other and had taken steps to tighten its bother controls. Coupled with preceding was the increased incidence of health tourists who come into the UK under the guise of tourists only to register with the NHS with the view to making costly health demands at the expense of the British taxpayer. Unfortunately Ama, albeit not a bona fide health tourist, fell ill with diabetes and was treated by the NHS which was itself not a privilege she should have enjoyed as she was in effect an illegal immigrant. As fate would have it, she was eventually found out by the immigration officials at which time her treatment was discontinued and deportation proceedings commenced against her. It was the above that provoked a massive outcry both by Ghanaians in the Dispersion and those in the motherland. To many, the UK government was callous and racially biased against the so-called people of color.

To these I pose the following question: What would you do if you invited a stranger into you home and later saw him off only to find out after 3 months that he had been hiding in your closet all the while and probably been the cause of the unexplained thefts at your home? I suppose the ever conciliatory and ever munificent Ghanaian would have mercy on him and let him stay on! Yeah right! What complete and utter nonsense!

Let it be known in no uncertain terms that the British government was totally justified in deporting Ama Sumani. Period! It is amazing the way Ghanaians expect and even demand sympathy and empathy from other people when the selfsame are often some of the most brutal people on earth. To this day, it is not uncommon to find so called instant justice actively practiced and, indeed, applauded by the Ghanaian public. Dear reader it is not uncommon for alleged ‘thiefs’ to be summarily stoned and bludgeoned or even set ablaze on the streets of Accra. Why a people such as this would claim to be so empathetic and munificent is mighty puzzling to me.

Strangely enough the Ghana High Commission in the UK was not in a position to fund the medical expenses of Ama. Yet this same country of Ghana had the $30m to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The selfsame who couldn’t pay for Ama’s medicals was able to pay for a presidential palace worth an eye-watering $60m supposedly ‘befitting’ Ghana’s ‘lofty’ stance on the global stage (vintage megalomania). In the last couple of months the motherland has been able to comfortably sponsor an awards night amounting to some $1.4million as well as procure two presidential jets and yet had the hutzpah and impertinence to lobby the UK government for a moratorium on the deportation of Ama on humanitarian grounds. What paradoxical foolery! Even when Ama was sent to Ghana, the country could not offer her treatment and basically left her to slowly expire. Then again it was the benevolence of one Briton who took it upon herself to raise funds on Ama’s behalf. Sadly this altruistic gesture come a little late and could not stop Ama from proceeding into the proverbial sunset.

May be if Ghana wants to be pitied it should learn to cut its proverbial coat according to its size and stop the seemingly genetically engrained ‘show off’ attitude which has thus far gotten the country no where, for the country is, after all, a bona fide H.I.P.C.

Bernard Asher is a Lecturer of Business Management and Economics @ Guildford College of Higher Education & an External Tutor with the University Of Reading Email:basher@guildford.ac.uk