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Opinions of Monday, 5 June 2017

Columnist: David Ampofo

What kind of people are we?

I made the terrible mistake of watching a bit of the lynching of Captain Maxwell Mahama. I regret it. I can not sleep. I have never seen anything like that before. I know it happens. I've seen it on television and on the internet. But I never saw it actually happening.

In the past, the most I saw was picture of the victim after the fact - dead. I guess that is the lesson we all have to learn from this tragic death...if we turn a blind eye to travesties in our society, one day it will be brought to our doorsteps. Our old proverbs are replete with warnings about this kind of 'head-in-the-sand' attitude.

Well, this time we've seen the killing in action; the killing of a human being with glee by other so called "human beings"; hurling rocks at him as though they were trying to kill a large python or a wild animal that had taken a life from the community.

Other attackers were wielding big sticks like fufu pestles and scrambling for an opportunity to inflict their bit of incomprehensible cruelty on a cornered human being pleading for his life. I could hear people saying "He is a thief" when others enquired about what the commotion was all about. I think I heard one lonely man asking the growing crowd to take it easy, but alas, there were too few like him.

I have heard all kinds of explanations for why people act in this way - "the police do nothing when culprits are brought before them"; "the courts free people when they should be punished"; and so people have decided to take the law into their own hands and kill another person to dispense their own version of justice. Justice? What kind of God do we think we serve? Is that what he does to us?

You know what that sounds like to me? A failed state - where the laws don't work and where civilization has still not fully taken hold. Think about it. We have not succeeded in taming the base instincts of man.
Taking the law into ones hands because the system does not work is an uncivilized approach.

What is the difference between us and the animals that we claim to be lords over if we can do things like this? In a civilized society, law and order is enforced without fear or favor by institutions. People don't have to "enforce" their own version of the law because they can't rely on their institutions.

We are truly in a crisis. There is a breakdown of law and order in Ghana. The base instinct of Ghanaians is coming to the fore more and more and it is not by accident. For far too long, indiscipline has gotten away unpunished. Vigilante Justice has gotten away unpunished.

It is time to initiate a war against indiscipline. Indiscipline in government, at work and in our homes. Those who know better must speak up! Just look at what happens on our roads. Just look at the headlines in our newspapers of so called 'honorable' giver officials and people in high places stealing with impunity and not feeling sorry for other people who cannot even afford a meal a day.

Just look at how the so called Delta Force went into the court to free their colleagues. Just look at the phenomenon of land guards who are killing people and being killed by people. Just look at galamsey!! These are not unrelated. They are a sign of the times!

How can things be this bad? We better watch ourselves. Doing nothing until it's at breaking point is no good. Frankly, the horrendous things some of our people do have always been there, but because they are never addressed, now it's in our faces. Now lets try and ignore this and see what the consequences will be.

What kind of a people are we? And we pride ourselves on peaceful elections when we do barbaric things like this?
Ghana Stop it. Stop beating live human beings to death!

It is too late for Captain Mahama and the many innocent people that have gone before him. But we must ensure that their deaths are not in vain.
Mahamas death must herald the beginning of an unflinching commitment to fight indiscipline and impunity in Ghanaian society.

We must punish the instigator of this dastardly act severely to serve as a deterrent to others. We must punish all the accomplices. We simply cannot afford to let this go unpunished and likewise we cannot afford to let the blatant stealing of taxpayers money to go unpunished.

We cannot read for months and months about people being taken in and out of court with no real closing. It is not good enough.

We will not let this matter rest. We cannot let this matter rest. We have to keep fighting because in the end this country has to be better than this.
I am tired of hearing about peaceful elections, political stability and a free press.

We achieved that more than 20 years ago. It's time to boast about something else.

Ghana has underperformed and the sooner we realize that the better. It is the only way we will up our game. There are too many Ghanaians with bad attitudes and unenlightened behavior. Democracy, skyscrapers, new roads and a sprinkling of flyovers are not the be all and end all of everything. What is democracy without a responsible citizenry? Don't we know we have a role to play?

In fact in my humble opinion, our most pressing problems began when we adopted our current type of party politics. In any case to adopt a system of universal adult suffrage when we don't have universal public education is a travesty.

We have lost our way, our good values. When things like this happen, I'm ashamed to call myself a Ghanaian. Who wants to be associated with such barbaric behavior?

Let us also remember that they killed a member of our military and if we do not know what that means let me be clear: The military must command respect without raising a hand. If not, they are not effective.

The military is compromised if it is not respected. We cannot tolerate disrespect for our military and police. They are no ordinary institutions, which is why they have a separate code of justice. If you are part of the military, you are subject to military law. They exist for the security of the individual, the community and the state. They must be respected.

Shame on the chiefs and people of Denykira Obuasi. You have the blood of Captain Maxwell Mahama on your hands. You murdered an innocent person in cold blood. Where are your elders? Was there no elder to call the rampaging youth to order? See what happens when our elders who should speak up don't? What kind of community is that where women who carry us in their wombs take part in the murder of another's child?

I am tempted to name the town "Abonsam village" because it's the only way I can rationalize what took place there.

Captain Maxwell Mahama, kosee. Damplaa