Feature Article of Friday, 22 June 2012

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

You Can’t Force Sympathy

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

The alleged fury of some relatives of the road passengers killed when the Nigerian-owned Allied Air Cargo flight number DH V111 crash-landed at the Kotoka International Airport two weeks ago, on grounds that the management of the Lagos-based company has acted insensitively by not dispatching representatives to meet with the bereaved families to discuss burial arrangements for the victims, is grossly misplaced (See “Allied Air Insults Ghanaians Killed By Its Plane” Ghanaweb.com 6/18/12).
It is grossly misplaced because when everything has been said and done, Allied Air Cargo is a business enterprise whose primary relationship with any individual or group of individuals adversely affected by its diurnal operations comes primarily in the form of the insurance policy which the company took at the time of its formation and incorporation to deal with precisely the kind of tragedy under discussion.
Indeed, rather than naively demand a “personalized” show of sympathy with the bereaved families, the latter ought to have wisely protected themselves against the likelihood of funerary cost overrun by now, by presenting comprehensive expenditure projections to the proprietors and/or management board of Allied Air Cargo through the Ministry of Transport, rather than having the former cynically decide on the payment of a uniform sum of $2,000 (Two-Thousand Dollars) towards such expenditure.
To be certain, it is this aspect of the matter that is patently insulting, not either the failure or even the abject refusal of Allied Air Cargo to play clan-head or co-mourner with the various families of the bereaved. And, in fact, any family member who really believes that money is not at the heart of the matter deserves to be stripped naked, forced to lie, prostrate, on either a wheelbarrow or the flatbed of a food cart, as was the punitive hallmark of the Rawlings-led Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and given a sound belting in front of global television cameras.
On a lighter note, the apparently sympathy-hungry bereaved families of the victims of the Allied Air Cargo accident can be forgiven for allowing their emotions to stampede their cognitive faculties.
The next stage, though, is for these bereaved relatives of the victims of the June 9 freak accident – for that is exactly what it appears to have been – to hire some hard-hitting lawyers to fight for them in court, if they expect to be fairly compensated for their losses, particularly in those instances in which some of the victims happened to have been either the major and/or sole breadwinners of their families, with very young and/or old dependents who have been radically and/or severely affected by their changed circumstances.
As for the rather curious question of whether the management and/or proprietors of the Allied Air Cargo Company has/have been contemptuous of the families of the victims, let’s simply say that it has absolutely no relevance in this context. The fact of the matter is that the Lagos-based airline did not go into business in order to personally commiserate with and/or involve itself in the private and/or familial affairs of people adversely impacted by their operations, as legitimately defined by the company’s Articles of Incorporation and the law. Indeed, as the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is fond of saying: “Get real, people; this is the modern world,” not 1812!

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.