Saturday, 8 August 2009


There is a phrase in local parlance that shocked me to the core, when its meaning was first explained to me: “No mercy for the cripple.” That cruel and mean phrase, with its dismissive and callous attitude towards the physically and mentally-challenged in society, reveals a ruthlessness in the character of those for whom its take-no-prisoners and the-end-justifies-the-means ethos, serves as a personal guide in life. It is no wonder that this has become a country in which people can look one straight in the eye and yet still lie through their teeth to one – a character trait that cost me dear when I first returned from a long sojourn abroad. Life in Nkrumah’s Ghana of the early sixties, was very different from today’s nation in which homes are protected by high “fence-walls” topped with electrified barbed wire, in a country in which daily life is akin to a game of Russian roulette – not knowing if a particular night might be the one during which one would have one’s personal experience of an encounter with a drug-crazed and gun-wielding youth: on a deadly mission to find money to provide him with the means to feed a drug habit. Most people did not lock the front door of their homes then – and when someone gave one their word, they meant it: and kept it.

Those were the halcyon days of my youth – when Ghanaians cared about their family name and integrity was what gained one the respect of one’s family and the rest of society: not wealth acquired through corruption and other dubious means. It is because I come from that generation of Ghanaians that I have been particularly appalled and horrified by the latest scandal to hit the sports ministry – in which an official used a disabled sports meeting in far away Australia, as a cover for visa racketeering. According to the umbrella association for people with disability, disability sports events overseas have apparently been used by corrupt sports council officials and their accomplices in crime for decades. It is a blessing that this latest scandal has occurred at a time when we have a serving president, who quite apart from his own personal health challenges, also happens to be a sincere and compassionate human being (unlike most of the members of our cynical political class). Apart from asking that he be personally kept informed about the progress of the investigation and prosecution of all those involved in this particular scandal, the president must widen the scope of the probe into the affairs of the sports ministry to include this avenue for the enrichment of the criminal syndicates that are behind human trafficking and visa racketeering in Ghana. One hopes that the president’s personal interest in the matter, will eventually lead to measures being taken to prevent such a scandal from ever occuring again. This being Ghana, if the president does not ask to be personally kept informed of the progress of the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Australian disabled sports meeting visa fraud, the powerful criminal syndicates that profit from such illegal activities will ensure that it gets absolutely nowhere – so as protect an obviously lucrative source of income for the syndicates’ members. A word to the wise…

Telephone: (powered by Tigo – the mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!) + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot Vodafone wireless smart-phone landline number: + 233 (0) 21 976238.

1 comment:

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