Monday, March 14, 2011

Do you have faith in African courts?

You would think it is a hasty generalisation for me to cluster all judiciaries on the African continent into one for analysis; but you would be wrong. You would be wrong because I am referring to something quite different. Apparently, the thing known as an African court in (some parts of) Ghana is upheld by an almost tangible belief in the supernatural in adjudicating matters of dispute between opposing parties. When the veracity of a claim is contested, often, the modern legal-rational frameworks for adjudication that we have do not suffice--people lie in court and the legal process is too slow and tedious. Also, the legal system does not always deliver justice to the satisfaction of the aggrieved party. This is where the fetish shrines and their priests (the jujumen) step in.

Last January, the case of a female employee at National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) office in the Volta Region who was allegedly sexually harassed came to the fore. She alleged that the chairman of her unit asked for sexual favours from her--offers she refused to grant. Even though she reported the case to CHRAJ, their investigative processes were too slow for her liking so she proceeded to an African court in her hometown in the Volta Region. According to her, the court has already begun delivering justice on her behalf. Someone's daughter is dead and so is one of the men involved with the case.

Her faith in the African court system is not unique to her. Indeed, former president Jeremiah John Rawlings has alluded to the effectiveness of African courts, challenging his accusers to a trial by fire in them:

Even though folks like to blithely brush it off, we know that they dare not lie in an African court even though they might be inclined to doing so in an ordinary law court after swearing on the Bible or the Quran.

Do you believe in African courts?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Visionary Vistas released!

Today is the 54th anniversary of Ghana's independence. To commemorate this occasion, I have released my book which is a compilation of some of my reflections on Ghana and Africa.

As I state in the preface of the book, "By publishing these reflections, I hope to draw attention to the issues that are raised, and to get the youth informed and sensitized about the potential power they wield—politically, as a voting block, and economically as the bulk of the labour force—in forcing changes that would inure to the benefit of the country."

The book is free as I want it to get to anyone who wants a copy so we can start a discussion on the important issues that will move Ghana and Africa forward. Feel free to email it to friends, print it etc. It can be downloaded from here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ghana: 54 years of independence?

I am not happy with the current state of Ghana. We have been independent for more than five decades, but we are still in bondage and do not look like a nation that has been independent for half a century. Our leaders have failed us, but so have we, ourselves. We have so disengaged from the process of government that incompetent leaders routinely take the fort and abuse power with no accountability. Who is going to undo this trend of unproductivity and despondency?

Tomorrow is the 6th of March--the day on which Ghana became an independent nation in 1957. In honour of this day, I will publish my book, Visionary Vistas, which will be made freely available on this website. In this book, I address a number of issues to which I always wonder why no politician is paying enough attention.

I hope to sensitise the youth to these issues and rally them, intellectually, at least, to engage productively on these issues of supreme national interest. Hopefully, we can build a better Ghana this way. Permit me to end with the first verse of our national anthem:

God bless our homeland Ghana
And make our nation great and strong
Bold to defend forever
The cause of freedom and of right
Fill our hearts with true humility
Make us cherish fearless honesty
And help us to resist oppressors' rule
With all our will and might forever more