- When George Floyd died, we frowned in concert; we trumpeted our disgust at racism. We may have found national high horses and railed at the wickedness in the hearts of a few policemen. Maybe we forgot what ...
There are times when humanity scares me. Not as much its presence as its absence. It is intriguing, what dehumanization does. We are human beings, and without humanity there is a certain state of being that is difficult to describe. There are some days when we are reminded suddenly of how completely humanity can disappear, and what capacity for evil resides within. Then we have to look directly in the chasm of this absence, and yet live on. There are the days when we have to remember, that the fact that humanity has dissipated from some people, does not mean that the world has lost its entire plot. These past few days have been like that for me.
I have seen pictures of the old lady. I did not see the video. I have not experienced the true horror of that mass loss of humanity. The snippets have been enough. I still can’t get my mind around it. How human beings can look in the face of a fellow human, and drag, beat, and maim, and kill. How a 90 year old lady can be threatening enough, to endure such a heartless end, is saddening.
There are many actors in this tragedy. There were young men, old women, and little children. Hearts ripped out. Eyes aflame. Their wagging tongues said things we were not supposed to hear. Only the magic of social media has opened our eyes to the terror of their heartlessness. A motley gang of townspeople, dragged a helpless old mother, grandmother, matriarch… almost a kilometer, surrounded her like predatory hounds. And the life of someone who has mothered others, ended.
In the wake of this reality we are forced to accept; this terrible event that has insinuated itself into our history, there are questions that we must ask ourselves. How did this happen? How did so many people, manage to kill a woman who could have mothered any of them? Where were the police? Where was the conscience of the mob? How did an execution take place in the open, with no obstruction? How did it take so long to arrest?
It is not an easy thing to kill a human being. The heart must stop. The breathing must stop long enough for the brain cells to start dying…. No human being just lies down and dies. We are built to hold on to life for as long as possible. We are designed to live, to the point where death is an unavoidable interference in a linear existence. Death is supposed to be that necessary end that we avoid, deflect, postpone, and delay. We don’t even talk about it. Now here were human beings, gathering around another and inflicting death. In a way that only inhuman beings can.
And it is not like it has not happened before. It is not like someone was held responsible for it. Now I hear the lady who led the charge, saying she was possessed, by something that made her do what she did. It is that easy, after doing something as hard as killing, to offload responsibility.
And now, as we deal with the shame of having something as horrible as this scar on our national face, we must make sure that we do enough to rub it out. If it is wickedness, it can never be covered by even the best of Ghanaian goodness. Evil/wickedness/injustice can only be uprooted. The guilty must be held to account. The wronged must be appeased and compensated. If our nation must be made great and strong, it must deal with its unpalatable nether parts. There is no other way forward.
When George Floyd died, we frowned in concert; we trumpeted our disgust at racism. We may have found national high horses and railed at the wickedness in the hearts of a few policemen. Maybe we forgot what hides in the deepest parts of our national reality. Maybe this short video reminds us of what is bad about us, so we can keep looking for the good. Maybe it should also remind us of the hidden truths that must be sorted out, so we can truly move forward as a country. Like the mob justice that killed a soldier, and the perpetrators who still walk free. Like the numerous children, slaving away under the boats on the Volta Lake, goaded on by fishermen with no intention to offer parenthood. Like prisoners on remand, waiting for trials that never come. The yearning of decades of justice denied. And humanity lost. Dreams unachieved.
Akua Denteh deserves her justice.