Monday, October 11, 2010

The death of Allan Koomson

According to news of September 25, 2010, a young Ghanaian residing in the Netherlands was killed under suspicious circumstances by Dutch Immigration Police, the dreaded Merachauese.

According to Myjoyonline, “The Circumstances under which a Ghanaian resident in Holland died at the hands of the Dutch Immigration in February this year are yet to be unraveled, as family members of the deceased are being kept in perpetual darkness.

Failure on the part of the Dutch authorities to tell the cause of death of Mr. Allan Koomson, after he was arrested by the Dutch police and handed over to their immigration counterparts for allegedly working without a permit, has sparked confusion and discomfort among family members, who are waiting to have information on the cause of death of their relative.”

The case which was said to have happened in February of this year is yet to be unraveled with the Dutch authorities, as usual, dallying and dallying and given one silly excuse after the other.

Allan Koomsom who was said to have lived and worked in the Netherlands for ten years was picked by the Dutch police and found to be without residence permit.
This has become a big, big offence in the Netherlands, as in several other European countries where racist, anti-foreigners parties are mushrooming like enzymes. Example is Holland where a rabidly racist politician and noted Islamophobe, Geert Wilders, is poised to become the power broker. The Scandinavians, who also like to tout their tolerating characters, are not far behind in the foreigner-bashing game.

The Dutch police was said to have handed over Mr. Koomson to their immigration counterparts after arresting him for not having residential papers.

There was no suggestion that Mr. Koomson suffered any ailments before his incarceration. And died whilst in the custody of the Dutch Police.

I have lamented severally in this column that it is time African governments wake up and start treating their citizens with utmost respect. At home and abroad, our governments should treat us with dignity. It is difficult to protest when foreigners treat us badly when our own officials continue to treat us with disdain. The foreigners also know this; and this may explain why they continue to treat/kill us with impunity.

The scandalous mal-treatment meted out to our citizens in Europe is simply outrageous. And this has been going on for many years. Our officials, having sold their conscience for handouts, lack the courage to lodge protest. They are busy groveling for aids and handouts to be bother with the plight of their citizens.
And what about the shabby treatment meted out daily to our compatriots at Western embassies in Accra? How many times have the outrageously racist behaviours of Western diplomats been chronicled without our officials lifting a finger to sanction the erring diplomats. I guess that they are too busy trying to get their invitation to their cocktail parties to call the racists to attention. There is no way any European country will tolerate Ghanaian diplomats mis-treatment of their people in their land; yet this is the shame we are forced to daily live with.

Our Diasporan community forms a very important part of our population. Conservative estimates put their numbers at two million. Their remittances alone form a large component of our national budget. Yet, our officials continue to treat them with contempt. The average Ghanaian remits more money to Ghana than the average European, yet whilst we roll out drums to celebrate the ‘Obronis,’ we treat our own people with derision.

We love the money they send to us and that is all. For years our officials have been busy debating how to incorporate them into our development agenda. They have talked un-ceasingly about creating a ministry to cater for them.

This should show how screwed-up our brains really are in this country. We have sentenced our best brains into involuntary exile because we lack the wherewithal to cater for them here. And instead of tapping into their huge reserves of brain and economic power, we would rather go to Asia, Arabia, Europe or America to beg for ‘experts.’

I wonder why it never occur to us that these nations also depend on their experts and would move heaven and earth to ensure that they stay at home. We continue to live the fiction that these foreigners love us so much that they would send to us anything but their third-rate experts. And it is these third-rates ‘experts,’ who struts our streets like Peacocks with our officials fawning over them, and our women drooling for their attention. And we say that we are free!

As I wrote in the Essay, ‘The Myths of Tourism,’ the average European tourist has very little left after paying for the flight ticket and hotel accommodation. But that simple fact has always eluded our officials who keep dreaming about building our alujanahs on tourism! In the article, I challenged the proponents of the tourism-leads-to-development hoopla to show the empirical evidence to support their stance.

That should show how skewed our thinking is in this country. Remittances from our brothers and sisters is said to be the second largest source of our revenue, but we are still debating how to accord them the very huge respect they deserve.

What exactly is wrong with us? We spend huge sums to educate our people. Because of failure of leadership, we cannot create enough jobs to employ them. They then decide, like any rational human being would do, to sojourn abroad. They live abroad but their hearts are always with us. Any visit to any of the money remittance agencies will reveal that very many families live on the largesse of their relations abroad. We know their phone numbers when it is time to ask them for money. But when they are in hardship, we do not give them support.

Allan Koomson case was not the first time that a Ghanaian has been shabbily treated in Europe. But what have we done to give our people abroad moral support? Nothing, I would say. We as a people have done nothing and our officials have done zilch.

In the piece, “The sad saga of Ama Sumani,” I bemoaned the humiliation of a Ghanaian nurse, Ama Sumani,’ by British police. I wrote, inter alia,

“Sometime in January 2008, British immigration officials forcibly removed a terminally ill Ghanaian (she suffers from a form of cancer called multiple myeloma) from the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and deported her to her native Ghana. There was widespread condemnation. The journal ‘Lancet’ called the action “atrocious barbarism.”

The patient’s name is Ama Sumani. Her age is 39, and she’s among the many Africans who are unable to regularize their stay in Europe – no thanks to European’s bureaucracy energetic efforts to build Fortress Europe.

Whichever we look at it, this action is condemnable. And I am aghast that none of the numerous ‘Human Rights’ organizations in Europe has taken it upon itself to champion Ama’s cause. Of course, they will tell you that it has nothing to do with her being black. But we are all witnesses to the vociferous noises European media made about the same time on the Natalee Holloway lady that got missing in Aruba.

Yours truly have consistently maintained that part of our problem in Africa is that we keep on crediting the other races with our humanism and spirituality. Anyone who has stay for any length of time in Europe will attest to the fact that Europe’s definition of humanity starts and stops with people of white hue. The reaction in the West most certainly would have been different were Ama Sumani to be a white lady. And you can bet your last sinking dollar that the EU and the USA would have called a UN Security council meeting to discuss the matter, were Ama to be a white lady deported from an African country. And we can only imagine the vociferous call for punitive sanctions were that country to be Zimbabwe!

In the 1990s when yours truly was editing the Pan-African journal, ‘The African,’ in the Netherlands, we (not the royal WE) consistently call on Africans to emulate the other racial (a nebulous classification defined by racist European anthropologists) groups and build a Pan African Racial Solidarity as enunciated by the great Marcus Garvey. The strength of the other racial groups is based upon the fact that they see themselves as a unit; a WE against the OTHERS concept. That is why a slight, injury or death of a European outside of Europe is the concern of every European state. And that explains why European forces always evacuate every WHITE person in any trouble spot. And it is the only reason why you will never find an Arab or a Chinese buying from an Africa shop even in our so-called countries.

Alas, in Africa, instead of building a solid Racial Solidarity, we still cling to our tribal and sham national identities. Refusing to learn our history, we continue to see ourselves as ‘Nigerians,’ ‘Gabonese,’ ‘Ghanaians,’ ‘Malians,’ and other identities bequeathed to us by our colonizers and the historic oppressors of our race! And, of course, the other races are exploiting our disunity to further their interests.”

In that piece I employed a Yoruba proverb that says: “Iri taba ri oja la nna.” Which
means that Goods are priced the way they are displayed.

The other races are treated us with utter contempt because they know that we are too individualistic to have any sense of racial solidarity. That explains why even Lebanese, Afghans, Iraqia and now Chinese are rubbishing us even in our own land. I learnt recently that there is a Chinese club somewhere in Accra where Africans are refused entry! My gosh!

Would we dare to go to China and discriminate against Chinese in their country? But because of our love for crumbs, we refuse to get it into our heads that these foreigners are in our land not because of any love but simply because of what they can LOOT from us.

We sit on vast wealth and allow foreigners to get the lion’s share whilst we settle for pittance. Our officials dance themselves silly whenever the foreigners dole out their pitiable ‘aid’ to us. We trumpet the so-called aid they are supposedly giving us, no one tells us how much the companies of the aid-giver makes yearly from our dear land.

Methinks that it is time psychologists begin to explore this peculiar behavior of ours.

The Dutch Immigration Police killed Koomson because they did not see us do anything in the case of Ama Sumani. If our officials have vigorously protested to the British about the inhumane treatment of the sick lady and made it clear to them that we shall, under no circumstances, accept such abhorrent and racist behavious, the Dutch would have taken notice and dare not treat Koomson so dastardly.

But our paid officials are busy drinking their whiskeys with their white ‘friends’ to have any time for us. They are too giddy to be seen with the omnipotent and rich European to bother with our brothers and sisters who are toiling in inhuman conditions to build the prosperity Europeans are so callously flaunting in our faces.

What about our Parliamentarians? What about our Student organisations? Why can’t our students mobilise and march to any embassy in our country whenever there are reports of any form of maltreatment meted out to one of our compatriots. Why can’t we mobilise to boycott the product of any nation that maltreats our people? Are there no NGOs formed to protect and safeguard the lives and interests of our Diasporan Community, if not why not?

We treat Europeans in our mist as decently as possible. And we should demand nothing less than that from them also. Because many of us still belief the fiction that Europeans come from a rich continent, they are even treated like some demigods.
The other races are taking us for granted because they know that they will get away with it. They know that we do not even care enough to be apathetic. We continue to spend our money buying products from racist countries.

This should not be so. Individually, there are things we can do to register our protest in our own little ways. For example, I still do not buy anything from Shell. It has to do with my protest against their pro-apartheid policies of the past. I also do not patronize any Israeli-made product because I find the Jewish state treatment of the Palestinians abhorrent.

Methinks also that our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora should do more to safeguard their own interests. I was there and I saw how timid many were when it comes to forming or joining organisations and associations to foster their collective interests. Many of them will cowardly retreat into the comfy of their homes where they will lament the indignities European authorities are piling on them. It is time they realize that there is strength in numbers.

We do not beat chest with one finger as an African proverb puts it. Another of the sayings of our elders is: it is impossible to break a tied broom.

My advice to them is to join an organization to protect their interests. Racist European police will continue to maltreat and occasionally kill them if they refuse to join national or international organisations to foster and protect their collective interests.

There should also be protest at the highest levels of our government whenever a citizen, any citizen of Ghana, is maltreated anywhere in the world. But we first need to put our own house in order.

After all, as they say, charity begins at home.

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