Everyone is crying out for peace
None is crying out for justice (repeat)
I don‚Äôt want no peace
I need equal rights and justice
The above is part of a popular music by the late Jamaican musician, Peter Mcntosh popularly known as Peter Tosh in the 1970s. Yeah, those were the days of bell-bottom crimplene trousers with ‚Äėguarantee‚Äô shoes and afro hair to match, in my secondary school days. Dear reader, I have never told you that I used to sing eh? Whaaat, I could sing the tunes of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Johnny Nash, Ken Lazarus, you name them on the international scene, exacting their voices.
Nearer home, Bongus Ikwe, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Chris Okoti all of Nigeria, were my favourites as well. In Ghana, Nana Kwame Ampadu was and is still my musical idol. We did not just sing and dance to the rhythms, but the relics also made sense to us, they were very philosophical and real in life situations. Some of them guided my life.
In fact, those were the challenging days when a cake of lux or sunlight soap was a luxury particularly for very poor people like me. In their stead, students like me, indeed, many students made do with a locally and traditionally prepared soap known as¬†amonkye¬†or¬†alata semina.¬†
All one needed was to lay a hand on a cake of lux or rexona to mix it up with the¬†amonkye¬†¬†to give it a beautiful scent, and I tell you five balls of them were enough for you to go through the term.
As for tooth paste, hmmm, most of us reverted to the traditional¬†tweapia¬†or chewing stick as many would call it. Others still used hydrogen peroxide, hmm¬†onipa abre pen.
The long and short of Peter Tosh‚Äôs track, ‚ÄėEqual Rights and Justice‚Äô, is that there can never be peace in this world when there is no justice. This statement has been repeated on countless number of occasions the world over by statesmen and Human Rights activists.
It is in clear pursuit of justice the world over that what used to be internal affairs of nations have become global concerns. One of the biggest flaws in the charter of the defunct Organisation of African Unity was the clause which espoused the ‚Äúdzi wo fie asem‚ÄĚ policy of non interference in the internal affairs of member nations.
That clause in the charter of the OAU then, gave room for African dictators of our post independent era to torture, and in some cases, murder their citizenry with glee. Africans suffered in the hands of bloody dictators in tie and in military uniforms because nobody cared about justice.
Those nations were peaceful from without, nobody cared about the pains and agonies families and individuals had gone through from a system which never bothered about justice and all that was needed was peace, which to those who defined it , meant the absence of war.
The socio cultural behaviour of Ghanaians seems to ignore justice to the individual or group of individuals and lay emphasis on peace. So it is that in many homes even when individuals have wronged others, our elders are ready to sweep the injustice meted out to others under the carpet all in the name of peace ignoring the pains inflicted on the affected.
To offer some justice and save lives of thousands of helpless citizens of Uganda, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania had to defy the obnoxious non-interference policy of the OAU to invade Uganda, then under the monstrous human flesh eating President Idi Amin who was massacring his own citizens with careless abandon while the world looked on in the name of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. When Idi Amin was killing his people, there was obviously peace in Uganda, but hundreds of thousands of the people did not know justice.
It is in line with such blatant acts of human rights violations and acts of injustice towards some members of society that the world has taken it upon itself to right the wrongs meted out to people who have no power the opportunity to seek redress in their own countries when they have been unjustifiably treated. There are many recent examples which I believe are known to many people throughout this country.
Each time there is an election in this country, groups of individuals and organizations become so concerned about their own understanding of peace and create the impression as if Ghana is going to be at war because of the elections. Under President Kufuor, a National Peace Council was put in place and replicated throughout the regions ostensibly to ensure peace before, during and after the elections.¬†¬†That in itself is not a bad idea; however, I am worried about isolating peace as the single most important thing in our national life when we know that it is the absence of justice which is always the threat to peace anywhere in the world.
The National Peace Council and many such other institutions believe that once this nation is not at war, everything is alright with us. While I appreciate the work of the National Peace Council before, during and after the elections, it seems to me that the council did not see some of the injustices meted out to some Ghanaians even during the biometric registration.
In Odododiodioo constituency, Ghanaians were beaten up for offering themselves to be registered. Ms. Ursula Owusu, an NPP parliamentary candidate then for Ablekuma South was beaten by armed men of all manner of cudgels. No justice has been offered to the victims of this Stone Age behaviour.
The Police has not acted upon this even though Ursula Owusu made a report and offered all the information to the Police; justice is yet to come her way. Just after that, the same Odododiodioo witnessed men who held deadly weapons parading the streets of that constituency, threatening everybody in broad daylight. The Police have done nothing about it as I write.
The Peace Council has not raised its voice to put pressure on the security agencies to ensure that those who suffered in the hands of paid assassins are brought to book. Of course, the late President Atta-Mills, when called to ensure justice in the country told us he was not a policeman, even when he was the chairman of the National Security Council.
In all these, the National Peace Council could only call for peace and not justice. Their only worry is a full scale bloody conflict happening in this country. That to them would be too bad for us but when individuals are unjustifiably hounded by hired goons and the Police refuse to apprehend them, there is no breach of the peace and therefore life must go on.
The victims suffer painfully in silence, their hearts bleed, their self-esteem reduces and their dignity as human beings is defiled while their rights are blatantly violated on the blind side of a National Peace Council which is only interested in peace and not justice.
It is these groups of people who have suffered injustice and lost faith in the ability of the state to protect them, or believe that they are treated like second class citizens of this nation.
I, Kwesi Biney cannot live with a situation where any citizen of this country will violate my person, abuse my human rights for no offence committed against that individual and yet the state will decide that because that individual belongs to a certain political party or he or she is the son or daughter of any prominent person, that person will walk freely with his or her chest out. I bet you, I will seek revenge my own way and be hanged thereafter.
The National Peace Council cannot be shouting peace peace and peace when injustice reigns supreme.¬†¬†If justice in this country is selectively applied there will not be peace, anyone who also attempts to deprive me of my mahogany bitters while quaffing Green label and the likes will not know peace as well. A word to the Peace Council can be found in justice.