Last week, the nation woke up to the news of the horrific death of Mr George Somuah Bosompem, a teacher of the Salvation Army Basic School in Asiakwa, Eastern Region.
According to citifmonline.com, the police said their initial investigations showed that the late Mr Bosompem incurred the wrath of six teenagers, aged between 18 and 19 after he threatened to report them to the Police for stealing his farm produce, among other things.
This apparently infuriated them and they pounced on him and beat him mercilessly. He was rushed to the hospital but subsequently died. Initially, four of the boys were arrested, brought before the courts and remanded. I understand the other two, who were on the run, have also been apprehended and will go through the criminal justice system as provided by the law.
What I find rather curious about this case is the almost muted public reaction to it. It did not seem to trend much on social or traditional media platforms. Instead, everyone seemed to be working themselves into a frenzy on either side of the case involving the shutting down of Radio Gold and Radio XYZ.
I am not quite sure what to make of this, but I certainly hope that it is not a question of the public being jaded over murder issues because that would make a devastating tipping point.
I was discussing this with a friend the other day and he noted the huge public outcry and the wall-to-wall media coverage that greeted the grisly lynching of Capt Mahama in May 2017. The shock factor of that killing seemed to rank up there with other high profile murders in recent memory, even though the captain was hardly known to the public prior to his death.
Why no outcry?
So why is Mr Somuah’s death not registering below radar in the national firmament? Of course, all murders are tragic, but being attacked in that frenzied mode by a group of young boys like a pack of hyenas would a deer is shocking, particularly when all he did, as a responsible adult, was warn them from desisting from their loutish behaviour, else he would report them to the police.
And what do the events leading up to the assault, and the assault itself, say, if anything, about youth culture and attitude and the way they are brought up? Where are we heading as a society when young boys can turn into wild animals and brutally assault a man old enough to be their grandfather such that his death is the ultimate result? The dynamics and potent underlying issues that speak to our values are too significant to be ignored or dismissed.
It is true that there are no photographs or videos of the assault of Mr Bosompem to prick our conscience in the way Capt. Mahama’s death did. And it is true Mr Bosompem was not a celebrity or a well-known figure or particularly photogenic. Indeed, I do not think that many of us will be able to pick him from a gallery of random photographs.
But that is beside the point. It is tragic if as a nation we are only shocked by the brutal deaths of people ‘with address’, as some would call people of substantial pedigree. In the 1980s, the abduction and gruesome murder of the three high court judges and a retired army major sparked as much public horror as did the decapitation of the unknown nine-year-old Kofi Kyintoh by his uncle for ritual purposes.
We have a country to build, not just in terms of infrastructure and bread and butter issues, but also the values that serve as a glue to bind us as one people. The day we lose our shock value over such particularly dastardly acts is when we will start coming unstuck. May that day never come.
In all of this, I hope the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), to which Mr Bosompem belonged, will do more to liaise with the media to push this issue to the forefront through the trial of the boys. May we not sit back and belch simply because the wheels of justice are grinding, albeit slowly. After all, there is still keen interest by the public in the trials of Capt. Mahama and Mr J.B Danquah-Adu’s accused killers.