Ghanaian musician, Adane Best, is not one of my favourites but he has a song that always sets me thinking anytime it’s played on air. In his hit song “Gyata Bi” (which means a cub in Ga language), the versatile singer warns of the danger of bringing home a cub and making a pet out of it. A cub will grow into a lion which will eventually make a meal out of you and your family!
This maxim is evident in so many areas of our lives, especially in Ghanaian politics today. The recent happenings of violence that have put the nation into such a state of insecurity are hints of our cub gradually growing into a lion. Unfortunately, we are a people who don’t learn. We haven’t learnt much from the Liberias, Sierra Leones and Congos among other nations of the world whose countries were plunged into years of a bloody civil war. Thanks to cubs which grew into lions!
Kandahar Boys, Aluta Boys, Salifu Eleven and Azorka Boys are not nicknames of Ghanaian football clubs, neither are The Hawks and Bolga Bull Dogs names of Ghanaian animal rights activists. Delta Force and Invincible Forces are not even Kumawood’s latest action movies. These are vigilante groups that are used by our politicians to serve their own selfish desires. Indeed, only heaven knows how they come up with their interesting names.
Carefully observing the mayhem these groups have caused over the years foretells the danger we are courting as a people if we all watch on unconcerned. The terrorism such have visited on opponents of their paymasters indeed points to the fact that while the devil is finding work for idle hands, the politician is also finding work for idle minds.
The unlicensed weapons of vigilante groups are a threat to our peace but not as much as their sense of entitlement. Their stubborn assurance that this nation belongs to them is what may wreck us sooner or later. They seize power from whomever they don’t like… and still go scot free. They even have guts to threaten the government when it dares stand in their way.
Vigilantes almost seem untouchable in this part of our world. Puppets in the hands of politicians, they are not only a threat to our present but also to our future. In this age where the world is fast moving in the direction of development, we are still stuck in our trails because a vigilante group somewhere has earmarked which KVIP or toll booth it will take hold of when there is change of power. A nation run by vigilantes!
We have created a seize-loot-and-share system with such groups at the helm of affairs. This cycle keeps repeating after there has been change of power. We can’t put square pegs in round holes and expect to be as developed as a country in Europe overnight. We can’t leave our nation in the hands of party foot soldiers (I wonder who they are fighting with such a name) and come yelling, “A nation beyond aid.” A Ghana beyond aid will only be a fruitless dream until there’s a Ghana beyond vigilantism!
While men are building elsewhere, here we are tearing down— so much chaos— so much indiscipline. We keep reliving our past (and its errors) when others are already galloping into the future. When we leave deadly weapons in the hands of young men who have dedicated their precious lives to do another man’s political bidding, what happens to them when they are no more on payroll? They will join a band of other idle hands and minds to rob the citizens of their little before day breaks.
The increase in assassinations and ruthless killings can all be linked to vigilantism. When there’s proliferation of small arms, anything is possible. The irony about such proliferation is that the only one in danger is the one without arms. The only way to feel protected, thus, will be to fetch oneself a couple of them. And… that’s how arms keep springing up in every home!
We can’t excuse the formation of vigilante groups in the name of not trusting our security apparatus. If we come to power and polarize the security system with politics, of course, we won’t trust it when we leave power. No one can ever trust a water body they have poisoned before.
It’s such an uncomfortable truth that politics has been the bane of this continent. What was supposed to be a solution, unfortunately, has become a problem. Every four years, we go to the polls to elect people to solve problems they previously created. And that’s how the typical African politician is kept in business.
Vigilantism can ruin all that we have built over the years. It can drive away foreign investors and others who mean well for this country. Almost every single civil war was fuelled by pockets of armed groups fighting for one cause or another. The earlier we nipped this in the bud, the better it will be for us all. Mind you, every war-torn country was once a peaceful one.
The politician who will scream, “All die be die” will quickly be flown off abroad with his family when conflicts break out. All deaths are not deaths after all. He who will dare, “Boot for boot” will stay in the comfort of his luxurious home with his family protected by an army of guards. The only boot he knows of is his pair of Georgio Armani shoes. Our politics is one irony of comedy!
Adane Best may have sung his song for such a time as this. He may have been prophetically warning us of the danger of keeping fire in our bosom without getting burnt. When vigilantism gets out of hand, everyone perishes. Violence knows no political party. When this cub called vigilantism finally grows into a lion, we may all be used for dinner… regardless of our faith or ethnic group.
Don’t stay calm. Be worried. Very worried.
Kobina Ansah is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing firm.
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