Feeding the cub into a vicious beast: Ghana’s case of political vigilantism – Part one

Feeding the cub into a vicious beast: Ghana’s case of political vigilantism – Part one

Loglo was an industrious and illustrious hunter who lived with his family at Avegbo, a village in the middle of a vast forest. His hunting prowess and

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Loglo was an industrious and illustrious hunter who lived with his family at Avegbo, a village in the middle of a vast forest. His hunting prowess and numerous successful hunting expeditions made him rise suddenly to fame across all the other villages. A lot of awards had been conferred on him by the Chief during several ceremonies to the admiration and envy of many. He was indeed a borne-hunter.

One fateful morning, Loglo, as usual, returned from his night trip with lots of booties to the joy of his family and neighbors. This time around, in addition to some sizeable game, he had returned with a live small animal. It was a ‘baby lion’. While the children were agog at the sight of this adorable creature, some elderly persons who saw or heard of Loglo’s new ‘pet’ received same with some mixed feelings. His wife felt same but would not dare question the husband’s authority.

In no time, like a wild harmattan fire, the news spread across the entire village. The Chief, who also got wind of the issue, invited Loglo to either confirm or deny the gossip in town. Loglo indeed ascertained the truism of the news. However, from his side, there was no cause for alarm since he was capable of raising and taming the cub to live among humans. All efforts at convincing the hunter to eliminate his new ‘baby’ fell on deaf ears.

Loglo fed his pet with meat from the proceeds of his usual hustles until the cub grew into a huge scary lion within months. Its daily dietary demands began to have a serious toll on Loglo’s supply power such that he had to sometimes reluctantly sacrifice his family’s protein needs. It was a serious headache but he could not complain. Indeed, you cannot frown while running an errand for your own self, our elders would say.

Disturbing reports about missing goats, sheep, fowls and even dogs began making the rounds but many initially attributed same to the work of thieves. Later, a few elderly folks suspected Loglo’s pet as culpable for the disappearances. They pleaded profusely that the beast be shot dead but the renowned hunter would do no such thing.

One hot afternoon, wails and cries were loudly heard from Loglo’s compound. He had gone for an elders’ meeting. The last three of his six children had been devoured and some others seriously wounded by the lion he had raised. A fly that refuses to heed advice will always be buried with the corpse.

He heard the sad news and thus ran to the house with rage with the mind of doing the needful but it was rather too late. His pet had fled into the forest.
Every night, this beast had attacked one or two folks from Avegbo until one lucky day when the bravest men, led by Loglo, combed the entire forest, found and killed this lion.

Political vigilantism in Ghana began like the putting together of young able-bodied men who were supposed to either snatch or protect ballot boxes during elections for their political parties. Like the story above, the original intention may not be the terror we are witnessing today, but this is how far we all have come.

These young men have over the years been recruited, encouraged, motivated, funded and from what we hear today, more armed than the regular state security apparatus.
The violence that marred the January 31 Ayawaso West Wuogon (AWW) bye-election appeared to have succeeded in bringing to the limelight a more thorough national conversion on the issue of “political vigilantism”.

Admittedly, this issue has not only become a dangerously festering menace but a ferocious albatross that is seriously suffocating our peaceful nation. It is a looming danger waiting to completely engulf and consume us. It is a time-bomb that is ticking fast towards a very devastating explosion.

All these started from mere disagreements between groups to some skirmishes, snatching of ballot boxes, fisticuffs, clashes with clubs and machetes to the shooting of people as we see today. We could not have reached this alarming point if governments, both past and present, had demonstrated the political will to nib the menace in the bud.

Aside the politicians, we the citizens, depending on which side of the political aisle we belong, urge and cheer these vigilantes on, obviously oblivious of the consequences.

It is indeed extremely heartbreaking when you hear Ghanaians today, instead of standing with one voice and swearing to demand an end to this looming catastrophe from leadership, vociferously engage in discourses of equalization. To the NDC, the NPP is guiltier and to the NPP, the NDC can never absolve itself from blame. We have done so for years and inadvertently allowed the cub to grow into the vicious monster that has started eating us up on a daily basis.

What has kept the name ‘Ghana’ from finding expression among the league of unfortunate nations like Nigeria, Liberia and Rwanda, which witnessed the escalation of vigilantism, is our religiosity, tolerance, peaceable nature and the fear for blood. The fear, however, of civil society, moral society, security experts and political watchers is that we are fast inching towards that point of explosion. We are at the verge of a serious crisis situation, judging from where we are today.

The attitude of over-politicization of virtually everything and the perceived mistrust in the state security institutions should be the foremost avenues worth exploring when working at tackling the canker. As Joy News’ Evans Mensah opined at the ongoing Emile Short Commission, persistent pressure should be mounted by we the people on those clothed with power and responsibility until they accept to exhibit an unflinching and demonstrable commitment towards seriously criminalizing and permanently eradicating political vigilantism from our body politics.

Political parties, whether in government or opposition should willingly or be compelled to disband vigilante groups that originate from among them immediately.

The 2020 elections, from all indications, is not only going to be historic and full of expectations but also stressful and highly volatile. We cannot afford to sacrifice the peace and tranquillity, the scarce resources, the human lives and the good name we have worked hard to make as a nation on the altar of unbridled thirst for political power, material things and fame by allowing political vigilantism to fester and degenerate to that point of no return.

By: Ignatius Quophy Amaglo