CanoeVibes: Tema New Town Kplejoo should never be tainted with blood of the innocent


Tema New Town occupies a special place in my heart. I spent part of my teenage years there. Part of my life experiences were also forged there. From bigger and smaller canoes, I learnt the trade of fishing.

It was an invitation to cover up for a boy who had fallen ill. For an expedition that was to last a day, by the time the white sailing cloth and the wooden paddles were unpacked for what was to be my last trip, I had spent more than five years of my teenage years navigating through calm and stormy waters. Interestingly, everything happened on the blindside of my mother. But the day she found out, she almost shredded me into pieces.

I switched my focus to hunting for crabs and selling them. I did that alongside working at the famous Abomosu Market.  I got myself a wooden truck ‘One-Wheeler’ which I used to cart traders’ goods from the market to their destinations. My house was a street away from the ocean – not far from the Lighthouse.

Though the area had some known harbour hustlers and marijuana peddlers who often went in and out of police cells, I felt secure there. We did not have much trouble. The area also had different tribes and we all learnt to live together as a family. We did not have much trouble with the security. The only time a misunderstanding ensured was when a dawn swoop led to the arrest of innocent women and children.

The incident infuriated members of the area but did not degenerate into anything ugly.  Though some had anticipated a potential confrontation, it never happened. There were, however, minor disagreements.  As a resident, I took part in all the rites associated with the Kplejoo Festival. I even led a young group to the grounds. I remember an officer who even took part in the celebrations. The Kplejoo had always been peaceful. That is why I find it reprehensible that a misunderstanding between residents and some Navy officers resulted in the death of two innocent people.

The festival did not need that. Since the incident, I have read various accounts from eyewitnesses, including a statement from the Ghana Armed Forces, promising to investigate the matter. People are still divided on the content. I have also heard my brother Oko Oninku Henry, a popular youth activist who was present when the incident started.

He condemned the incident. According to him, he promised to take the matter up with the Trema Traditional Council. But the officers had their own plans. He said following a warning shot into the air, the next order that came led to the shooting into the crowd. Investigations are underway, or so the public has been told. It is, however, unfortunate that some security officers cannot refrain from using live ammunition to control crowd.

Where did these trigger-happy officers get into a noble profession like the Navy? I praise the GaDangme Council for calling the incident what it is – abuse of power; and those responsible must be apprehended and punished.

“The GaDangme Council considers it essential to speak out against such flagrant violations of human rights and demand accountability from the authorities responsible for these actions. Moreover, the tragic deaths of the two youths during the traditional festival highlight the urgent need for reforms in the military and security forces.”

A similar incident that led to the death of two fishermen  prior to the Homowo in 2023 is yet to be fully resolved and now this. Nobody has been held to account; and while the perpetrators continue to live their lives, the surviving relatives have been left with an endless sore that is refusing to heal. How many more lives should be lost at the hands of trigger-happy security officers before the right things are done?

I hope and pray this very investigation will lead to a better outcome. Nobody should lose his life for celebrating his heritage.

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