A Country Where Lunatics Are Prosecuted

A man was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison custody for attempted assassination of the president. According to the story, the man (who was showing signs of mental illness) was found in a church where the president regularly congregates. The president was not in church that particular day but the man was alleged to have entered the church with a weapon concealed in his pants (underwear) and comfortably sat as a congregant.

During the sermon he was reportedly acting suspicious so the presidential guards arrested him and he was subsequently arraigned and sentenced within 48 hours. Now the question is what kind of assassin will attend church, with the intention of killing the president, have his (undisclosed) weapon concealed in his pants and continue behaving suspiciously. The inability of the police to disclose the weapon he was carrying made many people conclude that they are making a big case out of slight evidence or none.

As a result of pressure from civil society and the general public, a recent medical test was conducted and it confirmed that the man indeed was clinically insane and so many people hope that he will be released and placed on medication. But we are told there will be a retrial. We don’t want Ghana to be the first to prosecute lunatics. The law on the legal process is very clear – that for an accused to be arraigned before court, proven guilty and sentenced, he must be of a sound mind. Here is a man who is not of a sound mind yet is being prosecuted. Ghana is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 in Paris, which includes the rights of the mentally-handicapped.

God And Law

At what point does God’s authority supersede the judge’s authority? God can condemn, the Judge can also do same. The Law has all the supremacy of God. Whilst the moral man looks up to God or the gods, the cunning one looks up to the law so that he may find a way to exploit it. In the affairs of the state, it’s not the rule of Gods but the rule of law. So we can say that God or gods occupy a certain domain of reality far from worldly reason but not out of touch with our personal realities – in as much as the rule of law does not mean there are no incredible interventions. I hope I’m making sense.

The Essence of Discovery

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“The essence of discovery is that it is the antithesis of boundary imposition. Power loves boundaries. Power manifests itself within boundaries, is exercised within some form of delimitations of territory…creativity itself is an affront, since it appears dedicated to the constant opening up of territory.”

-Wole Soyinka, keynote speech at the 78th PEN International Congress, September 2012

PS: This statement was made years back and someone misunderstood and asked on social media if creativity cannot take place behind the walls in Gaza (Israel?), apparently in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement itself has nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza. It is a political, analytical statement. Look at Africa and see how many countries have been carved out of a single continent. Even Togo calls itself a country. This is because “power loves boundaries.” The European colonialists divided the continent of Africa (politically, economically, socially and culturally) among themselves and the black African presidents have not removed those boundaries because they are also enjoying the autonomy. The “wall” or territory that is being spoken of here is not a physical wall but a psychological wall. The first thing one does in order to consolidate one’s power whether in government, business, academia or elsewhere is to close psychological boundaries through propaganda – to make it look like something is only possible with his/their authority. Whereas creativity (in all forms) is self expression and is dedicated to truth, to psychologically breaking down those barriers and offering relief to the people and showing the way forward. It is only when we aim at transcending barriers that a significant discovery can be made. So the essence of discovery is the direct opposite of boundary imposition. You cannot censor people and expect them to make a discovery.

 

The theme of the conference was: “Literature, Media and Human Rights.”