General News of Tuesday, 7 March 2017
A law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Edmund Foli, has urged the media to be circumspect on how they report the Marwako staff abuse incident in order not to whip up public sentiment against foreigners and their businesses in the country.
According to him, the Ghanaian is not as timid as people assume and, therefore, reporting the story as if Ghanaians are being abused in their own country by foreigners has the tendency of triggering attacks against expatriates.
It would be recalled that a kitchen staffer, Evelyn Boakye, who works at the Abelenkpe branch of Marwako Fast Food Limited, had her face dipped into pepper paste by her Lebanese supervisor Jihad Chaaban.
This inhumane treatment has attracted widespread criticism, especially on social media, leading to the creation of a hashtag #boycottMarwako.
Reacting to how the media is reporting the story so far on the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Tuesday 7 March, 2017, Mr Foli said: “When the media has a story such as this, I’ll kindly ask that you do not play the Ghanaian-foreigner angle. The reason is simple: …You live in a society which is volatile. And let nobody kid himself that Ghanaians may be seemingly timid. These are all instances that gradually build up public sentiment against a particular phenomenon and if we are not careful by the time you get a blow up… I have lived in South Africa and what we are seeing with the xenophobic attack did not start today. It started from 1994… so it is the little statements and things that push these issues to a level that one day we may have Ghanaians attacking foreigners. I pray that doesn’t happen. I don’t wish it happens.”
Mr Foli’s remarks echo a sentiment shared by former Foreign Affairs Minister Hanna Tetteh who believes xenophobic attacks are possible in Ghana as long as the circumstances that lead to such incidents are created.
“In Ghana, by the way, we are not any different. …I think anything can happen anywhere given a certain set of circumstances, and, so, it’s important for us to make sure that we don’t allow those circumstances to be created. What was the basis for the Aliens Compliance Act? I don’t want to go back into that history but let’s face it, at that time, it was felt that foreigners were controlling this economy much more so than Ghanaians. Therefore, there needed to be some form of regulation and as a result people were asked to move away in the 1960s,” she told host Etse Sikanku on World Affairs on Class91.3FM on Friday 3 March when asked if such attacks were possible in Ghana.
“When I was at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we did a project with the National Identification Authority and Immigration [Service] where we had the foreigner registration and you had these foreigner ID cards that were issued. We discovered at that time that we had over 120 nationalities living in Ghana. When you look at what has happened or comments that come up about the Chinese and the way that they do business in Ghana or Nigerians and the way they do business in Ghana or Liberians as former refugees in Ghana who have stayed or as Ivorians who left as a result of the crisis that took place in their country a couple of years ago who are still here, how do we react to them? And generally we are not really as hospitable as we make ourselves out to be.”