The recent passing of Barbara Coleman Blackwell and details of her biography has led to a resurrection of the infamous United States versus Blackwell story.
Though the setting of the legal tussle was the United of States of America, it gained traction in Ghana due to the persons involved.
Barbara Coleman who was a wife to Mr. Blackwell, was a daughter of one of Ghana’s minister then.
Grace Coleman, a deputy minister under the John Agyekum Kufuor administration was not implicated just because she was the mother of Barbara Coleman but was also accused of facilitating the visa process for Ama Owusua who dragged the family to the US authorities over allegations of mistreatment and enslavement.
Grace Coleman was charged by the US authorities for her role in ‘smuggling’ Ama Owusuaa into the country under the pretext of visiting the family instead of the domestic servant role she played.
As part of the trial process, the United States demanded the extradition of Grace Coleman who held dual role of Deputy Finance Minister and Member of Parliament for Effiduase/Assokore constituency.
A report by the Chronicle newspaper on the issue that occurred in 2004, highlights how John Dramani Mahama, who was then MP for Bole and Hawa Yakubu of Bawku Central, backed Grace Coleman and made appeals to the government not to extradite Grace Coleman for prosecution in the US.
The report indicates that both Mahama and Hawa Yakubu advanced the argument that the issue ought to be handled politically between the two nations and that the then MP for Effiduase/Asokore should not be sent to the United States.
Portions of the article as captured by The Chronicle and republished on GhanaWeb in 2004 said,
“The report that United States (US) officials have filed papers seeking the extradition of former deputy minister of Finance, Grace Coleman in connection with the case in which her daughter was sentenced to five years in prison by a US federal judge has continued to draw sympathy – at least from her colleagues in parliament.
“Two members of the House, John Mahama and Madam Hawa Yakubu, who have spoken publicly on the former minister’s indictment barely two weeks after her daughter was sentenced, said the government could still have a window of negotiation opened with the US government to prevent her extradition.
“Although Mahama, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Communications Director and its Member of Parliament (MP) for Bole and Madam Yakubu, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Bawku Central MP, believe that the law should take its course, they think the issue of Coleman’s extradition should be handled politically.
In the said article, Madam Yakubu is reported to have also said,
“I think the issue should be handled politically because we have some form of working understanding with the political leadership of the US.
The Chronicle article which was published by GhanaWeb on January 20, 2004 further indicated that Mr. Mahama spoke on Joy FM, a local radio station, whilst Madam Yakubu spoke with The Chronicle in an interview.
Read the Grace Coleman story earlier published by GhanaWeb below
In the last 24 hours, the story of how a certain Margaret Owusuwaa, believed to be a close relative of a woman who was buried recently, and the events that culminated to the latter’s death has been trending on Twitter.
In the accounts shared by Axel @Mr_Blavo along with photo snippets from a brochure, the name of a former Deputy Minister of Finance under the John Agyekum Kufuor administration, Grace Coleman, pops up, detailing what is also believed to be the circumstances that led to her losing her job, as well as how she died.
The accounts below are those captured in Barbara Coleman’s funeral brochure, under her biography. It also shares some details on how her mother, Grace Coleman, suffered pain before her death.
“When Barbara gave birth to her second child, Michael, her parents decided to look for someone to assist her in taking care of her young children. Her mother’s cousin, Margaret Owusuwaa (aka Ama), was living with her parents in Accra overheard the conversation and requested to take the offer. Her parents reluctantly agreed but later sent Ama to assist Barbara for six months as her visa stipulated.
“A few days to the expiry of her visa, Ama fled Barbara’s family home and reported to the US immigration that Barbara and her late mother [Grace Coleman] has forcefully sent her to the US as a slave to serve Barbara. Barbara was immediately arrested and committed to stand trial. She and her husband Kenneth were accused of conspiring to smuggle Ama Owusuwaa from Ghana to the US to work as an unpaid domestic servant and nanny to their children,” a portion of the biography of Barbara read.
The accounts explained that, following this ordeal, Grace Coleman, who was at the time an appointee of the former president, John Agyekum Kufuor, lost her job, leading to what will become the beginning of stress-related incidences that will kill her later in 2009.
“Grace Coleman, her late mother, was charged for conspiracy to send Ama to America under false pretenses and she was to be extradited to stand trial in the US court. This episode led to Hon. Grace Coleman losing her job as Deputy Minister of Finance in the [New] Patriotic Party (NPP) regime under President J. A. Kufuor in 2003,” it read.
In further accounts on how the Coleman family suffered lies at the hands of Ama, the biography narrated the circumstances under which the court hearing was done, as well as all the efforts they made to exonerate Barbara, her husband and Grace.
“The Coleman family sent seven witnesses from Ghana to the US court to testify that Ama was indeed a family member and she voluntarily offered to help her niece, Barbara, for six months. In court, Ama told all kinds of lies.
“Barbara was convicted of forced labour, harbouring an illegal alien for financial gain and hiding the passport of Ama Owusuwaa. In the end, she was sentenced to prison for five years and three months. Kenny was also convicted to conspiracy and harbouring an illegal alien for financial gain and sentenced to six months of home detention and three years probation. Ama Owusuwaa has since been rewarded with residency permit,” the biography read.
Other details of how the family had to deal with embarrassment are captured in the narration below.
“In prison, Barbara encountered many problems. She developed all sorts of ailments including diabetes, high blood pressure and a recurrent brain tumor. She had to undergo two craniotomies (a form of open head surgery) to remove the brain tumor.
“She served all the sixty-three months in prison and was deported to Ghana thereafter in 2008. These events are what eventually caused the death of her mother, Grace Coleman in 2009. Her husband, Kenny, also passed on in 2018,” the biography said.
We buried an auntie of mine on Friday and I’m just glad her suffering is finally over. Her life played out like the most unfortunate kumawood movie.
This life can be so crazy pic.twitter.com/0rYsxEdUA4
— Axel (@Mr_Blavo) September 12, 2021
The tweep, who claims to be a grandson of Grace Coleman, provided updates on what happened to this Ama Owusuwaa and her family thereafter.
“To make matters worse Ama Owusua told US officials that since my grand auntie was a minister in the then NPP government, her husband and kids were in danger of persecution. Lawyers came to Ghana and took her husband and kids to the US for “political asylum.”
“But Ama and her family got their karma. She and her husband are now both blind and she had a stroke that has left her paralyzed and bedridden in the states. At least there’s something like cosmic justice,” he wrote.
See the rest of the accounts below: