To: Zita Okaikoi, Ambassador to the Czech Republic
From: Daixy, Unrepentant Critic and Opinionated Ghanaian Woman
May I call you Zita?
Of course, I may. This is my platform and you are currently unavailable to deny or accept my request.
I wish I could say I was hollering at you for good reasons. Next time, we should confer over a cup of tisane, and some of my famous cupcakes, and discuss the pros and cons of running a business in Ghana.
Today, however, I have a bone to pick with you.
You see, I was scanning the news this evening when I saw an item about a Ghanaian student who was “arrested” at Prague. The item came with a video which was appalling, to say the least.
Reports say the student had been cleared by airport screenings but was picked up at a train station.
There’s a lot wrong with the situation.
First of all, the student was profiled on account of his race. Tell me that a white traveler would have met the same fate at this boy. Being covered in a plastic sheet?! Was he dead? Why didn’t they just place him in a sealed body bag and be done with it?
Second, he was chased after his initial clearance. Granted, he showed signs of being unwell but that brings me to my third point.
Being arrested at a train station, carted off on a trolley (not a stretcher) and covered in a plastic sheet/blanket before being dumped in an ambulance, is not the way to treat a human being. I do not know if it was fear on the part of the man in the hazard suit but the way he grabbed the guy’s arm and shoved him in the ambulance was awful. I am usually hesitant to call racism but this is clearly the case here.
Now let me get to the meat of my message to you.
In your Interview with JoyFm tonight, you indicated that the Ghanaian Mission to the Czech Republic was “quite shocked” at the incident. Shocked shouldn’t be your reaction. Outraged, sounds about right to me. You should be incensed at the poor treatment meted out to one of your citizens and calling for the proverbial guillotines to be mounted.
Zita, what shocked me was your statement that this incident should “be a lesson for all West Africans”. Those words should never have left your mouth. I may have misconstrued your meaning but feel very strongly that you could have worded things better.
West Africans should NEVER have to expect such inhumane treatment whether in our own country or elsewhere. We should NEVER accept profiling and manhandling, no matter where we are. If a westerner had been treated in Ghana; the way this boy was treated, heads would roll. Please, by all means, tell West Africans that they should be careful when making their travel plans; that they should be aware of overzealous health workers and a security system intent on marking them for quarantine regardless of whether or not they have visited an Ebola-struck country. Tell them they should realise that now, when white people stare at them and clutch their children to their bosoms, it’s not really because they are black, but because they have “Ebola until proven innocent”.
I applaud you for your willingness to protest the unfair treatment of this student, who in your own words, is “highly traumatised” but must call you out for your defeatist attitude when you said, you believe the Czech Authorities will simply respond by saying they were taking precautions.
Do not back down! Imagine that boy as your son and stand firm when you demand an unqualified apology for him, and the people of Ghana. I would expect that by now, the Czech Ambassador would have been summoned to the Flagstaff house to provide an “explanation” for this debacle. ANYTHING to show the Ghanaian community within and abroad that our government gives a damn about the good people of Ghana.
And for goodness sakes, please don’t ever ask us to “learn” from awful treatment meted out to us. This is how black slaves told their daughters to learn, every time they were raped by a white man. “Don look ’em in de eye, chile. Don yoo wake up de faya in ’em”. Perhaps my analogy is harsh but it’s how I feel.
I look forward to hearing your demands to the Czech Republic.