Saturday, June 01, 2013

What's My Name?

Nope, I didn't suddenly wake up this morning with amnesia. I'm talking about the latest play by Uncle Ebo Whyte.

Roverman Productions in Partnership with Joy FM and National Theatre Presents: "What's My Name?"


A play written and directed by Uncle Ebo Whyte.

Venue: National Theatre
Date: 1st and 2nd June, 2013
Time: 1st show 4pm, 2nd show 8pm
Rate: GH¢ 50.00

Has shame left Ghana? What do you think? Last week, I was headed to work with 2 friends. One was driving and the other was in the passenger seat in the back. I was in the passenger seat in front. The one driving jumped a red light and there was a police officer who saw it. Mind you, we were all running late for work. First thing the officer does is take out a digital camera and take or pretend to take (this is Gh, you can never be too sure) pictures of the car and its license plates. He takes a total of 3 shots, then walks over to the driver's side and asks the driver if he knows why he stopped him. He responds in the affirmative, and the police officer collects his driving license. My friend (the driver) gets out of the car and I see him talking to the officer. My other friend in the back also gets out of the car and joins them. Me, I continue to sit in the car trying to decide if I should call my boss and what I should say if I did, cos I was very late and it didn't seem like the police officer was in a hurry at all.

Both friends return to the car with the driver holding a charge sheet listing a number of offenses he had committed. In those five minutes or less, the police officer had charged him with like 5 offenses (I thought he just jumped a red light) including obstruction of justice (cos he argued with the officer) and at the back of the charge sheet was the arresting officer's name and phone number. Of course we knew what he wanted and we just dissed him in the car while we watched him outside arresting other road offenders. When we felt we were done privately dissing the officer, myself and my other friend told the driver to go sort the officer out with like GH¢5.00 and collect his driving license so we could leave. At this point, the officer was standing next to this other car he had stopped that was parked in front of us. My friend (the driver) gets out of the car and walks to the officer. We watch as they talk, and then my friend walks back to the car still clutching just the GH¢5.00 note. For a second I thought we had misjudged the officer and he was different (what was I thinking?). Trust me, there was nothing different about this officer. My friend started the car and I asked where he was going. He said when he'd spoken to the officer and tried to hand him the GH¢5.00 note, the officer said they should all leave the scene (I am so serious). I watched as the officer got into the front seat of the car parked ahead of us and some other guys he'd obviously charged with various offenses got into the back seat. We followed the car until it came to a stop about 2 minutes away from where we had been parked. Well, at least this officer had some amount of shame, and he didn't want a bunch of people see him receive money and hand over driving licenses back to drivers he had obviously arrested (I do wonder what the people would think when they see him drive off in the car of one of the arrested persons. I guess that all the arrested people were being sent to the police station and one driver was driving his car unaccompanied). There were a whole bunch of people around where we'd been stopped. It appeared to be the station of okada riders. There were a number of okada riders and their potential passengers around. I thought the use of motorcycles as public transportation had been outlawed in Gh. So I didn't get why this officer stood right next to these guys, ignored them, and chose to stop private cars that broke one law or another.

My friend got out of the car after he'd parked, and I saw the other guys in the back seat of the car in front get out and talk to the officer, hand something over to him (I guess money) and he hand something over in return (I guess their driving license). Then it was my friend's turn. Same routine. He spoke to the officer for a bit, handed something over to him, and the officer in turn handed something over to him. My friend got back into the car with his driving license but before we could leave, the officer was back. He asked my friend what he was going to do with his name and phone number, and that he should hand over the charge sheet he'd initially given him. My friend did that and we left. Of course all of us continued dissing the officer especially after my friend driving said before the officer handed over his driving license, he'd said the whole thing was not fair. Why? Cos all the guys determined how much they would give to the officer and he, the officer had no say in the amount (seriously). I guess he was in that much of a hurry to close the deal with each of the drivers that he didn't haggle over the amount (whose fault?). He wanted to be done and leave the vicinity before other people saw what a crooked officer he is (show me a straight one in Gh).

You of course know that I of all people will have pictures, right? Yep, I do. I took pictures when my friend was giving him the money, when the officer was collecting the money, and when he was handing over the driving license. And I had a story in mind. My blog post was going to be about crooked police officers in Gh, and I was going to put up the pictures I took. But then I watched "What's My Name?" and then it hit me. Who makes police officers in Gh crooked anyway? My friends and I were running late and we were more than happy to part with GH¢5.00 instead of the definitely larger amount that would be charged as a fine had the case ended up in court (not forgetting the time that would have been spent wasted had the case ended up in court). The officer did give us the option of having the case sent to court by handing over a charge sheet with a list of offenses. Matter of fact, the officer did everything right by taking  the pictures with the digital camera (I do wonder though which database he was going to compare the pictures with), collecting the driver's driving license and charging the driver with the various offenses. It was the driver that spoke to him at length (I guess after myself and my other friend had talked him into it), and handed the money over to him (but he did collect the money though. he could have insisted that he wouldn't). So I ask again. Has shame left Ghana? Now, what do you think?

"What's My Name?" Experience a day in the life of Dennis and you'll understand a little bit more about all that I've just written. You will hate Dennis, cos he has the guts to do the things you wished you could do. You will hate Dennis, cos he is able to get away with doing things you know if you did, you would get caught. You will love Dennis, cos he's just way too smart. Matter of fact, you will marvel at the level of his smarts. You will love Dennis, cos he's just way too witty.

If you thinking this post is a tad bit too late, no worries. "What's My Name?" shows next weekend as well. 8th and 9th June, 2013. Same venue, same times.

Tickets are available at Shell Shops at Airport, Achimota, Sakaman and Tema Community 11, Baatsona Total, Frankies Osu and Accra Mall, Joy FM and Jane Ann Supermarket

Main Sponsors: MTN and rlg.

4 comments:

  1. I thought the law allows evidence of corrupt practices. You could have still reported the officer without you and your friends being in any trouble.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It isn't really about reporting the officer (trust me, I got him on camera and I so did want to). Question is (for the sake of our conscience), how guilt-free are me and my friends? (we really wanted to just pay the guy and get to work). In Gh, we point fingers and complain a lot. But are the finger pointers and complainers doing the right thing? Who pushes or encourages others to do the wrong thing?

      Delete
  2. Um.. Police People live in a different world,there still are a few good ones out there.. Uncle Ebo Whyte though. Lip sealed. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They sure do live on their own planet. A few good ones eh? Are there some in Gh too? lol
      You should watch this play. If you here, don't miss it. Shows June 8 and June 9 as well.

      Delete

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