Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Village Court

they come here
with problems
they used to solve
over a quick drink

and leave here
with new troubles
they did not have
in their simple days

what they seek
is alien to their ways
who they come before
does not think like them


  1. Anonymous18 June, 2009

    we like to think the advent of "civilisation" was the best thing to happen to Ghana since man discovered fire, but before colonisation we had a system and it worked, maya angelou said "I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors"
    just cuz we may have been illiterate did not mean we were stupid. we had systems for schooling, adjudicating and healthcare.

  2. Anon, I like your comment. Let me share this with you. This poem is from my collection - SERIOUSLY SPEAKING. I wrote it while sitting in the court at Nsawam town.

    A woman had brought another to court for insulting her and apparently wanted money as compensation. But in court, it turned out that all she'd ever wanted was a public apology. See, her claim was drafted by somebody in the court's registry, and, in this case, English law did not understand the woman's cultural needs.

  3. Lmao. I wonder what insults they were...The kind in Wankyiwaa v Wireduaa?;-)
    Isn't this blind copying the reason for the "black faces in the forest" legislation in Nigeria?

  4. Wow, I don't even know what to make of this story.

    But I do hope she got her aoplogy and didnt spend too much time and money getting it.

  5. Yes, Savvy, a bit like Wankyiwaa v Wireduaa. Btw, what is this about "black faces in the forest".

  6. Dear Raine, she did get her apology. Then she announced that she was withdrawing her case. Cost her next to nothing.

  7. Interesting!
    Do you, broadly speaking, see a convergence of our traditional value systems and the judicial system in Ghana? Or are the two, parralel systems with no prospects of ever finding a broad areas of convergence?
    Looking at the present political dispensation in Ghana, for example, I have been wondering why the opposition has been threatening to take the BNI and other state institutions to court but never actually do so. What could be the reason,NY?

  8. Posekyere, our traditional values are similar, in some parts, to the Anglosaxon values we practise in our courts. Our values are also very different in some other respects.

    About threats to take the BNI to court, the debate is still raging, and I honestly only have an opinion in flux, right now. Somebody, a senior lawyer and friend that I totally revere, has discovered where the law gives the BNI the powers of arrest in carrying out their duties.

  9. This is very interesting.
    It can be interpreted in different ways as well. I first thought of people from my now "own" village who are stuck on old fashioned ideas with a wish for those rules to dominate. They'll come to us to complain that something needs to be done about something, but don't realise we do not think like that..ah Iguess im rambling its a long story.

    Back on point, this poem really points out and interesting point worth of discussion.
    Brings a question to my mind since you are a skilled lawyer - In Northen Nigeria they have a joint solution whenever a crime is committed. The offender can choose if he/she would like to be punished by the court/law system or by the Sha'ria court. In the "normal" court they might get a year in prison, while in the Sha'ria they get 50 lashes. What do you think about this idea of free choice of court? I think it is an interesting solution but I am nto sure what I think about it as of yet...
    I loved Anon's point too illiteracy is NOT the same as ignorance. Amen.

  10. nice write Nana!

    the 'meeting' of the two 'different worlds' gives a lot to think about!

    but for me, there's no need hanging on to 'cultural' differences. what is the 'culture' anyway? what we are used to? what we don't want to let go? or hip-hop culture?

    i see a case of misunderstanding between human beings which could be resolved with some more appreciation of the needs of people.

    for example whoever did the English registry entry for that woman must take some responsibility! and if sure the court was not where to present this case for the kind of relief being sought then simple direct dear 'public-apology-seeking madam' to look somewhere else!

    meanwhile, @Anon, we had good culture that worked and we had bad culture too that caused all sorts of problems. we still do. so me i don't see any uniqueness in these 'culture' songs people all over the world keep singing.


  11. Choice of the forum for trial is an interesting concept. I do not think it is necessarily a solution to cross-cultural differences. It may well be a good means of making dispute resolution more accessible to everybody. Merging the best aspects of 2 cultures and discarding the negatives of each sounds like a good way to go too, wouldn't you say?

  12. I agree with you, Nov, on not seeing everything about pre-colonial African culture (whatever that means) as positive. Having said that, I am still shocked at the lack of indigenisation of our court, political, economic, education and even health systems. But it is probably a complex topic and I do not have complex thoughts.

  13. I thought it was about an African picking up (or at least trying to) girls in a strip joint and not knowing that no matter what the girls says... there's no sex in the champagne room...

    but that's just me and dirty mind

  14. Huh, Faf? What imagination!!!

  15. you have to admit it fits perfectly though


After writing your comment, please select the Name/URL box below, and write your name in the box, before submitting your comment.