Ghana: Teachers abandon classrooms to protest flogging of a colleague teacher

By Ohemeng Tawiah, Nhyira Fm. Kumasi/ Ghana – Teachers at Besease in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality of the Ashanti region are boycotting classes starting Monday in protest of abuse of their colleague by the local chief.

Francis Kattah was subjected to 25 lashes by chief of the town in the presence of students for allegedly smoking Indian hemp in public.

His aggrieved colleagues say the assault is not only inhuman to the victim but it also denigrates the teaching profession.

The 54-year old French teacher of the local M/A Junior High School, an Assistant Director one  and five others were summoned to the chief’s palace on Saturday.

It followed allegations they had been smoking Indian hemp or ‘wee’ at a drinking spot.

Mr. Kattah says he was marched at gun-point, together with his 12 year old son, to the palace by an unidentified person who made the allegation to the chief.

He says despite pleading innocence, the chief ordered him to lie down while he flogged him with four canes put together in the presence of his own students amid plea for mercy from his son.

Mr. Kattah says he feels humiliated by the chief’s conduct. “He said lie down on the floor and I lied on the floor. And he said they should give him a cane and before the cane came, he stepped on me for more than ten times, hitting my spine and neck…So when the cane came, he combined about four canes. ..He removed my shirt while I was still lying prostate on the floor so he lashed from my neck to my waist. He flogged me about twenty five times.”

According to him, the chief also threatened to lock him up so that he will cut off his head for Akwasidae, a traditional  festival celebrated every  on every 40th Sunday on the following day.

“He said he would detain me until the night he will cut-off my head and use it for Akwasidae on the following day”, he explained.

“Meanwhile when I got outside, a lot of school children, enemies, beloved were gathered at the fence wall”. Teachers in the local schools are afraid of their lives. One of the striking teachers tells Nhyira Fm their action is in solidarity with their disgraced colleague.

“If the chief has done this to colleague teacher, we are not save.. If a whole chief could subject a teacher to that kind of mal treatment, it means we are not secured and therefore we have to do something to show that we are not pleased with what went on there, we are all feel aggrieved” he explained.

Meanwhile, a delegation made up of the Municipal Director of Education, Police Commander and teachers’ representatives were earlier today at the palace of the Paramount Chief of Ejisu to find ways settling the matter.

The Paramount Chief(traditional ruler), Oguakuro Afrane Okesseh the fourth condemned the Besease Chief’s action, and appealed to the teachers to return to the classrooms whilst efforts continue to find amicable settlement.

He blames mistaken identity as the cause of the issue. “It was about five people including the teacher, aged between 10 and 16, and that man took them plus the teacher to the chief’s palace and the teacher was mistakenly taken among those who were smoking ‘wee’”. Meanwhile, a source close to the Ejisu police say police may be forced to investigate the criminal aspect of the matter.