What does the Ghanaian constitution say about “terrorism”? If there is one, please do let us know because we are not aware of every facet of our constitution. If not, are there any preparations being made to constitutionalize or legislate “terrorism” as a crime perpetrated against the state, the individual, and his/her properties?
Meanwhile, what is “terrorism”? According to Wikipedia, “There is neither an academic nor an international legal consensus regarding the definition of the term ‘terrorism'...A 2003 study by Jeffrey Record for the US Army quoted a source (Schmid and Jongman 1988) that counted 109 definitions of terrorism that covered a total of 22 different definitional elements.” As at the time of writing this, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is in a serious and protracted legal tug-of-war with the federal government over the precise definitional composition of “terrorism.”
Let’s move away from the West’s definitional politics to the definitional dilemma, if any, of Ghana, even of Africa. Has the African Union formulated one which binds individual African nation-states? I believe so. Lets us see then.
In fact, the African Union has these to say about “terrorism,” fundamentally establishing it as “an act carried out in contravention of the criminal laws of a Party State...and is calculated or intended to”:
(1)Intimidate, put in fear, force, coerce or induce any government, body, institution, the general public or any segment thereof, to do or abstain from doing any act, or to adopt or abandon a particular standpoint, or to act according to certain principle; or (2)Disrupt any public service, the delivery of any essential service to the public or to create a public emergency; or (3)Create general insurrection in a State.
These stipulations are good on the surface. Chris Hedges, the American journalist and moral philosopher, once opined that the definitional fluidity or elasticity of “terrorism” meant that “One day we’ll all be terrorists!” Notwithstanding Hedge’s comment, are we teaching them, the African Union definition, in our Ghanaian schools? Is every African country a signatory to these provisions?
Before we go any further, let’s ask the following questions: Again, are we discussing them, the African Union definition, in the social and public domain beyond the walls of our schools? Why has the question of “terrorism” suddenly assumed an intellectual and investigational crosshairs in our current discourse?
Organically, constitutional oversight and popular understanding of the social-cultural politics and operationalizability of Islamic terrorism must be a national priority not only of Somalia, of Mali, of Nigeria, of Algeria, but of the entire African continent as well. The entire world, we may also add.
Moreover, we must guard against the possibility of anyone capitalizing on the artificiality of Africa’s political individuation to argue us into believing that the continent is far removed from the actuality of geopolitical wholeness. The African continent is much more like the individualized constitution of human anatomy, systematically connected in a matrix of anatomic and physiologic uniformity.
A sharp pain from a cancerous finger, say, hoards streams of electrical potential capable of disrupting the entire body’s homeostasis. In fact, the electrical flow of geopolitical interconnectedness must strengthen the continental integrity of Africa in the face of aggression.
Why am I raising the question of “terrorism”? Is it because of Prof. Kofi Awoonor’s untimely entanglement in the dragnet of political Islam, Islamic terrorism? Is it because of Kofi Annan’s “I’m shocked and horrified by Kenya Mall attack,” Prof. Keith Blumey’s “Al-Shabab could attack Ghana too,” Rawlings’ “Al-Shabab’s deceitful agenda must end!”, and Kofi Thompson’s “Ghanaian politicians must end dalliance with violent types” apocalyptic and not-so-apocalyptic statements?
Ideally, there are some important facts we need to get upfront. Admittedly, it’s not as if we are not already familiar with these hard facts. We are, of course. Only that we need to keep constantly reminding ourselves of them.
These facts are urgently expedient. The fact is that total or partial Afghanisanization of Africa is not a distant possibility. It’s a close festering actuality. Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad. Et cetera. Need we remind ourselves of them and of the many others?
A disclaimer: This piece is not an attack or affront upon organized religion. The expression of or identification with a regimen of religious feelings and spirituality, in general, we believe, is a personal prerogative or choice.
Besides, I have good and honest friends and family members who are dedicated Christians and Muslims. Next, both the history and historiography of Islam and Christianity in Africa are important to the understanding of religious violence and terrorism in contemporary Africa. We must acknowledge this historical, even contemporary, fact.
For instance, Christian slave owners in Haiti put “dynamite” in the anuses of their stubborn slaves and blew them up. Other Christian slave owners in Haiti allowed a special breed of European dogs to feed upon live stubborn slaves after tempting the dogs via heightening their appetite with fresh blood from their would-be victims.
These heinous crimes parallel the crimes of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front, and Al-Shabab’s. As you can see from the foregoing, religious terrorism in Africa didn’t start with the Islamized Al-Shabab or Joseph Kony’s Judeo-Christianized Lord’s Resistance Army. Understandably, our churches and mosques don’t teach these facts.
Emphatically, both religions have had an exceptionally long history of explosive violence and the technology of psychological exploitation deployed against Africa, her culture, and her people. Joseph Kony, our postmodernist Moses, informs us that God says he must plant the seed of the Decalogue on African soil.
Al-Shabab, on the other hand, says God has instructed it to plant the seed of sharia on the xenophilous soil of Africa. But who is this God of al-Shabab and of Joseph Kony that ignores the authoritatively wise voice of Africa and of her God? Don’t Christians in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa have the Decalogue already? Hasn't Africa had the Decalogue since the days of the ancient Egyptians? Why must anybody singularly impose a theocracy of intolerance on xenophilous Africa?
In “God, Favoritism, and Terrorism: What Next After Prof. Kofi Awoonor?—Part ll,” we shall definitely explore the nature of additional questions as they relate to how Ghana can appropriate and consequently tailor United Nations’ and African Union’s laws and definitions of “terrorism” to her constitutional needs if and when she decides to legislate it as a crime.
Finally, let’s remind ourselves again about the legal and political convolutions surrounding the definition of “terrorism” (Wikipedia): “Terrorism is the systematic use of terror as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no legal binding, criminal law definition.”
Until the next installment comes in, please just take our ramblings in this piece as sheer exercise of theoretical honeymooning. Let us leave you with one of Kofi Annan’s commiserative statements:
“As we mourn for the victims and their families, we are also reminded of our common humanity. Let us all reaffirm our commitment to work for peace, tolerance and justice for all.”
Kofi Annan could not have stated our collective commiseration any better! Let’s keep the dead and their surviving families in our prayers. Until then...