#7. Why I’m #boycottMarwako til I’m blue in the face
If you’re not a fan of Citi FM, and do not have a Facebook account then you can be exempted from not knowing what happened at the Abelemkpe branch of Marwako recently.
If you’re not in the know, there’s a video on Facebook that CitiTV put together of the victims account that you should watch : https://www.facebook.com/citi97.3/
If you’re short on time, the summary of the situation is this – a 25 year old female employee of Marwako had her face pushed into a blender full of freshly blended pepper by her Lebanese supervisor. According to her account, she was held there for at least ten minutes and when he was done making his point, she was locked away in a room and he didn’t allow any of her fellow colleagues to assist her.
The incident is still being investigated but the questions arising are what call for this blog today after a two week hiatus :
- Why hasn’t the gender, children and social protection minister responded yet? (we didn’t hire her for her funky half Mohawk and her ballsy attitude. We hired her to light fires under people’s asses and make a difference in people’s lives. So far, she’s been slow on the uptake; the prayer is that she speeds up.)
- What steps is law enforcement taking to curb these incidences of work place abuse particularly from foreign owned companies? Ghanaian owned companies can be little better when it comes to treating their staff but it stings more when it’s a foreigner who treats us like crap. Especially when its heard it’s a Lebanese – then it shifts to “we’ve given you a safe haven from the ravages in your home country and this is how you repay us?”
- Where is CHRAJ and why are they so silent?
- In fact, why are the traditional figure heads of authority in a case like this silent?
The silence from leadership is more disturbing than the pepper – it implies, well, what’s happened has happened and we’re sorry but there’s nothing we can do. Grit your teeth and bear it.
After all, what other job option do you have?
Yes, that’s the angle to this infuriating conversation that I’ve heard this weekend – let’s not boycott Marwako because it is a source of employment for many Ghanaians and if we boycott them, where will they go?
This argument made me realise very starkly that the concept of a boycott and its intended effects is very lost on the average Ghanaian. Or to be fair, the average Ghanaian who finds his/herself on Facebook.
A boycott of a product or service sends a message to the management of a company that you are not satisfied with their output and until they change it, you’re not spending a pesewa there. This action forces the management to sit up, change strategy and do what it can to clean up its image so that it can keep its customer and win others to its fold.
It’s a basic business practice and anyone who has worked in a bank along the Ring Road central knows that’s my policy – if your service dissatisfies me, I will inform you about my need to leave, and then use my Facebook account to tell you why I’m dumping you and what you need to do about it. My friend Ewuradjoa is the queen of this. That lady has no chill whatsoever.
That’s why we boycott, to make things better in the long run for all of us.
But what do we see in Accra, Ghana, within the same weekend that the story broke? Folks still streaming to the Abelemkpe branch were the incident occurred, ordering food and eating and having a regular good time.
That’s a phrase I find so distasteful because of its history – it’s a term for black slaves who worked in the houses of their masters and often absorbed an insidious fondness for the tenets of slavery with some even encouraging it. Another term for it is ‘Uncle Tom.’
And that was the phrase that popped into my head when I saw the pic of a fellow journalist friend of mine who passed through to see how business was doing and reported that it was business as usual.
How do we demand that management of Marwako (and other companies) do the right thing by their workers when we tacitly condone their behavior by patronizing their food?
The staff that stayed on are the people feel most sorry for; sacrificing their souls to feed their bodies. If they had decided to lay down their tools, management would have been forced to sit up much faster. Because everyone knows, you can’t run a restaurant without a kitchen crew.
And it also says something about this country, this God-bless-our-homeland-Ghana that turns 60 in a few hours; what kind of system have we created that people do not trust the state to fight for their rights so they stay trapped in jobs were they are abused?
Because a person who can dip another’s head in blended pepper for ten minutes and order people not to help her then warn her not to tell anyone…that person is not someone who just does it once on the spur of the moment. Let’s not kid ourselves. Most likely there’s a history of violence that never got reported because it wasn’t deemed serious enough.
And now he’s crossed the line.
He was arrested though and released on bail and his case is being investigated. Is that enough? For me, no. Will this case be swept under the rug? I pray it won’t be but I’ve lived here long enough and I know how things work.
What’s the next step here? Boycott or nay? For me, boycott til my chocolate face turns blue…or until they change their methods of treating employees.
Why do I get the feeling the latter is more likely than the former?