TALKING DRUM: Of Marwako & a Ghanaian Supervisor called Ali

Like the Onaapo Singer whose hit song did not secure him nomination(s) at the 2016 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards, I will be totally shocked if all the headlines Marwako Fast Foods recently made it does not find itself on the list of top ten news at the end of the year, 2017.

Indeed, it became one of the social media campaigns that quickly got many people talking about it as it advised prospective customers of the said restaurant to #BoycottMarwako.

But, what was the story behind Marwako trending on social media? Reports had it that on Sunday, February 26 2017, a worker of the Marwako Fast Foods, a lady named Evelyn Boakye, had her face powdered with freshly blended pepper by her Lebanese supervisor.

According to Evelyn, this was when her supervisor, Jihad Chaaban, confronted her over how she used a blender at the Abelenkpe branch of the restaurant.

Evelyn says Chaaban appeared behind her and shouted at her for attempting to destroy the blender. Then, all of a sudden, Chaaban “poured the pepper I had blended on the table and grabbed by head and rubbed my face in it,” reports Graphic Online.

“I tried to free myself as the pepper went into my eyes and I couldn’t stand the burning sensation in my face; but he wouldn’t let me go,” says the traumatized lady.

It was just after this alleged heartbreaking news hit the news media that it stung most Ghanaians as if bitten by a black ant. If I will not be (mis)taken for exaggeration, almost every post I saw on Facebook after the incident touched on Marwako.

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I have been to the Abelenkpe branch of Marwako Fast Foods twice with my colleagues, Grace Hammoah Asare and Solomon Agbozo. Our elders say that one must appreciate the duiker’s swiftness even if it remains one’s arch enemy. Indeed, Marwako’s foods are nice.

So, when whoever that has once  patronized the place vehemently writes on social media campaigning for people to stop buying from Marwako, then, it tells you the extent to which Evelyn Boakye’s case has gone.

Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba and Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah among others have subsequently been to the Marwako Fast Foods vowing to get to the bottom of the matter.

Jihad Chaaban is before the law court as I write this piece. On March 8, 2017, he was remanded into police custody to reappear before the court on March 16. This has somewhat been a ‘sleeping tablet’ for many Ghanaians who fumed of the incident.

However, I think there is one most important person Ghanaians have let go of this Marwako saga. He is said to be a Ghanaian supervisor at the Abelenkpe branch of Marwako Fast Foods by name Ali.

Evelyn Boakye in an interview with Accra based Citi TV (a subsidiary of Citi FM), few days after her ordeal, mentions Ali in her narrations.

When the Ghanaian supervisor heard of the incident, Ali approached Evelyn to ask her if indeed it was true. Having heard it was true, he tells Evelyn to wait for him while he goes to verify from the Lebanese supervisor.

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Tearful Evelyn Boakye says in that Citi TV interview that Ali, after spending six good hours just to enquire from Jihad Chaaban about the incident, finally appears. He had a message for Evelyn.

“Ali came to tell me that I am not the first person that this thing has happened to me. So, do I know what we will do? And I said what?

“[He said that] I should take heart so we take money. Like take money from them [Lebanese supervisors],” she painfully says.

Evelyn Boakye says she was bold enough to have told Ali that she values her life and that she will not compromise.

But Ali, the Ghanaian who after his fact-finding mission from Jihad was perhaps told the truth, could not let the love of money pass by with its handcuffs. According to Evelyn, what came next from Ali’s mouth was so disastrous that if bottled could serve as pesticide to kill the mosquitoes in the Odaw River.

“I told him [Ali] I need justice and he was like you need justice? What is justice … justice … justice?!”

When I first raised the issue that this man called Ali must be invited by the police for questioning, I was told I do not have evidence to warrant that. That, if Evelyn Boakye had said that of Ali, it remains a mere allegation. Fair enough!

My question now is, which one of Ghana’s media houses (be it print, online, broadcast or whatever) or a single individual has evidence to the lady’s claim that she was molested by Jihad Chaaban? Are we all not using the adjective “alleged”? So, if she is again alleging someone had wanted her to compromise her right to live peacefully in exchange for some notes of Cedis, must we not be worried about it too?

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This is Ghana. Here, our solutions to problems, most often, are problems in itself. Verily, was it not in Ghana we proposed setting aside a day in every new month to clean our gutters as a means to ensuring a cleaner society? What happens after the day of the cleaning? We go back to fill the very gutters with filth.

Similarly, our solution to the #BoycottMarwako that Jihad Chaaban be punished will be upside down if Ali is not brought for interrogations. The truth is that after Jihad has been punished, there will be many of Ali’s caliber to side with foreigners or even side with some Ghanaian bosses to terrorize their workers.

Whereas I vehemently condemn Jihad Chaaban’s act, I equally condemn Ali’s alleged corrupt deal.

To the #BoycottMarwako campaigners, America’s ace investigative journalist Amy Goodman teaches us to go to where the silence is and say something. We did say ‘something’ about Jihad Chaaban’s act. Now, can we equally say something about the silence on Ali’s factor?

By Solomon Mensah

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect 3FM’s editorial policy.

Email: [email protected]