The Ghanaian “consumer jihad” against Jihad Chabaan and Marwako is a public trial for our business systems and support institutions. Chabaan, the Lebanese supervisor at Marwako’s Abelemkpe restaurant allegedly shoved a female employee’s head into blended pepper (chili) apparently for spoiling the blender. So far thousands have signed petitions, ministers, celebrities, the second lady and Amnesty International have joined the pre-trial jury that is calling for heads to roll.
Chabaan is facing trial, but he is not alone here. Marwako has been put on trial and the consumer jury has already sentenced the brand to a lifetime boycott without parole. The police are on trial, and are being judged for their ability to carry out due process. Government is on trial to determine if it will help make an example of this case. Every employer and brand in the country is on trial as employees who have been assaulted, abused and cheated sign up as witnesses against unfair business and labour practices.
The lucky culprit who has escaped trial but should be on trial is our mediocrity, our culture of silence and “leave it to God”, our willingness to forgive and forget unforgivable and poor customer services, our fear of power, and our “short-term memories” that easily bury fatal negligence by service professionals. A petition that calls for an end to “inhumane treatment of Ghanaians by foreigners” is reasonable under the circumstance, but myopic because it is not only foreigners who mete out inhumane treatment to Ghanaians. This is the mediocrity of thought—the lucky bastard—who has escaped trial.
I too celebrate this trend of activism. The Ghanaian consumer is holding a brand accountable for its abuse of its internal customer—an employee. Excellent. But unless we make such public trials a culture, we may only be making an example of a piss in the ocean. So let’s report offences and workplace abuse, complain about poor services, write online reviews, and share our terrible service experiences on social media. Let’s hold ALL businesses and brands accountable, now and always. Vela damus!