So it was Friday around 4PM when we got into the Kumasi Central Prisons. We got to the admissions cell where they do the distribution of fresh inmates.
In that cell we have the senior inmate who we call the “National leader”. He speaks for inmates. The National leader is assisted by the black coats. After the Black Coats, we have the various Block leaders and then the cell leaders. A-Block for instance is having 10 cells; 9 for sentenced inmates and 1 for remand inmates. Each cell has its own leader and Executives. In each cell we have a cell leader, policeman and a judge. Each cell operates like a country with regions and Districts. The Policeman serves as IGP and Prosecutor. We have cell leaders and advisors. On Sunday evening, if you offended any rule of the cell you are brought to court. The judge will look into the case and sentence you. The sentence will most likely be a fine.
On getting to the admission cells, the National leader called in the checker. The checker checks the numbers at the prisons from time to time. At every moment, the checker knows everything ongoing at the prisons by way of numbers. So the checker does the distribution.
So when he called on the senior checker, he had already taken one out of the three of us.
They even sell beds in there. If they realize you have money, they offer to sell you beds. A cell that should have forty people was taking over 137 inmates. You could imagine how choked the place was.
He picked one of us and took him to where his bed was. It was a triple deck bed. They asked him to get his family to pay 800 cedis for a bed. They would negotiate with the owner of that bed and share the money with him. He ended up paying almost 1100 cedis for the bed and couldn’t even sustain it for 3 months because he was not qualified for a bed. You would have to be there for some period of time to qualify for the bed. They took him out and took the rest of us to cell 5.
The checker opted to adopt us and be our tourist father. In the prison, fresh inmates are referred to as tourists and the person who looks after you is referred to as your tourist father.
The National leader is Gay. The checker who came for us was also gay. Big time. He had his “wife” in there. At night they would talk talk talk and when they suspect everyone was asleep they would have intense gay sex in there.
That’s when I realized how jealous gay folks could be. They could get very violent and protective over their sexual partners. But that’s a subject for another day.
Strangely enough, my gay tourist father never ever proposed to me for all the time he was in there until he was later moved to Ankaful.
On getting to cell 5, our tourist father gave us to someone he called his “boy” to give us water to bath and help us to a hair cut. Bushy hair was never allowed in there. That boy, it turned out, was his “wife”.
When we returned from the shower, supper was ready. It was “tugyimi rice” with a white watery substance they referred to as groundnut soup with fish head. That was supper.
Soon it was 5pm. 5pm is the sleeping time for every prison inmate in Ghana. The bell rang. 15-30 minutes after the bell rings, they started locking the doors. That is when you understand the real definition of heat. The place was congested. It was hell that night. Every person was bare chested that night. Some of us sat whiles others squatted and others lied down. We did not know what mosquito bite was. It was our new normal. You couldn’t do anything about it. No one would allow you put up a mosquito net since they feared it would encourage more sodomy.
My tourist father called me to tell me he could get me a better place to sleep if I could get my family to pay 250 cedis. I continued to suffer until my family paid the money a week later. Even then, the better place was under a bed somewhere. The place was heavily infested with bed bugs.
This series is the real life experience of a young Ghanaian man who was sentenced to jail term of 4 years in the Kumasi Central Prison for a crime he insists he knows nothing of.
He was pardoned after serving 2 years and 20 days of that sentence in an amnesty.
This series seeks to bring to the fore occurrences within our prisons system that are mostly counterproductive to the correction of inmates and also highlight some of the inhuman treatments that occur there among a host of challenges that bedevil our prisons.
It is written from the young man’s narrations.
A new edition will be published every Saturday unless otherwise announced on this platform.
Enjoy the read.