#BoycottNation: Social Justice Or Overreactions


This week, there was a story in the news about a Lebanese manager at Marwako who assaulted a member staff.  The victim claims that the manager shoved her face into ground pepper  that was being blended because the manager felt that she was ruining what appeared to be a faulty blender. To make matters worse, the manager looked her in a room for several hours.

Marwako is a popular name restaurant in Accra which has several branches. The incident took place at the La branch. The case was reported to the police and the manager was arrested.

After the news spread, there have been some people on social media who want further justice. They have created #BoycottMarwako, which is calling for people to boycott the Marwako establishment.

But I have reservations about the boycott of the business. Here’s why:

The incident took place at one branch of the Marwako franchise. This would appear on the face of it to be an isolated incident. The manager in question was arrested by the police and is likely going to be charged for assault and abuse. I don’t know what’s up next but I would feel that staff member who was assaulted would press charges or sue for compensation.

The details of the case are horrific. I hope the judge residing over this case throws the book at the manager and he gets the full force of the law.

I understand the outcry from social media but this case seems to be an isolated incident. So why boycott ALL branches of the business?

Now there have been rumors and whispers about about systematic abuse of workers across all Mawarko branches but that’s fitting into a stereotype of foreigners treating workers badly.

Others have made similar counter arguments. Some have asked why don’t we boycott other establishments who also have had reports of abuse of workers? Why is Mawarko suddenly a target?

It’s a far reach but you can say that with the Mawarko incident, it’s a bigger story because it was a foreigner attacking a Ghanaian worker. Whether you want to agree or not, there is a stereotype of foreigners like Lebanese, Chinese and Indian managers who treat Ghanaian workers like garbage. This latest incident appears to be picking up steam because the manager was Lebanese. If we switch the nationality of the manager to Ghanaian, how much traction would this story pick up? Is this boycott being called because it was about mistreatment of a worker or is there some racial tones underneath it?

Social Media Boycotts

So will this latest #Boycott have any effect? Well, unless the masses agree that they will boycott, I doubt it will. They might also see this as an isolated incident. This could be one of those stories that appear in the news cycle for a while and then go away when other big news breaks.

The #Boycott seems to come from a place of anger and strong emotion. There was a call for a boycott for Southwest because a staff appeared racist to a passenger on a flight. I remember that being in the news cycle for a while but then it disappeared. I don’t know how much effect that #boycott had. But I understood why people were up in arms.

The latest social media #boycott was for Uber. People didn’t like the fact that Uber management appeared to aligned with the Trump Administration and the #DeleteUber campaign started. I didn’t agree with that boycott because I didn’t feel like Uber had done anything wrong. If social media really didn’t like Uber aligning with the Trump administration, you could say they were hypocritical that they didn’t boycott Elon Musk because he was also aligned with Trump as well

delete-uber
#DeleteUber

But if I was going to support a #boycott of Uber, it would be now especially now we’re hearing that Uber had a workplace which didn’t take sexual harassment seriously. A case involved a female worker who made a complaint to management about unwanted sexual advances from a manager which was not given proper attention. That seems like systematic problem and something that would warrant for a boycott for Uber to step up their workplace policies.

Haven’t We Seen This Before?

Now, with this #BoycottMarwako, I think it will be talked about on social media but it will eventually die out.  It doesn’t seem like a battle the masses would want to pick up and fight. This wouldn’t be the first time.

I do remember a case involving some school girls who had stolen items from the Shoprite store at the Accra mall. They were “punished” by kneeling down in full view of the public. There was a public outcry and many called for a boycott on Shoprite (Which is a South African store). That didn’t appear to last long from what I recall.

Shoprite Ghana
What happened to boycotting Shoprite?

There have been a lot of social media campaigns. We tend to talk the instant justice by mobs in Ghana and the lackadaisical approach by the police to solve those cases. But those campaigns seem to come and go every now and then. Where is the #BoycottGhanaPolice or something else appropriate to pressure them to do better. Where is the #FightGalamsey where people pressure Government to enforce the laws and fight galamsey?

It seems like we like to pick and choose what we like and don’t like to talk about when it seems appropriate.

With this #BoycottMarwako, I hope there is a wider conversation about how Ghanaian businesses in general treat workers. We don’t have to wait about a story about a foreign managers who treating workers horribly before we get up in arms about what we’re fighting about.

If people really feel passionate about this boycott of Marwako needs to happen, then by all means, they should continue to make noise and carry on and have a broader conversation. But I feel this is a story that could easily disappear from the news stream.

I’ve seen it before. We’ll see if this trend continues.

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