Life in prison often unveils the complexities of human stories, each woven with the twists of desperation, survival, and unexpected turns.
Meet Solomon (surname unknown), a 24-year-old prisoner at the Awutu Camp Prison, sentenced to 2.5 years for an act of theft that aimed to secure his child’s education, but left behind a trail of heartache, disappointment, and regret.
Solomon’s embrace of crime was not borne out of malice, but rather a desperate bid to provide for his last-born child’s school fees, according to him.
Once engaged in galamsey (illegal mining), a precarious endeavour, and employed as a tiler, his fortunes took a downturn after business went bad.
Stagnant galamsey operations and a lack of tiling work pushed him to consider stealing, a choice he had never made before.
“I used to be involved in galamsey, but we had been put on hold for a while. I was also a tiler, but patronage was not forthcoming, that is why I thought about stealing. That is the only time I had stolen something,” Solomon recounted in an interview with Crime Check Foundation‘s Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng.
The stolen items were 25 coconut seedlings – a small act that had significant consequences. He intended to sell each seedling for GHC10 and thus arrive at a sum of GHC250.
Unbeknownst to Solomon, his big brother noticed the seedlings and inquired about them. In an attempt to shield himself from suspicion, Solomon lied, claiming they belonged to someone else.
However, fate played a different hand. The true owner of the seedlings reported the theft, setting off a chain of events that led to Solomon’s incarceration.
“My big brother saw them and asked me about it and I lied by telling him they were for someone. Unfortunately, the owner came to announce the theft at the information centre where my brother works, and so my brother told him to ask me about it. The owner was so upset about it, he decided to press charges and here I am,” he explained in the Twi dialect.
As Solomon sat confined behind bars, the weight of his actions bore heavily on his shoulders.
The stolen seedlings, according to him would have paid for his child’s fees (GHC80.00 per terms), as well as daily transportation and feeding fees (GHC7.00).
In an attempt to make sense of his situation, his plight led to introspection, revealing the pivotal role his partner and mother of his two children, played in his downward spiral.
Once enjoying relative prosperity, he strayed from the path of fidelity and indulged in relationships with multiple women, admitting having had at some point, about 10 girlfriends.
However, amidst these women was one “serious” girlfriend he had in addition to the mother of his children.
His partner, who had offered sound advice on financial responsibility and righteous living, found her counsel ignored.
He admitted, “If I had lived right with my partner, I would not have been in prison.”