Complicated Relationships With Prisoners

One of Kwame Mainu’s assistants at Warwick University, Sandra Garg, had fallen in love with one of the Kumasi academics chosen in 1996 to come to Warwick on a short research assignment. Unfortunately, the young man, Nelson Evans-Agyei, had been persuaded to carry wooden artefacts to Coventry that were found to contain cocaine and had been convicted to two years’ imprisonment. At the same time, Kwame had learned that his arch-enemy, Peter Sarpong, imprisoned for a much more serious role in drugs trafficking, was being considered for early release. Sandra came to Kwame’s office to discuss the work programme and on leaving she stood up and walked to the door, but then turned back, ‘Have you heard about Nelson?’ she asked.

‘Yes, Mick showed me the press cutting.’

‘What will happen to him?’

‘He will serve his sentence and then be deported back to Ghana.’

‘Will he be in prison for two years?’

‘That was the sentence, but most people seem to be released early if they behave well.’

‘I’m sure Nelson won’t cause any trouble.’

‘Then he will be let out early.’

‘Can they have visitors?’

‘Oh yes, why don’t you write to ask to visit him?’

‘Do you think he’d like that?’

‘I’m sure he would.’She sat silent for a while, eyes focused on infinity. Kwame waited patiently, savouring the irony of the situation. Sandra was willing Nelson’s release to come early while he was scheming for Peter’s release to be delayed. If the human will could affect the flow of time, he thought, we’d all get seriously out of synchronism.At length the young woman returned to the present with ‘You say he will be deported back to Ghana.”That’s what usually happens.’

‘But I will be able to visit him there.’

‘Of course, if that’s what you both want.’

‘Could he ever return to England?’

‘Yes, I think so, if he commits no further offences.’

There was another long pause and Kwame tried hard to hide any signs of impatience while he waited for Sandra’s next words. ‘He was tricked, you know; he didn’t mean to do anything illegal.’

‘I’m sure you’re right. He won’t do it again.’

‘Thank you Kwame.’

‘What for?’

‘For listening – for understanding.’

This time she not only reached the door but succeeded in opening it and passing through. Kwame hoped he had helped to put her mind at rest but he realised that as a man from a different culture there was only so much he could do. Did she have a female friend from her own culture to turn to? He thought that Mick might know so he called him to his office.’Sandra’s still upset about Nelson.’

‘We’re all worried about her,’ Mick said.

‘I’ve done what I can, but she needs a shoulder to cry on. Does she have a female friend, perhaps an older one?’

‘She’s friendly with Mrs Gupta, Prof Thomas’s secretary.’

‘Then we must hope she’s getting the support she needs.’

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