Although a correctional center, many people after been imprisoned come out changed for the worse. Some pick up the habit of smoking and alcoholism whiles some become homosexuals. For others, taking advantage of the facility to nurture their dreams and developing guiding principles for their lives remains paramount.
They realize their mistakes and work at erasing all such negativity from their lives and add value to themselves before they move out of the prison facility to continue life. Such is the story of Baba Moro, an inmate at the Navrongo Male Prison.
Been incarcerated for nine years after he had served three years in remand cells, Baba mentions that prison has molded him and changed his perception about life which he hitherto thought was all about smoking, drinking and having good sex.
“When I was out there, all I knew was to sit in the drinking spot and drink alcohol the whole day while I smoke alongside. I thought that was all life was all about but coming here has helped me build a different perception about life which I will surely use to order my steps if God permits and I go out.”
Baba was arrested in 2011 and upon his arrival at the facility, he joined the smock weaving class at the facility; something he describes as a game changer. To him, he has not only added value to himself but is hopeful that he will no longer waste his life like he used to do.
He recalls that although they were many who opted for the vocation, he is the only one who could endure, as others have fallen flat and could not continue the journey when the going became tougher.
“We go plenty to the funeral but we all don’t come back the same time. When I came here in 2011, I joined the smock makers to learn how to do the designs. We were eight that started the thing but as of now I am the only one who stayed and learnt the trade.”
“As for me I love prison, yes, I love prison because for now, no design that I cannot do. If it is the northern smock and not the Asante one which they sow, I can do any design that you bring. Just bring it and I will do it fast for you right now. I love prison because I can now boast of a profession, I love prison, my brother,” he said as he felt proud that coming to prison has really made him a better person.
Although he has more time to be spent as a prisoner, his intentions for life after prison are certain to him. Baba intends to build a workshop to train young people who are interested in the trade and also use his story to counsel the youth to desist from engaging in needless vices and make good use of the freedom they are enjoying.
“As for me when I go out, I have learnt a trade from here so I will also teach people. I have already taught some people who were here with us and I think they are doing well since they left here so that is what I want to continue doing. But I will also use my story to motivate people and make them see that there is more to life than just sex; smoking and drinking so that they will take advantage of the freedom they have and make good use of it.”
With just a single loom, the Navrongo male prisons is giving hope to the hopeless and is contributing its quota to the tourism industry in the country but Baba believes that more can be done by the government and private individuals to help train people like him who have come to realize their potential in prison.
“The loom we are using here is just one but if we are able to get more it will also encourage people to join the work and train themselves and when they go out they will be occupied rather than go and engage in things that will bring them here. As we speak, we work on orders from people which is not enough, so if people can come and also invest so that when we produce they can come and pick and sell it will be good for us here.”
The Navrongo prisons produce some of the best smock designs one can ever see in the Upper East region and at very affordable prices one could get anywhere. Their contribution to tourism in the region is unparallel as they exhibit their designs just in front of their facility to also draw the attention of passersby and also exhibit the culture of the people of the Upper East region.
For many, the prison changes them for the worse whiles some change for the better. Baba falls in the latter class and is hoping that his life after prison will serve as a motivation to the world and people he comes across. Unlike people whose hopes are dampened by prison, Baba who had no hope of being a better person is now hopeful of changing his fortunes.