Thursday, 12 March 2009

''People doctors”.

Herodotus the father of history wrote this about the ancient Persians..

''They have no physicians, but when a man is ill, they lay him in the public square, and the passers-by come up to him, and if they have ever had his disease or have known anyone who has suffered from it, they give him advice, recommending him to do whatever they found good in their own case, or in the case known to them; and no one is allowed to pass the sick man in silence without asking him what his ailment is.''

With our chronic lack of doctors in Ghana, maybe a modified version of this will help us a long way...)))

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

When the rain comes down-

Very soon and if it hasn’t started already, the rainy season would be here with us again. In Ghana how you welcome this rainy season is a function of X and Y.Y being where you stay and X , what time of the day it is.

Y-Where you stay

1. You stay off an untarred/murram/gravel road or whatever you call it, your hopes and anticipation might be different from someone who stays at a place like Labone or Cantonments.

First of all when the rain begins you start thinking of whether the open choked ‘’boller’’ gutters (if you have any at all) will do their work. Will the gutters allow the massive outpour to flow or are you going to have a second Korle/Kpeshie/Chemu Lagoon on your street? For some lucky people, (like me) puddles/small ponds/mini gutters will form on the road and you will have to skip, sidestep, jump and even summersault as you make your way in the early morning to work. Occasionally you will get a car splashing dirty water on you (this is usually done by the the private car).
If this is your lot, be grateful, for this is Ghana.

If despite the massive bigger than olympic size gutter which is still choked and not able to flow the rain water, thereby causing a stagnation, then due (not the english due but the akan demerifa-du-e) In this scenario skipping, sidestepping, jumping or no amount of summersault will help you out. Because in front of your house to as far as your eyes could see, there is a mini Wli falls and unless you are a Jet Li kind of person you have to wade through the darky waters. You take off your nice Kant/Kejetia black brownish shoes and wade through the waters as you try to remember who the Assemblyman for the area is. There is nothing to be shy of because even the dadaba boys and girls next door are doing the same thing. When you get to a safer dry part of the road you shake off the waters and troubles off your dirty feet ,put on your shoes and gallantly make your way to work.

X-Time of the day

Your hopes and fears of the falling rain is also dependent on the time of the day. When the rain happens to fall during the night you curl yourself into a ball and quickly pull the ntoma over your head. You enjoy the thundering rain and pray that it lasts all night long.

If on the other hand your roof is similar to Agba Maame’s sieve then you quickly jump out of bed and grab some buckets and pans. The number of pans and buckets needed, is also direct function of (z). z being the number of holes in your ceiling. You will not enjoy the rest of the night because the unmusical sound of Ton..,,,ton,,, in your pans and bucket will not allow you to sleep. Again depending on the windy conditions the rain might change its speed and direction, in which case you have to reposition your buckets/pans again. This situation is however not a direct function and no computer can draw an algorithm for you. Instead of enjoying the rain, you pray for rainy nightmare to end quickly. If you are a married man, then be prepared to do all the work because the lady will not lift a finger apart from pulling the ntoma over her head and pointing you in the direction of the falling rain droplets.

When you are at work and the rain starts you pray that all the louvers are positioned correctly. If your roof leaky, you lift up your head towards the heavens, then you give a quick shout of prayer ; ‘’ashbi ishkabala ..'' and all will be well in your shack.

So when the rain comes what do you do?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Governments hands off?

The founder of ICGC has proposed that his church will be starting a model city in the country. His reason was that since the government has not taken it upon itself to do so, they as private (or should I say as a non-governmental organisation/charity) will take the lead. This is good news.

Well I have just a few comments (as usual to make). The thing is, in Africa , every individual is his/her own government. By this I mean that as a person,

• you have to provide your own water,
• in most places your own electricity generator ( or if you are lucky- you buy your electricity poles to connect your power)
• hire private security personnel
• or in some cases contribute with your neighbours construct roads, as well as provide street lights.

The list is endless, and for years, for inexplicable reasons we have accepted it as part of daily life in Accra and beyond. This is all good, as we take on our roles as responsible citizens, except that by doing so we are in effect making government weak. It is like body muscles of sorts, through exercise it becomes stronger and the muscles build up. What we need to do is to ensure that government takes on its roles and plays its parts responsibly. That is what our taxes are for! Please do not ask me how to do this, I don’t ! I wish I knew! Maybe by voting governments out as we did recently could be one way to go about it.

The concept of model city works well if only the general populace also sees some development. It is not wise for the well off to barricade themselves into a whole city and pray that things will go on well inside and outside. It would be like the proverbial ostrich hiding its head in the sand, soon and very soon the real world would catch up with it.

A real example is India. India has a lot of these model cities. Though some are religious most are industrial in nature. The December terrorist attack in Mumbai woke up the elite (who live and work in these model towns) across India. Whilst privately India is a technological giant its government machinery is not so efficient. Software companies in India provide top class internet security worldwide but its police force is still way behind it terms of development. (2 police officers were caught on camera trying to stop the free shooting terrorists by sharing a single AK 47 between them). The elite/well educated/middle class/religious (whatever you choose to call it) in India have left government and running of the country to a certain class of people to run their country. The result is that the country is moving forward, but a whole lot more are being left behind.

Societies/towns/cities are not independent of their countries no matter how much they separate themselves from it.

The solution though very difficult, is for those who can, to work hard to change the status quo for the majority. The easy part is to throw our hands up and give up, saying Ghana is never going to be any good. By giving up we give chance to those no ‘’gooders’’ to continue their inefficiencies.