NECROPOLIS

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On this dusty tomb

A man once stood

Manifesto in hand

with outstretched arms.

The people believed him

Once voted into power,

he clung so tightly

like a leech on a naked body.

But one day,

he had a drink too many

His entire being rigormortised

It was then that

the necropolis became his home;

his story however remains untold

and his possessions, willed to Davy Jones.

The pied piper and the Ghanaian junior doctor

Source: Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane
Date: 27th-july-2015 Time:  1:26:29 pm

It’s not exactly story time but why don’t I tell the tale anyway?

I’d come home after school in 2008 and as usual got ready to watch cartoons.

It was the first time I had ever seen such a didactic cartoon. It was a popular one, as I later found.

The Pied Piper is a German folk tale of the 1900s. He was a man dressed in multi-coloured apparel who was hired by residents of a certain town to lure the rats in the town away using his magic flute.

The piper did his duty as expected.

The citizens (some versions say the mayor) on the other hand refused to pay the piper for the work that he had done.

He (the piper) decides to pay them back in their own coin by using his magic pipe to lead the children of the town away just like he did with the rats. About 130 followed him to a cave and disappeared forever. However, three children remained to recount the story to the people of the town – the lame one, who could not be quick enough to follow, the second child was deaf and decided to follow out of curiosity and the third child was blind so he was not able to find his way into the cave.

Some versions claim that the piper returned the children after the villagers paid several times the original amount of gold.

Whichever version of the story you may have heard, there is only one truth – great harm was done just because the villagers refused to keep their part of the deal which was paying the piper his due.

Now let’s get out of the plane to Hamelin and get on another flight. I want us to taxi to our homeland – Ghana.

The junior doctors of Ghana are experiencing 11 months of no salary after six good years of school. I find that very ‘interesting’. It is very ‘interesting’ because Ghana complains about brain drain and the fact that she does not have enough doctors.

But can we blame her?

After all the doctor-patient ratio in the country as at March 2014 stood at approximately 1:15,259.  That’s in comparison with the standardized ratio by the World Health Organization of 1:600.

Ghana and Malaysia had independence at the same time and as at that particular time of independence, the two were at par.

Years on, Malaysia has proven to be far ahead of Ghana in almost all aspects of development. The doctor to patient ratio is not an exclusion. Truth is, Malaysia should have reached the standardized doctor to patient ratio of 1:600 by the end of 2015.

Is this not laudable?

On the July 23, there was a report about a number of newly qualified doctors sitting at home, jobless, under the pretext of awaiting placement despite the fact that there were staff shortages in the communities.

Was this not the same country that wept about brain drain and the fact of not having enough doctors in the country? This is unbelievable, right? Except it isn’t.

Wait till I give you the specifics.

Those doctors are not a pair, neither are they a dozen or a score that sit hopelessly at home but they are about 180.

Every one of these doctors has completed their degrees and two years of internship, making them legally qualified to practice in their various communities. Yet, they all sit at home and starve on these laurels.

Doctors in Ghana have been going on strike ever since before the current Pope became an altar boy. I used to wonder why this was so.

Some people even thought that since doctors are the most highly paid health professionals in the country, they were just being ungrateful. I used to think so too until I discovered that the only real benefit that doctors get from their work is a two week mortuary service when they die.

And nothing else.

Yes, if a doctor falls ill or if a female doctor is pregnant, the doctor would have to pay the bills just like any other patient regardless of the number of years that they may have spent working in that same hospital.

In short, all the doctors in Ghana have no conditions of service.

That is why Dr.Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, the President of the Ghana Medical Association, took that bold step which involved sending a report that aims at spelling out the proper conditions of service for doctors to the Health Minister and threatening to strike if the issue is not resolved.

In 2014, there was a report that three Ghanaian medical students were arrested in Cuba for armed robbery. This behaviour was considered as unusual since Ghanaian medical students have a reputation for being good ambassadors.

This, despite constant financial problems they may have been facing in their various countries of residence. The students apprehended students were said to be children of some high profile public officials in Ghana, including a minister of state.

Simply put, these Ghanaian medical students on scholarship had to resort to armed robbery because the government did not foot the bill of $250 per month in stipends for each student.

It was more of an issue of survival for these students, although I’d be loath to justify such an action.

Next is the issue of power crisis in Ghana.

I would like to state categorically, without being political, that this is one of the worst stages that Ghana has ever gone through.

Aside the fact that Korle-Bu, Ghana’s premier teaching hospital, still does not have regular supply of water and the fact still remains that scrub nurses and doctors have to rely on buckets of water from a small storage tank during surgeries.

The power crisis has caused more harm than good to the health sector.

Imagine being a surgeon. Just in the middle of a procedure, the light goes off. The patient dies.

Or picture the number of premature babies who lose their lives everyday someone decides that the vicinity hospital must experience a power-cut. That is a pathetic picture for everyone including the doctor who may not have been able to perform their prime duty – saving lives.

Now, what in the world has the story of the Pied Piper have to do with doctors in Ghana? A lot.

Let’s just say that the pied piper represents all the doctors in Ghana, the villagers (or in some cases the mayor) stands for the government and the children stand for the patients in the country.

The government signed an agreement that once these doctors are qualified, they would receive their due. This agreement was signed the moment those doctors decided to foot those huge medical school bills and aced all their exams.

So, the doctors fulfill their part of the deal. Yet, the government fails to pay them and are left sitting at home and waiting for placement.

Some of these same doctors decide to seek a better life which involves using their skills oversees but the government decides to term it as “brain-drain”.

The few doctors left, luckily, get placement in their various communities.

But, government decides not to give them their due when it decides that there are no conditions of service and no salaries for junior doctors who have worked hard for 11 months.

Not to think about the fact that there is inadequate equipment for work with and frequent power-cuts during day-time surgeries, coupled with the torch-lights used for surgeries at night.

The solution to all this is very simple. The government and the authorities involved have to fulfill their part of the deal.

They must pay the doctors for their work and stop beating about the bush with their conditions of service.

Can we blame the doctors for dancing to the beat of the government’s fontonfrom?

After all, it is he who pays the piper that calls the tune.

The Barrier of Race

Great Wall of China in Summer
Great Wall of China in Summer

As I sailed on the Titanic

The Mississippi came by

On it I saw a girl

Black, silky hair;

this one was special

Ebony; I named her

’cause her skin told it all

She opened the mystery of her eyes

Her mouth unveiled sparkling white teeth

I wondered which route she was en route

Her smiles immortalized my love for her

I wish it could remain this way

But one thing remained

Separated by the Great Wall of China

She was a Hutu, and I, a Tutsi

That jolted me to reality.

NO HOMO🙅 btw

Eric’s Diary: Help, I need a psychiatrist!

Source: Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane
Date: 13th-july-2015 Time:  9:26:36 am

In the year 2008.

Why can’t I just be a normal thirteen-year old?  I am not asking to be ordinary, if that is what you are thinking. I have heard a thousand and one lectures on how unique everyone is and so on. Sometimes, I wonder what I have become and how I got here.

Probably, this would be the last time I would pour out my soul in such a manner.

I have found solace in my diary. Thanks a lot dear diary! You are the only one who understands me and never asks questions when I complain. Unburdening my soul in your pink sheets makes me feel better. It’s confession time again.

Back in school, I always liked doing things in excess. You could say I exhibited hyperactivity. During one Physical Education class, I was asked to throw a ball. The force with which I threw the ball was so much that it ended up breaking the glass window.

I bet you may be thinking that this is perfectly normal because accidents are bound to happen during any game, right?

Well, that was not all.  Miss Mensah, my teacher, noticed something strange about me; unlike the other children in her class, I could hardly sit still (not even for five minutes).

I would either be caught fidgeting with my pen or found staring out the window.  Just like Alice, my mind was far away in Wonderland. Miss Mensah took me to the counsellor’s office where I was later directed to seek medical attention from a psychologist along with my father. I went through a series of tests and I was eventually diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

But before that, there is something I forgot to tell you. I had a brawl with a guy named Dan for referring to me as a little boy.  I just could not control my anger especially for certain things that others deem petty. Well, I would not deny it. I had a rage.

I also remember throwing a tantrum at the mall because my father refused to buy me those blue shoes.  His reason was simple – “Son, you already have a similar one of a different colour.”

Immediately, I started screaming like I had just been shot in the foot.  I brought down the rest of the shoes on the shelves with a single kick and sat my- obstinate- self  down on the floor, inviting a crowd of shoppers who had come to behold this little spectacle.

As for me, the word ‘boundary’ does not exist in my dictionary.  If curiosity could kill, then I am that cat with more than nine lives. I was told not to do so many things but I could never adhere to any of these instructions unless I discovered the reason through personal experience.

There was a time when Grandma asked me not to play with the knife on the kitchen table. Typically, I never listened to her reasons because I wanted experience to be my teacher.  I used the knife to sword-fight an imaginary opponent and I ended up cutting myself.   These are a few of my escapades.

Sadly, I do not have anyone to call a friend. My own family does not understand me anymore.  My father employed a psychologist with the hope of correcting this anomaly. Though it may seem funny, I cannot hide the fact that I run away from my psychologist.  Oh yes!  As intelligent as I was, I managed to learn quite a lot from him before I eloped.  Some of which I intend to share with you.

First of all, I was told that my disorder had no particular cause.  The most discouraging remark I had ever heard was that the disorder could have originated from my genes and the part of my brain which is responsible for attention may have relatively thinner tissue.  However, it may reach its normal thickness eventually as I grow (indicating a very slim chance of normalcy during my childhood).

He also ruled out certain factors which may have caused this disorder.  Such factors included : smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy (because my mother was a strict teetotaler and allergic to smoke). Also, I never had any brain injuries and my father ensured that I always ate healthy food.

I recall having an argument with my father because I broke all the rules concerning my therapy.  That is typical among people of my kind. Yes, we are described as rebellious and obstinate social misfits.

Even though I had severe mood swings and Tourette Syndrome ( which causes repetitive mannerisms like grimacing and eye-blinking), there is this symptom that I refused to emulate.  I am very happy that I never had any learning disability. My recollection rate was sharper than iron. As a matter of fact, I have always been among the top three students in my class.

Let’s go back to therapy. I was given a very long list of drugs.These drugs were supposed to help during my ADHD moments. I thought that was the last of it. Unfortunately, medicine could not solve my problems.

Just as Newton’s Third Law of motion depicts about action and reaction, I began to experience the side effects of these drugs.  I lost appetite, exhibited some strange movements (which I later got to know as ‘tics’) and developed sleeping problems.

Eventually, I stopped taking the medicine because I felt it was doing more harm than good.  And by the way, I left before the psychotherapy session; I felt there was no hope. I still feel that way now.

 

 

 

 

Why I choose to die.

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Source: Ghana| Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane
Date: 18th-june-2015 Time:  1:32:16 pm

“I felt faint. Sweat dripped all over my body.  My head pounded like a bass drum. I rushed to the hospital. My Erythrocyte Sedimentation rate (ESR) was about thirty times the normal rate.  As for my haemoglobin level, it was at 2.0.  The biopsy and the blood tests revealed cancer.  I was told this cancer (which was living in my blood) could only be managed by chemotherapy.

I had heard numerous stories of how painful this procedure was.  It meant that I would lose all my hair as well; the hair that I had painstakingly grown for years.  At that point, several thoughts kept rushing through my mind – anger, pain, hopelessness. It was a mixed feeling.”

If this voice were mine, what would I do?  If I were caught in the net of terminal illness, where would I run?   If palliative care were my only option, which road would I take?  Would it be life or death?

This brings to mind the subject of “Euthanasia”.  If death’s hands are icy enough to grip, then why assist it?  In this article, I will tell you why it is sometimes necessary ; why euthanasia still remains an option for many on their death beds.  Let us begin with some background information on euthanasia.

First of all, euthanasia is a combination of two Greek words “eu” which means “good” and “thanatos” which means “death”. Juxtaposing these two words, euthanasia can be defined as the act of permitting the death of ill or injured people due to certain reasons (usually reasons of mercy).

There are different categories of euthanasia.

Voluntary euthanasia (Physician Assisted Suicide) involves ending a person’s life in a painless manner.

Non-voluntary euthanasia (mercy killing) is performed when the patient is not able to provide informed consent due to the patient being in a comatose state or in the case of incapacitated young children. This was practiced in Ancient Greece as a form of eugenics.

Other groupings of euthanasia include passive and active euthanasia.  Passive euthanasia involves either withholding common treatments that are essential for the survival of the patient or taking the patient off the life-support machine.  Active euthanasia involves the use of lethal substances to kill the patient.

Certain countries like the United States of America (Oregon and Washington), some parts of Mexico, Colombia and Japan practise it.  In Australia, euthanasia was once legal but it is currently illegal.  The ‘legal status’ of euthanasia in Africa is not known ; therefore euthanasia is deemed illegal in Africa.

There have been several debates on euthanasia. Two of these debates are very popular – the Slippery Slope debate and the Len Doyal Argument.

In the Slippery Slope debate, it was argued that if voluntary euthanasia is allowed to occur, all the other forms of euthanasia that are deemed illegal would eventually follow suit. This argument was supported by David Enoch, a professor of philosophy and law at Hebrew University.

The Len Doyal Argument was advocating for the legalization of active euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.  This is what Len Doyal stated: “ If death is in a patient’s best interest then death constitutes a moral good.”

There are also several demerits of euthanasia aside all these debates.

Euthanasia is associated with suicide and murder.  It is stated in Section 57, Act 29 (1960) of Ghana’s constitution that : “A person who abets the commission of suicide commits a first degree felony whether or not the suicide is actually committed.”

This implies that anybody who is involved in this practise can be penalized.

People also believe that euthanasia is against certain moral and religious views.  They claim that a higher being (God) was the one who gave that person life, therefore that life should not be taken away through any other process which is not natural.

Dr. Leon Rass, Chairman of the President’s council on Bioethics, stated in his article Why Doctors Must not Kill: “Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to assisting suicide. They are inheritors of a valuable profession.” This statements aim at supporting the claim that practicing euthanasia would eventually make patients lose their trust for doctors.

People also raise the point that the practice of euthanasia is against the Hippocratic Oath, the section of the oath that states that: “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked”.

Some people also believe that in most cases of patients with terminal illnesses, there is (at least) a certain chance of survival.  This means that there is no hundred percent guarantee that the patient would die.

I do not dispute all these concerns that have been raised against euthanasia.  However, I would like us to go back to the picturesque description of that individual diagnosed with cancer.  I have two tangible reasons why euthanasia should be the  option in such circumstances.

Euthanasia promotes economic growth in the sense that it saves government and families the cost of catering for terminally ill patients. Even though there is a certain chance of survival, these chances are normally too slim.

The patient eventually dies in most cases.  Some families are burdened with huge hospital bills as a result of the life-support machines which are used to keep patients alive.  Some patients end up staying in coma for years and most of them eventually die.

Even those who survive most become vegetables and are of no use to humanity. Families are left with the life-long burden of footing the bills after the death of these patients.

On the other hand, practicing euthanasia would save all the money used in powering these life-support machines.  This money could be invested in something equally beneficial.

Finally, euthanasia serves as a relief to patients suffering from prolonged terminal illnesses that are accompanied by excruciating pain.  If you had the feeling that you were being pricked by a thousand knives, you bleed profusely from any opening of the body or simply put – you experience a combination of the most terrible symptoms of all diseases, would you blame the voice that says: “I choose to die”?

I am tired of being described as the indiscipline little child. Enough of the judgment! I think I need help more than ever but I just don’t know who or where to turn to.  Someone once suggested a psychiatrist. Could that be the answer to all my woes?

What if we all decide to behave like Captain Planet?

Source: Ghana|Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane|naabd61@yahoo.com
Date: 1st-july-2015 Time:  5:03:45 pm

So everyone went to bed – tired, worn and wary from the day’s activities.  But in the middle of the night, my mother heard the sound from a baby. (The loudest she had ever heard from such a tiny mouth).  She made an attempt to find out what this “crying-box” wanted. As she stepped out of bed, she heard a splash and all of a sudden the ‘coldness’ of the water froze her body temporarily. She did not freeze because the water was icy but because the once friendly water that was thought to sustain life had become her worst enemy. Yes, our newly-rented house at Mataheko was flooded.  She mustered courage to wade through the water which was knee-level at that time.  She went towards the cot to pick the baby up.  That baby was me. I was told that I cried because my cot started getting wet and I felt uncomfortable.  I was drawn to safety because in my mother’s arms, I was way above the water. Everybody in the house woke up.  While my mother deployed against the water with saucepans to fight the flood which was moving in full swing, she opened the door to find a crowd gathered around the house. They thought we were dead because they could not see any signs of people living in the house.  Thankfully, she was able to clear up the water to a reasonable level. That week, we relocated. But the flood had already destroyed all our possessions.  No matter how hard she  washed our clothes, the stains of the water marks remained.  As for the pictures, only two were saved. Till today, the water marks on those pictures remind me of the fact that such an event had taken place although I was too young to remember. My family, just like all the other families that had ever lived there could have been wiped out of the surface of this earth (simply because of some lawless landlord who decided to rent out houses in water-ways).
Seventeen years on, Ghana still faces this same problem.  I would like to give my stipulated definition for flood in Ghana.  In the country, floods are not naturally occurrences that bare no marks of human contributions. No. In Ghana, flooding is a man-made disaster created out of negligence, lack of patriotism, indiscipline, lawlessness and laziness. And it is now haunting us. Why are we still facing this age-old problem?  Why isn’t any authority able to solve this problem? Why do we talk about this same problem every year and yet nothing is being done to alleviate it?  Why are certain diseases like cholera dominant in our country? The answer to these questions is simple.  To be frank, we face all these problems not because it is something that we cannot prevent.  It is all because someone has decided not to perform his or her duty.  In other words, people are being paid in this country for no work done.  It’s a vicious cycle. Kay drops a sachet of water after he has emptied its useful content into his body.  Another person passes by to drop a number of bottles around the same spot that Kay dropped his sachet.  Nobody bats an eyelid or stands up to speak against what these two people have done.  Like some people would say : “They are not throwing it in my bedroom”.  Little by little, this area becomes a rubbish dump. Workers at the Metropolitan Assembly and Town Council are typically unaware of such happenings.  Naturally, it is not in their nature to go on random checks to ensure cleanliness. Rather, they go round collecting property rates from these areas without ensuring that the filth is cleared up.  Well, clean-up exercises are organized once in a blue moon.  However, I still have this conviction that even if President Obama comes from the White House to clean up our city, there would still be filth hours later. As for the police officer standing at the traffic light, he looks on as this happens because he was brought there to direct traffic and arresting people for littering is not part of the job description.
Let’s take a look at another scenario. Manu starts an unauthorized table top business.  Ama follows suit.  In no time, that small area turns into a huge marketplace coming along with all kinds of illegal connections in order to obtain some form of electricity.  Nobody does anything to nip this illegality in the bud. Even when the squatters or encroachers start occupying the land,  the authorities are silent.  Due to the fact that the place is in the way of water and therefore was not meant to be a market, there are no suitable drainage systems for that particular area. On the other hand,  filling stations and other organisations are being given permit to build without ensuring that the construction regulations in theory are put into practice.(According to the National Petroleum Authority’s Regulations,  gas and filling stations are supposed to be sited at a minimum distance of 30.8 metres or 100 feet away from residential areas). There is improper spacing of these structures and the result is a dirty and overcrowded area we all call a slum. Then the rains come.  The roads get filled with water.  The drains which were meant to be a path for water only are now filled with sand and solid waste.   Now the rain water has nowhere to pass. Since the water has no place to pass, the pressure with which it comes builds up and ends up destroying everything in its path to pave way.  Unfortunately,  water has no eyes and no ears.  It therefore cannot differentiate when it is drowning a human or merely carrying pieces of trash generated by humans.  So a disaster occurs. Over a hundred people are killed.  Radio and television stations were buzzing with the news.  But a day before the disaster, there was a huge billboard congratulating the Accra Mayor for being the best among all the other Mayors.  Then there was a summit.  Shortly after the disaster, the mayor pulls down billboards and erects pictures of the summit that went on.  Then he issues a statement indicating that he has failed as a mayor. Should we organize a remedial for him? Nonetheless, I say more power to his elbow for the demolition exercises he undertook at Old Fadama.  However, I still think it was long overdue. Well, away from that.
The point I am driving at is that we all have responsibilities – from the citizen to the big man in authority.  When we fail to perform our little part of the deal, our inactions have a ripple effect.  It is like cutting our noses to spite our faces. So today, when you go out there and you see an unauthorized structure which could wreak havoc or you see that person littering, make it a conscious effort to take a positive action by standing up against it in the best way you can ; you could do this by educating the person on sanitation (the negative effects of littering), telling that person to pick the rubbish up or reporting any situation of this kind to the appropriate authorities. Though you may not be crowned ‘Captain Planet’, you are definitely saving the nation from a looming man-made disaster.

Let’s erase those lines

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1.Africa…
Beautiful continent it is
Beautiful people we are
I am black and proud
But what do our skin lightening creams say
when no one is around?
Deep down within ourselves
The leaf of a waging war rustles
Against our flesh and blood  we fight
This night our eyes shall open
This is just a token
To hear the mystery of the untold

2. Don’t get me wrong
Just as I would like to see my black brother succeed
I wouldn’t  like to see my white brother recede
A line is a connection of two points
Where lies my point if I decide to indulge in racial discrimination?

3. We see it as imperative
To sit by the fireside
To hear that doomsday narrative
Let me take you back in time
Those were the days
When Africa sat in the den of hope
Little did she know her death- warrant had just been signed
And put in a folder entitled :
“The Scramble for Africa “.

4. If you ask me,
we are simply being sidelined
We have to start telling our own story
Else someone will make us history.
This is not a futile attempt of illumination
Here is a simple solution
It all begins with our resolution
So erase those mental lines of colonialism
Embrace your Africanness
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery
Don’t say the issue is non – existent
Because, I tell you –
Slavery is still very much alive