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.

8 thoughts on “What if we all decide to behave like Captain Planet?

  1. Inasmuch as our leaders have major roles to play to ensure this becomes a thing of the past,we on the other hand have roles to play too-educating ourselves on sanitation.I have indeed been inspired!
    Adzeley, this is an excellent piece


  2. Apart from our individual roles as citvilized citizens, we’ve got very beautiful bye-laws in our books. If they start ‘biting’ without fear or favour, there will be a remarkable change in our evironment.


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