Yaa Bosumtwi Fights and Stands Firm against Columbia University's Threats, Blackmail and Illegal Employment Practices in Ghana—MoTeCH Project in Bolgatanga now in Jeopardy
5/9/2010 7:11:33 PM -
My name is Yaa Bosumtwi. I am a graduate of Columbia University's Mailman School Public Health. On October 8, 2009 I was hired by Prof. James Philips (Jim) of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University, to work in the Upper East Region of Ghana on a project called MoTeCH (Mobile Technology for Community Health). I was hired as a staff associate, and upon arriving in the Upper East region on October 12th I was appointed program manager, communications point person and editor of our Newsletter “MoTeCH News”; a newsletter that will be read by senior policymakers, health officials and health workers, the Ghanaian public and other stakeholders. I accepted this job with Columbia University because, as a child I fell in love with Bolgatanga and, it was an opportunity to give service to rural communities in Ghana and gain direct experience on how research is conducted in Ghana by foreign funders. It turned out to be a sad and unfortunate lesson.
Soon after I arrived in the Upper east region to work on the MoTeCH Project, Dr. Jemima Frimpong (Jemima) and her husband Stephane Helleringer left me to manage the project while they went on vacation in Japan and the US. Among several activities, I was managing a two week pilot of the simplified registers in Community health based programs (CHPs) in the Bongo District from November 2-November 13. This was an activity that was on the MoTeCH plan of activities before I joined. After the first week of the pilot, Jim Phillips called me on Saturday November 7th. It was a two hour conversation where he tried to get me to agree with him that Jemima's pilot was flawed, this was confusing to me because I knew that at the time Dr. Frimpong was in New York and that she had met with him the day before he called me so I did not understand why he was calling me to ask questions when Dr. Frimpong was the one who had scheduled all activities before I was hired. I told Jim that since I just started with the MoTeCH project I thought it would be best for him to discuss any questions he has about our activities with Dr. Frimpong. Then I tactfully changed the topic and the conversation ended by Jim telling me that he was would be calling me in from time to time to get information because no one seems to tell him exactly what goes on the ground. I got off the phone and I felt like I had just been solicited to be a spy on the team. My house mate at the time, Colin Baynes, an intern from Columbia University, commented, “Mame-Yaa you just got off a two hour conversation with Jim… you were quiet most of the time because he was doing all the talking... Jim is crazy and likes to create problems even when there are no problems so do not worry but be very careful he has a reputation…” I called Jemima to inform her about the phone call I got from Jim. She was surprised because she said she had met with him several times and he did not make any indication about his reservations about the pilot. We went on with the pilot and Jim did not bring it up again until a meeting in Accra with Jemima, Dr. Awoonor Williams, some Ghana Health Service staff in Accra and some district directors from the Upper East region. In the meeting he decided to embarrass Jemima by asking the district directors if they thought the pilot was a good idea. This was the first time he had brought it up to Dr. Jemima Frimpong. At that moment, because of my instincts to my Ghanaian colleagues, I defended Jemima at the meeting by explaining the success of the pilot and its implications on the modification of the Simplified register. Later Dr. Frimpong disclosed to me that was Jim was doing "what he always does...he manipulates situations for his desired result." I do however, regret defending her because, later I realized that she herself had very little regard for the Drs and staff here and she and the regional director of health, Dr Koku Awonoor-Williams did not even speak unless absolutely necessary. She did not work for GHS so she didn't care.
First Issue—circumventing and evading Ghana income taxes
My first indirect conflict and issue with Jim and Columbia was after I received my first paycheck on November 13, 2009 and I noticed that there were no taxes taken out for Ghana. Jim and I spoke sometime after that date and after talking about work and giving him an update on work the ground I explained to him that my paycheck does not have any tax deductions to reflect that I am working and living in Ghana. Jim responded by saying that it was an HR issue but, he will “handle it” and get back to me, and that I should not worry or complicate things by calling HR, because everyone on our team is paid the same way in Ghana and we could discuss it further when I see him in New York (I was planning on going for thanksgiving in New York). Not paying income taxes disturbed me so to this day I have not filed my 2010 taxes in the US until this is sorted out, even though they have deducted US income taxes, I believe those taxes should be paid to the Ghana government because I live here, use the roads here, the hospitals here, the water supply here, the electricity here and the police and all services offered by the Ghana government so why should I be paying taxes in the US? The US government will not accept that from foreign corporation working in the US [my problem here was that any foreign corporation that hires people in the US are required to deduct payroll taxes for the US and the same should apply in Ghana, they were circumventing the tax system, if Toyota hires someone from Japan the employee and Toyota pay taxes to the US federal government].
At that point I decided to perform my civic duty in spite of Columbia's deficiency and donated a minimum of 30 percent of my salary to various charitable endeavors and I put the word out and began paying for medical operations for people who could not afford it, medical bills for people who could not afford it, school fees for children in boarding and day schools and that is how I met my son, a 13 year old child who had just attempted to commit suicide and did not have any family. One of my assistants Aurelia Abapali knew I was offering charitable help to the community so she called me and said I should come and see this child who was dying in the hospital without anyone to care for him. I paid for his drugs and medical care at the hospital and took him home and soon after put him in a private school and hired tutors to teach him how to read and write to catch up with his class. On November 20, 2009 I left Ghana for New York. I met with Jim in his office at Columbia University around 1 pm on November 24. Again, after talking about work on the ground in Ghana, I spoke to him about my concerns about taxes not being deducted for Ghana and why it still reflects U.S. taxes, when I will be working and living in Ghana for the next two years because of my work with MoTeCH and another project he discussed GHIEP. Jim's reply was (I am trying to remember as best as possible), “…do not complicate things… if this is a problem with you and it becomes an issue you may not be able to continue in your position in Ghana… I also considered hiring you there because you do not need a work permit…” Then he continued, “Jemima is working there and she has no problem.” So, I let it go and continued my conversation about the renovated house I was promised before I accepted the job and never received. He gave me a story that Dr Awoonor-Williams was working to get it done.
Second Issue—finding out that my Ghanaian colleagues were paid as low as one-tenth American pay
My second conflict occurred after I returned to Ghana on November 30th and I was disappointed about the responses I had received from Jim. Playing back those conversations in my head, it was as if he was indirectly telling me that I was going to lose my job if I pushed the tax issue and this bothered me and made me suspicious about their operation, but I had just started the project and I was determined to complete my contract to observe how this MoTeCh project was being conducted. I wanted this experience because I knew that one day as one of the leading policymakers in Ghana I would need to know exactly how things are run by huge foreign corporations and Columbia is a billion dollar corporation (and for anyone who doubts that please go to: http://giving.columbia.edu/) that masks itself a college of virtuous of liberal thinkers, but from my experience is as corrupt and despotic as any wall street bank. After my return I began to investigate and found out that Ghanaian co-investigators were earning as low as ten percent of their American counterparts and my colleague, an MPH educated in Ghana was earning approximately twenty percent of my total compensation of about $56,000 (41,000 salary and 15,000 in housing and childcare). I spoke to Dr. Jemima Frimpong a Ghanaian-US Citizen also hired from the U.S. like me—she didn't care because she was a U.S. Citizen and wanted to teach at Columbia and said, “that is not your job description – those contracts were signed long before you got here…” In spite of her silly comment, I decided to advocate where I could. I did just that when it came time to hire a new assistant, Ester Asazi. The MoTeCH project wanted to offer her a supplement of 40 GHC in addition to her 103GHC national service allowance. Mind you this was the arrangement they had for another national service personnel whom I did not have a hand in hiring. I argued that she is a college graduate and deserved at least $500 dollars. Dr. Frimpong, also a co-investigator on the MoTeCH project, said we didn't have the money and I responded that we have a lot of money in our budget for her—as program manager I was now in charge of the budget and I was not going to let this slip under the radar. The Columbia team fought me and settled on $100 a month instead of $500—that was an insult to Ester, and I planned to change that when I took over in April after Jemima left. I thought to myself, these folks are ridiculous, they spend $500 every couple of weeks on their blackberry and they are fighting to block a graduates monthly salary—they are arrogant and they have no respect for Ghanaians. Even our Regional Health Director Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams is under paid by Columbia and is enraged –maybe this changed after I gave them hell and they decide to terminate me—because Jim came to Ghana on April 11th throwing money and jobs around to quell the storm.
The fact that I had the privilege to attend Ghana International School and leave to attend Trinity University and Columbia, an Ivy League school in the United States, does not make me better than one who gets the same degrees at Legon or UST. Furthermore, the fact that the privilege of my birth and circumstance allows me to be hired from New York instead of Ghana does not mean that I should earn up to 80 percent more than my counterparts with the same degrees and doing the similar jobs for foreign companies here in Ghana. It is outrageous! Why? Do foreign hires like me have larger living expenses? The answer to that is, in fact, is no because most of us have all our housing and childcare expenses paid for. Do foreign hires like me have larger travel expenses? The answer to that is, in fact, no because most of our travel to and from the US or UK is paid for. This is a ridiculous system of economic servitude that has to be stopped. We have to demand equal pay for equal work.
Third Issue—refusing to accept academic and professional facts regarding communication strategy
The third conflict was an academic conflict, which happened when I produced a communication strategy for MoTeCH. By January, I was despondent about everything I had been observing—they were treating Ghanaians unfairly and the autocratic and undemocratic way they operated had left me upset and basically I decided to give them the same demeaning treatment they were giving my fellow Ghanaians working here, and handed them a draft document and couldn't care less. Jim verbally threatened to fire me if I did not produce another document. At that point I wanted to leave and basically said go to hell and called my mentor and she advised me not to leave like this and not to let them “break my spirit.” My spirit could not accept what was going on here, I was extremely disappointed that an Ivy League institution that preached democracy, fair employment practices globally, ethics and governance will be so morally corrupt and operate with such reckless disregard for fairness. After speaking to my mentor, who basically said, stay, learn and change the system—I produced a genuine communication strategy overnight and they were surprised and were thanking me for a good job (Jim sent me emails)—but I didn't care for their praise. I just wanted to stay to observe what was going on— and I am glad I did. Then, after Jim observed I was gaining influence on the team and more and more vocally challenging his undemocratic management, he began to criticize the document he had already praised and made several changes to the document that rendered it basically weak and useless. He was doing what is common practice in the US-- to frustrate an employee to leave, but he couldn't bully me. I smacked him back hard with facts and told him directly that his suggestions and changes were poor and would weaken our communications. I had created a “rural specific” communication strategy to implement technology in rural areas. I also complained to Dr. Frimpong about Jim slowly destroying the communication document with numerous unnecessary edits and deletions and she said that she “needed to get published and teach at Columbia" so I should just ignore Jim—she will not say anything to him. Dr Frimpong advised me to do what Dr. Philips wanted and just move on because he will not stop. I listened carefully to her advice and let it go. She later added that she did not mean to offend me, but she did not care about the communication strategy and that all she cared about was the research which will get her published, even if the MoTeCH project was successful or not she would still get published. And gradually Dr Philips revised our specialized rural communication strategy and made it a weaker document. Then after his “hundredth” revision I had a tense conversation with him on February 16th where he accused me of being contentious and that unlike me he has written three books so I have no right to question his opinion on how the communication document should be written. I explained to him that I was having a professional debate with him and that should not be translated as contentious and that he entrusted me as the communication point person for MoTeCH so he should respect that. He sent an email that night threatening to terminate me in writing, I responded to Jim's email the same night and basically told him he had no facts to back up anything he was saying or the changes he had made, and in spite of that I still followed his instructions and revised our communications document; however, it was now much weaker because of his revisions. Jim shut down and stopped contacting me by phone for several weeks—I could care less. Like the colonial master of the past who had been challenged and lost, he banished and punished me by excluding me from important meetings and committees to MoTeCH's own detriment. In the end I was proven right when our steering committee meeting on March 24 was a colossal failure—and I wrote to him and told him that his flawed strategy and poor communications caused the failure. And even though he threatened to fire me, he could not because I had his own email praising my good work on the communication strategy.
Fourth Issue Brewing—coercing me to misrepresent facts of research Gates Columbia & Grameen Foundation's ownership and control of the project
After that “successful” communication-strategy assignment, I was asked as editor of the MoTeCh Newsletter to get it completed, which I produced perfectly and sent out a draft on February 22 for comments and changes from the MoTeCH team. Everyone sent in their changes and comments. Meanwhile, I was seeking new interviews from Ghana health services officials and updating the newsletter with the changes and comments I had received between February 23 and March 10. Then, Dr. Jemima Frimpong began prodding and coercing me to change the facts of our partnership so it would appear that Ghana Health Services (GHS) owned and controlled the project, when it was self-evident that they did not and Jim controlled everything by remote control from his office in New York, including where our project car is located it is ridiculous! But as a researcher I have been trained to probe calmly and intently, so I asked, “why would you want me to do that?” and she said, “Jim thinks that is better for the project's image and besides, I think everyone knows who Columbia and Grameen are, there is no need to put that in the newsletter and where our funding is coming from is not of importance.” I responded and said, “...all policymakers do not know about our project as a matter I fact I spoke to the Minister and just explained our project to him in detail…” Initially, I thought she cannot be serious, she was asking me to lie and skew factual information when I know for a fact that Columbia and Grameen owns and controls this project completely with GHS participating as the Health Service conduit. But, I was nice and gave her a way out to redeem herself, and continued to say, “…besides this is an editorial decision it would be a good headline and I hoped she understood.” She said nothing and sent me her and her husbands' changes (her husband was Stephane Helleringer, also an American based professor from Columbia University and co-investigator on the project just as she is)—they both kept telling me I could not challenge Jim's decisions because he is the Principal Investigator, but I did continue to challenge his illegal requests which led to our fourth direct ethical conflict.
Fourth Issue expanded— threatening and blackmailing me to misrepresent ownership
The fourth conflict came after a series of verbal coercions followed by threats to fire me if I did not follow his instructions. Finally he was bold enough to put his threat cautiously in writing on March 25, 2010 to make it seem that he was making a rational request because, I still did not agree to omit or conceal the facts of Gates, Columbia, Grameen's partnership and influence. What Jim requested was unethical and could damage my professional integrity in the community I grew up in and the country I was raised. This is the narrative to the build up to my final refusal to break the law and my ethical codes of professional conduct. Upon his arrival to Ghana on March 20, 2010, he called me on Saturday. We had a conversation about work then he slipped in the newsletter and said he thinks we should omit mentioning Gates, Columbia and Grameen and “play up” Ghana Health Services—he was really trying to be nice and I became suspicious, because I had been under pressure to change information from all his co-investigators except Dr Awoonor-Williams. I immediately refused his request again on the phone and told him I had already explained that it was an editorial decision; then he tried a different angle and said, “…what about minimizing our involvement and keeping us in an appendix on the last page somewhere”, and I replied, “no, this is our introductory newsletter so we cannot omit, or conceal who we are, because senior policymakers will be reading this, I will be working here one day so I misrepresent facts or cannot lie about significant facts…” Then he paused and said, “you don't seem to understand that this could affect our job”, and I asked, “what do you mean by that…,” but, Jim didn't want to discuss it right then, and quickly switched and requested that I attend the Steering Committee meeting on March 24th [the same committee meeting I had been excluded from] in Accra with a three day notice—it was suspicious and later on March 29, 2010, I found out why he talked about my “job being affected”. I responded to his sudden request for me to attend the steering committee meeting by saying, I would love to come, but “you know I have two children” and because it is such short notice “could you accommodate my baby's nanny (my child was 15 months old) and approve her flight to Accra?” This way my son could be in my hotel room with my nanny while I attended the Steering Committee meeting in a different city in Ghana. I deliberately asked him for that very politely because, I knew childcare is part of my benefits and wanted to see his state of mind, was he being genuine or just asking so I will refuse then he can find another excuse to terminate me. As I expected, he was enraged and sent me a couple of emails that deviated from the actual conversation we had and attempted to create a false perception that I had refused to attend the meeting and never agreed to compensate my childcare expenses for that meeting. I sent him an email explaining myself clearly and told him that he had known about this meeting for over a month, but excluded me from the meeting, so why would he invite me at the last minute when I am not on the Steering Committee? Furthermore if he really wanted me to attend why didn't he make a 226 dollar reasonable accommodation for my baby? Who did Jim think would take care of my child while I am a single mom working in a different city without a nanny on three-day notice? He was setting me up with impossible situations to find a reason to fire me and I did budge.
Conspiracy to terminate after unrelenting pressure by Columbia to force me to break my ethical codes of professional conduct
The next day on March 26th, I responded to Jim's threat directly and fiercely, defending my right to make sound decisions as a professional hired to do a job and I will not break my ethical codes of professional conduct. The pressure continued by numerous emails, including him saying that we did not have permission to use the Gates foundation name. He responded to my email ordering directly to pull mention of Bill Gates as funders and I immediately called the Gates foundation and emailed them the full newsletter and they granted me permission to use the full newsletter!! Jim was enraged; he had been challenged and failed yet again and was very angry. He had never been challenged and proven wrong so many times, so he sent an email on March 26 stating that I did not have the authority to contact Gates, only he could do that [this was the same manipulative and authoritative “colonial master” pattern of behavior when I asked about my taxes last year]. I responded to the email stating that basically he sent his notice of no contact after the fact—I was politely facetious with him—he is a despot. Then he sent Jemima on me and she verbally and through emails attempted to coerce me to change the facts and I refused and told her that he can hire another editor to do his bidding, he cannot corrupt me. This pressure to remove Gates, Columbia and Grameen references went on for ten straight days and on March 29th, 2010, frustrated and disgraced, Jim did what many white-males do with his colonial mentality— he lynched me. Here I am, a qualified Black woman who is performing her job excellently with “skill and care” (according to their own termination letter), yet I am being terminated—“killed professionally by lynching”—and replaced with a white-American (Alison Stone) who knows nothing about this project. And the colonial master, Dr. Jim Philips—needs to give no justifiable reason for his lynching, just as Blacks were lynched at the whim of white men for no justifiable reason in America—we will no longer be lynched in Africa. Columbia University can try to lynch me but we are in the age of technology and their callous crime will be broadcast live and they will be punished and put on trial by African governments around the world.
Observe how Jim manipulated the situation: he arrived in Ghana and called me on March 20 and tried to force me to omit facts (I refused to break the law), then he switches strategy and tries to be nice and invites me to a meeting (knowing he doesn't really want me to attend), meanwhile he has a termination letter dated March 15, 2010 (written 5-days before he arrived in Ghana in his pocket) and my white-American replacement is with him in Accra plotting their strategy. Then he and his agent, Jemima, send emails coercing, ordering and threatening me—I do not budge. Jemima is sent in person to negotiate to make me change the facts—I basically tell her to go to hell politely. Then finally Jim sees there is no way of corrupting me or bending me to do his illegal bidding and he sends an email terminating me on March 29, 2010. He is joking if he thinks he can play colonial racist games in Ghana. He had no idea of his colossal mistake, because that will not be permitted in Ghana today. He then leaves Ghana and I send emails to the Dean and he arrives back in Ghana on April 11, spreading money and jobs around to keep people from revolting--but he doesn't know, we will take the cash and still drive him out—he is ethically corrupt and an unconsciously racist man. If he cannot respect Ghanaians who speak up and tell him the truth and facts of an issue, then he should have conducted this research in New York on the Columbia University Campus. Post colonial Ghana is a democratic country—we are not hypocritical liberal Ivy League despots. He is a joke as a professor at Columbia University where he doesn't teach a class, his job is basically to get research grants for the Columbia brand, and at this point they have lost their moral authority to operate in Ghana.
I sent an email to Jim Philips' blackmail co-conspirators in New York—Dean Fried and Prof. Santelli
The next day on, March 30, 2010, after I received the “termination letter” that was signed by Linda Fried and Santelli—Jim's co-conspirators, I sent an email to Dean Fried, Dean of the Mailman School and Professor Santelli (Department Chair of the of the Heilbrunn Center) because their signature not Jim's was on the letter. In that email I explained that I refused to omit or minimize those significant facts Jim requested, from the newsletter, because, documents that are produced as a result of research cannot deliberately conceal funders or participants especially when they are this significant, and in journalism you should not deliberately conceal, omit or minimize significant facts. Furthermore, my undergraduate education was initially a major in Journalism before I switched to Political Science, and therefore, as editor of any document to be read by government officials and our public, I know I am obligated to follow a creed and code of ethics ascribed by the Society of Professional Journalists and that ethical code compels me to seek truth, be courageous, act independently and be free of any pressures or obligations to any interest except the public. Our roles on the MoTeCH project are significant because, Bill and Melinda Gates is the only funder on the project, 2) it is significant because, Grameen Foundation is the only technical advisor, 3) significant because Columbia University is the only health research team via Ghana Health Services as its local participant on the ground; and 4) it is significant because three out of four functioning principal or co-investigators are from Columbia University, specifically, Jim Philips, Jemima Frimpong and Stephane Helleringer.
However, my internal investigation revealed that on the official protocol filed by Jim that was leaked to me from the IRB, lists Jim as the principal investigator along with Dr. Jemima Frimpong, Dr. Stephane Helleringer, and four other Ghanaians as co-investigators: Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams, Dr. Abraham Hodgson the director of the Navrongo health research center, the two district directors, Mrs. Margaret Bawah and Mrs. Vida Abaseka, but they are the Co-investigators virtually on paper only. They do not get an equivalent compensation as compared to their US co-investigator counterparts. This is Jim's way of circumventing the system to present protocols that would be acceptable and misrepresent GHS ownership when in fact lock, stock and barrel is run according to the orders of US team. He consults with them on a need-to-know minimal basis and they have no power over MoTeCH decisions. Jim can basically tell Dr Awoonor-Williams who he will hire and how much he will pay them, and who he will terminate (like myself) for criticizing him, and the Ghana Health Services sits quietly because they has no power to stop Jim, that is how Dr. Awoonor-Williams describes the situation in a message to me when I protested the racism and ethnocentrism that was going on when I was denied a GHS house/bungalow I was in-line for. Instead of giving the house to me, according to Dr. Awoonor-Williams, he was ordered to give it to Alison Stone another white American Citizen, who had just arrived in the country with Jim. I was too outspoken and too critical of his illegal practices so he tried to demoralize me. Coming back to my previous conversation, the district directors listed as co-investigators get paid absolutely nothing, they only get paid 20 or 30 cedis when they attend meetings; and when Jemima tried to stop paying them I protested and she said, “they have become workshop whores… they only attend because they receive a per diem from us.” The Americans on the team are pretty arrogant and out of control and I always pushed back. After one such district meeting she remarked that people are going to start saying that since I [Yaa Bosumtwi] joined MoTeCH, it is almost like Christmas because they get snack, lunch and per diem constantly when they attend MoTeCH meetings. That was a condescending comment by her to undermine my practice of making sure that I organize per diem, snack and lunch for attendees of our meetings and I told her that was not necessary to say, because it is part of our budget and we have spent very little money. I believe I was disappointed in her because I expected her to treat and advocate for Ghanaians and she was disappointed in me because she expected me to stick blindly with the American team decisions. The management of this project is a farce of immense proportions and it has collided with truth and consequences of my acts of truth seeking and I cannot wait to crush them publicly. In their arrogance, Jim through Jemima still thought he could force me to change the facts of the newsletter and I sent them a final email on April 8, 2010 to the MoTeCH team stating that enough is enough and Jim should hire another editor to follow his illegal demands, I will follow the law. He sent out feelers through Dr Awoonor-Williams asking if I wanted to have a sit down with Jim and stay on the MoTeCH team and I said I would never work for that corrupt man. So Jim came back to Ghana on April 11 and could not speak to me and attempted to orchestrate a meeting with me, I told the Dr Awoonor-Williams to forget about, and when I attended a meeting where Alison Stone got up and introduced herself as program manager—I blasted her and said I am still program manger until I leave and she shouldn't forget that. She cried and kept quiet.
Crux of this Case against Columbia
The core facts of this case are that Ghana Health Services (GHS) does not own the rights to MoTeCH, GHS does not fund MoTeCH, GHS does not own the patents to MoTeCH, GHS does not own nor did GHS start the MoTeCH project, GHS does not own the technology to MoTeCH, and GHS does not own the scheduling of MoTeCH events from beginning to launch. Therefore, any reasonable person will conclude that GHS does not directly or constructively own MoTeCH. Consequently, for Columbia to coerce, threaten, blackmail and finally terminate me, Yaa Bosumtwi, for speaking up and stating those facts of truth and because I refused to “play up” GHS ownership, by refusing to conceal the significant facts about the registered owners of MOTECH project, namely: Gates Foundation, Columbia University and Grameen Foundation, is not only fundamentally unfair, but it is a crime against the Ghanaian people. I will not barter or trade my country's dignity and honor for money especially with my blessings of a privileged life in Ghana from birth. I have to give back to my people and I live as a public servant for Ghana. I could have kept silent as many friends and colleagues suggested and moved up to even bigger salaries, but that is not salvation. I am in a unique position where I am financially stable and not every Ghanaian worker has that luxury to fight their corporations. Luckily, I have that luxury of financial stability, and will not waste this life looking the other way while my people suffer in desperation and silence. Columbia University's illegal orders and demands to force me to contravene my ethical codes of professional conduct, would have made me misrepresent blatant facts of MoTeCH's ownership, and in so doing mislead and lie to government officials. That is a crime against society—as they would aptly explain in the United States. Columbia University must be charged to the full extent of the law to force them to change their illegal employment and management practices in Ghana and Africa. Furthermore, it is important that they especially are used as an example for other corporations to recognize the seriousness of this crime; because Columbia is a university with well known professors (like Jeffery Sachs), and they go around the world preaching, teaching and instructing us on ethics, management and governance while they remain a privileged class of white men allowed to break laws with impunity the moment they are in Africa. They can teach but want to learn nothing from us, they are bloated breathtakingly arrogant and ethnocentric liberals who we all know have a history of unjust imperialistic autocratic behavior—it is their nature. They built churches over the dungeons at slave –castles, and as they preached goodness and salvation to themselves, we were left to die in our feces right under their churches, then those who survived were sold us off as slaves to work their cotton fields as free labor in America—those days will never be repeated in any form in Ghana. We are not economic salves and there is a legally accepted price for our employment. We have to punish these corporate despots right here in Ghana. Let them face a jury of their peers in a court of law, we will not lynch them as they have done to me, because we in Ghana respect the rule of law and democratic principles. And if they ignore our subpoenas they will be tried in absentia in both criminal and civil court. If convicted in criminal court we will request that the defendants, Fried, Santelli and Philips, are extradited from the US to serve their sentence in a prison here. Of course they will never be extradited—but they will be banned from Ghana. We will petition the African Union and they will be arrested the moment they land in any African country. And if we receive a favorable judgment in civil court we will petition the AU and stop all research in Tanzania and other African countries until the judgment is paid in full. Yes, I learnt well from America and that is why they cannot exploit us without severe repercussions. No one is above the law. Can you imagine a Ghanaian Legon professor conducting research in America and forcing his program manager in America to lie and conceal significant information in a document about the research being conducted, and that document will be the first source of information for the Pubic, Secretary of Health and other Federal government health officials? It gets even better; the Ghanaian professor then decides to pay the Ghanaians or those hired from Ghana salaries that are 80 percent higher than their US hired counterparts. He will be thrown in jail and deported with only the shirt on his back. Ghanaians deserve and demand economic justice now.
Special Comment for Linda Fried (I am a fan of Keith Olbermann)
I want to take a moment to address Linda Fried, the Dean of the Mailman School at Columbia. Please do your research before sending emails making assertions that can be proved fraudulent by your own words. Teaching from a global health perspective, as you purport to do at Columbia is not a theoretical concept. Globalization in its most practical sense means respecting people, culture and laws of nations other than Global-USA. It means that if you break laws of another culture you will answer to the laws and culture of that nation. You and your co-conspirators Jim Philips and John Santelli should mull over these questions below, because you will have to answer them in a civil and criminal court in Ghana—hopefully in Bolgatanga where you work and exploit with impunity to reign supreme.
You will sit in a court room in Ghana and answer these simple questions: Can you produce any proof of Ghana Health Services' ownership of MoTeCH? Anything, such as patents, contracts, marketing rights, or funding? If there is no proof, then why was my contract terminated for stating those facts truthfully? Did you state that you “deeply appreciated” the “skill and care” with which I has served your department in your March 15th letter, and then terminate me on March 29th after I refused to follow Columbia University's repeated illegal and unethical orders? Do you normally terminate your good employees that you “deeply appreciate” for their “skill and care”? Would you describe your behavior as schizophrenic or manic? Do you, Santelli, or Jim suffer from schizophrenia or any mental ailments that would cause you to terminate good employees and replace them with another employee who just happens to be of the same race and clan of you? Because, if that is the case, I would excuse your actions immediately. If you are reorganizing as you claim, then why wasn't your PROGRAM MANAGER (me) informed about this sudden 'reorganization” any time before March 30? Would you agree that the “reorganization” and the appearance of Alison, who began introducing herself as program manager, strangely coincides with the dates I sent Jim and the MoTeCH team emails refusing to proceed with Jim's illegal demands? Have you read those emails Ms. Fried? Please read them again they are attached. Let's assume for now that you are honestly reorganizing the team in Bolgatanga and you simply forgot to inform your PROGRAM MANAGER and COMMUNICATIONS POINT PERSON (me). Do you have any memos, emails, texts, telegrams, messages by courier pigeon or any correspondence about reorganization plans between Jim and any staff of MoTeCH prior to March 29th the day Yaa was terminated by email? If you do have that aforementioned correspondence, then why does the structure remain the same, except for the fact that Columbia University has taken a job from a qualified Black woman who is a Ghanaian and described by you (Linda Fried) as a skillful careful employee, and handed the Black woman's job to a White woman who is an American? Why were the Black folk on the team not privy to these “reorganization” meetings? Does that mean Ghanaian's have no ownership of MoTeCH, as I stated truthfully? Were those complex reorganization plans made orally with a supreme-select-clan of Columbia's inner circle without any written documentation? No Black MoTeCH or GHS members received your “reorganization plan”. I emphatically told Jim Philips that he has very poor management and communication skills (that is why I am fired), and now I extend that to you, Linda Fried, for this shoddy and botched conspiracy to terminate me. You should be smarter and better than Jim. Did you know that the Regional Health Director, Dr Awoonor-Williams described your act as a “conspiracy that he was not part of”? You will read other messages he sent to me in court. Do you think anyone at GHS has any evidence of their fictitious significant ownership over the Gates Foundation, Columbia University and Grameen Foundation's ownership that Jim kept forcing me to write? They probably have misplaced those ownership documents so please fax it to Dr. Awonoor-Williams. You may not like me Linda Fried because, I am not part of your system that perpetuates corruption and economic dependence, but you will respect my brilliance, tenacity and honesty. You and your counsels will have to make a decision if your want to work in this Country in the next 10-20 years, because guess who will be here on the team running this country? We will not take your BS. You are not reorganizing in Bolgatanga Ms. Fried, what you and your co-conspirators are doing is process called achieving supreme control by colonizing. That certainly is not globalization…or maybe it is?
I believe there is a chilling effect when a courageous and upright public health professional working in Ghana on behalf of Columbia University is routinely threatened and blackmailed with her job to force her to lie, bend, and misrepresent the truth for contrived results and outcomes. However, my professional, social and political values, coupled with my political ambitions to one day become the Minister of Health and a Member of Parliament in Ghana cannot allow me to conform to unethical and unprofessional behavior, let alone accept illegal, unethical and unprofessional behavior from an Ivy League institution that purports to be a paragon of virtue, teaching ethics and governance to the uncivilized African people, criticizing our leaders while acting as colonial masters coercing, threatening and blackmailing and corrupting their very own employees to break the law. This is hypocritical and unacceptable and Columbia University should answer charges in both civil and criminal court in Ghana. Because, I believe that in our democratic, social and academic environment in Ghana, powerful foreign corporations and interests should not be allowed to drown out the voices of professional Ghanaian citizens and academics seeking truth, transparency and equitable treatment.
The money I receive from a judgment in Ghana from this lawsuit shall be used to buy incubators, sonogram machines and renovate the hospitals in the UER, the very community JIM PHILIPS and COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY has exploited for decades to receive paychecks, grants and research accolades on the backs of our people. Do you think after the number of times Jim has flown in to Ghana to wine and dine folks here to push various agenda, he has not seen or realized that our hospitals have nearly no equipment. Oh, I forgot when I and my team members get sick we are flown out of the country within 24 hours all expenses paid!! Can you believe that? Kirsten Gangare from the Grameen Foundation, one of the significant MOTECH Partners just got back after she was taken ill. Yes, we get special treatment, so what do they have to care if our hospitals lay barren, which is actually beter for Columbia and Foreign funders. Because they can come in to Ghana year after year with obscure research projects that never really changes anything fundamentally. It's all to publish articles that generates more funding for Columbia to keep them employed! Please feel free to meet my attorneys at jhri.org or [email protected] -- Thank you!