It was a quick stop at James Town, one of the oldest settlements in Ghana and a place that doubles up as the liveliest district where people go to capture the spirit, energy and vibrancy of Accra
There are many stories, experiences and various exciting scenes that have been shared about James Town and its people. Talk about the popular lighthouse, fishing boat shores, forts and the big street event-chalewote festival are among the many interesting stories we have heard about.
It was therefore not a difficult decision to make when one Saturday morning last December, Nadine and Daira who had come to Ghana for official work, asked me to show them around Accra before their departure flight the next day.
Before we knew it, we hit the street of James Town for real excitement and fun. Walking through the town, we had a great view of the city and the busy colorful fishing harbor, boxing gyms and forts. Undoubtedly, one will not visit James Town and not try the popular cuisine among the local community; Ga kenkey with fish and hot pepper.
We didn’t miss the opportunity to be abreast with the rich cultural heritage and traditional stories of the James Town community and historic scenes. Along the visit whiles we were acquainting ourselves with the town, we saw a huge gathering at the Mantse Agbona Palace in the centre of James Town.
We realized we had stumbled upon a community awareness forum at the Mantse Agbona and we were easily drawn to join the crowd as there was a drama skit being performed. We discovered that the community forum had been organized to engage and educate the residents about iron deficiency and the need to consume foods that are rich in iron. The drama portrayed the significant impact iron deficiency anaemia can have on the lives of people living with it.
The forum is part of the continuous efforts of the “Live Strong with Iron” campaign to sensitize Ghanaians about iron deficiency, its causes, symptoms and solutions to addressing the problem. In an engaging and interactive atmosphere, stakeholders shared their knowledge regarding the current situation and the most appropriate ways to curb iron deficiency.
It is commendable that stakeholders of the campaign are interested in getting Ghanaians aware and educated on why iron is so important to the human body and what could happen if they are not getting enough iron in their diets.
For me, it was a regular day passing by James Town with friends for sightseeing, little did I know I would encounter such a forum and gain a wealth of knowledge.
A nutrition expert who doubles as the Dean of Biological Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, Professor Matilda Steiner-Asiedu, was also at the event to share insights on Iron deficiency anaemia which remains a public health issue in Ghana and the global world.
Staggering percentage of women and children who are iron deficient was made known. There was a revelation of 66% of children under five and 42% of women in the reproductive age being iron deficient. Though the numbers are high especially for women and children, it is worthwhile to know that whatever the stage of life, you can also suffer from iron deficiency if your dietary intake of iron is low.
The lessons taken from this initiative has led me to be conscious of the food I eat every day, making sure there is sufficient iron intake. A mock display they had dubbed “Iron Market” which had in it a wide array of locally available iron-rich foods dazzled and reminded me that these foods are all around us if we just stop to look.
Some of these natural sources of iron include Organ meat (liver, kidney, gizzards, etc), Meat (Beef, Mutton, Lamb, Bushmeat, Pork), Fish, Shellfish, Eggs, Beans, Soybeans, Melon seeds (also called Akatoa or Agushie), Green leafy vegetables (Kontomire, Alefu, Bokorbokor, Gboma, Ademe, Ayoyo), Cashew and other nuts, Whole grains, Fortified Foods, etc
In the end, I continued with my activities of the day but with my mind stimulated as to how I will take on 2020 with a renewed zeal to #LiveStrongWithIron.