19.05.2020 Feature Article

I-Don't Care-Ism: Is What Will Destroy Dear Ghana!

I-Don't Care-Ism: Is What Will Destroy Dear Ghana!
19.05.2020 LISTEN

I don't-care-ism”?

I bet you've probably never hear d the word before in your life?

Well, when I was attending a Presbyterian Primary School in the 1940s, we were constantly warned against what the teachers called “I-don't-care-ism!”

If you went to school in the morning without combing your hair, you had done so because you had cultivated the habit of “I-don't-care-ism”!

If you left your homework undone, you were showing “I-don't-care-ism”!

If you continually came to school late; if you left your reading books or exercise books behind; if you chatted while the teacher was outside the classroom [and a prefect wrote your name down as a “talkative!”]; if your uniform looked as if it had been slept in – “I-don't-care-ism” was to blame!

At the time, I thought the teachers were too strict and I resented their inability to appreciate that one might have committed an offence not because one was addicted to “I-don't-care-ism” but because of particular circumstances over which one might not have had any control. But as they say in Twi, “wobenyin abƐto!”[you will grow up to come and meet it!”]

In other words, instances of “I-don't-care-ism” will be gratuitously inflicted upon you, too. And then you will understand why it was condemned when YOU were committing it.

At maturity, you will discern that it was because of his or her indifference to your feelings that the person who had recently agreed to come and see you at 9 a.m., arrived at 10.30. Had he/she considered that you probably had woken up earlier than normal that day, in order to get ready for the meeting? Had the person considered that you might have arranged another appointment to follow that one, and that by turning up late, he/she would inevitably cause you to be late for the next one? To you, all the lateness would indicate would be an “I-don't-care-ish”attitude, wouldn't it? And while trying not to be impolite, you'd be boiling inside, wouldn't you?

You ask: why this psychological treatise on a quiet Tuesday morning, MR D?

Hmmm! Yes – a columnist must learn not to sound like a preacher, yes! But what is a man to do when a subject matter has been occupying his mind day and night and he can't shake it off, try as he might?

The subject matter that has been monopolising my analytical faculties is – not hard to guess – COVID-19.

Now it may not be occupying as much space in your mind as mine, and I say good luck to you! For me, that a disease can suddenly descend on humankind and within four months or so, produce the following figures, is mind-blowing; beyond comprehension.


WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard

Data last updated: 2020/5/18, 9:33am CEST

4,589,526Confirmed Cases


(Source: World Health Organization) UNQUOTE

Reader, had this disease occurred in Ghana in, say, the year of our independence (1957, when our population totalled 6,068,997) roughly two out of every three Ghanaians would have caught it! Just imagine that! And we aren't finished yet with COVID-19 !

Shouldn't a disease with a power of infection of this magnitude challenge all our thinking processes until by God's grace, it vanishes from Planet Earth?

We in Ghana have been very fortunate so far, in that the disease appears mostly to have been brought

in aeroplanes to a single airport, Kotoka International. This means we were able to intercept the passengers carrying it, quarantine them and offer them treatment. Meanwhile, crack teams of contact tracers went to work, trying to find the people whom the passengers might have been in contact with, and testing them to see which of them had caught the disease, and who THEIR contacts were.

Meanwhile, we also took the precaution of “locking down” the country by asking workers to stay at home, and banning social gatherings. All well and good, And when it looked as if our efforts were containing the rate of infections, we naturally relaxed things “a bit.”

But what happened next? We inexplicably seem to have taken our eyes off the ball. The figures of the infected became more and more indicative of the fact that the community at large had now begun to catch the disease. With our ability to test effectively restrained by a lack of adequate testing centres and materials, and our capacity to carry out “enhanced contact tracing” also limited by inadequate quantities of PPEs (personal protection equipment), we began to realise that we were sparring with a partner way above our weight.

And, of course, just then, the bad news hit us like a bomb. Our President, no less, told us in a national broadcast, that one person had infected 533 others at a “fish processing factory” at Tema!

What? One person infected 533? How could that happen?

We expected the Government to announce the immediate closure of the factory.

We expected the Government to name and shame the factory, “pour encourager les autres” (to teach others a lesson) as the French put it.)

But none of that happened. Why? We haven't been told!

Yet, in Public Health practice, the most effective way of tackling a pandemic is to be absolutely open about it and use EVERY MEANS POSSIBLE to educate the community to follow best practice.

Because it is the community that receives and imparts the disease! Yes – only the community can prevent it. But it can't do so if crucial information is hidden from it!it. Simple.

The message conveyed by the failure of the health authorities to inform the polace of all that had happened at Tema, is that, after all, they are not as serious about teaching us to avoid the disease as we had thought.

For what's the point of telling us to do certain things, as individuals, such as wash our hands, wear face masks and gloves and observe “social distancing”, if you then allow a factory with thousands of workers to spread the disease without imposing the severest penalties on it? And if you implythat you want to protectthe factory by inexplicably withholdingits name from the public? Even if it's able to contain the spread of the disease within its work force, what about its potential customers who flock to it because its name has been suppressed? Should the public rely on rumours when a pandemic is at our door?

Sadly, it wasn't only the health authorities who failed us. Our media passed over the President's explosive revelation about the Tema factory as if he'd just announced that Accra Hearts of Oak had drawn with Kumasi Kotoko again! Oh, another draw? Yawn! Yawn! WHAAAT?

In every other country with a free press, the news would have been on the front pages of newspapers with banner headlines. But not in Ghana.

Fiery newspaper editorials? I am yet to see even one.

Electronic Media panel discussions? Ho, why should this story remove Obinim from the story list?

I was so frustrated by how this story had been handled by the authorities and the media that, I issued a “press statement” urging the Government to set up a public enquiry to find out the facts about the issue.

No reaction from the Government! (Of course!)

Meanwhile, the Gold Mine at Obuasi is reported to have suffered a somewhat similar plight as the Tema factory. A team from the health authorities was on its way to Obuasi to investigate when this was written. Maybe we get some details. Maybe not.


I-don't-carism seems to rule the day, right?



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