In a previous article, I used an ancient Akan metaphor to describe the nature of the devastation that the Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking on our nation.
I said it was like a 'kurotwiamansa' [leopard] lurking along the pathways of human habitation, catching people unawares.
'Ͻda amansan kↃn mu!', I added for good measure. This means it has 'draped itself around the necks of the people of a whole nation'.
Think of that – it means that Covid-19 can catch the young and the old alike; the rich and the indigent; the powerful and the powerless; the brilliant and the boneheads.
If you look at the type of people that have been forced to make the acquaintance of Covid-19 in our country, you can see how true it is to liken the pandemic to the vile and ruthless omnivore, the leopard.
Most important of all was our Minister of Health. He’d been soldiering on, under the glare of the television lights, telling everyone how hard his ministry was working to save the nation from the claws of the evil beast.
And then – the beast caught him!
Then it caught 'Napo' – one of the most brilliant members of our Cabinet and one who should know the nature of the beast even better than the Minister of Health.
We also heard how other doctors had been got; how health workers were working in fear of their lives.
Then came news that the former General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party, 'Sir John', had succumbed to the disease.
Was there no hallowed ground where this kurotwiamansa rascally fellow would not dare to tread?
Meanwhile, politicians of both parties were carrying out their pre-planned 2020 election agenda as if nothing disastrous was happening in the country. Nomination of would-be MPs – went on as usual!
What? Nomination to some of the most lucrative jobs in the country with the tête-à-têtes that would be required; the caucuses; the late night visits; the involuntary hugs and handshakes; the passing of bundles of cash from one person to the next?
Yes. It shows that we are not serious in this country. You live in a world in which the country that has used technology to send people to the moon and bring them back to earth is in danger of losing 100,000 people per day because of this kurotwiamansa, and you carry on political activity as usual?
But, we are told, South Korea did hold an election in April 2020, didn’t it? And yet isn’t South Korea one of the countries least affected by Covid-19?
Ahah! Are we not in danger of comparing apples with stones? Which South Korean official, let alone a Deputy Minister, would release himself from quarantine, having tested positive for Covid-19, and drive around election registration centres, to ensure that his would-be supporters would have a smooth path in trying to register to vote for him? Even if he wanted to do that, would the police allow him?
The South Koreans, you see, have a culture that is submissive to higher authority. They also have a technological knack that can enable them to photograph and check the movements of huge swathes of their population, plus an enormous digital database that can cross-reference citizens’ current information with their whereabouts etc. Above all, they have the means of checking the temperatures and state of health of citizens on the hop, and loads of testing apparatus and quick dissemination of test results.
And what of us? Out of a population of 30 million, we haven’t even managed to test more than one per cent to see whether they’ve got the virus or not. (The number of 'ROUTINE SURVEILLANCE TESTS' carried out, as on 29 June 2020, was under 110,000, whilst 'contact tracing tests' had been carried out on 191,888 persons, bringing the total number of tested persons to 300,520. That works out to only 1/100th of the population tested.)
Yet we’ve had the confidence to carry out registration of voters; and we’ve also opened almost all our non-junior schools. Who decides that we can do all this? A Ministry of Health led by a minister who has himself got caught by Covid-19?
An administration that cannot even guarantee that the important Minister of Education would have handlers and personal assistants who would keep an eagle’s eye on him and ensure that his anti-Covid protocols would be strictly adhered to at all times?
What are headteachers to say when they read that their minister has caught and recovered from Covid-19? What about assistant head-teachers? Registrars and assistant registrars? Senior teachers? Junior teachers? School workers? Students?
To be perfectly honest, I shuddered when I saw that the President had been allowed to go and inspect voter registration taking place.
I am afraid that such a decision should not be left to the President. His personal detail should assess the risks he takes and veto any movements that are deemed unnecessary. President Kwame Nkrumah did not enjoy wearing a bulletproof device under his Maoist jacket. But he was obliged to use one. And thereby lies a tale.
As for Mr. Carlos Ahenkora [the Deputy Minister who has had to resign because he admitted going out to visit voter registration centres in his Tema constituency, despite knowing that he had tested positive for Covid-19], the least said about him the better.
My advice to the President is this: please, when selecting Ministers and Deputy Ministers, please do not only consider whether they can 'deliver' their constituencies for the party at election time or not, but do also thoroughly investigate their intellectual capabilities.
'Animguase mmfata Okanni ba!' [The Akan-born person does not allow disgrace/embarrassment to come near himself!] is another gem from the Ancient Folks!
By CAMERON DUODU