Growing up as young boy, there was a radio program that my father liked listening to on GBC 2 radio “Senior Citizen’s corner.” There was this intro music by Ray Williams titled growing old. In the lyrics of this song was a portion that caught my attention and I have been thinking of it for ages, which says “ I wish, I will never grow old, life is a misery in old age,” what was the musician trying to portray?
Old age is believed to be a sign of blessings upon one’s life. In Christianity, it is accepted that old age is a sign of God’s blessings and many are wishing to enjoy such blessings. In fact, after 70 years, it is believed that one has achieved his or her God given years and days after such years are sometimes termed as extra time in the field of life. Few are those who are fortunate to go beyond 70 years since the life expectancy rate of man keeps decreasing due to many factors.
Unfortunately, in Ghana and some other parts the world, old age is tagged with a certain omen. The moment you are blessed with certain age and cross the sixties or seventies, you are either a witch or wizard depending on your gender. You are seen to be the cause of every misfortune in your family or community. Nothing good is attributed to you. If you find yourself in places where poverty rate is high and there are no systems to cater for people in their old age as commonly found in Ghana, then you are doomed. The words in the song of Ray Williams comes to reality, you will die miserably.
Recently I watched a documentary by Joynews of a blind old woman whose dream was to sleep on a mattress before her death in a village in the Northern part of Ghana. There are many untold stories of such people who are going through worse situations but have not been caught by the camera’s lenses. Many old aged people are going through hell unnoticed. There are no adequate policies to assist such people.
I could not watch the video of the 90 years old woman who was beaten by a mob including women after being accused of witchcraft by a soothsayer in Kafaba in the East Gonja municipality of the Savannah region. What an inhumane and barbaric act!! When did it became a norm to lynch people to death for being a witch or wizard? Instant justice and mob action in Ghana, which law justifies that? I know spiritual matters are dealt spiritually isn’t it?
As a Christian, I know that the only commandment to man that comes with a reward is to “ honor your father and mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land in which the Lord your God gives you.” If I may paraphrase it, “respect the elderly so that you may live long.” At that old age, because they are vulnerable, God is asking you the youth to take care of them today, because you shall also get to that state tomorrow. The things you are doing today, you cannot be doing them forever, age will be caught up with you.
Let us condemn what has caused the death of this 90 years old woman and all sorts of maltreatment melted out to the aged, let there be justice for her and an end to all practices that promote such situations. May the soul of this poor woman and those who have suffered similar situations find rest in the bosom of Abraham. Any religion or tradition that sees the aged as the cause of misfortunes is not worth existing and state institutions mandated must see to the eradication of such inhumane bodies and practices.
Many old men and women are living in abject situations in the country, what are we doing as a state, religious bodies, institutions and individuals to assist such people? I believe there are some state policies and social interventions that cater for some of them, but are they enough? The state should take a critical look at enhancing such policies to benefit all the aged and not some selected few. The aged have served the state in one way or the other, it is never a crime to be old. We should reward and take good care of them until they return to their maker. Let’s not forget that, they were like us and we shall be like them.
By: Jonas Owusu Ohemeng