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27.02.2021 Feature Article

Does Alex Sarkodie Know Anything about Intellectual-Property Rights?

Does Alex Sarkodie Know Anything about Intellectual-Property Rights?
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Is it really possible for somebody to be educated to the highest level of the medical profession in Ghana and still not realize or appreciate the very basic fact that one cannot simply put one’s name at the top of a piece of writing or literature authored by another person without any immediate and direct acknowledgment of the same? This was precisely what Mr. Alexander Sarkodie, MBChB, did with a long article titled “Aftermath of the February 24, 1966. Nkrumah[sic] Description of Events,” which was published in the edition of February 23, 2021. This is the sort of sloppy scholarship that some of us have angrily had to contend with here in the United States of America; that is, the rather peevishly pedestrian but very factual notion that, somehow, hundreds of thousands of people are being graduated annually in the Third World, in general, and Continental Africa, in particular, without being instructed about the globally established conventions of copyright ownership laws and intellectual-property rights.

Which was also why I could not help but laugh raucously over the fact that Mr. Sarkodie would aptly list his “MBChB” credentials at the end of his shamelessly plagiarized Kwame Nkrumah-authored essay (referenced above), while at the same time rather curiously noting at the top of the long-read article/essay that he was Mr. Alexander Sarkodie – actually, he commonly abbreviates his first name as “Alex” – and then appending “MD” or Medical Doctor or Doctor of Medicine, as it is routinely done right here in the United States of America and elsewhere around the world. Of course, I am well aware of the fact that “MBChB” is commonly regarded as the professional equivalent of “MD.” But the practical reality of the fact is that it is not the least bit exactly the same. There is a colonial game that has been played with African leaders by the erstwhile Western colonial powers for about a half-century now, that our leaders do not seem to have wised out of in order to rightfully claim the sort of global respectability that Continental African medical practitioners deserve and have deserved for quite some time now.

But there is also one truth that needs to be admitted upfront right from the get-go, as it were. Which is the fact that most graduates of the Ghana Medical School, and the latter’s allied establishments, who either migrate or immigrate to the United States of America have had to retrain all over again, because in Ghana they are produced in a sort of all-size-fits-all industrial assembly plant commodities with limited scope in dealing with the humongous diversity of ailments that confront Ghanaian citizens like citizens of all countries all over the world. That is, these medical practitioners are invariably trained as generalists or general medical practitioners, which is all well and good, except for the fact that as the global medical field has become increasingly diverse and expertly and epistemically and epidemiologically complex, the need for specialization has also become indispensably imperative. Which was why it came as very refreshing news, albeit one that was criminally belated, when Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, Ghana’s Minister for Health, recently announced that the various medical schools in the country were in the process of training their medical students in diverse sub-fields of specialty.

I hope this announcement was not just a tangential or passing statement that was geared towards momentary public plaudits or approbation and ultimate false hopes. For, I can almost bet my proverbial bottom-dollar that this is not the very first time that the Ghanaian public has been smugly promised the same. Of course, I also fully recognize the striking difference here; which is that unlike previous regimes, in particular previous Cash-and-Carry-oriented National Democratic Congress-sponsored regimes, the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has a proven track record of substantial achievements, such as the direly needed upgrading of the system of medical delivery in the country, in particular vis-à-vis the introduction of the cutting-edge use of Medical Drones to promptly deliver medical supplies all across the length and breadth of the country.

Recently, for example, the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Bawku-Central Constituency, in the Upper-East Region, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, has been earnestly pushing for the compulsory retirement age of civil and public service employees to be raised from 60 to 65 years old, on grounds that “The country’s healthcare system has significantly improved.” Mr. Ayariga made the preceding remark on the august floor of Ghana’s Parliament, in a rather cavalier manner, almost as if the previous John Dramani Mahama government, of which Mr. Ayariga had been a key player, had contributed any significantly towards the development of Ghana’s National Healthcare System (NHS). In reality, the government in which the Harvard Law School graduate had been Minister for the Environment Science and Technology, among a half-dozen other cabinet portfolios, had actually brought the John Agyekum-Kufuor-implemented National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to a screeching halt. That is the kind of abject hypocrisy and downright perfidy that Ghanaians have been wantonly afflicted with over the past two generations.

In any event, the post-1966 Nkrumah essay downright plagiarized by Dr. Alex Sarkodie was quite insightful, if also primarily because it tragically pointed to the fact that after all his wanton visitation of indescribable and horrific atrocities on the Ghanaian people, a legitimately and justifiably ousted President Kwame Nkrumah still felt righteous indignation about the very forces that had actually done both Mr. Nkrumah and the country and, indeed, the African Continent, in general, great favor by signaling to extant dictators, budding dictators and prospective dictators that the African Continent had entered a completely new phase and political culture where the fundamental human rights and dignity of the citizenry could not be cavalierly denied them or be taken for granted.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

February 26, 2021

E-mail: [email protected]