I am enchained with so much sorrow that tears refuse to come down my angelic cheeks much as I try. The loss of about twenty young boys and girls at the sea at Apam has brought me to tears and only God knows how I will be able to uncoil myself from the pain in my heart. Life is really too short.
If you are an ardent reader of this column, you will realise that in the normal course of events, I will contribute my quota to the President's State of the Nation Address. This is what I have been doing since the inception of the Fourth Republic. Today, no such contribution is needed. It has already been delivered by the people of Apam, where the sea devoured these innocent souls. We have seen it in the courage of rescuers who plunged into the sea to rescue the living and the dead bodies amidst the wild torrents. We have seen it in the gnashing of teeth, wailing and in the sad faces of parents who stood by the shore to welcome their love ones who had battled with the sea god and vanquished.
Ghanaians have seen the sea devour children in particular, on several occasions, but not so many children on a single day as what happened at Apam on that fateful Sunday. This calamity was brought upon us in the twinkling of an eye and night fell on a different world, a world where peace was under attack by the sea goddess, 'Maame Water'. I was in the process of writing my piece for this week when the news came knocking on my door. I had to highlight what I had written and strike the delete button on my computer to begin this epistle. My already disturbed mind got rampaged and with a shaking hand I tried to pour everything in my computer.
What went wrong? Who offended the sea goddess? Who led the children to their gallows? What can be done to avoid future occurrences? These and many more questions came to mind, but no answers. Weighed down by sorrow, I forgot to eat the whole day. In fact, I can't bear the pain and can only imagine what I would have done if one of my children happened to be among those who lost their souls so untimely. Families of the dead children need our prayers and sympathy. Prayers have comforted us in sorrow and will help soothe the pain in the hearts of the bereaved families in these difficult times. Grief recedes with time and grace, and I hope the bereaved families will be able to bear the pain as the days, months and years roll by. It is not going to be easy, but the All-Knowing God of Abraham is there, ready to comfort their souls. May be that is the way God planned it to be. Praise be to His name.
But how can we control the youth of today who are out there to seek for enjoyment on daily basis at the risk of their lives? The President had given an order for people to resist from picketing at the beaches because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and well-meaning Ghanaians did agree to the order. The police were charged to be on the lookout for people who may defy the order, and there is a reason for that.
Considering the number of police officers we have in this country, you don't expect police officers to be everywhere at the same time, so people should take their destinies in their own hands. But do we? Ghanaians, particularly the youth, do not respect authority. It starts from their homes where they do not respect their parents, and they go out there with such a bad character. Gone were the days when anyone could discipline a boy or girl who went wayward. These days if you try to do that the parents of such a wayward child will come down heavily on you, and you will regret the day you were born. So everybody does what he or she pleases, damn the consequences. We go about our daily duties, 'minding our own business' without looking back to see what is going wrong in our environment. Nobody can convince me that the children who perished did not hear the pronouncement of the President that we should avoid the beaches.
After all, the precious lives lost and all the possibilities and hopes that died with them, it is natural for us to wonder if those who live by the shores of the sea will forever live in fear. In the months and years ahead, life will return to normal at Apam. The people over there will surely go about their lives and routines, and that is good. In fact, each of us will remember the moment this disturbing news came, where we were and what we were doing. Some, like the eyewitnesses, will remember the dying cry of drowning beautiful and handsome faces as they struggled to get out of the yawning mouth of the sea goddess. And yet some will carry the memories of a face and a voice gone forever.
Hearts have been broken and as a people we need to work together to help mend these broken hearts while we collectively take a vow of “Never again.” We have to patch it up together as we trudge on in pain. One may ask: How can you mend a broken heart? It takes time and patience. It takes faith and the belief that it is God who gives and it is the same Mighty God who takes away what He has given. We cannot continue grieving while the world moves on. We need to stop the crying and hug our children and assure them that the heavens will not fall in the face of all what has happened, and that life must go on. In hard times like this, the only thing that can comfort my soul is a stick of Havana Cigar, so excuse me while I light up.
By Eric Bawah