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07.05.2004 Feature Article

Letter From The Prez: Unbalancing the ‘bedmatics’ equation

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Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I was very glad to read somewhere last week that contraceptive usage in Our Country has increased, resulting in a reduction in the fertility rate. It was welcome news indeed. But I think a lot more remains to be done. There is still a very large segment of our population which does not patronize contraceptives. Research shows that those who do not use contraceptives outnumber those who use contraceptives. What this means is that a lot of our citizens are indulging in serious 'bedmatics' without factoring in the simple formula that the addition of a contraceptive will help avert an unrestrained multiplication of our population.

So even though the fertility rate (which is the average number of children a woman in a particular geographic area is likely to bear in her lifetime) is said to be reducing, our population growth rate remains very high. We simply have more mouths than we can feed in this country. The national cake is too small to be shared by so many people. Over the past two decades, several campaigns have been run to educate our citizens to use contraceptives to manage their fertility and thereby help to control the population growth rate in our country. Alas, you don't need Malthus to tell you that these campaigns have not yielded any significant results. People are making babies left, right and centre without considering whether or not they are well-placed to cater for and raise these children to become responsible citizens. What alarms me most is the fact that most of the people who are getting pregnant and giving birth indiscriminately are young, unemployed, unskilled people who have turned their backs on their futures. This makes me very angry. I think that any man (or woman) who cannot adequately take care of himself/herself has no right bringing children into this world. So I am going to put forth some very controversial proposals.

We cannot stop people from engaging in 'bedmatics'. I am reliably informed that it is the only reliable and consistent form of entertainment in Our Country – the TV stations can bore you to death, Kojo Antwi performs once in a year and charges too much and there is only one concert party show a week at the National Theatre. So when most of our folk are bored they just resort to subtracting cloths, dividing legs and adding (or fusing) bodies. This is the simple bedmatics formula which often equals the multiplication of the human species.

Even though we cannot stop people from engaging in 'bedmatics', I think we can surely help ensure that the 'bedmatics' formula does not result in a population explosion. That's why I think that we need a system which will assess people's ability to adequately cater for themselves and their offspring – i.e. feed them well, cloth them and at least, take care of their basic health care needs. Under this system, our citizen's income-earning potential will be assessed and those whose earnings (or potential earnings) make it impossible for them to take care of themselves will not be allowed under any circumstances to have children. They can have all the bedmatics they want but the state will ensure that they do not have children. This will help stop people from thinking that they can have as many children as they want and hope that an unknown philanthropist will show up one day and take care of their kids. Much as I believe in miracles, I will always insist that no one has the right to bring children into this world and expect to raise them on miracles.

So how do we stop people from having children they cannot take adequate care of? Simple. We will have to compel people to use contraceptives, preferably, the injectables. We cannot ensure that people wear condoms or a diaphragm before jumping into bed but we can make sure people receive regular jabs of the injectable (say twice in a year). This system will be ran like the national immunization programme – only this time it will be for women. All those who are deemed financially incapable of taking care of their children will be given compulsory contraceptive jabs – free of charge.

I read somewhere that a contraceptive like the injectable has been developed in Australia for men. We should import large quantities of this and administer them free of charge to our men. We will also have to take drastic action against men who discourage their spouses (and concubines) from using family planning products. If it becomes very critical we will have to sterilize all those men who go about impregnating woman after woman, knowing very well that they cannot take care of the children.

This suggestion smacks of state interference in private, individual matters, doesn't it? No, it doesn't. As long as the state continues to play an active role in the growth and development of the children born in this country, I think it can help people to decide on the number of children they can take care of and when those children should be born. China did it so successfully and it has helped them. It's radical and strange. But I think it will work here as well.

If you have a better idea, please don't hesitate to let me know. Something definitely has to be done. Otherwise, if we allow the current trend to continue a lot of children will be born to parents who cannot feed and cloth them. These children will grow up hungry and poor, only to give birth to their own children….and the cycle will continue – a vicious cycle of a poor man giving birth to and raising his children in poverty and squalor. Within this cycle we have armed robbers, drug pushers, con artists, prostitutes, saboteurs etc. Within this same cycle you find energetic, impressionable young people who are swayed by any wind of doctrine. They will kill for a pittance. They will steal anything. They will break any law just for a loaf of bread. This is not the type of future I want for our country. But if the current population growth rate continues this is the situation we will throw ourselves in – a jungle where there are too many mouths feeding on a very small national cake.

As fertile as ever,

J. A. Fukuor [email protected] PS. Can you believe that this month marks the first anniversary of my decision to be writing regularly to you? Time really flies, doesn't it? To commemorate the first anniversary of this column, I will be on the World Wide Web for a live internet chat on Saturday, May 8, from 3pm. Just sign into MSN messenger and let's talk about our nation.

J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2004

The author has 204 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JAFukuor

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