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21.10.2008 General News

Havoc from our beliefs

By I. K. Gyasi - Ghanaian Chronicle

“It is often observed that, in Ghana, nobody dies of natural causes; somebody is always spiritually responsible.”

THE OTHER day, Mr. Alfred Ogbamey, Editor of the GYE NYAME CONCORD, told an interesting story on PEACE FM's Morning Programme, KOKROKOO. When his father died at the ripe old age of 90 (ninety-years), the old man's family decided to find out the cause of his death.

No, they were not interested in a medical post-mortem or in a Coroner's findings. They were going to find out by spiritual means. Mr. Ogbamey told listeners that he found the idea so ridiculous that he steadfastly refused to have anything to do with such a quest. Who spiritually killed the nonagenarian and why?

If we are tempted to laugh, what about the death of Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu in far-away South Africa?

Mr. Andy Appiah-Kubi of the Free Zones Board contested him for the opportunity to represent the people of Asante-Akim North in Parliament on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). He lost to the late Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. Not too long after that, Baah-Wiredu dies.

Aha, what else could have killed him but the juju resorted to by Mr. Appiah-Kubi? Immediately, the rumour mill churned out the story that the man responsible for Mr. Baah-Wiredu's death was none other than his opponent in the race for Parliament. The placards said so, and threats of instant lynching followed.

When Mr. Apiah-Kubi very wisely decided not to attend the one-week marking of Mr. Baah-Wiredu's death, that strangely convinced the agitators that he was truly responsible for the death.

Note that Mr. Appiah-Kubi had earlier been cleared as fit to vie for the nomination for the Asante-Akim North seat. Suddenly, Mr. Appiah-Kubi's party discovers that he is not qualified to be vetted to contest the slot. One of the reasons given was that he would not be able to campaign at Agogo, Mr. Baah-Wiredu's home town.

To the best of my knowledge, we are still to be officially told the cause of the death. Doing the rounds, however, is the story that the late Minister died of complications following surgery on his cancerous prostate.

As the doctors will tell you, the prostate is a small organ situated at the neck of the bladder. The prostate secretes fluid that enables the spermatozoa (sperm, for short) to swim towards the egg or ovum for conception to take place. Only men have the prostate.

The urethra or passage for both urine and the seminal fluid passes through the prostate. As we grow older, there is the tendency for the prostate to become enlarged and restrict the urethra. This is physiological enlargement.

If the physiological enlargement has no cancerous growth, it is possible for doctors to handle it by means of drugs that shrink the prostate or by surgery.

Where cancer develops, then chemotherapy (treatment with drugs), surgery or radiotherapy may be resorted to. Since a cure is yet to be found for cancer, especially where the tumour is malignant and has spread, death is inevitably the result.

If ever we should have the official cause of death of our late minister, we will not see any trace of juju. Well, tell that to those who have convinced themselves beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr. Apiah-Kubi had everything to do spiritually with the death of our well-liked Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

Mark my words. Unless genuine reconciliation takes place, Mr. Apiah-Kubi would never be able to attend the funeral of Mr. Baah-Wiredu. Too bad.

Jane Frances, a 17-year-old student discovered that one of her breasts had become larger than the other. Her grandmother assured her that there was nothing wrong. Then doctors diagnosed cancer.

Unfortunately, the mother was convinced that Jane's problem was not “a hospital disease”, as it is usually put, but a spiritual one. In other words, somebody or some persons were responsible for her illness. The mother took her to some people calling themselves the Twelve Apostles Church.

The 'prescription' was a daily bath with sea water at the sea shore. She was also given a coin and told to put on the coin whatever her wishes were and then throw the money into the sea.

Mark the sequel. Jane's condition got worse and worse, not better, until, out of desperation, the mother surrendered her back into the hands of medical doctors.

Thanks to the expertise of the doctors, the excruciating pain of Jane Frances has apparently ceased. Unfortunately, she has lost the breast because it was too far gone to be saved by chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Most of the time when the death of a young person occurs in a family, the young person's friends and associates descend on the poor, grieving old woman (it is invariably an old woman) in the family who becomes a target, as she is seen to be the cause of the death. Why should she live when a young person dies instead? Sometimes, the old woman is not merely insulted, but beaten as well.

In Kenya, it is believed that the blood and body parts of albinos have magical properties that can be used to make money or acquire power.

In Ghana, it is hunchbacks who have become the targets of those hankering after inordinate wealth or power of one sort or another.

Doctors say that tuberculosis of the spine can cause the hump to appear. Whatever it is, it is a sign of how still primitive we are in believing that a medical condition like the hump can be a source of wealth or power.

The Whiteman has his superstitious beliefs too. He does not like the Number 13. That number is particularly sinister when it falls on a Friday. In a multi-storied building, the floor which should have been numbered '13' is numbered '14'.

If the Whiteman spills salt at a dinner table, he is supposed to take a pinch of the salt and throw it over his left shoulder straight into the eyes of the Devil waiting to carry him (the spiller of the salt) to Hell.

The Whiteman would not pass under an umbrella leaning against a wall. Belief in witchcraft also exists, like consorting with the Devil. There are witches' covens or assemblies. Still, they use their brains for higher thinking, while we do not. While they make progress in all fields, we stagnate because we do not use our thinking faculties the way they do.

Look at our practices in such areas as widowhood rites, female genital mutilation, stupid beliefs that stop pregnant women from eating eggs and meat, lest the babies become thieves in later life, the mumbo-jumbo attached to some traditional medical treatment, etc.

Tradition is fine. Not all beliefs are harmful. But we should not allow all forms of tradition and beliefs to shackle our minds, so that we are unable to think positively.

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