It was speculated that Haiti's grim experience was going to be repeated in Ghana when majority people kept vigil to curiously await the impending earthquake. Ghanaians were at the firm grips of the fear of earth tremors that have presented awful conditions to people around the world. It was indeed a rude awakening of the untruly unexpected.
Within minutes, the news had circulated down to even the last village you know of without proper access to telecommunication services.
Almost every Ghanaian was caught at parks, open fields and playing grounds with the notion that earthquakes are limited to houses only or less devastating in open places where there are no structures. Last prayers were said with diverse modes on biblical and unbiblical tongue speaking.
At an instance, telephone lines of radio stations and probably television stations at various parts of the country were as busy as never before. As text messages are used in saving lives at Haiti the case of Ghana was to keep false rumours alive. What were phone calls and text messages for at the dawn of January 18, 2010? Perhaps, people were seeking for information about the nature and direction of the quake in order to pursue the opposite direction for optimum safety. Sources indicate that the warning came from BBC and others said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). So when did NASA start predicting the occurrence of earthquakes in the world let alone Ghana. Did NASA also predicted the fall of a heavenly body in the country? OH! Ghana, what's this?
Males and females, the old and young were grievously exposed to the cold weather of the dawn on Monday, January 18, 2010 around 1:00 am to 5:00 am. Oh what a pity! Even amusing was the fact that some professors and doctors with their known acquired knowledge were made to sleep or stand outside with families for considerable period of time when the “hoax” assumed a scary dimension.
In a complete change of situation, the rumour about the earthquake had overshadowed the NDC Delegate Conference held at Tamale. There is no doubt that the false rumour about the quake would be the subject of discussion in schools, workplace and homes for the weeks ahead.
The Ministry of Information as usual strongly came to dispel this rumour and that hopefully soothed the fears of Ghanaians after BBC had strongly denied responsibility for the rumour, as said by the Deputy Minister of Information Mr. Samuel Okudjeto-Ablakwa in a Joyfm news interview.
As much as Ghanaians can respond quickly to such deadly issues, it would be expedient that we as well respond to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Candidly, extreme poverty and hunger is more dangerous and devastating than what quakes can present. I would admonish all Ghanaians to develop positive attitude and respond to curbing this dilemma (poverty and hunger) in the country and it is when this is done that we can all have a safe economy.
And to the government, if this situation should merit investigation as to who caused this unfortunate situation, then significantly the country must investigate into the ravaging effects of extreme poverty and hunger and as such provide appropriate solutions. It is however prudent that the government has tasked the national security to investigate the matter but I shudder to the marrow if with the present telecommunication weakness any positive result would be achieved. Who are the detractors as said by NDC propaganda secretary?
It's unacceptable to regard the false rumour as relatively incongruous since it has once again triggered the purchase of a seismograph as Abdulmutallab bomb scandal caused the procurement of a full body scanner at Kotoka International Airport to tighten up security. But for false rumour the country wouldn't have known that the available seismograph was not operating. Is it not right to describe Ghana as a reactive state?
The bottomline of the issue is that we all need to change as matter of urgency our attitude towards a positive sense of patriotism to drive the nation forward. We should all work hard for the nation with the fear and trembling Ghanaians exhibited during the rumour of the earthquake.
Nonetheless, it was both an intriguing and distressing moment in the country this year. This time it was earthquake, what should we expect again; volcanic eruption?
God save Ghana!
The author is at the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi-Ghana
Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com