Life, they say, is full of uncertainties. Yes, life is full of surprises. It is, for this reason, it is said that the only thing that does not change is change itself since everything keeps changing.
Year 2020 began with resolutions of high expectation by everybody across the globe. As 2019 crawled to an end, many fasted for days and crowned their fasting with resolutions at the down of the New Year. Then suddenly, the calamity struck! There came the coronavirus pandemic that threatens to consume the whole world. Today, schools have been closed down indefinitely without an iota of idea as to when they are reopening. Businesses globally are crawling without knowing when they will get onto their feet. Indeed, everything is at a standstill except the spread of the coronavirus. How uncertain the world is!
Indeed, my late old man (May They Rest in Peace) used to admonish us by saying that time easily changes, which I hardly got my head around until the outbreak of this coronavirus pandemic. In those days that the only food available in the farm during the lean season was the kind of cassava which turned yellowish when cooked or roasted, I used to return home from the farm on an empty stomach because I would not eat such food without sidekick like ground pepper and salt or what is known in Akan as ‘Abomu’. Anytime I refused to eat, my father would admonish that I should know time easily changes, meaning that things might get worse than they were so no matter how bad the food was I should eat so that when things changed for the worse, I could cope.
He used to illustrate his admonition with a story about a lioness which taught the baby to sing boastfully as follows: “I am the baby of the strongest animal in the forest so no one can harm me”. An old woman one day came across baby lion and advised him to change the song by singing: “time changes”. When the lioness returned and found her baby singing a different song, she became furious and asked baby lion who asked him to change the song she taught him. Baby lion said it was an old lady. With fury, the lioness combed the forest but could not find the old lady. She then instructed her baby to continue to sing the song she taught him.
One day, when the lioness went for hunting, she did not return as she was killed by a hunter. Her baby waited several days for her in vain. The old lady surfaced once again and found baby lion crying profusely. When she asked what the reason was, baby lion explained that he had not seen the mother for several days. The old lady told him that was why she asked him not to sing the song that his mother taught him since time changes. She continued by explaining to baby lion that it might be the king of the forest but that would not be the case forever. “Today, you are without a mother and father, are you still the son of the strongest animal in the forest?” The old lady queried. That is life.
Today, the coronavirus pandemic has brought everything, everybody and every country on its knees. The terrifying thing about this pandemic is that it has created so much uncertainty in the world which everyone everywhere should be worried about. So far, the pandemic has proven that it does not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the young and the old, white and black, good or bad person. Indeed, it consumes whoever it finds along its way.
The good thing, however, is that this pandemic is not the first shock to hit the world. The world was taken by surprise by the Napoleonic wars that threatened the stability of Europe. Thankfully, a combined effort of European countries led by Great Britain quelled the threat. Then, the first and second world wars erupted and destabilized the whole world. Again, a combined effort of the allied forces helped to quell them. There was also the millennium challenge which some postulated was going to be the end of the world. What about the global financial crises that rocked the world in 2009. Again, stimulus packages provided by governments of the hardly hit countries to helped to contain the situation.
So, the novel coronavirus should not be too much of a wonder to us since we have seen many of such crises of global magnitude. Some have postulated the end of humanity as a result of the scale and uncertainty of the pandemic. They are right to do so because they might not have been privy to the global catastrophes of the past. Others are adducing various motives to some country’s actions or inactions for which reason they are hardly hit by the pandemic. They may also be right to hold such opinions.
The fact about this pandemic is that it has created so much uncertainty in the world. Notwithstanding these uncertainties, one thing is very clear. That is, our knowledge of the fact that life is full of uncertainties. Uncertainties call for preparedness against the unknown. The fact that humanity has tackled uncertainties in the past also gives us hope that we will find a solution to this pandemic. A lot is being done by way of finding a solution to the pandemic around the world.
In Ghana, people are responding favourably to the call by H.E. President Anan Addo to find local solutions to the mired of challenges emanating from the pandemic and those that have long confronted our nation. Local industries have already flooded the Ghanaian market with hand sanitizers whose scarcity initially created panic buying and skyrocketing prizes in the country. Again, industry has given assurance of producing personal protective equipment (PPE) not only for health workers but the rest of the citizenry. Individuals have also been responding to the call by trying their hands on inventions. Two individuals have invented hand washing devices in the country. These are still early days yet and I have the conviction that there will be of such Ghanaian ingenuity. What Ghanaians are very good at is copying rather than innovating. One person starts something then everybody else joins the trail. In this particular instance, what we have seen is innovation rather than copying as the devices produced have different functions but serve the same purpose. That is what creativity and innovation are all about. Somebody does something, and then another person does the same thing a different and better way.
In future, it would be necessary organizing reality shows on creativity and innovation alongside the National Mathematics and Science Quiz competition. A lot is already being done by the government in terms of creativity and innovation. The Ministry of Business Development and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan are leading this effort. However, these are business focused. There is the need for creativity and innovation focused reality show to encourage the teaming unemployed youth to evoke their spirit of creativity and innovation in order to find solutions to the myriad challenges that confront our dear nation and the world as a whole.
The world is indeed full of uncertainties! The coronavirus is just one of such uncertainties which the world has experienced. Just us the world was able to overcome those uncertainties in the past, so will a solution be found to this pandemic. While the whole world strives for solution to the pandemic, Ghana should do same but will need to do more because our challenges are beyond those posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The President has thrown a challenge to the nation and some people are responding to the challenge. The teaming unemployed youth in particular need to rise up to the call since boredom is the mother of invention not necessity alone. As we are locked down or quarantined by the pandemic, let us use this period to soberly reflect on our nation’s challenges and try to find solution to them. The world has always been in constant competition. It is the reason Europeans left their sores and ventured into other continents leading the Colonisation of the continents to exploited resources they critically needed but did not have them on their continent. The competition is not over. Let us find solutions to our problems as no one from elsewhere will do that for us. Let us rise up and make our country great and strong! We have what it will take to do so!
Dr. Adams Sulemana Achanso
Dean of Faculty of Education, UDS
Department of Development Education Studies
We Educate For Development!