The gift that keeps on taking

 

“The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people” – Ghanaian Proverb

 

Medicine has ravaged many things in my life. Mention can be made of my sleep, my social life and my video game sessions. Hell, even my ability to be repulsed by all orifices of the human body plus the fluids that inhabit these places. Digital rectal examination is now a pastime. However, there’s one thing I thought medicine could never ruin, something so sacred to my upbringing and heart that it has gone with me unscathed for over 20 years.

Seated on the hospital bed is a young woman who had with her a beautiful preterm baby whose lungs, weight and micronutrients that needed correction. This woman had no regard for her baby and would beat her any time she cried. A young girl who was severely anemic was rushed in unconscious. This girl had been suffering from malaria and needed blood and antimalarials to get her back to life. A religious belief on the part of the mother took the life of this innocent 3 year old who could have been a doctor, a lecturer or a lawyer in future. Many of these stories I recall. I do, because they happened on a Sunday. Sundays during my formative years with my parents were sacred, special and spiritual. It started with a morning devotion and pressing of shirts for church service. My mom would cook before we left for church since we would be hungry by the time church closed. I was born into a Christian home and Sundays were really important.

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I then became a medical doctor and Sundays weren’t the same again. On a Sunday, I am to save lives. I am to abandon church and be in the hospital to take care of the sick. I recall a day that I wanted to leave the hospital for church but a relative of a patient who was admitted on the ward implored, “Doc, what you are doing over here is also God’s work. Please don’t leave the sick behind. It is God’s ministry.” I never thought medicine could ruin my Sundays. I do not even find time to eat that Sunday Omotuo special. I have sadly made an observation and that is, some people do not care about their children. I have most often met parents especially on Sundays who have mismanaged and underfed their babies to the extent that remedy, healing, treatment becomes a grave issue. “Why should I be in the hospital on a Sunday instead of being in church to save the child of someone who doesn’t even care about their child? – This question tends to be a virus in my upper respiratory tract. I catch it often. There is an Akan saying, “Where error gets to, correction cannot reach.” Many errors are committed by parents on their wards and many others do not even take good care of their parents/relatives when they fall sick. People just literally dump their relatives in the hospitals and leave. We live in a world where love and fear of God are hard to come by. We live in a world where people would choose money over the health of their children or relatives.

He who doesn’t clean his mouth before breakfast always complains that the food is sour. Oh yes, the food will be sour for us if we do not go to the basics of life. We need to love each other. We need to look out for each other. I don’t understand the idea behind bringing a child to this world and not giving that child the best of healthcare. Again, it beats my mind when people deliver off their babies and abscond. Was carrying that baby for nine months in your womb that easy? And yes, there are those who would not buy medications for their sick children or relatives but would have money for social events such as weddings and funerals. If you damage the character of another, you damage your own. If you do not take care of your children or friends, nobody will take care of you when it is your time to need their care.

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It is not the cook’s fault when the cassava turns out to be hard and tasteless. ~ Ewe Proverb

I will be there for you this Sunday when you bring your father, mother, child or friend. Your duty is to prevent the disease or come at the early stages of the disease. So, thank you, Medicine, for ruining yet another part of my life. This Ministry is however sweet!

 

Photo Credit: Google Images

NO MORE ABSENT!

Those who are absent are always wrong. ~ Congolese Proverb

It’s been how many years of absence? I can’t even count and that is a terrible sin. A grave one. I am sorry to all those who enjoyed my posts in the past. Life has its way of turning things around and it definitely has its way of beating us up. I just hope I will find the strength and zeal to keep posting like I was in the past. I figured that if I stayed absent for long, I would be wrong for a long time. I owe a lot of thanks to Ms. Edwina Opoku (Shareholder, Pinkberry) for encouraging me to write. In fact, she threw a challenge which I grudgingly accepted.

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No matter how beautiful and well-crafted a coffin might look, it will not make anyone wish for death and death isn’t what we wish for. Many prophets have churned out their messages for the year. Some of them are good, others are horrible. I am not in their league but I know this is the time for us to love without looking back. “Check on a brother or sister once in a while because you may save some from lunacy,” Snr Bob Hawkson keeps saying.

Life does not come with a remote control and it surely does not come with a manual. We all need help. We all need someone to hold our hands once in a while. Erection, a friend said, even needs direction. Truer words have not been said than that. As a doctor, I have seen a lot of deaths and some of these deaths could easily have been prevented or postponed if people had help. Some of us have made it in life. Some got major deals in 2018. Others bought cars and moved into their newly built homes. Others are married with children and have memories of awesome times. Others are standing on a school park praying to God to help them travel abroad. While others have completed their postgraduate studies, some are struggling to find a job or to maintain one. People’s investments have gone into flames. Others have monies to party around with. Little by little, the bird builds its nest. It is not going to be easy. It is not going to be done without struggles.
Nothing worth achieving comes easy but it is imperative that we are there for each other. You can save someone’s life with just a phone call to check on him or her. A friend of yours is contemplating suicide and just a word from you can turn that around. We shouldn’t be busy to the extent of ignoring the people we claim we cherish. Make that trip to see your mom and dad. Take that flight to see that boyfriend or girlfriend. Let us try to talk to each other and share the blessings we have. When you do good to someone, you do it for yourself. A boat cannot go forward if each rows his own way.

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Life is like a theater show. Reality is backstage… not what happens on stage. Let us be there for one another. Let us cherish each other. Let’s kill all forms of pride and arrogance. You never know when you will be down. You never know when you would need someone to guide you. This thing called life has its ups and downs. Be there for someone today and you may save a life.
Many respects to Akua Akyaa Nkrumah, you were a light that shone and brightened my path. You encouraged me and was there for me. You played a major part in who I am today. May your gentle soul rest in perfect peace!

Photo credit: Google Images

Four Word Story: Chale Wote Street Art Festival

                                

Walking through the streets of Jamestown was so different on April 14. It wasn’t a normal Saturday afternoon for me. It was one that gave me a lot of inspiration. It was the second edition of the Chale Wote Street Art Festival.

The festival celebrates the vibrant art traditions of urban life from visual media, experimental theater, and dance installations to extreme sports. It’s a very “young” festival since most people in the country aren’t aware of it.

For those of you who don’t know, chale simply means “friend” in Ghana and “wote” is a Ga word meaning “let’s go.” When you put both words together, you have “friend, let’s go” and that’s certainly what happened when I decided to go to the festival with some friends.

The Chale Wote street art festival taught me a few things….

#1 Chale, there are talented people in Ghana.

It was very easy to see talent all around. I was astonished at how some young guys could paint. Did I say guys? Maybe I am supposed to say boys.  The streets of Jamestown were painted. Some were done on wood and hung along the roadside. There were guys on skates doing dangerous tricks and they were incredible even though I feared for them most of the time. Don’t mind me…. I am just like that when it comes to people’s safety and health. There was a musical concert in the evening.  There were some technical hitches but that didn’t stop the event.

#2 It’s time for Ghanaians to embrace Ghanaian stuff

I am a huge fan of African fabrics, bracelets, shoes etc. I find it astonishing when people ask me sometimes why I wear them. You will never find me going “Britain” throughout the week. A few weeks ago, I was working at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and decided to pass by the Cultural Centre to get a new African-printed bag. There was an exhibition so the stuff was pretty affordable. Unsurprisingly, I met more foreigners than Africans or Ghanaians. I really don’t know why we don’t like our own stuff. I don’t know why we don’t write our own stories. I don’t know why we don’t promote our own culture. I don’t know why we don’t love ourselves enough to love our own things.

At the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, you could see foreigners more enthused about Ghanaian dresses, bracelets, anklets, necklaces than the citizens. They love stuff made in Ghana… while we cherish those made in China. I just implore my fellow Ghanaians to love Ghanaian stuff a bit. Chale, the country is for us oo…. We are the only ones who can make it better.

#3 There’s another fun thing in Ghana and this time…. It’s free.

Christmas, Easter, Independence Day… oh let me take out Independence Day. It’s really celebrated by the Ghanaians abroad. Those of us over here don’t care about it, right? If yes, I believe there is only one thing that gets Ghanaians excited…. Football or let me say “The Black Stars.” That’s the only time the nation goes agog especially after a victory. The Chale Wote festival is another opportunity for many Ghanaians who want to have fun but have limited options.

#4 Chale, we are gradually placing Ghana on the world map.

Ever heard of the group, Generik Vapeur from France? Yeah, they were there and that was the climax of the festival for me. They are usually called the “Blue Men” and they brought more fun to the festival. Having such a group at the festival meant a lot to Ghana and the organizers. Tourists visit the country each and every day. Soon, Ghana will be on the list of Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to visit. We can do it and we must. Check out more incredible photos by Nana Kofi Acquah on his blog.

Big ups again to Accra [dot] Alt and the French Embassy for making it happen this year too.

I hope to see you next year at the festival. Can Ghana be the top country to visit? Let’s hear from you.

5 Life Lessons from the AFCON/CAN 2012

I can’t apologize enough for not blogging for so long. I just needed to get myself a new laptop since the old one was giving me some unbearable problems.  I could have blogged from my phone but I prefer blogging using my laptop. Nonetheless, I am happy to be back and I have so many things to share starting with the African Cup of Nations (AFCON/CAN 2012.)

Lesson 1: You can always prove people wrong

Have people written you off? Are they saying you can’t make it in life? Do you feel let down and can’t continue because all you hear are negative statements about your inability to be great? Do you remember the favorites for this year’s African Cup of Nations tournament? People expected Cote D’Ivoire or Ghana to lift the trophy. Nobody, I mean nobody, ever imagined Zambia lifting the trophy in Gabon but they proved everyone wrong. They didn’t get discouraged for not being regarded as one of the favorites. They stood their ground, fought and conquered. You can do the same. You might have been ruled out. You might have been discouraged but never lose faith in yourself. Never make your enemies happy…. Persevere.

 

Lesson 2: Never underestimate an opponent

We live in a world where people are overconfident and take things for granted. They find themselves wanting when the very foundations they boast of get shaken by the storms of life. Zambia defeated both favorites of the tournament on their way to lifting the trophy. They did so well…. They fought well but in their match against Ghana, it was so obvious that the Ghanaians underestimated them. The Ghanaians thought it was going to be a walkover and were really shocked at the end of the day. Never underestimate any opponent in your life no matter how strong you feel.

Lesson 3: Missed that spot kick? Rise and move on!

Missing a spot kick is like missing an opportunity in your life. For those who don’t know, a spot kick is a free kick at the goal from a point (penalty spot) within the penalty area and 12 yards (about 11 m) from the goal, with only the goalkeeper allowed to defend it: awarded to the attacking team after a foul within the penalty area by a member of the defending team. We sometimes miss opportunities in our lives but that shouldn’t put us down. That should rather lift us and make us aware that there will be other opportunities in the future. Renowned forwards like Asamoah Gyan and Didier Drogba missed penalty kicks in the tournament. Even in the final, the latter missed a penalty kick but that didn’t stop him from fighting for his country. He battled till the final whistle. We are bound to miss some opportunities in life but we must learn to keep a cool head, learn the lesson and move on. Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you’re trying and learning in life.

 

Lesson 4: Unity is Key!

Some of the powerhouses of African football were absent at the tournament. Countries like Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon could not make it to Equatorial Guinea/Gabon. It was however expected that, either Ghana or Ivory Coast stood a greater chance of annexing the trophy but that didn’t happen. Before the tournament, people were so concerned with the confidence in the Ghana camp. I saw that to be overconfidence. Others protested it wasn’t. At the end of the tournament, we all heard what the ex-coach of Ghana said. “When spider webs unite, we can tie up the lion.” – Asante Proverb.

There was little or no unity in the Black Stars camp as that missed penalty kick by Gyan evidenced. Ayew was the one going to take the shot by Gyan went and took the ball from him. We heard of misunderstandings in the changing room etc. Together, we are better!

 

Lesson 5: After every good fight, there is a reward.

All the battles in your life will end with a trophy in your hands. When Christopher Katongo lifted the trophy for Zambia, it was a joy to behold. The 30 year old who was crowned Best Player at the AFCON2012 was a symbol of patriotism, perseverance and wisdom. There were matches that he couldn’t even play the whole 90 minutes but he did so well anytime he was on the field. He led his country with pride. He made the players know the essence of the tournament. In the final, the Zambians really struggled against the Ivorians but fought really hard. You may be going through a difficult time in your life.  Just fight on because at the end of the battle, there is always a greater reward. You will surely make it!

Stop waiting for something to happen, go out and make it happen.

 

Start the year with Alikoto Clothing!

Christmas is over… everything is back to normal. I don’t get suffocated in traffics like the days preceding the holidays. Yeah… I hate traffic… both vehicular and human. I doubt if there is anyone out there who cherishes them but you never know because we are all different.

Before the holidays, people went shopping for clothes, shoes, bags and any other thing you can possibly think of. I got myself some African shirts. Oh yeah, I love African shirts, shoes, bags, sandals and anything made in Africa by an African since they are unique, simple and define me better. I have been a fan of African dresses ever since I was born. Why? Because my parents made me wear them all the time and I am more proud of them for that. I have come to love African dresses and I know the best from the rest when I see them.

“The finest clothing made is a person’s skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this,” said Mark Twain. I always tell people that a person’s self-esteem is sometimes directly proportional to the clothes he wears. As I was shopping before the holidays, I saw samples of the dresses of Alikoto Clothing online. They are on facebook, twitter and tumblr. Seeing an item online is different from seeing it in person so I called and booked an appointment. Nothing comes close to the service and hospitality they deliver when you call them.

I saw the clothes… different designs, different colors, different shades and different sizes. Gentlemen, you are going to be surprised by how unique these shirts are. The quality and naturalness are unrivaled.

Let me state five reasons why I love them:

  • They are 100% natural be them cotton, nylon, silk or polyester.
  • They are comfortable.
  • They are reasonably priced.
  • They look very hip.
  • They can be washed with the hand or machine.

I must say that Alikoto clothing connotes uniqueness, quality and timeless beauty. I am covered for the first quarter of the New Year. I will surely go back for more as they keep on making new and cool dresses for men and women. Did I tell you that, I got compliments from a lot of ladies when I wore one to church on Christmas Day? I was the envy of most of the guys.

Alikoto Clothing can be found on facebook, twitter and tumblr. Talk about a clothing line that’s also tech-savvy and loves social media. You can also call them on (233) 269-138-021. As I celebrate the New Year, I am going to do that in style…… thanks to Alikoto Clothing. Don’t be left out, guys!

“Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.”  – Epictetus

5 things I learned from BarCamp Ghana

The Christmas holidays are over. This time of the year is one I sometimes loathe because of the human and vehicular traffic. I know I am not the only one. Welcome to the life if you share my sentiments. Anyways, before the holidays, I got the opportunity to learn so many things in a day when young men and women from all walks of life met at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT on December 17.

The event was to highlight the importance of appropriate partnerships and corporate engagements in ensuring the success of projects, spurring wealth creation and economic growth. It featured mentors who shed light on how attendees could use successful partnerships and mentor support to scale up projects and businesses.  I get people asking what BarCamp is, anytime I’m seen in a Barcamp T-shirt (Too bad I didn’t get one on Dec 17.)

BarCamp is simply an ‘unconference’ – an ad-hoc gathering of people with the simple desire to share and learn in an open environment. Unlike a conference, at a BarCamp everyone is both a speaker and a participant. The content is provided by all attendees based on their interests.  Barcamps in Ghana bring people interested in Ghana together for an informal networking forum where attendees share ideas, discuss interests, network and learn how to add value to their lives and make impact in their communities. Since you now know what it means, here are the five things I learned from the event.

Iron sharpeneth Iron

The Bible says in the book of Proverbs that, “iron sharpeneth iron.” There is no better way to understand this than to attend a BarCamp event. If you thought you knew something, you go for the event, listen to other people and realize that you need to know more. Most often than not, you get some extra points and add to yours. In the “Art of Leadership” session, I met some vibrant leaders who shared a lot about leadership. I got the chance to be sharpened since leadership is a “skill.” Writers who went through the “Creative Writing” session would also testify to the fact that they got sharpened after the event. It’s better to be sharpened once in a while like a knife so you would cut through pieces of bread, materials etc so easily. Don’t wait to corrode before you act.

Mentorship is the way to go

One question was raised which caused a lot of debate. The question was “why are there few women in ICT?” I remember sharing ideas on this with a host of my friends including Kwabena, Ato, Prince, MacJordan and Amma Baffoe. I kept wondering even after leaving the premises. One answer I found was that, there are few mentors for the women in ICT. I know some of our women are in the field and very soon, Ghana is going to have a lot of prominent women who would serve as mentors. Enough of that and back to the mentorship part…. There was speed mentorship earlier in the morning. Nothing beats sitting beneath an elderly person and getting all the knowledge you can. We learn more from our elders than we do in a classroom. They have been in that position before and certainly know better so it’s so easy to tap into their knowledge and make good use of them. Creative Writing, Acting, Fashion, Banking to mention but a few were some of the knowledge imparted. One could easily get a business card from a mentor and bingo… you get the chance to forge a relationship for the future. Ghana has mentors and the young ones must realize this and make good use of them before all the knowledge is sent to the grave.

Ghana is equally greener

We keep on talking about brain drain. I know very well that it isn’t going to stop today but here is the catch: even if it’s greener at the other side, you would still have to mow the grass and also take care of the weeds. The same applies to the grass in Ghana. There are so many opportunities in Ghana. They are just wearing work clothes and seem so gargantuan. We refuse to see these opportunities. The likes of NandiMobile makes you believe that, Ghana is indeed a land of opportunities if you can see beyond the horizon. Success stories from various people who started from nowhere tend to uplift the spirits of others and that is exactly what BarCamp Ghana served. The motivation, the vim, the spirit was there and I tapped into that. Let’s mow our own grasses. Let’s make Ghana a better place to live. We can do it!

We already have the future think-tanks, Gates, Zuckerberg and Jobs of Africa

I wrote an article on the 5 lessons we could learn from the legacy of Steve Jobs (May he rest in peace) some few months ago. I must say that, there are some Ghanaians who could rise in this world and be the Jobs and Zuckerbergs of this world. The kind of ideas that are in people’s minds beats my imagination. At Barcamps, you realize how great some people think and that is contagious. Even if you have nothing on your mind, an idea suddenly pops up when someone is sharing a story. Yeah…. People started with nothing and are making something. I know very well that those people won’t rest but will aim for the stars.

I got to meet a host of these men and women. When I was young, I had a friend who would say, “Take me as a friend now because if you don’t, one day, you will join a queue just to see me.” Since our words are very powerful, he is the pastor of an Assemblies of God church in Accra and of course, you have to book an appointment if you want to see him except some of us who took him as a “friend” and can now call him to meet us anywhere when we need him. Networking is very important. It opens doors and BarCamp offers such an opportunity.

 

Our children/grandchildren will have the coolest of mothers.

“The surest way to keep people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family” said Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey. At Barcamps, you see women exchanging ideas. The days where the woman’s place was the kitchen in Ghana are over. The days where women were so scared to stand for their rights are over. We are in the days where women are conscious of their environment, tech-savvy and are determined to make waves in the society. I am told BarCamp Tamale had a lot of women attendees than all the other Barcamps this year. It is a step in the right direction. I only hope there would be as many women as men next year and the years after. BarCamp isn’t for men. It isn’t a tech event. It’s an event where people choose their own topics so we can share ideas on them. I therefore entreat women out there to discard that notion of a tech event and embrace BarCamp. Even if it’s a tech event, the women are supposed to be there since we live in a tech world and one cannot afford to miss out. Nonetheless it isn’t a tech event as it encompasses a host of topics that arise from the attendees.

 

We can all make Ghana a better place. This nation belongs to the youth. Africa belongs to Africans. I learned a lot from BarCamp but have shared five of them. Let’s hear what you also learned. God bless you and see you at the next BarCamp event.

Are you suffering from normosis? Get that vaccine of uniqueness!

      

Did you know that scientists still haven’t been able to figure out the number of possible combinations of DNA molecules? The best they have been able to do is provide an estimate: 2.4 billion to the power of 10!

That’s an incredible number when you consider that the possible combinations of all particles in the universe amount to only 76 to the power of 10!

As you can see, that is vastly less than the possible combinations DNA, which form your identity.

So scientifically speaking, you are unique! There’s no chance of ever finding another person exactly like you on the planet. And you can also be sure that there never has been – and never will be – two identical human beings in the entire universe.

So why waste time and energy trying to fit into a mould? To be like someone else? You are unique, and thus radically different, no matter what you think and no matter what you do.

A friend of mine says that most people are sick. They’ve got a “normosis” – a type of neurosis. They
try to be “normal”. Are you trying to be normal?

The best carpenters always work in the same direction as the grain of the wood, never against it. You should do the same. When you have to do something that doesn’t fit with your personality, that goes against your ‘grain’ (against your inner beliefs), you always feel it and should simply say “no.”

Stay unique and always refuse to do anything that may destroy your beautiful sense of unity.