We are sinking
I want to propose a vote of commendation this week to certain corporate bodies whose conduct in the Asutsuare mass tilapia fish ‘poisoning’ affair has restored trust (at least mine) in the ability of some public service institutions to rise to the occasion.
I commend the speed with which the Fisheries Commission (FC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and the Water Research Institute (WRI) responded to the alarm.
Their swift but thorough laboratory investigations led to the calming of public fears. If for nothing at all, it feels good to know that Ghanaians can entrust our fate into the hands of some public institutions.
Kudos also to the management of China Fujian Fishing Ghana Limited, the company that owns the fish farm, for responsible corporate behaviour.
Without waiting to be threatened or prompted, they rushed samples of the fish and water to the GSA and the WRI for analysis. There is hope for the future.
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What provoked this article, however, is the behaviour of those women in the town who rushed to the site where the dead fish had been dumped awaiting disposal and they carried off loads of them in headpans and baskets and in all manner of receptacles — to process the fish for sale!
Whatever happened to the humanity of the Ghanaian? Even if the fish did not look bad, they smelled bad.
But, don’t blame them. The only language Ghanaians understand is “money”, not values; miracles for instant prosperity, not God.
What happened at KNUST this week is only another sign on the wall. If a people who have never seen war will behave the way the KNUST students did, you don’t need a prophet to predict our behaviour in a war situation.
Time was when it could be said that the Ghanaian cringed at the sight of blood. That has changed. Today, we do not only smile at the sight of blood; we are actually producing the blood.
With each passing year or day, events are bringing it home to all of us that Ghanaians are no different from any other race or nationality.
If we have not gone through civil war, it is not because of a certain trait in our character that makes us inherently good. We talk about the Nigerian, Liberian or Sierra Leone civil wars and they seem so remote.
If (not when — tofiakwa!) we find ourselves butchering our fellow Ghanaians, letting some off with amputated limbs, that is when the reality of our evil nature will stare at us in the eyeball.
Read the words of a British Minister when he arrived 60 seconds later in the House of Lords to answer questions related to his ministry.
For what he saw as his failure to “rise to the highest possible standards of courtesy and respect in responding on behalf of the government to the legitimate questions of the legislature,” he resigned.
In South Korea some years ago, a Minister of the Interior resigned because police manhandled demonstrating students of a university.
Herein lies the humanity of man.
It is individual.
It can also manifest in the way we conduct ourselves when we are confronted, live by a mob of people over whom we have ‘power’ or responsibility.
On a Whatsapp platform this week, someone posted his recollection of an incident at KNUST in the 1990s when a handful of irate students marched to the residence of the registrar. He was not at home so they seized his wife and locked her up in a conference room.
The then vice-chancellor, on hearing this, rushed to the registrar’s residence with a handful of policemen.
In defiance, the aluta intensified with louder jama songs and wilder ‘asabone’ dances. The beauty of the narration is that the VC, Professor Bamfo Kwakye, joined in the asabone and the aluta songs. After about 10 minutes, he raised his hands and spoke like a father.
The confrontation was over.
On Kwame Sefa Kayi’s Kokrokoo programme on Wednesday, a listener, commenting on this week’s unfortunate incident at KNUST, sent in an SMS recalling how the placating demeanour and language of Mr J.V.L. Philips, Chief Labour Officer in the First