15th March 2023 - Beware the Ides of March!'
On 15th March 2023, surgeons at the Wa-West District Hospital told Ghanaians on radio/TV that, the two lamps in the hospital’s operating theatre which they described as their “third eye” during surgery, had not worked for two years.
They were therefore forced to use their mobile phone torchlights during surgeries. Having recently visited Wa, I felt a raw-nerve of mine touched as I empathized with the surgeons’ plight!
The significant date “15th March,” took me back to my article of March 2021 titled “Beware the Ides of March,” in which I stated as follows:
“As I autographed a copy of my book Retirement Musings for the young Major, I asked for a confirmation of the date.
“Today is 15 March 2021 Sir,” he said. “Wow! Beware the ides of March!” I exclaimed instinctively, leaving the Major in wonderment about what I meant!
Julius Caesar is a Shakespearean tragedy we loved quoting from, in school. It was based on the life of the Roman General/Statesman Julius Caesar. Some of the quotes were;
1. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones….” by Mark Anthony in his eulogy of Caesar.
2. “Et tu Brute?” (And you too Brutus?) by Caesar after his closest friend Brutus stabbed him.
3. “Beware the ides of March” by a soothsayer/Caesar’s wife.
4. “Rubicon crossed.” “The die is cast” (alea iacta est) by Caesar daring the Roman Senate.
Ides of March
Monday, 15 March 2021 was “the Ides of March” in the Roman calendar. It was the day in 44-BC when Julius Caesar was stabbed twenty-three times to death by a group of senators led by his bosom-friend Brutus. Roman history states that, he was earlier warned by a soothsayer not to go out on the Ides of March, 15 Mar 44-BC, a warning reinforced by his wife.
“Beware the Ides of March” subsequently became synonymous with being warned, but displaying pig-headed obstinacy going against advice, and paying with one’s life as happened to Caesar.
Starting his military career as a teenager, Caesar rose to become a General. Considered a threat by Pompey, the “Head of State,”/equivalent of the Roman Republic, Caesar was sent out of the Republic to Gaul in Northern Italy to fight.
Rome and Gaul were separated by a shallow River Rubicon. After Caesar successfully completed his Gallic campaigns, Pompey ordered him to demobilise his army before returning to Rome. Caesar refused and subsequently crossed the Rubicon, declaring “alea iacta est” (the die is cast), his final act of throwing down the gauntlet at Pompey!
During the week, TV news showed pictures of the island separating the two sides of the Accra-Tema Motorway, being illegally and dangerously crisscrossed. This reminded me of my stay in Uganda over twelve years ago where I served as the Senior Military Adviser to the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, President Chissano of Mozambique.
Reacting to daily screaming newspaper headlines of murders, I asked a Ugandan colleague why the murders. His answer was simply,
“When laws fail to be applied because of political influences, indiscipline and impunity take over.”
He also lamented the concentration of power in one hand. That sounded familiar!
On Thursday, 18 March 2021, Ghana’s foremost playwright Ebo Whyte in his radio-presentation submitted that, despite the semblance of development, Ghana is in fact sliding backwards. “Indiscipline shows at all levels of Ghanaian society!”
He added that, we have lost our sense of shame and moral compass. For example, young girls bragging about their affairs with big men evoke no shame. Young men insult adults old enough to be their fathers/grandfathers in the name of politics.
Road traffic indiscipline resulting in carnage on our roads appears to have gained acceptability as normal.
Disgraceful open defecation is part of us!
No country has succeeded by brandishing indiscipline/impunity the way we are! Singapore/Rwanda did not!
On Friday 19 March 2021, the World Bank lamented Ghana’s “premature de-industrialisation!” For an import-substituting country which under President Nkrumah before the 1966 coup produced car tyres, jute-bags, glass, matches/machetes, canned fruits/vegetables and had Ghana Airways and Black Star Shipping Line, our current manufacturing input of only 4% contribution to GDP is sad!”
I concluded the article in March 2021 with the words;
“Ghana! Beware the Ides of March! We are on a slippery slope. Unlike Julius Caesar, listen to good advice from Ghanaians, irrespective of political persuasion. For, Ghana belongs to all Ghanaians.”
Why has Wa-West District Hospital, for two years, performed surgeries with surgeons’ mobile phones torchlights, because the two lamps costing 35,000 cedis/($US2,800) each, thus a total of 70,000 cedis/($US5,600) do not work? And yet, one Toyota-Land-Cruiser-V8 government officials use costs over $US100,000.
As a frustrated broadcaster asked, “what country is this?” Where is leadership? What are our priorities? Where is discipline?
Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!
The writer is a Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya and Council Chairman
Family Health University College, Accra