‘Eyes will see Canaan, but feet will not touch!’
When I left home that morning, little did I think an unlikely twin-combination of a demonstration and a rainstorm would alter and complicate the complexion and quality on my day!
On Friday, September 22, 2023, I had a peek into and a feel of how Moses felt when God told him on Mount Nebo that, his eyes would behold/see Canaan, but his feet will not touch/step on Canaan soil.
Like Moses, I saw “Canaan” but unlike Moses, my feet touched “Canaan!” Which Canaan is this?
Silver Star cross-roads. Giving myself an estimated drive-time of 30 minutes from Burma Camp to Golden Tulip (Lancaster) Hotel for my next appointment at 12.30pm, I left at 11.45 a.m.
On that Friday, my ‘Mount Nebo’ was the traffic light at the cross-road at Silver Star/Opeibea House.
My promised land of ‘Canaan’ was Golden-Tulip.
Ordinarily, this is less than a two-minute drive! However, with my eyes beholding my destination, it took me over 40 minutes to drive a distance I could have walked in five minutes.
I consoled myself that while Moses did not step on his promised land Canaan, I stepped on mine.
As I learnt later, the cause of the traffic-jam was the prevention by the Ghana Police of members of the Ghana Democracy Hub who planned marching from the 37-Roundabout to the Flagstaff/ Jubilee House in what they called “Occupy-Julorbi House.”
Interestingly, they called the Jubilee-House “Julorbi-House!” In Ga, “julor” is a thief, while “bi” is a child. So, “julorbi” could mean “son/daughter of a thief.”
Perhaps, worse than the demonstration and contributing to the traffic gridlock was a heavy rain which started around 3p.m. leading to floods all over Accra and other parts of Ghana.
A Whatsapp post from an engineer friend summarised the problem of floods in Accra as follows:
“It’s both a human and engineering problem.
Too much concrete so the water cannot seep into the ground!
Inadequate drainage system and people dump their trash into gutters, so the gutters are clogged up!”
It also reminded me of my September 7, 2020 article in the Daily Graphic/Peace FM titled “Amedzofe – Ambulance down in the Valley?”
Part stated: “Recently, the mountain town of Amedzofe was in the news following the commissioning of a water project for the town and its environs.
This reminded me of my trips to Amedzofe for mountaineering with my cadets starting from 1985 and an article I wrote which read:
In his famous August 28, 1963 speech “I have a Dream,” assassinated American civil-rights-activist Dr Martin-Luther King mentioned the Stone-Mountain of Georgia. On a visit to Atlanta, Georgia therefore, I decided to visit the Village of Stone-Mountain.
As I looked down the beautiful surroundings from the summit 1,686 feet above sea level, my mind raced to Mount Gemi at Amedzofe.
I first climbed the 2,242ft Gemi in the mid-1980s.
The first time we drove to Amedzofe in the Ho-West District of the Volta Region, my mind went back to the 1895 poem “Ambulance down in the Valley,” by the English poet Joseph Malins.
Amedzofe is famous for its Teacher-Training-College (now College of Education) established by the Bremen Mission of Germany in 1846.
The name Gemi for the highest point of Amedzofe mountain is an acronym for German Evangelistic Missionary Institute (GEMI).
Amedzofe’s cool, temperate weather influenced the German Missionaries to settle there as they moved northwards from the coast in the then German Togoland.
In Malins’ poem, he talks of a village on top of a mountain like Amedzofe.
As they climbed up, some villagers slipped and ended up in the valley below either dead or with injuries.
When finally, a prince slipped and died, the villagers met to find a permanent solution to the problem.
Opinion was divided.
A minority thought the best solution was to build a fence which would stop villagers from plunging down into the valley if they slipped.
The majority, however, thought a better option was to position an ambulance in the valley which would convey casualties to hospital.
After weeks of haggling, an old man called the village to order.
He admonished them stating that though the majority is often deemed right, in some cases like the one at hand, the majority was wrong.
He advised that that preventing accidents from occurring by building a fence was better than the negative solution of positioning an ambulance in the valley for casualties.
After his convincing argument, a fence was built, thus ending villagers falling into the valley.”
Ghana needs a national plan giving direction within which political parties must operate.
The current situation of party manifestos informing Ghana’s direction temporarily is untenable for national development.
The number of abandoned projects and changes in our secondary school system with change in governments attests to this.
In a democracy, administering fellow human beings by a government entrusted with state resources temporarily is not rocket science if it is done selflessly and with integrity.
Leaders are to solve problems and not explain why they cannot do things they promised to do.
As President Kennedy said, “if a society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich!”
Simple, humane commonsense shows that, “building a fence” for protection/prevention ensures a better society than putting an “Ambulance in the Valley!”
Need I say more about finding a permanent solution to our perennial flooding, especially in light of global warming and climate change?
Leadership lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!
The writer is former CEO of African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya/Council Chair Family Health University College, Accra.