‘Auntie Joe’ @75!

On Wednesday, 13th March 2024, I attended the 75th birthday of a senior Ghanaian citizen.  A past President of the Chartered Institute of Marketing as well as a past President of Holy Child Past Students Association (HOPSA), Mrs Josephine Okutu (“Auntie Joe”) started her day with a Thanksgiving Service at the OLAM Catholic Church, Tema, and followed it up with a reception at home.
As I admired the good-looking lady at 75 dance with the energy of a teenager, my mind went to the 2020 Demographic Statistics which showed the average life expectancy in Ghana to be 63, with females averaging 64 and males 62 years.
What hit me was that, while the percentage of Ghanaians over 60 was 7.2 per cent, the percentage over 70 was 2.7 per cent. 
So, technically our celebrant is an endangered species, as is the case for all over 70 who attended the celebration, and indeed any Ghanaian over 70. So, who/where are they and why are they not known and celebrated?
In my September 2022 article titled, “Give me my flowers while I can still smell them,” I quoted American rapper Kanye West saying, “if you admire somebody, go ahead and tell them!” I added, “do not wait till they die before showering praises on them!”
It was, however, the MCs handling of affairs I found interesting.

MC’s Tea

The MC was a humorous gentleman from a part of Ghana I leave you to guess. It was his introduction of the line-up for breakfast which had tea - “tea-tea”, “coffee-tea,” “milo-tea,” “ovaltine-tea” etc which took me down memory lane.
In my 2020 article titled “Robb and Zorro are all Mentholatum,” I stated as follows: When we were growing up in the 1960s, TEA was the generic name for all beverages prepared with hot water. Probably, this has not changed much.
 So people talk of “coffee tea,” “milo tea” etc. Indeed, in a current advert on ‘This way Chocolate Drink,’ a landlord doubled rents after accusing his tenants of refusing to give him some chocolate for his hot water “to make tea.”


Similarly, Pepsodent has been the primus inter pares of toothpastes although Signal, Colgate and others were/are available.
 So one heard of “Signal pepsodent” and “colgate pepsodent” etc.


Like tea and pepsodent, in the world of soothing balms for aches, Mentholatum was the name for all the others like Robb and Zorro.
One I will never forget is Thermogen simply pronounced “tomogin!” I wonder if the manufacturer added pepper to it. 
When a little was first applied on me for a childhood prank, it felt like fire! 
So, in the 1970s when a colleague asked if I had Robb, I told him I did not have Robb but I had Zorro. He immediately asked me to bring it, as “Robb and Zorro are all Mentholatum,” not realising the hilarious effect of his use of the balm names.
“The value is the same” A popular Ghanaian terminology is “the value is the same.” In comparing similar things, it refers to form, being often more important than content.
 So whether it is “milo tea” or “coffee tea” or indeed “tea tea,” the value is the same in that, it is a hot beverage.

Auntie Joe

On graduating from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 1973, “Auntie Joe” worked as a Quality Control Officer at Tata Brewery of the industrialist the late Mr Siaw.
Probably this was the beginning of her love for  “Green-bottles” as she affectionately calls her favourite Club beer! For the greater part of her working life, she worked with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
A devout Catholic, she has held many executive positions in the Catholic Church.
Admiring the agility and dexterity with which Auntie Joe danced, I asked myself, how many Ghanaians will live to be 75 and be that healthy in view of our current dismal health situation.


Incidentally, as we celebrated Auntie Joe @75 during the week, ECG announced the disconnection of power to some 91 hospitals/health facilities across the country including Korle Bu, 37 Military Hospital, Ridge Hospital and some regional hospitals.
Even without disconnection of power, many hospitals are not operating optimally from inadequate equipment and staff decreasing by the day as nurses and doctors are forced to leave the country because of their helplessness in seeing patients die needlessly.
Listening to medical experts talk on TV about major ailments accentuated by “galamsey” is disheartening considering the obvious lack of interest in the general good for private gain by those entrusted to solve the problem. For them, health can always be accessed overseas with the tax-payers’ money!
In my article “From Ghana? Why did Dr Serebuor send you here?” I stated his answer when my colleague told him about the question overseas.
His reply that, “we have the skills to perform such surgeries in Ghana, but we do not have the equipment” was poignant. 
Has Shakespeare’s milk of human kindness dried up so much in leadership that the lives of those who voted them into power do not matter?
Why can’t the huge monies used sending a few overseas be used in equipping hospitals home for us all as Ghanaians?
As for ECG disconnecting 91 hospitals’ power, is it not tantamount to a death sentence?
As we wish Auntie Joe a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY @75,” we hope that, with a future selfless, committed, dedicated and compassionate leadership, many more Ghanaian will cross the biblical three-score-and–ten (70) and improve on the current only 2.7 per cent that does so!
Leadership, lead by example! Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!
Brig. Gen. Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association
Nairobi, Kenya
Council Chairman
Family Health University College, 

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