Growing up there was a peculiar football game the young boys in my area (Mamprobi) played called “Mo kye ndi”- (share and spend).
It was the neighbourhood’s version of the Premier league.
The game usually took place at “Indadfa Park” during vacation or Saturdays.
In the “Mo kye ndi” game a “manager” had his team and trained and prepared them for their matches. I had the privilege of watching most of the games because my cousin (Nana Anan) was in the best team of the time.
The game was named “Mun kye ndi” because of what happened immediately after the game. The “winning bonus” which was donated by well-wishers, and friends in the Mamprobi and Sempe neighborhood was shared immediately without any delays.
The reasons I’m narrating all this is because the way government is dealing with the cholera outbreak reminds me of my childhood days in Mamprobi.
I have had the opportunity to visit some of the suburbs in Accra that the Ghana Health Service predicted could be badly hit by the cholera epidemic especially with the onset of the rains.
The Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate has partly attributed the current epidemic to the effects of the shut-down of the Accra Compost Plant.
The situation left heaps of rubbish in front of people’s homes, major markets, and some scattered on the shoulders of roads in the cities.
After the warning, one would have naturally expected the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) as well as other stakeholders to act with speed. Citizens were also expected to practice good hygiene to avoid the disease, but the opposite happened in most cases.
Residents kept littering, dumping their rubbish in the gutters anytime there was a downpour.
That is why over 80 people have unfortunately died after being infected while close to 9,000 have been affected.
Their excuse is “Zoomlion hasn’t picked up our rubbish in months.”
Others who live along the beaches continued to ease themselves into the sea.
By this time AMA and the Local Government Ministry was still playing “lorpitalor” (drop-pick-I-drop game) with the managers of the Accra Compost Plant in Kpone and those the Zoomlion sorting and composting plant, located in the Adjin Kotoku community all in the Greater Accra Region.
Then the first set of cases of the disease as recorded in Accra and there was another and another. After the recorded cases from La General Hospital, Ridge Hospital’s OPD (Adabraka Polyclinic), Korle-bu Polyclinic and many more, journalists visited most of these areas. In my visit to Teshie Maamli in Accra, activities of the residents there left me wondering “why won’t they contract cholera”.
Refuse is dumped so close to the place where they smoked fish. Their drying lines were full of flies. Some of the residents walk past the public toilet to the beach just to ease themselves.
And they did not see anything wrong with their actions.
They blamed government for the insanitary conditions they lived with.
One man told me he won’t stop defecating at the beach because he is not ready to pay thirty pesewas to use the public toilet. This same gentleman blames the government for looking on while cholera kills them.
During this time government is also doing its own thing to control the outbreak. Vice president, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur issued a 10-day ultimatum to city authorities to clear all the filth which had engulfed the city but as my four year old nephew would say (w) naaa noko) meaning “we saw nothing”.
AMA also declared a three day ultimatum to clear the filth but still w) naaa noko. By this time this because of the “Mu kye ndi” attitude cholera was spreading to other parts of the country with the number of cases recorded increasing.
The hospitals were overwhelmed, they started appealing for help and also threatening to send cholera patients away.
The government through its departments and agencies had indirectly distributed cholera to the citizenry and we as a people through our attitude were seriously eating what had been distributed.
To add insult to injury the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) directed its members to boycott the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA’s) massive cleanup exercise on Thursday. This was to clear the mountains of rubbish in the major markets in the metropolis in fulfillment of the directive given by the Vice President.
It was also aimed at curbing the spread of cholera.
GUTA however directed its members to boycott the clean-up exercise because the Assembly failed to consult it before announcing the exercise.
The President of GUTA, Mr. George Ofori also indicated that though the AMA has been collecting tolls from traders, it has failed to use the funds for its intended purpose.
Another “Mo kye ndi” match fixture here. GUTA says I give you money to clean and so you should do the cleaning alone even if it is the cause of some deaths and people spending their labor time in the hospital hence reducing productive man hours.
At this point I have nothing else to say than to congratulate both teams on the draw score of the “Mu kye ndi” game. Here there is no looser neither is there a winner. I can only agree with former president Rawlings that “Cholera is an embarrassing reflection of our poor sanitation practices”.
Our “Mo kye ndi” attitude to handling filth and issues of cholera is going to continue till we all decide to change.
By: Magdalene Larnyoh