Recent headlines on the Ghanaian media landscape have been dominated by what many call ?war of words? between the globally respected Franklin Cudjoe of IMANI and an ?honorable? minister of the John Mahama administration, Fiifi Fiavi Kwetey.
?Fiifi Fiavi Kwetey, Minister for Food and Agriculture questioned the academic credentials of Franklin Cudjoe, describing him as a man who tries to hide his ?limitations? in academic laurels.
?According to the minister, it took the head of the policy think tank IMANI, several attempts to pass ?his A-level economics??, Staar FM reports.
It?s shamefully regrettable that a minister would have lost control of his brain to conceive such words and subsequently voiced them ? but I am not surprised ? he is a politician.
The IMANI Center for policy and Education of which Franklin Cudjoe is director has come under a lot of attacks for being a ?street policy think tank? that does nothing but to unconstructively attack political office holders in a partisan way. Many self-acclaimed ?experts say the think tank lacks ?academic focus?. But I say this argument is entirely flawed.
Let me explain.
A politician pursues his interest at the expense of the people he leads. No! The people he serves! So in simple terms, a politician thinks he is more special, more intelligent, smarter, wiser? than the poor citizen. They are power-hungry people who think of their well-being and that of the people around them or those who support their agenda. That?s why we always say they must account for every action they undertake whilst holding political office. Dirty power-hungry politicians love power indeed ? they argue that the only way to make impact in the life of the citizenry is to hold political office. These categories of politicians are socialists; and their dream is the citizens? nightmare.
A think tanker is an entrepreneurial maybe intellectual activist whose outmost objectives are to challenge the actions taken by political and public office holders and offer ?better? alternatives to national or global problems. A thinker represents the voice of the voiceless. They help to denounce the evil deeds perpetrated in the society by political office holders.
The one who leads,runs or is an active member of a think tank is most likely to be attributed the label a ?think tanker.?
Franklin Cudjoe is a think tanker and he leads the fourth most influential think tank in Africa according studies by the prestigious University of Pennsylvania study. Cudjoe is also referenced to as a ?leading light? in the renaissance of African think tanks for his immense contributions to the development of African think tanks.
Despite the global recognition IMANI has attracted over the past decade, some ill-intent people in Ghana see IMANI as a ?street policy think tank? with some going to the extent of branding it asthe mouthpiece of the largest opposition party in Ghana.
Among the reasons IMANI is tagged as a ?Street think tank? is the sad claim that it does not produce ?scholarly? or ?academic? papers ? that?s ignorant.
As Michael Kelly-Gagnon put it, it?s entirely wrong to believe that the main challenge in terms of influencing intellectual debates and public policies is to publish weighty papers that are well-researched and contain well-argued ideas. Such people [intellectuals] who think this way clearly mistake the basic raison d??tre of a think tank. These ?savants? who are obviously blinded with ?excessive academic knowledge? hardly care about how far those academic publications go. Michael Kelly-Gagnon argues that when academics are put in charge of think tanks, it is most likely that the organization will fail ? I agree
IMANI employs a different formula; the academics will disagree with it ? But that?s why it [IMANI] has succeeded.
In the attacks against Franklin Cudjoe, Fiifi Kwetey seems to suggest that one?s intelligence is measured based on one?s academic qualifications or grades ? it?s sad, actually shameful.
I rest my case.
Popularly called ?alasa? by the Ga people of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, African star apple is the fruit borne by the tree Chrysophyllumalbidum in the Sapotaceae family. ?Adasima? is reportedly the name given to this fruit by the Fantes or the Akans in general.
Somehow ovoid to nearly spherical with slightly pointed tips, the orange or yellow-brown fruits are gathered and sold in most markets in southern Ghana. And during this time (October to January each year), you may likely see them displayed in trays by our roadsides and in our markets.
Albeit tasting somewhat sour, ?alasa? is relished by most children. Because of the extreme acidity, the epicarp (of the fruit) is rarely eaten. The fruit, a true berry, contains five flat or bean-shaped seeds enclosed in shiny, brown testae (/testii/ = seedcoats). The seed has a long hilum (/hailum/ = scar) running from one end to the other. Both the brown seedcoat and the prominent scar uniquely identify seeds of all plants belonging to the family Sapotaceae. Other members of this family here in Ghana are shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) and miracle berry (Synsepalum dulcificum). The Ewe people call miracle berry ?ele? and the Akans ?asoa?.
But why is ?alasa? called African star apple? We will start from the last word?apple. Apple is used here because the fruit is shaped somehow like an apple. And what about the word ?star??? Because the 5 seeds in the fruit are arranged in a star-like manner (see Photo A). This star-like arrangement of seeds in the fruits is the common feature shared by all the members of the genus Chrysophyllum including C. cainito and C. oliviforme. Do not confuse star apple with starfruit (Averrhoa carambola) in which the fruit itself is star-shaped.
Used without any modifier, the name ?star apple? may specifically refer to Chrysophyllum cainito, which is native to the West Indies or Caribbean. How then do we identify ?alasa? without having to ?chant? or ?scribble? botanical names? Precede the name star apple with the word African, which serves two purposes: helping to distinctively identify the plant and showing the origin of the species. Thus, the common name of ?alasa? is African star apple.
Botanically, African star apple is known as Chrysophyllum albidum. Like most systematic names, C. albidum is a perfect Latinized description of the plant. For your information, botanical names are not Latin names. In fact, the names may originate in any language but Greek and Latin are the most common ones. Whichever language is the source; the name, once derived, is strictly written according to Latin grammar; ie, the name is Latinized. This principle holds true for all scientific names?botanical, zoological and bacteriological names.
And ?alasa? offers us a good chance to refresh our memories on some botanical titbits we might have missed in our secondary school days. And there we go! The genus name Chrysophyllum, of Greek origin, comprises two parts?the prefix Chryso– meaning gold coloured and ?phyllum meaning leaf. Thus, the Latinized term Chrysophyllum describes the yellow or gold colour of the abaxial side (underside) of the leaves of some star apple plants (see Photo C).
The specific epithet albidum translates into English as white. This name also describes the white milky sap produced when the fruit is cut (see Photo B). Thus, the entire botanical name Chrysophyllum albidum literally means a plant whose leaves are gold coloured and whose fruits produce white milky sap. Some authors use ?white? in place of ?African?, giving rise to ?white star apple?.
Just take a second look at the spelling of the name. You?ll notice that the two names rhyme. Why? The ending of scientific names is based on the gender of the words as determined by the source language. Tread carefully! Grammar zone! In most natural languages, a noun is masculine, feminine or neuter. However, nouns remain the same irrespective of their case in sentences but adjectives and pronouns are inflected for both gender and case (eg, Ama beats Kofi & Kofi beats Ama but She beats him & He beats her).
In Chrysophyllum albidum, the word Chrysophyllum is neuter in gender (cf: medium & forum with media & fora). In consequence, the specific epithet must be inflected to reflect the neutrality of the genus name; hence, the ending ?um? as seen in albidum. Conversely, in the name Acaciaalbida, the genus name Acacia ends in ?a? showing that it is feminine (cf: formula & alga with formulae & algae). Thus, the same expression ?albidum? is rewritten to agree with the gender of the genus name; hence Acacia albida. Say something about this: Periarius albidus (cf: fungus & stimulus with fungi & stimuli).
Have you noticed that botanical naming is highly organized? Compare Pisum sativum, Oryza sativa and Raphanus sativus. How does this knowledge benefit us as teachers/students? English nouns of Latin origin that end in ?us? are masculine; such nouns are pluralized by replacing the ?us? with ?i? (eg, alumnus becomes alumni). What? That ?alumnus? is a male graduate but ?alumna? is a female one. And that ?alumni? and ?alumnae? are their respective plurals. Being a natural language, English allows the term alumni to be used to describe a mixture of both male and female graduates (cf: old boys). Notice that the ?i? at the end of these nouns is long?it is pronounced ?ai? (eg, fungi /fangai/ and alumni /alamnai) but the ?ae? is pronounced ?ii? (eg, formulae /formulii/ and alumnae /alamnii/).
Ecologically, the seed of African star apple is highly recalcitrant (a recalcitrant seed is one that dies once it dries). Thus, seeds must be sown fresh?once extracted or removed from the fruit. Seeds germinate 4?6 wk after sowing. Typical of most endospermic seeds, African star apple seeds produce long hypocotyl hooks which eventually straighten up sending the cotyledons into the air. Thus, germination is truly epigeal. Because the seeds are endospermic, the cotyledons turn into leaves that persist.
Members of the Sapotaceae family are slow-growing, explaining why African star apple seedlings will take more 15 to 20 years to begin bearing fruits.
Just drop a comment! And we?ll add more. Long live practising teachers!
The Police have been accused of taking at least GH ? 1,100.00 from five suspects arrested in a special operation undertaked by the team of armed men and women on 04 December 2014.
According to the information, one of the suspects instantly paid GH ? 500.00 and the other four suspects, picked up from Lapaz New Market, paid GH ? 600.00 (ie, GH ?150.00 per person).
Sources say, on reaching their station (most likely Tesano), the police immediately released the suspect who paid the GH ? 500.00. The four suspects from Lapaz passed the night in custody while their friends and families mobilized the money. Consequently, they were released a day later when their ?debt? was settled.
This amount is most likely a minute fraction of the total sum mobilized from the said operation. Why? Because all four vehicles used for the operation were packed with suspects.
If readers would remember, I posted a write-up ?What happens after the police raided Lapaz New Market??at Spyghana (http://www.spyghana.com/police-raided-lapaz-new-market/ @ 04/12/2014) and on Ghanaweb (06/12/2014). Even I attached a blurred photo of one of the police pick-up trucks leaving the scene with some of the suspects (the said photo is displayed on the website given above). In the aforementioned write-up, I praised the Ghana Police Service for conducting the swoop, a well-coordinated one indeed.
But the suspicion of the public emphatically stated therein is whether the police are once again enriching themselves for Christmas or they are really flushing criminals out of Accra. In the aforementioned article, I prayed the IGP to monitor his men and women to ensure that the said operation was fully executed in line with our laws. In contrast, the ulterior motive of the average Ghanaian police has been exhibited. Hmm! Traditions, whether beneficial or harmful, die hard.
These are officers clothed from head to toes by the State, paid ?better? salaries, and provided with state-owned, state-fuelled and state-maintained vehicles /vii?kles/, yet every operation undertaken by them must be paid for by the public. Why? The police themselves are aware of how the public perceive them just as the public themselves view police as workers who always get something to share after each day?s work. Why?
It remains unknown to me whether the Law Book of Ghana empowers the police to take monies to this tune from suspects, whether proved guilty or innocent. Somebody must speak up. Once again, I still hope that one of you (the readers) will draw the IGP?s attention to this operation for further action. All the other particulars including the registration numbers of the vehicles used by the police are available in the previous article whose title is given above.
But why that article and this follow-up? Because the police have been conducting such raids at the same location. Reportedly, each raid has the same objective: catch some, collect money and leave them.
Crocodiles (Family Crocodylidae) and hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius; Family Hippopotamidae) are two distinct species in the animal kingdom. The habitat of these animals misleads many people into thinking that they are amphibians. In addition to staying in water for longer hours, hippo has the term ?amphibius? as its species name (but notice the difference in spelling between the species name ?amphibius? and the English adjective ?amphibious?). The Latinized expression ?amphibius? meaning capable of living both on land and in water actually deludes many people into concluding that hippos are amphibians. In reality, a crocodile is a reptile and a hippopotamus is a mammal.
The origin of the ?generational error? described above is rooted in the early development of taxonomy. Thanks to modern biology, we know that living things are ?now? put into five main kingdoms namely Animalia (animals), Plantae (plants), Fungi (fungi), Prokaryotae (prokaryotes/bacteria) and Protoctista or Protista (protists). For examples, human and mosquito are animals, cocoa and cassava are plants, mushroom and toadstool are fungi, salmonella and rhizobia are bacteria, and amoeba and trypanosome are protists. No living thing belongs to two kingdoms.
However, organisms within each kingdom vary widely. For example, humans, goats, bats, whale and ants are all animals, yet all of them look different from one another. In consequence, biologists have established several criteria to classify organisms for easy identification and naming.
Many of these criteria are based on analogous traits (features organisms have in common because of the lifestyle or environment in which they live). For example, grasshoppers and bats both have wings to fly and may be classified as flying animals. Also, humans, ostrich and ants all have legs for walking and may be classified as walking animals. Finally, tilapia, whales and seals have fins/flippers for swimming and may be classified as swimming animals.
The features used for grouping the animals mentioned in the preceding paragraph are termed convergent evolution (development of analogous traits). These features hardly show similarity in many biological traits in the organisms. For example, bats have hair on the bodies and give birth to live babies, yet bats fly. That is, ability to fly shows little similarity among flying animals. Compare bat and dove. (A dove /dav/ has feathers and lays eggs.)
Thus, ambiguity occurs if organisms are to be classified mainly based on analogous traits. To narrow down these differences, Carolus Linnaeus (the Swedish naturalist) introduced and/or popularized the natural system of classification. The natural system is based on homologous traits (similarities among living things that descended from a common ancestor).
The natural system identifies seven ranks (hierarchies or taxa) of classification. These ranks are kingdom, phylum/division, class, order, family, genus and species. The names of any groups of organisms in the first six taxa are treated as proper nouns (eg, humans are in the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Hominidae and genus Homo). Each scientific name for a group has a corresponding common name (eg, Chordata = chordates, Mammalia = mammals and Primates /praimeitiis/ = primates /praimeits/).
An organism that belongs to one specific group within any taxon cannot belong to another. We demonstrate this important principle using the taxonomic rank class: Some of the major classes in the kingdom Animalia are Mammalia (= mammals, eg, humans, whales, bats and hippos), Reptilia (= reptiles, eg, tortoises, snakes, lizards and crocodiles), Amphibia (= amphibians, eg, frog, toad, newt and salamander) and Aves (= avians or birds, eg, fowl, pigeon /pijin/, ostrich and penguin).
From the above, we may infer the unique features possessed by members of each of the classes.
a. Most mammals are viviparous (give birth to live offspring) and others are oviparous (lay eggs which hatch into the young ones, eg, anteater). However, all mammals breastfeed their young ones. Breastfeeding the young is the feature common to all mammals. They may live on land or in water or in both. For example, bats fly and live in trees but they are never birds. Hippos walk on land and spend the whole night and much of the day in water but only move to land at dawn to graze on plants. However, hippos are mammals, and not amphibians.
b. Reptiles are animals whose bodies are covered in thick scales. They reproduce by laying eggs which have thick leathery coverings. The eggs are buried in damp soils or organic matter. ?The eggs hatch by themselves?. Thus, crocodiles which live in water and usually come to land to bask (get sunlight) while gaping (opening their mouths wide) are neither fishes nor amphibians. Crocodiles are reptiles.
c. AMPHIBIANS ARE ANIMALS THAT LIVE ON LAND BUT RETURN TO WATER TO PRODUCE THEIR YOUNG ONES. Because the young ones are produced in water, they breathe in air with gills. However, the gills change into lungs when the young amphibians develop into adults. This change in form is termed metamorphosis /metamorfisis/. Therefore, hippos, crocodiles, snakes and tortoises whose young never undergo any metamorphosis are not amphibians.
Adult amphibians then move out of water to live on land. The skin of the adult is porous; therefore, adult amphibians live in cool and moist places on land. In water, the mature amphibians breathe in air through their porous skin because they lack gills. Another feature that distinguishes amphibians from reptiles is that amphibians lack scales on their bodies.
Ultimately, we notice that the natural system of classifying living things is the best because it uniquely identifies every living thing based on phylogenetic traits (features organisms have in common because they descended from the same ancestor). Every organism belongs to a distinct ?group? within each of the taxa in the hierarchy of biological classification. Any organism that breastfeed its young is a mammal; thus, a hippo is an aquatic animal but it is a ?true? mammal. A crocodile lives both in water and on land, but it is a reptile. Any animal (eg, crocodile, hippo, frog and capybara) that can live in water and on land may be described as being AMPHIBIOUS, but only frogs, toads, caecilians, newts and salamanders are AMPHIBIANS. The term amphibian is typically used as a noun.
Before leaving, we note the following. The term species /spiisis/ is both singular and plural just as sheep, salmon and offspring are. Unfortunately, many of our science textbooks do contain offsprings. Avoid! The term ?cattle? is a plural tantum (always plural); ?cattle can neither be preceded by the indefinite article ?a? nor be followed by a singular verb.
WAEC is always fumbling here. For example, in integrated science WASSCE November 2014, the stem of No. 10 reads: one difference between a beef cattle and a dairy cattle is that a beef cattle?.
The exams council should have removed the article ?a?. Inserting a needless indefinite article, WAEC was also misled to follow ?cattle? with singular verbs for the options of the same question (has and is). The modifiers/adjectives ?dairy? or ?beef? play no role when grammatical number is concerned; thus, both the expressions ?a cattle? and ?a dairy cattle? are incorrect. To specify a number of cattle, you may use the partitive ?a head of?, eg, my dad has 50 head of cattle (50 bulls or cows or both bulls and cows).
Long live practising teachers!
In response to yet another unprofessional (sorry non-professional) conduct by GES, I write this piece.? Forty (40) persons, presumably well screened before being recruited as teachers, were once again dismissed from GES by the Goaso Municipal Education Directorate in the Brong-Ahafo Region. The report (@Ghanaweb 07/07/2014) indicates that the fake teachers were recruited three years ago.
Albeit claiming that investigation continues after the dismissal of the said teachers, GES will most likely do nothing again. No one can, however, precisely quantify the ?damage? these ?fake? teachers must have caused during their 3-year reign. To appreciate GES irresponsibility, we focus on how these persons managed to fake their qualification to enter into the teaching profession. Nearly 6 weeks ago, precisely on 29/05/2014, we were told that 120 ?fake? teachers were dismissed from the service at Upper Manya Krobo District in the Eastern Region. The important questions we ask are ?Who recruits the teachers and what procedure is used to recruit them??
Common sense informs us that information technology (IT) made it relatively easier to fake results. Thus, whenever any ?serious? employer is looking for employees, it institutes stringent measures to ensure that all potential recruits are thoroughly scrutinized leading to outright rejection of anybody with fake results. And the need to be flawlessly strict during recruitment cannot be so important to any dept other than GES especially when teachers are being engaged. In consequence, the public especially parents expect that at most one out of every 1000 teachers to be clever enough to have faked results to outwit the ?tough? recruitment procedure of GES.
Plausibly, we may conclude with 99 % confidence that any reportage of the public sector being padded with fake teachers raises more questions about the recruitment procedure and persons in charge of it rather than with the ?fake? teachers themselves. Countrymen and women, I inform you that the district and regional directors of GES are those who are systematically recruiting unqualified persons into the teaching service. Earlier, I made this fact known (Govt and GES pretend over fake teachers (@ Ghanaweb 4/06/2014).
Striking the average of the two ?fake? teacher incidences thus far reported, we get 80 fake teachers per district. This figure implies that if the govt were to order GES to cross-check all teachers in the 216 districts, the total number of fake teachers would never be less than 17,280! Incredible! To GNAT, Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) and GES, I throw this question: If any service can be loaded with fake persons up to this magnitude, do the members of the said service deserve to be treated as or called professionals?
Therefore, I suggest to GNAT and CCT to focus much of their attention on redefining their membership rather than on fighting for better services because it makes no sense for any govt to commit resources into a service whose membership tests positive to being faked easily. This ill-defined membership is the only reason that I support Nagrat, which remains relatively unblemished.
In evidence, all GNAT executives, the teachers themselves and any other person monitoring teaching in Ghana know well that across all the 216 district capitals, the district and municipal directors have ?agents? responsible for recruiting pupil teachers. The amount charged per a to-be pupil teacher ranges from GH? 600 in the Upper West to GH ? 1400 in the Greater Accra Region. Waste no time investigating this info; it is just common knowledge comparable to everyone knowing that lack of patriotism caused us our early exit from Brazil 2014. Apart from this amount which must be paid upfront, the potential recruit must still pay a fixed amount when his/her arrears come. Thereafter, a fixed percentage of his/her salary goes to the ?connecting officials? at GES.
The most surprising or unprofessional aspect of these reports is this statement: the abysmal performance of students in BECE for the last three years prompted the authorities to check the qualification of the teachers. Absolutely sad! Is GES telling us that it has no other method of assessing or appraising teachers other than using pupils? performance at BECE? And that if there wasn?t any such failures, it (GES) would never have appraised teachers? Logically, ?fake? teachers in primary schools where pupils don?t take external exams shall never be identified. God save our pupils then.
What makes this conclusion dangerous is the wholesale attempt to link poor performance of pupils to the presence of unqualified teachers. Again unfortunate! The saying goes that leadership is the cause and everything else is the effect?. It is the actions of GES itself that are rather causing pupils to fail in droves. Two prize examples are here.
First, GES has endorsed that teachers pursuing sandwich programmes (eg, diploma and master?s in education) leave the classroom en masse to the university campuses for nearly the whole term third of every academic year. The need to pursue further education is relevant particularly to teaching but the ill-timing of this programme is causing avoidable loss of contact hours. For example, all teachers doing diploma in education at the University of Education left their schools since 24 May 2014 to the university and will end this semester programme on 1st August 2014. Ask who is teaching their subjects or classes throughout all this 10-week period and your answer is ?God is in control?. No claim can be made that those remaining teachers at the schools can share the subjects/classes whilst the teachers are way, for we know that even if all the teachers are available, there is still a shortage.
Ask how GES could have prevented this needless lost of contact hours and the response is ?rescheduling?. GES and the universities are both under the Ministry of Education. ?Even if the sandwich programme cannot be fixed for the vacation period of the first and second cycle institutions, the lecturers from the universities could be sent to the regional capitals during weekends to lecture the teachers. This approach will prevent the teachers from leaving classrooms to go and stay at the university campuses for nearly a whole term during each academic year.
Several years ago, GNAT could have even constructed large conference halls in all the regional capitals for such purposes instead of deducting teachers? salaries and using the monies to construct hostels which offer practically no benefit to teachers. It?s not too late; GNAT and Nagrat can still consider such projects.
The second practice of GES which contributes to poor performance of pupils is the non-standardization of textbooks. As it is now, anybody just prints any documents and writes these on them: ?Based on GES new syllabus and Approved for Sale by GES?. Such ?polluting textbooks? are placed on the market for sale. Ask whether GES has ever seen any such ?infrastandard? textbook with its name on it and has taken any action and your answer is ?NO?. After all, Ghana is a free market economy where no standard exists for anybody to follow. This book issue will be the focus of the next write-up.
GES should therefore note that such embarrassing reports only tell the public that it (GES) has no built-in procedure to screen and to recruit only qualified persons and that it has no plan of ever training enough teachers to phase out pupil teaching. ?In consequence, I am appealing to GNAT to takeover the entire process of screening to-be pupil teachers from the district and municipal directorates. Our failure to take this action now makes us non-professionals for the nth time.
Long live ?truly? concerned teachers! Long live Kwame Nkrumah?s Ghana!
Ashanti plum or hog plum or yellow mombin is the fruit that Asantes call ?atoaa?. The Fantes call it ?ataaba?, the Ewes ?akukor? and Ga people ?aadon?. My Akan students at Cosmos Basic School, Lapaz, call it ?akosia kokoo?. Botanically, it is called Spondias mombin. More correctly, the tree/plant is Spondias mombin but the fruit is the Ashanti plum. The word plum is a homophone of plumb, ie, both are pronounced as /plam/.
Spondias mombin is in the Anacardiaceae family, the botanical family that also contains cashew and neem. And in reality, the margins and colour of the leaves and shape of the fruit of Spondias mombin resemble those of neem tree (Azadirachtaindica). Typical of most common names, Ashanti plum contains the word plum, but it is completely unrelated to the European tree called plums (Prunus spp.) which are in the Rosaceae family.
In addition to being in different botanical families, the Ashanti plum is a tropical species, but plum is a temperate species. Also, Ashanti plum is a wild plant (tree) whose fruits are only gathered and sold/eaten whereas plum is a crop grown commercially in Europe and in Asia. (The terms plant and crop are subtly different. A plant is any organism in the kingdom Plantae, but a crop is a plant that has been domesticated and cultivated for food or for raw materials, eg, cocoa, maize, rice and cotton. A plant grown to beautify the environment is called an ornamental plant.)
What the Ashanti plum and European plum have in common is that both species produce a unique type of drupaceous fruit informally termed ?plums?.? A ?plum? is smooth-skinned fruit that is nearly round or spherical and contains one seed which is usually large and occupies much of the space in the fruit. Other examples are West African blackplum (Vitex doniana), bloodplum (Haemostaphis barteri) and monkey plum (Ximenia spp.). All the other three ?plums? are indigenous to Ghana and each of them will be dealt in detail in a separate write-up. Like the Ashanti plum and the European plum, all these plums are botanically unrelated.
Only three of the features contained in the above definition are gallantly displayed by Ashanti plum, which is nearly oblong in shape (see photo attached). The most appropriate adjectives to describe the taste of Ashanti plum are limited to your tasting the fruit?a single bite and swallow will send the sharp tartly sour or sweetly bitter taste running from your tongue to the end of your jaws!
Concerning dormancy, mode of germination and number of seedlings produced per seed, the Ashanti plum has some interesting but somehow conflicting information. I noted that Ashanti plum seeds are recalcitrant, but other researchers especially Orwa et al (2009) reported that the seeds are orthodox. A recalcitrant seed is one that loses its viability once it dries, ie, it dies when it dries (eg, cocoa, rubber, avocado, cola, shea, mango and coconut). Recalcitrant seeds must be sown immediately they are extracted (removed from the fruit). Conversely, seeds which still germinate when they are dry are termed orthodox seeds (eg, maize, rice, cowpea, okra and cabbage).
Ashanti plum seeds are dormant (remain in the moist soil for a longer period without germinating). I sowed 50 seeds in my school?Cosmos Basic School? on 13/07/2013; only 35 had germinated in March 2014 (see photo). The dormancy period is 8 to 10 months. This period of dormancy may be due to the woody nature of the seed (see photo). To hasten germination, you may scarify the seed using acids (eg, sulfuric acid). Alternatively, you may use sandpaper or file to rub the seedcoat to reduce its thickness prior to sowing.
The seeds of Ashanti plum germinate hypogeally (the cotyledons remain on or in the soil). Notice that defining hypogeal germination as ?the type of germination in which the cotyledons remain in or below the soil? is only applicable to farming where seeds are sown (buried in the soil). In nature, many seeds fall on the soil surface where they germinate. Here, the cotyledons of hypogeally germinating seeds remain on the soil surface (this situation is common for large seeds such as avocado).
In consequence, hypogeal germination is better defined as ?the germination in which the cotyledons remain on or below the soil level?. That is, the epicotyl (part of the germinating seed or seedling immediately above the cotyledons) elongates to push the plumule (young shoot) above the soil level. Consequently, the hypocotyl (part of the seedling below the cotyledons) idles?does not elongate to push the cotyledons upwards. ?Contrastingly, epigeal germination is the type in which the cotyledons are lifted above the soil level (regardless of whether the seed was buried or it was on the soil surface).
Thus, the distinction between hypogeal and epigeal germination depends on which part of the germinating seed elongates to push the plumule above the soil. In hypogeously germinating seeds, the epicotyl elongates, but in epigeously germinating seeds, the hypocotyl elongates. Being below the cotyledons, the elongating hypocotyl automatically pushes the cotyledons above the soil level making the germination epigeal.
Often, the mode of germination in most seeds can be determined by considering cotyledon morphology (number and size). All monocotyledonous seeds such as maize, coconut, bamboo and yam germinate hypogeally. Interestingly, dicotyledons or dicots exhibit both hypogeal and epigeal germination. In general, large-seeded dicots exhibit hypogeal germination because the hypocotyl is not often strong enough to lift the cotyledons from or above the soil level. Hence, dicots such as avocado, mango, shea and Ashanti plum germinate hypogeally. Here, many integrated /in-ti-grei-ted/ science ?textbooks? wrongly list mango as exhibiting epigeal germination.? Only common sense refutes this miserably.
Seed size is not a good predictor of germination pattern, however. Some small-seeded dicots germinating epigeally are Bambara groundnut (Vignasubterranea), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), African locust bean (Parkia biglobosa) and pea (Pisum sativum). In the botanical name for Bambara groundnut, the species name ?subterranea? is the source of the English adjective ?subterranean??meaning underground. It tells us that Bambara groundnut produces it fruits (pods) in the soil.
To the number of seedlings produced per seed, I observed that out of my 35 germinated yellow mombin seeds, 24 of them produced 2 seedlings each. The phenomenon whereby a single seed produces two or more seedlings is termed polyembryony. Thus, Ashanti plum produces polyembryonic seeds. Other examples of plants that produce polyembryonic seeds are sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), mango and ackee (Blighia sapida).
Never hesitate in dropping a comment, for I?m on guard to respond if necessary.
Long live practising teachers! Long live Kwame Nkrumah?s Ghana!
The National Communication Authority (NCA), police, teachers and parents must collectively join hands to stop ?Airtel Magic Voice? promotion immediately. Focused entirely on getting more profits regardless of the consequences, Airtel itself claims its new service is all about this: ?Magic Voice is a fun-based service that allows callers to change their voice automatically and lets them speak to their friends in changed voices.?
Before any information is placed on TV or on radio, the norm is that all the implications of that item ranging from moral to psychological are duly scrutinized and approved of or otherwise modified. Even in news items covering fatal road accidents, newscasters are MANDATED to inform viewers that the images that follow may be disturbing. In Ghana, however, it seems every information that comes from anybody who can pay must be broadcast according to his/her wishes. Here, we look at the moral and security risks associated with ?Airtel Magic Voice?.
Let us begin by looking at the advertisement itself. ?A man is watching TV with his daughter when the daughter?s friend (actually a boyfriend) called her on phone. I guess the boyfriend?s name appeared on the phone. The father, who had warned the daughter not to receive phone calls from boys, answered the phone call. To his surprise, the voice was that of a female.
Whilst at a dining table, the father received a second call from the same caller. He answered and again the voice sounded like that of a lady. In the two situations, the daughter was jittery dreading that her father would notice that the caller was her boyfriend. However, the father, apparently convinced that the caller was a ladyfriend of her daughter, handed over the phone to the daughter. Fully pleased and satisfied, the daughter left the dining table to listen to the caller (who she knows is her sex partner).
The first question the girl asked her lover was, ?What did you keep telling my dad?? The youngman then explained that he used ?Airtel Magic Voice? promotion to change his voice into a female one. From the lady and her lover, a laughing bout then follows apparently in response to their cleverness at outwitting the morally upright father.
Where is the fun here? Having such a dangerous ?fun? with your to-be father-in-law? Clearly, the contents of the advert alone show that it is out to breed immorality. It effectively serves as the major breakthrough for boys or men to deceive parents when they are dating their (teen) daughters. What it tells us is that, ?At last no more worry, call my dad or mom directly using ?Airtel Magic Voice? and s/he will permit me to speak to you or even to meet you?.
Apart from sexual immorality, the package also promotes lying and pretence. After all, the lady in the advert equally pretended to be unaware that her boyfriend was the one calling. What is wrong with our society today? As I was writing and as you are reading now, the number of innocent young men and ladies who might be using this technology for the same purpose as Airtel has instructed is unquantifiable. Parents and teachers must wake up!
By logical extension, somebody can also use the same ?Magic Voice? to mimic the voice of another person. Or one can select any of the voices provided by Airtel that closely resembles the voice of the person whose voice is to be mimicked. What is the direct consequence here especially to teachers, parents and school authorities?
Fraudsters can use this technology to exploit monies from parents or to convince house masters and mistresses to give external exeat to students. For example, in nearly all boarding schools, students are banned from keeping and using phones. Claiming an emergency has happened, a fraudster may successfully mimic the voice of a student and then call the student?s parents instructing them to send items (including mobile money) to him / her (the student) through that number. Alternatively, guys may pretend as parents / guardians and then call school authorities using ?Airtel Magic Voice? pleading with the authorities to allow their wards (especially girls) to come home. The above are just some of the reasons that teachers and school authorities must join parents to compel Airtel to stop its so-called ?Magic Voice? service, which has nothing to do with fun.
?Airtel Magic Voice? also contributes to making the world an insecure place to live in. The security implications of the advert could not have been manifested at any time other this period when the activities of terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram are at our doorsteps. Just imagine that this technology is exploited by such criminals who may kidnap your child (as they did in their home country, Nigeria) but then call you and pretend as ladies who spotted your missing child. What will be your immediate reaction? You may quickly rush to whichever location the caller claims to be without any preparation because women will naturally not be engaged in child trafficking. You may only reach there to see armed men and the root cause being ?Magic Voice?.
Furthermore, voice is one of the tools used by police to identify or to locate criminals. Thus, if a telecommunication service exists in which all the thousand and one human voices can be conveniently synchronized into a limited number, it implies that people can no longer be identified via phone call. Again, using Boko Haram as an example, the police may be unable to identify the members because all of them may choose to use only one of the voices provided by ?Airtel Magic Voice?. Accordingly, the police must act by leading the crusade to compel Airtel to withdraw this package.
What lesson is learnt here? That designated authorities must re-scrutinized ads from any source before they are broadcast. In particular, Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana alongside with its members must extend a watchful eye to Ghanaian films and songs.
Most Ghanaian films are just typically morally bankrupt. Practically, every song including the reggae clips must feature partially naked ladies, shaking their buttocks.Why? And the worrisome aspect is that these immorality-padded films and songs are often advertised immediately before, during or right after major news bulletins.
We have culture and moral values. Let?s cherish them.
A 42-year-old Abdul-Moomin Suweiba delivered a baby boy at KATH on 5th February this year. The woman claims her baby boy was born alive but KATH counterclaims that the baby was stillborn. ?With no option left, Suweiba?s family ?accepted? the hospital?s claim but now demanded the corpse for a befitting Islamic burial. And here the problems begin.
The nurses and midwives on duty at the time of Suweiba?s delivery further claim that the body was mistakenly incinerated alongside other medical thrash. This claim, however, stood unsubstantiated. Baba Asibi, the labourer operating the incinerator, stated emphatically that he never used the incinerator five days before the said day and three days after that day. Mr Asibi repeated this statement when he was sent to a police station in Kumasi. To-date, he maintained that he never burnt any medical thrash on that day let alone including a baby. KATH authorities confirmed the non-use of the incinerator during the said period.
Despite the above, the Ministry of Health (MoH) supports the claim of KATH that the baby was stillborn and that its body has since been incinerated. In its one-sided and bias report, the MoH stated explicitly that Madam Suweiba was maltreated by the nurses, midwives and doctor. Notably, she loss 400 ml of blood but was asked to walk to a lift instead of being transported on a trolley. On the way, she collapsed onto the floor and God resuscitated ?her.
Although the maltreatments amount to crime against humanity, Ms Sherry Ayitteh?s Ministry thinks that they merely violated medical ethics. Accordingly, she commissioned yet other needless committees from the Dental and Medical Council (DMC), and the Nurses and Midwifery Council (NMC) to investigate the matter further. As expected, the committees missed the 15th April deadline and are still alleged to be working till today.
Establishing and commissioning committees by the MoH to look into misconducts within the Ministry is now becoming unbecoming. I refer readers to another incident in Accra where a man lost his wife and accused the hospital of negligence. Here too, the committee investigating the matter apologized to the man for the hospital?s keeping his struggling wife on the bare floor just moments before her death, but the hospital counterclaimed that her health condition dictated so. Who is telling the truth?the committee or the hospital?
The unbecoming nature of the investigating committees of the MoH is premised on two reasons. First, it is not only the MoH that comprises professionals who are capable of resolving disputes. Second, some disputes are criminal in nature and can only be settled in a law court. I use my profession?teaching?as an example. Teachers are under the Ministry of Education. When a teacher canes or rapes a pupil, does the Education Ministry intervene and take the matter from the parents of the pupil? The answer is NO! The public can remember a number of such cases at court and it is only when the affected parents agree that school authorities intervene.
The MoH?s intervention in the KATH missing baby saga, which is neither in the interest of Suweiba?s family nor that of the public, shows that the Minister has a personal interests. In addition, the MoH is complicating the matter. Apart from unnecessarily prolonging the saga thus far, any findings of any of the committees are non-binding. For example, Mr Baba Asibi, whom the nurses and midwives claim incinerated the baby refused to appear before the committees. His lawyer advised him to abstain because he (Mr Asibi) is already before a Kumasi-based court on the same case.
Mr Asibi?s absence was greatly felt by the committee per the news report (see Suweiba?s baby was burnt by labourer- KATH midwives @ ghanaweb 24/04/2014). On the said day of sitting, the nurses and midwives who insisted that the baby was mistakenly incinerated were reminded that Mr Asibi denied incinerating any medical thrash. But what did the nurses and midwives have to say again? Mr Asibi?s presence could have brought the difference! His absence also meant that if the committee made any findings against him, such findings will be non-binding. Effectively, the committees are just wasting time and other national resources.
The consequence of Ms Ayitteh?s gimmicking is that the case is now being investigated by two independently non-coordinating bodies: the police and the court at Kumasi, and the non-biting committees. Which of these bodies will come out with a verdict that is final and acceptable to all parties? And when? Already the Ayitteh?s committees, as we know from the onset, are directed to cook evidence to support that the baby was stillborn and incinerated.
The end result is that whatever the findings of these committees may be, the case may still proceed to a law court. I have argued that the best MoH could have done from the beginning was to arraign KATH before court. By now, this issue would have been solved. Although delaying justice amounts to denying it, this missing baby saga can travel for a 100 years but the truth shall prevail (in God?s name, Amen!).
Another evidence that KATH is lying about the baby?s incineration is that it (KATH) failed to conduct a DNA test on the ashes from the incinerator. It will interest readers to note that Suweiba?s family demanded the corpse immediately after they were told of the ?death?. And this is supposedly the same day KATH claim the body was incinerated. KATH could have straight away traced the ashes to wherever they were sent. A simple DNA test on the ashes would confirm that indeed Suweiba?s baby was cremated. The public is not aware of this advancement in medical technology, but KATH is aware and fully equipped to have done that.? KATH is simply lying; the baby was sold.
To confirm how irresponsible KATH is, the 37 Military Hospital announced on Friday 25th April that it was going to give a mass burial to 254 stillborns aged between one and twelve days. According to the hospital, some of the corpses had been in its morgue SINCE 2010. ?The Military Hospital made two important points. First, that all baby corpses have the names of their parents on them. Congrats! Second, that the families need to collect the corpses and give them befitting burial. Based on these facts, which other medical procedures is KATH using that give it the right to burn baby corpses just within a day or so? Upon all these messes, Ms Ayitteh thinks that KATH merely violated medical ethics. Hmm!
A reminder to Ms Shirley Ayitteh, probably a non-professional in medicine, is the medical clich? ?Consult when in doubt?. The medical profession is not one in which mistakes are allowed. Matters concerning human life can never be dealt with by doubting persons. Accordingly, in medical schools, a student who guesses and a gets an answer wrong usually loses marks. I remember a friend carried a negative mark to the next quiz. All medical training is geared towards eliminating guesswork and everyday mistakes. Therefore, the claim by KATH that the baby was mistakenly incinerated has no place in medical profession. And if so, only in Ghana.
The MoH is stepping out of bounds; Suweiba?s missing baby issue will likely bring it back to play the role for which it was established. Good news is, however, in the making. Much of the gimmicking is spearheaded by the Minister herself. Per the rumour circulating, she is likely to be axed from that Ministry and cabinet at large. May this be a reality!
Thus far, the missing baby saga is yet to attract support from weighty persons in our society. Conversely, news is dominated by items such as the GYEEDA and SADA scandals. These alleged scandals are about specified amounts of money being misappropriated by some known individuals. Compare the said amounts to human life. Thus, the decision of the Ghanaian society to comment selectively on some wrongs leaving others motivates wrongdoers in those sectors to continue committing more crimes.
The better way out for us is to throw our weight jointly and then discipline appropriately wrongdoers from one sector. This universal discipline will surely prevent other wrongdoers in whichever sector from repeating crimes.
Long live our mothers! Long live Kwame Nkrumah?s Ghana!
?On 5th February this year, Madam Suweiba gave birth to a missing baby at KATH. Precisely how a 9-month-old pregnancy turned out into a missing baby remains a mystery to the people of Ghana except to the authorities of KATH. On record, 16 babies were delivered on the said day and out of this number, 5 were ?declared? dead representing 31.25 %! Obviously, Allah wouldn?t have done this. Two of the dead bodies were sent to the morgue, whilst the remaining three which included Suweiba?s bouncing baby boy were not.?
Suweiba?s missing baby exposed the scandal because the other two mothers, thus far unknown to the public, had evidence that their babies were dead. The Ministry of Health then issued a non-biting 14-day ultimatum to KATH to account for the three babies. However, the posture and diction of the Health Ministry clearly portrayed its partiality right from the onset?to buy time for KATH to hide any evidence of the baby theft and to falsely calm tensions. As expected, the ultimatum expired without any report.
Two clear days later, the Health Ministry released some hazy findings which surprised no one including the Minister herself. Its major findings were two: Suweiba?s baby was born dead and the body incinerated. To the best of my knowledge, the full report remains unpublished but the excerpts which the Health Minister made known apparently to justify her decision rather multiplied her own effort by zero. I said a lot about this issue (See this article: MoH, Where is the final decision on the ?Missing? Baby? @ ghanaweb 31/03/2014).
This write-up adds two more evidences that Suweiba?s baby was born alive. ?The first comes from one of the arguments consistently made by the PRO of KATH in most of the FM stations in Kumasi: Suweiba?s baby was placed on her chest as demanded by medical practices. Merely using common sense, one knows that a newborn baby is placed on the mother?s chest for bonding to occur between the two. Thus, if Madam Suweiba?s baby was stillborn, what was the essence of placing the dead baby boy on her chest? To create a bond between a dead baby and her mother? If so, only in Ghana!
Being inquisitive, I asked a senior nurse at the same hospital?KATH?who said that dead babies are never placed on their mom?s chest. Unmistakably, Suweiba?s baby was born alive and to create a bond between her and the live infant, the baby boy was placed on her chest. It was because of the ?liveness? of the baby that the doctor who supervised the delivery never wrote that Suweiba had a stillbirth. Accordingly, KATH produced no death certificate and there is no other record at the hospital that shows that Suweiba?s baby is dead. KATH must be made to produce the baby boy!
The second evidence boils on whether hospitals have the exclusive right to do whatever they want with dead bodies of babies. Whether born alive or dead, a foetus/baby carried to full-term pregnancy is regarded as a human being. And in the event of death, common sense suggests that both the hospital and family of the dead must decide on the fate of the corpse. Medical practices also demand so. Even if we agree with the illogical reports of the Health Ministry and KATH that the baby was stillborn, didn?t it occur to the hospital it has no right to handle somebody else?s corpse the way it wants? This point exposed the hospital!
The hospital claims that a staff mistakenly incinerated the body alongside other medical thrash. But both the name of this unknown staff member and the incinerator used for the burning remain as mysterious as how the live born baby was declared stillborn. The innocent man working at the said incinerator made it clear to Suweiba?s family that the facility was never use for the past five days and remained unused three days after the incident. The authorities of KATH confirmed this point to the Member of Parliament for Suweiba?s constituency?Hon Muntaka Mubarak.
All that KATH said afterwards amounts to quenching fire by spraying it with petrol. For example, in an interview on an Accra-based radio station LIVE FM, the administrator of KATH raised two elementary issues: that many mothers will never like to carry their dead babies home and that patients must also be responsible. Thanks to the FM station which had on the panel women who had had similar experiences. These intelligent women refuted the babyish arguments perfectly. If no other mother would like to carry her dead baby home, Madam Suweiba wants to do that.
Similar to Suweiba?s situation, one of the female panellists said that in her case, there was no record at the hospital, presumably Korle-bu, about her baby although the doctors told her orally that the body of her baby had been either sent to the teaching school or given a mass burial. In either case, no member of her family was informed. Only in Ghana!
On the issue of patients? responsibility, the women panellists rather showed the administrator how irresponsible his hospital was. Health practices now make it seems an offence to deliver at home even in villages. And to avoid unnecessary congestion at hospitals, health practices also demand relatives of expectant mothers not to troop to hospitals. Logically therefore, in this IT age, the hospital must take the contacts of relatives of mothers for emergency cases. Thus, in Suweiba?s case, the panellists wanted to know whether the hospital did make ANY ATTEMPT to contact any relative of hers. The answer was obviously NO!
Consequently, it was absolutely inhuman for the nurse to forcibly seize the thumb of Suweiba, who was partially unconscious due to the lost 400 ml of blood, to thumbprint a document. GMA must note this point and include it in its apology.
‘Typical of many Ghanaian professionals, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) joined the gimmicks with its seemingly most powerful ?political? weapon?strike. It threatens striking in solidarity with its members who were disciplined albeit below expectation. The GMA president pointed out that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the doctor and nurse and that investigation will soon prove so.
Despite being bias and one-sided, the rudimentary report issued by the Health Ministry did catalogue clear violations of the Hippocratic Oath. In fact, all the wrongdoings are purely medical. On behalf of himself and that of GMA, the president needs to apologize to the public for his rushing to defend the wrongdoers. Perhaps, GMA did so because all of its members are beneficiaries of the proceeds of such baby sales.
The Ministry took some decisions in the right direction?the CEO of KATH together with the doctor and nurse who obviously tormented Madam Suweiba have been asked to go on leave?although being on salary from taxpayers? money. Congrats to the Health Ministry! It, however, remains unclear whether this ?punishment? is nemetic for people whose negligence led to the DISAPPEARANCE OF THREE BABIES out of which one was evidently born alive. I leave that onto God and the public to decide.
The Health Ministry speciously concluded that the actions of KATH violated the ethics of the medical profession and subsequently referred the matter to the Dental and Medical Council (DMC), and the Nurses and Midwifery Council (NMC). According to the Ministry, these two bodies are to release their reports on Tuesday 15 April. Again, it remains uncertain what new discoveries are yet to be made when every detail surrounding the disappearance of the baby are thus far known. These details show a clear violation of the most basic human right?the right to live. In consequence, the public expects nothing other than the Ministry putting KATH authorities on trial for child trafficking or for baby theft or for any such related offences. Anything short of this amounts to political gimmicking.
Even before the Ministry released its report, it postulated that Suweiba must be compensated if KATH could not produce the body of her baby. Here, the Health Ministry made two howlers. Suweiba and the public want the baby boy alive because he was born as such, and not its body. The Ministry?s failure to prescribe a severer punishment in the event of non-compliance encouraged the baby thieves never to return it. Certainly, KATH can no longer order a baby boy sold and subsequently transported across the Atlantic Ocean to be retuned just like that. Maybe, a threat of execution could have triggered such an order.
Another dingdong issue is the criterion to use to arrive at the compensation package in the event that the Ministry imposes that option on Suweiba?s family. Suweiba didn?t conceive to deliver for another family and then be compensated for that.? Using the Melcom disaster in which survivors were given just GH?1,000.00 each, I wonder how much or what will be given to deservedly compensate a near-menopausal woman for the mysterious disappearance of her baby boy. Worst of all, the very people who caused the baby to disappear are allowed to live freely. Equally of importance is where the package would come from?KATH or the central govt? Either source is the still from the taxpayers? money.
As a disciplined group of persons, we await the reports of DMC and NMC and what the Health Ministry will eventually say. But never think that this matter will just end like that. In addition to Allah overseeing the matter on behalf of us (the worldly helpless), some sympathizers too are preparing to deal with the issue at the right places and at the right time. God bless Suweiba?s womb with several non-missing babies.
Long live our mothers! Long live Kwame Nkrumah?s Ghana!
On 5th February this year, Madam Abdul-Mumin Suweiba gave birth to a bouncing baby boy (a would-be Lionel Messi or in Ghanaian terms, a would-be-Asamoah Gyan or in general terms, a would-be national hero) at KATH. She was not merely told that her baby was boy, but the nurse on duty made her to touch the ?maleness? of the said baby to ascertain that. Thereafter, the hospital took the baby away, and has since decided finally that it (KATH) would never return the baby to fulfil the national assignment for which the Creator specifically instructed him to come and accomplish.
This decision of the hospital to never return the baby is formally endorsed by the Ministry of Health (MoH) following its unnecessary gimmicking for two weeks and some days. From now onwards, I will use the term ?Stolen babies? because the Ghanaian public are now fully informed about the active cover-up role skilfully played by the MoH. The unquestionable intelligence of the Health Minister, Ms Sherry Ayitteh, alone suggests that the illogical report given by her Ministry is a perfect cover-up. I said it all earlier (?Missing? baby is not missing @ ghanaweb 24/03/2014).
Before turning your attention to the unsubstantiated contents of the press conference, I want us to first determine the role the MoH assumed. The Health Ministry claimed that it was to give a final decision or report on 23rd, but it later (on 25th March) released what turned out to be the standpoint from which the matter kick-starts. KATH is under the Ministry, but the Ministry is not the parents of the missing baby. Therefore, the only thing the MoH could do, which the public expected it to do as well, was to order KATH to return the baby boy to its bona fide parents. Anything other than this order is beyond the Ministry.
However, exactly how and why the MoH failed to realize that the complainant (here the Suweiba?s family) has an overriding power in stirring the case remains a surprise. It portrayed itself as acting in public interest. ?Apparently, everyone knows that the average Ghanaian politician does nothing without an ulterior motive. The first conflict of interest was that both the family and the public demanded to know the whereabouts of the baby boy whilst the Ministry was interested in only seeing the dead body as falsely claimed by the hospital.
Issues immediately arising from the family and comments emanating from the public following the issuance of the never-was-14-day ultimatum to KATH should have informed the MoH that its role be better reduced to that of an arbitrator. Nonetheless, the Ministry made a political capital out of the case, establishing committees to compile reports of events already known by everyone except perhaps by the ?non-listening? Health Minister and her advisers. The committee most likely comprised persons from the Ministry and other bodies within the Ghana Health Service. However, members of the Suweiba?s family who have a lot of information about events that occurred at the hospital were left out.
Media reports indicate that Suweiba and her family met the committee most probably once. Therefore, much of the investigations was centred on KATH. Common sense suggests that somebody or an organization acting as an arbitrator on any issue cannot focus attention on only one party involved in the case and then give a fair verdict. Truly too, the family of the victims including all other concerned persons are surprised by the MoH report which turned out to be preliminary instead being final as we were made to believe earlier.
Now, let?s turn our attention to some of the highly sketchy contents of the report. First and most important, the Minister stated that out of the five stillborn babies, only two were sent to the mortuary, while the other three were sent directly to the incinerator. This statement clearly showed that the Minister unambiguously supports the hospital?s claim that Madam Suweiba?s baby is dead, whether stillborn or dead sometimes after birth. ?Second, Ms Ayittey mentioned that the bodies of the three babies were mistakenly incinerated alongside other medical waste. Again, this statement affirms that the body of the ?dead? baby boy was incinerated.
I had a sleepless Tuesday night trying to fathom out what might have informed the Ministry of Health to think that what it said could even make sense to kindergarten ?students?. Evidence from the Ministry?s own report should have ?estoppelled? Ms Ayitteh from making these two self-mocking conclusions. First, she said categorically that there was no certification of the stillbirth by a doctor and that no evidence exists in the register that the stillborn babies were discharged to the mortuary attendant. So, if the medical doctor who attended to the mother prepared no certificate that the baby was stillborn, what other evidence suggested to the Minister to conclude precipitately that the baby is dead? Ms Ayittey, be advised!? I want to ask the Minister this simple question, ?Can one go to SSNIT to demand the estate of person claimed to be dead without sending a death certificate?? Once again, I leave the good people of Ghana to begin thinking of the kinds of leaders we have.
Second, if there is no record that the body was discharged to the mortuary attendant, what again shows that the baby boy is dead? Ms Ayittey?s Ministry needs to rethink. Common sense suggests to us that females deliver at a gynaecological ward, patients needing X-rays photos go to the X-ray dept and sick children are admitted to children?s ward. Thus, dead bodies are sent to only the mortuary and to no other place. So, in a teaching hospital of ?international? standards, if a supposedly dead body was not sent to the mortuary, wouldn?t common sense suggest to the Ministry that there was a hidden agenda, not a mere procedural lapse?? Oh! Ghana! Anyway, common sense is not common to common people.
Third, the most questionable and volatile claim of the hospital is that the bodies of the three babies were incinerated along with other medical waste. The Minister and her outfit also formally accepted this claim. (A reminder to the Minister is that her outfit?s acceptance of this claim is only behalf of gullible persons like her and never on behalf of the govt and people of Ghana.) The Ministry?s acceptance was stated unequivocally in that the Minister said that the bodies were sent straight to the incinerator instead of being first sent to the mortuary attendant.
Again, only common sense is required to discard this claim. The attendant of the incinerator as well as some other renowned persons at the hospital said that the incinerator was never used even five days before and remained unused for three days after the baby had disappeared. This fact was confirmed by KATH authorities themselves. There are documentary, pictorial and oral evidence to attest to this fact. Which other incinerator was the Minister referring to and who even mistakenly incinerated the body? The Minister, therefore, succeeded in deceiving herself. We knew clearly that the Ministry was preparing the mind of the public for this long before.
Furthermore, the Ministry also said there was an inappropriate storage facility for stillborn babies at the labour ward. Somehow ignorantly, the Minister forgot that if the storage facility was indeed inappropriate, it was her outfit?s fault and not that of KATH. The question needing answer from the Minister is whether KATH notified it (the Ministry) that its storage facility for stillborns was inappropriate. If KATH did so, the public needs to when and what the Ministry did to fix the problem until this stolen baby issue cropped up.
Therefore, I want to inform the Ministry that, it only allowed itself to be ?used? by KATH. The hospital only used the ?inappropriate facility? to the trick her outfit as lizards have being doing to their predators?autotomy. ?When a predator such as a cat pursues a lizard, the lizard immediately sheds part of its tail. The shed tail lies waggling continuously like the animal itself. The predator focuses attention on the waggling tail and the lizard escapes. If indeed the storage facility is inappropriate, KATH might have been using it intentionally such that whenever its baby stealing incidences, which occur in series as Season Four series, are discovered, it will use the inappropriateness of the facility to divert attention. And indeed, KATH succeeded in deceiving Ms Ayittey. I am again informing the Minister that many doctors reportedly deliberately spoil medical equipment at govt hospitals to compel patients to attend their private hospitals.
The most shocking revelation of the Ministry?s report was that Madam Suweiba was poorly taken care of by the hospital. For example, the report stated that Madam Suweiba lost ?about? 400 ml of blood, yet the nurse and/or the doctor ordered her to walk to the lift instead of her being transported on a trolley or in a wheelchair. What was deliberately omitted by the Ministry in its report is that the Madam Suweiba collapsed onto the floor and was resuscitated by Almighty God!
Ironically, the entire fact-finding committee lacked the basic common sense to detect that the mother was tortured for a purpose?to make her unconscious so that they (the baby thieves of KATH) could take away the baby as they did. Little did they know that God was standing there! Even when it became apparently clear that Madam Suweiba?s own life was in danger, the nurse allegedly held her thumb and used it to thumbprint documents to the effect that her baby had passed away. Madam Suweiba might have even been given some hypnotics. Investigators must consider testing her blood.
From the documented voyage of torture meted out to Madam Suweiba, I can hardly figure out the bases for which the Health Ministry?s redirected the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) to submit other needless reports again on 15th April. What happened is never a mere breach of any medical ethics, but rather a total breach of the most basic and fundamental human right?the right to life. Apart from stealing Madam Suweiba?s baby, the baby thieves deliberately attempted her own life. And these are crime against humanity for which the known perpetrators need to be prosecuted.
If leaders of the various units of KATH at which the incident occurred were arrested and were being tried with the possibility of life imprisonment or execution for failure to account for the babies, we would never have been told these children?s stories. But, it?s never too late, for nature has always kept its own equations balanced.
The Ministry of Health is only daydreaming. It remains unclear what it thought it is doing or has achieved thus far on this issue. The CEO Professor Ohene Adjei was honourably asked to proceed on accumulated leave? accumulated leave with accumulated salary I guess. In no time, all the benefits not due him for his tenure of office will be computed and paid to him. He will still be proud to document in his CV his tenure of office as CEO of KATH. Whilst on his accumulated leave, he will be relaxing comfortably with his wife and children. The doctor and nurse who tortured Madam Suweiba are also on indefinite leave?effectively receiving salaries for no work done. One may ask, ?Has the Ministry appointed a psychologist to be counselling the Suweiba?s family thus far??
The Ministry?s ultimate aim, known to us long before,? has been to falsely calm tensions and to buy time for the baby thieves to superconceal any evidence in case of a court trial. And from the Ministry?s non-thinking viewpoint, it has achieved thus. Even before the report was released, the Minister has mentioned the possibility of compensating Suweiba?s family for the lost baby. Compensation for a human being! To the Minister, ?I say, ?you?ll likely see yourself in a witness stand explaining how you arrived at these conclusions which you made officially public.?
The very God that guided Madam Suweiba through the battle of torture in the delivery ward will surely guide us to see how this matter will end.
Long live our mothers! Long live Kwame Nkrumah?s Ghana!
The story of this missing baby may likely remain as one of the most scandalous stories of our times. Stories are usually told as myths with mysteries, but the mystery surrounding this ?missing? baby saga is extremely mysterious.
I begin with how the general public got to hear or know the story. A baby was born at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) somewhere 5th February this year. The usual procedure is to place the baby on the mother?s chest for she herself to also ascertain whether her baby is alive or is dead. In the said case, only the nurses and the hospital authorities claimed the baby was dead. The first question is, ?Did the mother also ascertain that her baby was dead?? Let?s assume the baby, presumably still alive, was actually dead. The second question is ?Hasn?t KATH got a procedure for handling dead babies?? As reported, the hospital has. The third question, ?was this ?dead? baby taken through the same procedure? The answer to this question is NO.
What the happened afterwards! The parents of the ?dead? baby wanted to see the corpse. The hospital authorities shamelessly and atrociously said it could not be found. As days went by, the couple and their relatives came back on several occasions demanding the corpse. As usual, the response from KATH authorities was the same. It was at this stage that the overtraumatized family exerted their anger and ?deservedly? disciplined some few hospital staff on duty. Predictably, the disciplined workers particularly the doctors, with whom I sympathized a bit, reported the matter as if they were unaware of the agony the family was going through. It was therefore the beating of some of the hospital workers?to whom missing of babies is a norm?that actually spread the ?missing? baby saga.
The Ministry of Health then established a committee to probe into the matter. The committee?s report as disclosed by the sector Minister and captioned ?Committee Indicts Doctor and Nurse in KATH Missing Baby Saga? (http://www.spyghana.com @28/02/2014) pointed out two contradictory issues. First, the report sought to confirm that the baby was born dead. Second, it showed that only one doctor and one nurse were indicted. These two workers were asked to proceed on leave to pave way for a thorough investigation while KATH was given a 14-day ultimatum to produce the bodies of five other babies.
Both the committee and the Ministry seriously erred by prematurely declaring the said baby dead. Evidently, the report submitted by the committee indicated unambiguously that there was a lack of communication between the doctor and the nurse who took care of the mother. The lack of communication was manifested in the contradictory reports on the health of mother and baby as given by the doctor and the nurse. Common sense suggests that the Ministry should have rather ordered KATH to produce the baby whether alive or dead. Therefore, ordering the hospital to produce the body of the baby is an impulsive attempt on the Minister?s part to declare the baby dead when in practice the baby is most likely alive.
Ironically, Ghana Police Service has already arrested 7 persons in connection with the incident (graphic.com.gh @ 27/02/2014). It is uncertain whether the police went in to arrest the suspected baby thieves on their own accord or whether it was KATH or the Ministry of Health that ordered their arrest. Professionally, the police maintain that they cannot declare the baby dead without seeing the body. It therefore remains unclear how and why the Health Minister hesitantly concluded that the baby was stillborn.
Whichever the reason might be, the case is more likely to die naturally. For instance, whilst the public know the names of the parents of the missing baby, the doctors who claimed they were beaten and those suspected of beating them, the names and identities of the doctor and nurses who either sold the baby or its corpse are held secretly?incident one that shows how the substance of the case will soon vanish into thin air.
I advice the doctors who claimed they were beaten to redirect their anger at KATH authorities and the Ghana Medical Association (GMA). Why? Because it was KATH authorities who were supposed to immediately summon and query all the doctors and nurses on duty who orchestrated the disappearance of the baby. This urgent action if undertaken by KATH would have produced two effects. First, it would have shown how they empathize with the affected family; thus, the family would have waited patiently for years for them to investigate the matter even without the public knowing it. Second, it would have shown that the hospital has no links with the disappearance of the presumably live baby. As it is now, every evidence suggests that missing of babies or their bodies is an institutionalized event at KATH. Therefore, KATH authorities are fully aware of the whereabouts of the said baby.
GMA was also expected to have immediately called for the arrest of all the doctors and nurses on duty. But it never did apparently because it is wholly focused on organizing the next meeting to announce a date for its members to strike for salary arrears. Is that the kind of work that professionals do and then ask for better remunerations? Nature will balance its own equations.
In my candid opinion, the baby was born live and it is still alive to-date. The baby is not missing either. It is only missing from the parents and the public, but the doctor and nurses on duty precisely know its whereabouts. The consistently horrendous response by KATH authorities that the baby is dead but with the corpse missing only shows how irresponsible and impious they are. That in one of the state?s most prestigious hospitals, a baby can be declared missing with the hospital authorities not immediately arresting and prosecuting negligent staff. This is unheard of. Nature will surely balance its own equations.
The said ?baby thieves? have already been granted bail; they are now relaxing with their families; they have already taken their February salaries and will still be receiving taxpayers? money as full salaries. Despite all these, no one knows how the agonies of the affected family are placated. Therefore, the manner in which the case is being handled is absolutely inappropriate.
I am appealing to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the govt at large to intervene and to take over the case. The govt through the Gender Ministry can establish a public committee to hear the case. The hearing can even be given live TV coverage. Here, testimonies of innumerable mothers who were ever given the same message?the baby is dead? will be so overwhelming that, the public and the state can then quantity the extent to which baby trafficking has thus far flourished in Ghana. There is a fully established syndicate, operating in nearly all the metropolitan hospitals, that is supplying babies to Western markets. It is because of the ease of getting babies that many people in the West are now choosing to be homosexuals. After all, without giving birth, babies to indoctrinate into homosexualism abound and are easily obtained.
My last question is, ?Why do people in authority want to be mistrusted so much?? Educationally, authorities in University of Ghana illegally imposed road tolls on the public and it took the students and public to over turn that inhumane policy. Traditionally, royal families have now factionalized?one faction sells land to some people, the other faction resells the same land to other people and then employs landguards to intimidate the other buyers. TDC epitomized this by irresponsibly destroying houses belonging to innocent people while the said chiefs, queen mothers and landguards are still living freely and sleeping in their houses. Religiously, men of God now preach only wealth with churches aggressively advertising themselves more than businesses do. Security-wise, police now rob the citizenry. Politically, every undetaking of the previous and current govt is heavily laded with question marks.
My advice to you (readers especially the ordinary citizenry) is to always suspect and then declare every authority guilty of wrongdoing based on your own criteria until the said authority proves himself or herself innocent. After all, if criteria established by the state were working, how could a baby born ?alive? be declared dead with the corpse still missing in no less a hospital but KATH.
To the youth of Kwame Nkrumah?s Ghana, let?s rise. The need for us to rise and to fight has become more necessary that ever. Our failure to rise and fight now will imply that our children will not only insult us, but they will also curse for wilfully allowing illegality and moral decadence to be normalized in our time.