In recent times, the nation’s sensibilities and spirit of solidarity have been stridently tested and sore punctured by a series of “plight or prank” sagas; with each of these heady stuff drawing an increasing groan of exasperation from the nation.
And perhaps, because the practice of estimating the cost of responding to disasters and emergency situations in this country is – for want of a better description – still rudimentary, many are unable to appreciate the harmful impact such behaviours have on the nation’s image, the economy and our collective psyche. However, I believe we have our finger on the pulse of many people in our country today, if we say enough of the “April fools”.
My five-year-old granddaughter who has always pretended to be beating her little cousin has lately been telling her, “…One of these days I will beat you for real”. As a nation, we must snap the trap before we get hurt really bad. But the question is, how do we go about it?
Not quite long ago, we had Joyce Dzidzor Mensah, till then, an AIDS Ambassador, who went on air to declare that she never tested positive for HIV/AIDS, contrary to what we were made to believe. This was after years of service in that role as an HIV/AIDS ambassador; having earned the trust of Ghanaians and successfully built her reputation and resource base as an educator of the youth and students.
Last year, the nation woke up to another rude shock when it was given a new prank deal. The popular boxer, Braimah Kamoko, also known as “Bukom Banku“, orchestrated a rumour about his “death” through a motor accident. His reason for doing that was for him to measure how much he was loved; and to gauge people’s reaction to his death.
Through that, he saw that Ghanaians really loved him. When questioned about his approach, he saw nothing wrong with the panic, the trauma, the tears and the pandemonium he threw his community into and the impact of the shock the news of his death might have had on the nation. What a queer way to test popularity! It was not surprising, therefore, to see him struggling to apologise to the nation for what he did.
I think it would have been more beneficial to him if he had tried to write his own obituary. Embarking on the “Write your obituary” exercise is highly beneficial, particularly for those who aren’t too sure of where life is taking them.
That would have offered him the opportunity to analyse his own life history to the point where he could project his future based on the past. Looking back on his life and what he had done with it, he would have realised that his life and that of people close to him would only become miserable down the road if he failed to take positive corrective actions to right the negatives and the pitfalls. His corrective actions would then leave a much better picture of him than this big ego thing of trying to deceive the nation.
And now, Naana Appiah Antwi – aka Adaeze Onyinyechie Ayoka or Ms Ada- just staged her own “kidnapping and sexual assault”, after which she is alleged to have posted her nude pictures on social media.
Her actions not only muddied the waters of our compassion; it has gravely seared the nation’s conscience. It has shaken to the core the cultural adroitness towards the issue of violence against women. How do we react to the next case of kidnap and sexual assault of another woman? Do we have to believe it?
The institutions and their responses
The tango between Joyce Mensah and the Ghana AIDS Commission put the latter very much under the spotlight. It did call into question the commission’s credibility as an honest global partner in the fight against HIV/AIDS and how strong its work ethics were. The impact of the negative press negatively affected the nation’s image abroad.
How could this have happened? Were the protocols guiding the recruitment and engagement of persons for such roles critical and elaborate enough?
What regime did the commission have in place for monitoring its ambassadors? Were the ambassadors undergoing periodic checks to assess and monitor their state of health, physically and mentally?
My interactions with HIV/AIDS ambassadors elsewhere seem to suggest that they were kept abreast of new developments in the evolution of the pandemic, through the alignment of such new information with their current test. For example, if it was about strains or viral loads, it was about their data and how they were impacted that were being cited to educate and inform.
Did we observe this with our ambassadors? Or were they made to concern themselves with just the basics?
As a commission of that repute, whose programmes were largely funded through donor support, it wouldn’t matter how it managed to save its face, its reputation and approach to work was sure to have come under measure of closer scrutiny of its partners. And from muted reactions of suspicion to threats of suspension or withdrawal of support, our development partners would have had this wide range of options to act on as a result of the story.
What has happened to the case? Should we “let sleeping dogs lie” because the issue is off the air? As a nation, we got bruised alongside the commission; it is, therefore, only fair that we ask, especially for the assurance that measures have been put in place to stymy any similar occurrence.
And now the weird story of Ms Ada that put our teeth on edge. Why did she stage her abduction and gang rape? How did the police, who claim to have knowledge of four previous complaints by the same actress, handle her before she had the audacity to act the fifth episode?