Though this article was originally published on Monday, November 28, & December 5, 2011, it still speaks to the importance of vision in national and continental development.
One morning, many months ago, the nation awoke to the disturbing truth that doctors of the Cardio-Thoracic Centre, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, are on strike. And their concern was that the Head of the Centre, Dr. Frimpong Boateng, had been sacked. The sacking itself did not make sense to anyone who knew very well the Centre?s story ? that it was Frimpong Boateng?s dream, that he sought the original funds used to set it up and that he assiduously led the hard work to establish it.
He had been working and earning great money in Germany, but consulted his pillow one day and decided to return to his motherland or fatherland, the Republic of Ghana. Apparently, through conversations with friends and family and, probably, from personal home visits, he realised Ghana?s premier hospital, Korle Bu, did not have a separate department for surgery on and treatment of heart problems. At the time, Korle Bu had some specialist physicians and surgeons in all fields of medicine, including cardio-thoracic or heart, but did not have a centre for it. So he decided to build one.
Thus when he took the decision to end his domicile in Germany, Frimpong Boateng?s mission was to set up the Cardio-Thoracic Centre at Korle Bu. Off the ground, that centre had several advantages. To take heart surgery/treatment cases out of the general-practice theatre and put it in a separate department required upgrading: Korle Bu was going to bring in specialised equipment and logistics. Also the hospital was going to recruit and put in specialist doctors to deal with only heart problems. Once the Centre was set up, the doctors, nurses and other staff have been working on only heart problems and are day-by-day gaining experience; it is today a specialist Centre. And I suspect doctors who school at the College of Surgeons and Physicians do go sometimes for practical tutorial.
As to its importance in the lives of citizens, one only needs to visit the Centre any day to see the numbers that troop there with heart problems.
Frimpong Boateng?s Sacrifices
That and more are the benefits Ghana is gaining from the accomplished mission of Dr. Frimpong Boateng when he left all the money he was making in Germany and returned to Accra.
Whereas he was working for himself, he decided to come home to work for the nation. And Dear Reader, that is something I wish you would keep in mind as you read along.
Of course, the state must have helped in some way to start the Centre, in say setting out the land area for it, but the start-up capital, I hear, was procured through Frimpong Boateng personal initiative. And since he was an expert in the job, and had proven himself as a man with initiative and very resourceful, it was only natural to appoint him as the head of the Centre.
Guessing from the comments by radio and television panellists, who discussed the doctors? strike and the sacking of their head, and from the expressed anger of those who called into those discussion shows, it was easy for anyone to realise the public was shocked and enraged over the sacking of the doctor. But the sum of those livid commentators were saying is that Ghana is not worth dying for.
Why did the Castle Do It
Before going into that however, let us take a short detour. I have been in this inky sibliternity (my own coinage) long enough to know that timing does matter a lot at crucial times in governance, and that it is easily used as a diversionary tool when national administrations wish to control the thinking of the masses. Hence Ti-Kelenkelen?s suspicion was hit hard by the timing of the release of news of Frimpong Boateng?s sacking to the doctors. Obviously, the news was dispatched to the hospital much earlier; because the doctors? strike became news the very day the Utilities Regulatory Commission (URC) announced national administration?s order to increase water rate by 6% and that of electricity by 7%.
And so on the given day, I watched and listened in amazement how the increase in utilities? rates was left untouched on ? or better still, pushed off ? the table of public discourse as people were emotionally involved with and very concerned about the sacking of Dr. Frimpong Boateng.
National administrations, under the instructions of National Security, are using that diversionary tactic when it wants to take the heat of itself over unpopular decisions/policies they know the people will be enraged over. Interestingly, the NDC, during campaign for Election 2008, promised ?drastic reductions? in fuel prices and better services across board. The Mills-Mahama administration has actually done the exact opposite. Thus the Mills-Mahama administration, fully aware of obvious public reaction to the fresh increases in utilities? rates, decided to play the diversion card.
And since Frimpong Boateng is a leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP,) the obvious partisan-political nature of the matter immediately arrested the attention of the public. And it captured our attention so completely it did the trick of letting the Mills-Mahama administration off the hook over the increases in utilities? charges. Or maybe Ghanaians were tired of talking about it, since it was simply another fabric in a recognisable pattern
Anyway, the day after Ghana received the report of the doctors? strike, another report said one person had died at the centre, because of it. That is sad indeed, especially because it could have been prevented.
Apparently, in the evening of the previous day, a Health minister and other national administration officials had come public to explain that Dr. Frimpong Boateng, 62, has passed the retirement age, 60, and that section 44 (?) of the Civil Service Act says he should have gone on compulsory retirement two years ago. That, they affirmed, is the reason President Mills sent Frimpong Boateng a letter asking him to resign.
I will not go into an objective appraisal of the partisan-politicisation of the matter. Dear Reader, if my head were pawpaw and you could split it and look inside you will see I am tired of partisan-politicisation and how we are using it to hold ourselves down and destroy our country. Hence my pre-occupation here is with the grave import inherent in that action by Mills administration.
And so the Kinetic motion in my system is at its lowest. It is, because I was shocked into silence, indeed, drenched by the realisation that the Mills-Mahama administration seemed either unaware of the true import of what it did, or it did not care about that import and the impression it left on we the people of Ghana. And I suspect, unfortunately, that the latter might be the case, since the timing of the sacking was a mere diversionary tactic.
Some Hard but Simple Facts
I recall that over a decade and half ago, during the Rawlings era(s,) there was a teenager at one of the Ghana Industry and Technology (INDUTECH) Fairs who put on show a human robot he had built and controlled with a remote device to perform several actions. Enye se ye se (Twi,) aloo akee (Ga.) I saw the boy with my own eyes, yaagani (Hausa)! I even spoke to him, and learnt, interestingly that he was still in basic school and had no formal knowledge in electronics, computer science or even robotics. Amazingly, he disclosed, he made the robot through observation, tinkering and ? what I figured as ? intuition. And the robot was not only handsome, but this boy could make it do his bidding ? move forward, backwards, raise its arms, turn around, etc.
Today, sitting at my computer and writing this article I am compelled to ask: Where is that boy and what is he doing? I ask, because after the fair, the boy just disappeared, into oblivion.
During the fair, I heard the minister for Industries at the time, when he open the fair, saw the boy stage a demonstration with his robot. He enjoyed it, praised the boy and promised to do something about him and his talent. But that was all the minister ever did ? talk. Even Rawlings was there on the launch day, I heard. Rawlings also praised the boy?s handiwork, but nothing happened afterwards.
I saw the teenage robot-maker probably fifteen years ago. Can you imagine where he would be today, what he would be doing, how much he would be earning from designing and making robots for companies all over the world and how much foreign currency he would have been bringing into his country today if he had out-doored his invention at a fair in the US, Japan, China or India?