As a little boy the city called Accra was a place with limitless enjoyment, in fact the Paradise the Bible talks about. I was made to understand Accra was allergic to poverty and human suffering, and was addicted to solving all the challenges imposed by poverty, ignorance and disease. No wonder anytime a village folk sojourned to Accra and came back, we held a vigil at his/her home to listen to the endless stories of good life which apparently were exaggerated and imaginative.
The sea was said to be the end of the world, and its water could cure your tooth decay as well as guinea worm infection. I still fail to forget when my maternal uncle (a Sub-chief) stated categorically that, in Accra cars were more than human beings, and when he was asked who then drives the cars; he fell asleep instantly and only woke up after the relevance of the question had elapsed. My dream was to be in this paradise where I will meet the angels responsible for good schools, success, wealth, jobs, natural but artistically designed ladies, and a customized car.
I first came to Accra in 1987 on a dual purse; firstly to visit my cousin, the late Mr. Fabian Mork, an accomplished Plastic Surgeon who led the establishment of Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, and to seek transfer from the Tamale Nurses Training Colleague to Korle-Bu Nurses Training Colleague. Mr. Mork had worked as a general surgeon, and later got scholarship to pursue further specialization in plastic surgery. The recommendation came as a surprise to him and the family as Fabian was an introvert and hardly mixed with peers. We later got to know that his hard work was picked by the National Security Adviser at that time who recommended him. Mr. Mork died two years after retirement and has suddenly been forgotten off. The country Ghana, the Ministry of Health, KBTH, and the numerous students he taught all have forgotten of a patriot.
I returned to Accra as a student of University of Ghana, Legon. With pressure on accommodation at the Vandal City, I found a place at the International Student Hostel, now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The only place one could get good food was the 37 military hospital area where my visits became routine. Constant harassment from political functionaries and their agents sent me back to my beloved Commonwealth Hall where Truth Stands, as a “percher” –a term used to describe unofficial resident.
Since I had developed likeness for the local foods at the military hospital area, I continued my patronage until this fateful day when my abdomen rejected the content I asked it to accommodate. Where will I go and discharge these unwanted passengers? I asked a few persons for the nearest public latrine and nobody seem to know. The trouble had started… there was pressure to discharge the content, and my anal sphincters were squeezed to the end. The pressure was increasing with constant threats of relaxation by the gatekeepers, compelling a change in my walking style.
The Bunkpurugu man was in trouble and needed an urgent attention as my friends and brothers were visibly worried especially my cousin Kenneth Najar (a brilliant psychology student). Immediately a solution came to mind. I asked to be taken to the hospital and jumped into a taxi cab despite that short distance. The taxi driver rushed me to the accident and emergency unit of the hospital. Even before they could asked me of my presenting complain I asked for sluice room. The nurse quickly took me in and there was no time to waste as the passengers were flowing out effortlessly as though I was a cholera patient. What a relief indeed. Interestingly I did not realize there was no tissue paper until the last passenger came out. Before this caring nurse could bring me a tissue paper I had made good use of my under wear. The nurse then came to me and gently asked, what the problem was, and I responded….it was an emergency in the city. Yes indeed visiting the wash room is an emergency situation. Until the passengers are eliminated you can’t find comfort. Worst still it has the potential to embarrass any person no matter your social standing.
On our way back to school we concluded it was necessary to identify where the public toilets were from Legon to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, and there was no single toilet facility. This has persisted for the last fourteen years. We should therefore not be surprise of cholera outbreaks in the city.
Failure to enforce byelaws is the bane of effective and efficient sanitation management in this country. Individuals who secure permit to operate food joints, drinking bars, shops and offices must provide toilet facilities before approval is granted.
The only way to contain cholera and other related conditions is to enforce sanitation bye-laws and stop the politisation of such important health issues. Continuous political equalization does not provide toilet facilities for the population.
Radio and Television producers should do this country good by hosting only technocrats to deal with technical issues and leave out the politicians, some of who have no faint knowledge in sanitation its health related dynamics.