Ghanaian Chronicle

The Academy Of Lag Ado

Date published: February 27, 2013

Sherry AyitteyIt was on a night-duty at the “Intensive Care Unit” of the Department of Brain Surgery at the Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany, that I once encountered a “youngish” male nurse, who politely requested I assist him translate some text from German into English.  The young man was “a free lance columnist” for a newspaper that was published in England. We met so often thereafter. Jonathan Swift, who wrote mostly satires, was the author the young man wrote mostly about. He lived in the 17th/18th centuries in London, and his work was outstanding on political satires.  An example would be “Gulliver’s Travels.” In it, he wrote on “The Academy of Lag ado”.   You got ill, and you were thrown into jail, but when you robbed a bank, you received tender care in hospital.  The first time I experienced anything that could be reminiscent of such a satirical piece was when I recently had something to do in the erstwhile Garden City, which has retained the other name of Glamour, “Oseikrom.”  I am sure we haven’t forgotten the “Asantehene”, Nana Osei Tutu I, and of course, the 2nd.  Smack in the middle point of the four flights of stairs that would take you from the ground floor to the second of a five-storey building, a lady in her thirties was artistically “wedged” with a dozen or two enameled plates, a voluminous dish each for a stew with palm nut flavor, an aroma difficult to describe, and the other, groundnuts, or “some nuts” that would whet your appetite, and you had no choice but to sniff as you passed by, ascending, or descending the stairs.  I would treat myself to a bowl, if it had been somewhere else. Too many feet “stomped” it by where she was stationed, and her concoctions, even though they were in the enameled plates, “sat” smack on the floor. She seemed to have got “some authority” to be able to do what she did at the point where she did it. But, I observed different people, only males for that matter, who were “having a treat”, both on my way up, as down. I had been up there to deliver a talk to some community on “Senescence”.  You would willy-nilly talk about Geriatrics if you had that “unfortunate” assignment.  I could take my mind off the lady’s business whilst in the studio, but once I came to descend yet again,  I was forced, if you will, to get my mind pre-occupied with the micro-organisms which her customers would be imbibing, albeit most of them, or all of them, unawares. The talk from official circles would win almost the absolute majority that gargantuan efforts were being made to drive the state of public health to heights unknown in the past. Asclepius was the Greek God of Health. Hygeia, his daughter, was assigned the essence of Hygiene. Panacea his wife, and in care of health, as absolute solution, had the power to heal in toto. That was 430 BC. That must have been in order.  Europe has passed through the dark ages, where diseases were not fought, but deified. The Orient did not fare any better. My topic for the radio-audience that day was the “rude conquest” of thirty more years, upon Almighty God’s gift of three score and ten. Has that not been an element of arrogance in God’s face by Medical Science?  I have not been faced with a tougher question. Medically-Scientifically, it seems mankind is poised to push life expectancy to a century and-a-half before the end of the 21st Century. A lot of infectious diseases, which used to take us off before we would have passed teenage, are no more with the potency of those yesteryears.  Tuberculosis (consumption), a village robber of young peoples’ health and life, has lost it all to the power of health-science. If you dared spit in public in Frankfurt/Main, or Frankfurt/Odder, you would go home a couple of Euros poorer, or you could boast of too much freedom, if you did not have money in your pocket.  But, listen to a difference. On a luxury bus, mostly manufactured in South Korea, you would pay the equivalent of US$10 for a ticket that would take you from the nation’s capital to “Oseikrom”. “Luxury”, because the seats are “comfortable” and you can watch “close-to-pornography” films, and once en route, the bus would stop for the guests to entertain themselves to menus deemed “super” here, but for sure sub-standard if a neutral body would certify the items.  You would be booed if you complained.  So, all keep quiet, and the journey proceeds.  It often happens that, somewhere en route, a child, or an adult would need to ease himself/herself. You would observe the thrilling occasion when a colony of men and women carrying babies troupe to the wayside bush for the secrecy, and return to the luxury bus, hands “un-washed!”  The journey continues “in luxury”, with the chauffeur’s acquiescence.  Kofi Dankyi Beeko, MD [email protected]



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