Esi slowly fanned the charcoal pot, coaxing the dying embers so she could heat up the three-day-old soup which would go along with banku for her family’s lunch. She has a kerosene stove but the price of kerosene has risen so high in the past few months that the only way she would have bought kerosene were if kerosene had suddenly become edible.
While the soup heated up, she stepped into her home and noticed the ceiling fan working in an empty room. She didn’t know who had left it on and since none of her children were around and no one to berate, she switched it off herself and began to mumble to herself as she stepped into her kitchen area to pick up a few dishes. One of her children must have left it on, she thought, even after she had warned them severely to always put it off when they were done. Everything was costly these days: electricity, water, kerosene; all basic necessities.
She went back out to tend to the soup. Just across from her, her husband and a few of his friends were seated under a tree listening to the President’s State of the Nation address on the radio. She wasn’t paying close attention but a few things periodically drifted into her consciousness. She heard the President speak glowingly about health care and wondered absentmindedly why none of the huge sums being mentioned as used for health care had impacted her community’s polyclinic. Esi cast her mind back to when her son Adu dislocated his shoulder a few months ago while playing football. The nurse on duty in the clinic – one of only three nurses who staffed the polyclinic – had no experience in fixing dislocated shoulders and so she had been unable to help Esi’s son who was obviously in so much pain. The doctor attached to that clinic was also on call at other clinics and her son had had the misfortune of dislocating his shoulder the day after the doctor’s weekly visit. The doctor would not be back for another five days. So, Esi’s husband had had to charter a taxi, the cost of which still gave Esi nightmares at night, to transport Adu to the Regional Hospital two hours away for just a dislocated shoulder.
Esi’s husband was a teacher at the local primary and junior high school. He taught a variety of subjects, and that was not unusual; the school was understaffed. It was also under-resourced. There were not enough desks for students and textbooks were hard to come by. Her husband deserved to be teaching in one of the big schools in the Capital, Esi thought, but he had been transferred here instead and he was doing his very best and trying to make a mark.
Esi stopped her reminiscing and dished out some food for her husband and his friends. They thanked her and began eating, but their attention never wavered from the voice on the radio. She wondered when it would end. Two hours later, the children, tired and hungry finally came back from the playground. After they had washed down, Esi served them lunch too. She happened to glance outside and noticed the men were still on the radio and the voice showed no sign of stopping. She turned around, went back to her chores and wondered why none of the many initiatives and successes which needed almost four hours to state hadn’t impacted her community.
The President of Ghana delivered his State Of The Nation address last Thursday and if you didn’t already know by now, it lasted the better part of four hours. The President made so many claims in his address and mainstream media will in the coming days analyze them in order to see if all his claims hold up. Already, there have been rebuttals to some of the President’s claims with some journalists pointing out that a few of his claims were fabricated. The President certainly tried to prove his case by inviting some of the beneficiaries of his initiatives to attend his address. The idea of presenting the very people who have benefited from some of his policies is certainly interesting but Government is not an NGO. The President must not see helping two, three or a hundred people as proof that his policies or initiatives are working. These policies or initiatives have to resonate throughout the country and affect the majority of people who need these interventions. Ghanaians wouldn’t need a citizen paraded in front of them like a trophy as proof of Government’s hard work if the effect of these policies is felt by all and sundry. Esi’s story is a microcosm of the Ghanaian situation and many Ghanaians, like Esi, need to see the impact of these interventions on their lives.
Author: Senam, threesixtyGh Writer