Apart from the fact that Cuba is a communist country, majority of Cubans are Christians. As you are much aware Christians do not joke with Christmas, the Birthday of the Messiah, Lord Jesus Christ.
Many years ago, the late Communist leader of Cuba, Comrade Fidel Castrol ordered that Christmas should be postponed in order for farmers to go to the fields and harvest their sugarcane which was getting rotten on the field. Sugarcane is the main cash crop of Cuba but in that particular year, the country was anticipating bumper harvest of sugarcane when Christmas was around the corner.
In order not to allow the anticipated bumper harvest to rot on the fields, Comrade Castro ordered that no Cuban should celebrate Christmas that year and instead everybody should go to the fields during the Christmas festivities to harvest sugarcane since Christmas comes every year. It was a bitter choice made by the Cuban charismatic leader but he had to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea. Allow Cubans to celebrate Christmas with their Samba and allow the sugarcanes to rot on the fields. Cubans moved in sympathy with their leader because they saw reason in his order.
I am referring you to this Cuban experience because of the dilemma faced by our President Nana Akufo Addo.
Thousands of people are dying across the globe due to the novel Coronavirus and scientists of the utmost fame have advised governments to introduce a lockdown in order to stop the spread of the virus. When travelers to Ghana imported the virus to Ghana and some people died, the president had to swallow the bitter pill. Who wants to lockdown his country knowing the economic hardship that will follow the lockdown? The opposition parties were waiting for the president to drag his feet until many people die through the pandemic and use it to lambast the government for not acting swiftly enough.
The president and his team were smarter and when the situation became threatening he ordered a lockdown which has saved so many lives of Ghanaians who would have been infected by the virus if the president had delayed in locking down some cities in Ghana.
The first time the president spoke to the nation as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, I realized how serious the man was. So far, he has spoken to the nation in a nationwide broadcast on six occasions, warning the populace about the danger of the disease and asking Ghanaians to adhere to the advice given by our medical doctors and the World Health Organization in order to keep the Coronavirus at bay. That to me is the mark of a proactive Head of State.
The Coronavirus And The Example Of My Village Chief
If all chiefs in our villages were to be like the one in my holy village, the fight against this dangerous virus would have been half won. Recently I visited my holy village and decided to pay a courtesy call on my octogenarian chief as I used to do anytime I went back home. After the normal pleasantries he asked me why I had come back all too soon after leaving the village a few weeks earlier. I told him I came to start the cultivation of my maize farm now that the rains have started coming down. I told him that even though I am an office worker I wanted to contribute my quota towards the Planting for Food and Jobs flagship programme introduced by the Akufo-Addo led administration. He thanked me profusely for making that choice since a soldier matches on his belly.
As I was about to leave him, he asked me to sit down for a while because he needed some explanation from me since I am educated and live in the city. Listen to him: “My nephew, what is all about this thing they call “Codona Balos” I understood him because as an illiterate and at his age he could not be able to pronounce the word well. I took time to explain to him the genesis of the novel coronavirus and how dangerous it is. I told him thousands of people have died globally through the deadly disease and that for now there is neither cure nor any vaccine to cure the virus if in case one contracts it. The old man, after listening to me attentively shouted on top of his voice: “Eh, me wofase. Enie yedie no enye” (Eh, my nephew, then the disease is not good”)
The old man asked me what can be done for his people to know the seriousness of the disease since some youth in the village are joking with it and treating it as a joke by the government to distract people from speaking against the government.
I advised him to ask his gong gong beater to summon everybody to his palace, invite a health worker and the NADMO Coordinator to address the crowd and explain the danger associated with the virus to them. He quickly instructed his linguist to call the gong gong beater to his palace. Before I could blink an eye the gong gong beater arrived and the old man instructed him to beat the gong gong that same night and ask the villagers not to go to farm but to assemble in his palace for an important information. He again asked his linguist to go to the district capital the following morning to bring a nurse and the district boss of the NADMO to come and educate his people about the virus and how to avoid contracting it.
As you might be aware every word of a village chief is law so the following morning no one went to farm but they all trooped to the chiefs palace to listen to the nurse and the NADMO coordinator. How I wish all village chiefs will follow the path of my village chief. For now I am not going back to the city since I am more comfortable working on my farm.
Coronavirus has driven me into the bush. Who say man no dey!!
By Eric Bawah