Archive for aged

Count Your Blessings

Posted in General Blogs, Tamale chronicles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2022 by kola

The songwriter says count your blessings, name them one by one, see what glorious mercies the lord has done.

More often than not we look outward and count the bigger blessings like having a house, a car, and the material things in life. Have we ever stopped to think that the most important blessings are the little ones?

First and foremost, we have life. How many funerals were there this past weekend alone? Yet we are alive and kicking. The greatest gift God has given us is the gift of another day and we need to be grateful.

Now you saw today huh. Yes the gift of sight. That’s another blessing on its own. It is part of the gift of all the senses. I remember during the pandemic how people were eager just to smell the things that hitherto they considered pungent like the smell at that korle area or Odawna in Accra or the forest in front of Modern City Hotel during the heat season or the various open defecation places in Tamale, and I remember how it gave me the freedom to fart freely at seminars and workshops and if you could smell it through your nose mask it was considered albeit jokingly that you were covid free. 😂😂

Heh! This world. Something that was socially inappropriate now becomes accepted because it becomes a marker for something serious.

If you want to understand the magnitude of the gift of life and the many blessings one enjoys daily just spend a few hours at any hospital emergency or OPD. One time I was in the hospital and the orderlies sent to collect the oxygen tank ended up engaging in an auction for the tank since there was only one tank and three people wanted it. It became a haggle for who could pay more for the tank right there and then. The haggling went on for a while and then the highest bidder paid 80 cedis an hour for the oxygen.

I felt water tricking down the front of my shirt and apparently whilst the haggling was going on it had dawned on me the implication of what was happening right in front of me. Somebody was going to pay 80 cedis an hour to live for the air that I could breathe freely and if I didn’t want it could just fart it out freely too.

Now let me do a little Bawumiaconomics here..  If I am 40 years old plus, and for every hour that I have been on this earth I was paying even one Ghana per hour on the oxygen that I was breathing, how much will that be? That will be One Ghana multiplied by 24, multiplied by 7 days a week, multiplied by 30 days a month, multiplied by 365 days a year and finally multiplied by my age. That’s how much gratefulness I owed to God.

Indeed when the songwriter said count your blessings, I truly didn’t consider this as much of a blessing but more like an entitlement as a human, since I was living. Until this haggling /auction incident.

Today as I write this, I have gone to play soccer, yeah, my first soccer game after my knee accident, and again I have pulled a hamstring. I really need to consider my age when doing some things and not overdo it since I’m no spring chicken anymore as most of my friends will be quick to point out to me.  But the thing is that, that little muscle that I have pulled hurts like hmm and when I walk it is like I am walking on pines and needles. It is a little muscle just under my butt cheek but with the pain it makes sitting pretty difficult and walking is as awkward as can be.

What I take from all this is to give glory to God because in His perfect wisdom He created the human body and every sinew, muscle or bone is important in its place in the body structure. It shows the magnificence of God. If you don’t believe it just stick your thumb in your palm and try to pick anything up. See if you can.

Another thing is that small part of the ear that controls the whole balance in your body. That explains why when one is slapped so hard the person just falls flat.

In essence all I am saying is let us just appreciate the little things in life. I do appreciate a lot, even the fact that you are the one reading this. If it wasn’t for you, who would I be expressing my thoughts to.

Appreciate the everyday things around you and the everyday people too. The little things that you see around are the same things that come together to constitute the big thing you call life.

The more appreciative we are in life, the easier life gets for us and God Himself inhabits the praise of His creation. Let’s be grateful to God and give glory for his blessings in our life.

Thank God for a new day each day.

Like I always say it begins with YOU!


Fostering: Caregiving The African Way

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2013 by kola


Back in graduate school I wrote a paper on caregiving in the African context that got me an A. Walking back from church I saw these Chadean child beggars that have plagued Ghanaian streets (yes they are in Tamale too). One such Chadean family lives in my neighborhood in Tamale and I noticed that for once the children were without their parents. I think I have noticed it before on a Sunday too but didn’t pay it much attention. It seems that on Sundays the adults stay at home whilst the children go out to town alone to do the begging and then get to keep the money they make.

These children are always under strict supervision by their mothers or sometimes the fathers who are very vigilant and will sit in a shade nearby chatting away or smoking a cigarette. An observant person will notice that even when the child gets a coin, (s)he walks straight to whoever the supervising adult is, male or female and hands it over and goes back to begging. But on this Sunday, the children were alone. The only supervisor was an older one among them who happened to be a girl. She modulated their movements and monitored their pacing on the streets. Afterwards she organized a taxi for them to take home paid for from their ‘earnings’.

This reminded me so much of fostering in the African system and caregiving in the extended family system. This is especially true where older children are trained to babysit younger siblings whilst parents go about their duties of the day. They practically act as babysitters and it is an informal training ground not only on interpersonal relationships but also gives these usually young girls the experience of taking care of children even before they become adults.

Examining this in a broader context of the extended family system we realize that these children are not necessarily biological children of the parents but rather extended family relatives such as nephews and nieces who are brought up under one roof and taken care of by a single relative on the surface, but are in reality the responsibility of the whole family. What this points out is that bringing children up in Africa is a collective responsibility of the whole family.

To understand this concept best I always use my family as an example. My mother is the first of a family of five; four women and a man and they half a half-sister who was older (God rest her soul). Each person in the family went their different ways with their different careers and professions. However when my grandpa died they had to come to an agreement to cater for their aged mother. It was agreed that since grandma will not leave the village, gradually developed into a town, it was imperative that somebody stay home to take care of her.

It was agreed among the sisters then that one of them should stay with grandma and provide her every need. This meant that she had to quit her profession and be at the old lady’s beck and call. It was also agreed that her children will be a shared responsibility among the other sisters and brother. They will all pitch in and take care of their upbringing until a time when these children were adults and could take care of themselves. Thus it was a win-win situation for everybody. We children got our grandma to pamper us and we also got to mingle with our cousins any time they stayed over. It was one big happy family.

Even before this system was established, our grandpa made sure that at every year’s end, the whole family gathered together (like in a family cookout type) where any grievances against other family members and even outsiders were aired out and settled. For a formal illiterate gentleman my grandpa called it ‘mente-ness’ (maintenance). At such gatherings there were closed door meetings that we children didn’t understand but now as adults we do.

Along the line my brothers and I grew up with 2 older female cousins who practically raised us and I am eternally grateful to Sister Comfort who now lives in Canada with her own family for the discipline and moral guidance she gave us. She was strict to a fault and there were times we even preferred our mother’s punishment to hers. She was our friend and confidant but I wished she had taught us more in the ways of girls so we would have been prepared for our interactions with the opposite sex. It was quite uncomfortable and embarrassing getting those lessons on female anatomy from your mother who is a senior nursing officer, sometimes too graphic for our shy selves.

In today’s cosmopolitan world, Africans are losing touch of our African values and systems. We are becoming more nuclear family oriented and fostering is long disappeared. Instead of going to take a niece to help raise children of corporate women, they would rather go to agencies specialized in provision of ‘househelps’. When did this one too start? Our aged are neglected and left in rooms all day with no one particularly paying any attention to them. Some people are sending our aged to expensive old people’s homes (an European concept that is fast growing in Africa). It is more like we are just waiting for them to die so we can have an elaborate funeral to show our opulence and sense of individual achievement.

Other countries are trying to blend the African system of caregiving into their systems and we are fast getting rid of them. In Obama’s proposed Health Bill that was passed amidst lots of protest, he proposes that funding to Old folks Homes be reduced so that families be encouraged to take care of their aged at home where they can stay with the people they love around them and enjoy their last days on earth being around family. The money should instead be given to the caregivers who take care of this aged so they don’t lose out on any income. How different is this from the caregiving system my family is practicing now?

Africans need to stop copying blindly from western concepts but rather since we are in a fast growing and changing world, we should be able to blend the good and progressive to what we already have. Instead of just trying to be blindly cosmopolitan, let us strive to be Afropolitan: blend the African systems with the cosmopolitan.

Like I always say, it begins with YOU!!


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