JIM’S JOTTINGS: On Fiery Rains, a Presidential Gaffe & an Old Lady

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TOPSHOT - A man watches the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burn, engulfed in flames, in central Paris on April 15, 2019.(Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)

Even in these times when the breakneck speed of news all around the world seems to have numbed many to shocking reports, the last week hasn’t been easy, but do pardon me for narrowing it all down to events involving Paris, the Catholic Church, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (NADAA) and the country he presides over, Ghana.

Events of the last few days struck a nerve for two main reasons, and while I shall get to those in a bit, here’s a quick recap of exactly what happened and why this episode served an umpteenth reminder of an all-too-familiar problem people are only now embracing the need to address.

Sunday evening found Ghanaians relaxed and readying themselves for the start of a new working week in Accra. Clouds thickened, yielding hour-long rainfall interspersed by bouts of thunder and lightning. Now, elsewhere in the world — specifically in more organized societies — that would have been welcome. In the city of Accra, though, the reception couldn’t be more different.

An often tragic combination of structural deficiencies, poor architectural designs, inadequate sanitation, lack of political will and all those other factors listed in our Social Studies textbooks usually means one thing only when the rains come around: floods.

True to form, mere hours later, news filtered in that about a dozen people — including a married couple employed by the Ghana Armed Forces — became the latest additions to the needless statistic of flood victims in the country. Quite reasonably, Ghanaians were aggrieved by such losses, but many — especially those active on social media — had even greater cause to register their displeasure.

As these fumed on Twitter, flames of fire did same in Parisian skies, with a stunned world looking on in horror as the French capital’s iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral was razed down. Doubtlessly one of the most endearing and enduring structures known to man, Notre-Dame has survived over 850 Christmases, two world wars, the French Revolution, and all the destructive elements that could possibly be packed in nearly nine centuries of existence. Unsurprisingly, eminent global personalities hurriedly expressed their sympathies over such damage to a monument so grand, with Ghana’s head of state only one of those.

Nice move, eh?

Not quite.

See, while it’s generally well and good to show concern and mourn with those who mourn — even as the Good Book exhorts us to — the optics of NADAA quickly issuing a statement via his official Twitter account in solidarity with stricken France was just not right at a time when some among his own had needlessly perished because of a perennial yet avoidable problem his government doesn’t seem as quick to do much about. Maybe the blunder wasn’t intended, and indeed NADAA did eventually commiserate with the bereaved families, but those belated expressions felt rather forced, following the bashing dished out in the immediate aftermath of his faux pas.

Sorry, His Excellency, but you messed up big time. Never again!

Jimmy Aidoo – Daily Mail GH

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