All publications of Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kw . Accra , Ghana
TAKORADI - AHANTA CITY OF PRIDE
Takoradi has always been the pride of Ahanta and will continue to be despite the language shift from Ahanta to Fante. There are many factors to that and hopefully history will correct itself someday for Ahanta to gain its lost glory in Takoradi. Natives of Takoradi have always identified themselves to be Ahantas and that alone brightens the future for us and hopefully with concerted efforts, we will make things right.
As far as Ahanta is concerned, there has not been any group of people who have been loyal to the traditions of Ahanta more than the people of Takoradi. It used to be one of the strongholds of Ahanta in ancient times until very recently when everything turned upside down in Takoradi making it to lose its Ahanta fragrance.
I hear there has always been litigations to cede Takoradi from Ahanta Traditional Council and that saddens me a lot. Oh my beloved Ahanta! Where did we go wrong? How did we get here?
Know and understand that unity is strength and for that matter no combined forces can break brooms if tied together. It is time to pull our strength and come together as one people with common destiny than continously allow ourselves to be used to serve the interest of others against our own collective well-being. We still have chance to make things right for ourselves and our future generations.
Takoradi has always remained the largest, prominent and most influential town in the history of Ahanta. Whereas Owusua (Busua) remained the central seat of government, governance and politics, Takoradi remained the seat of commerce and the "life wire" of ancient Ahanta. When the Europeans came to Gold Coast, they described Takoradi as "populous" and why popolus? They found more people living in one town or village in Takoradi more than all other places they have been, especially along the coast of West Africa.
Life in Takoradi was already "cosmopolitan" and booming before the arrival of the Europeans. Life there has always been vibrant with trading and commercial activities way before our European friends arrived on the shores of Takoradi. The Ahantas of ancient days were converging there for their trading and commercial activities. It also served as a link between the coast and those Ahantas in the hinterlands. In fact, we were told that it used to be a large market center in ancient Ahanta.
Whereas the native name of Takoradi has been buried deep in the crust of the earth, the current name traces its origin to Fort Tacaray also known as Fort Wisten which was built by the Dutch in 1665. I have heard several accounts and narrations including one of a certain "Ntakor tree" under which the forefathers of Takoradi were believed to have first settled but that narration is actually very inconsistent with Ahanta. The argument that Takoradi means "NTAKORASE" which is translated to mean under the "Ntakor tree" does not resonate with Ahanta but this is academic exercise and a subject of research. I on the other hand find the Tacaray narration more appropriate and convincing as it shows how the "Tacaray" became corrupted and eventually came to be known as Takoradi that we know today.
Fort Tacaray as I earlier mentioned was built in 1665 as a trading post for the Dutch but the native Ahantas protested them constantly. The natives of Takoradi have a long history of protesting and resisting the Europeans, particularly the Dutch. They never wanted to have anything to do with them and let alone to find them on their shores so they were constantly at war with them. Whereas the Europeans seemed to have found comfort in the neighboring town of Sekondi, the natives of Takoradi were always at war them and that made Wellin Bosman the Dutch explorer who toured Gold Coast in 1700s to describe Ahantas as martial. Martial because they were always protesting and fighting them.
In 1864, Fort Tacaray was again destroyed probably because of Ahanta resistance and left abondoned by the Dutch. In 1864, Badu Bonso II had been killed and for more than 10 years the Dutch had prevented installation of a new Ahanta king by maintaining large presence of military and deployments in Ahanta particularly in Busua but the Ahantas were involved in guerrilla tactics with the Dutch. However, a Dutch map of 1791 showed that the Dutch renewed their presence there and actively involved in trading activities until 6th April 1876 when the Dutch sold Fort Tacaray together with all their possessions in Gold Coast to the British and left.
In fact, that is the exact spot where Badu Bonso II killed then Dutch governor of Gold Coast Tonneboeijer during the first Dutch-Ahanta war of 1838. Badu Bonso II had killed two Dutch officials who were dispatched by Tonneboeijer to have him arrested and brought to him at Elmina castle whether dead or alive but when the news got him, he decided to go and have Badu Bonso arrested by himself. When Badu Bonso II heard that Tonneboeijer was heading to Ahanta with forces to have him arrested, he met them at the site of Fort Tacaray and in less than 30 minutes, Badu Bonso II had annihilated the forces of Tonneboeijer and had him killed at the entrance of Fort Tacaray and took his head to his palace at Busua.
That very action of Badu Bonso II attracted reprisal attacks from the Dutch when the news reached Haque and in July 1838, the Dutch launch a reprisal attack on Ahanta after they brought mercenaries from Haque lead by General Verveer. In second Dutch-Ahanta war of 1838, Badu Bonso II himself was killed and several Ahanta nobles and royals were captured and sent to Elmina to be transported to Dutch West Indies. Takoradi was completely destroyed and left in ruins. After the war, the natives returned and resettled until the Dutch left in 1876.
Where we see as Takoradi of today is is not the original township. The original settlement is somewhere near Takoradi Harbour along the Coast. In fact, there were dotted Ahanta settlements there but were all relocated to pave way for the construction of Takoradi Harbour in the 1920s by Gordon Guggisberg's colonial administration. It the reason why the current city of Takoradi is one of beautifully outlayed cities in Ghana. The English modelled it to look like their cities in England.
As years go by the name Tacaray corrupted and by 1700s, the Dutch themselves called the place Taccorari and similar pronunciations by other Europeans like the Portuguese, the Germans, the Danes and the Swedes. In 1880s the place had come to be known as Takorady and then eventually Takoradi as we know today.
Takoradi is Ahanta land and remains our pride.
Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III
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"ABELE AZANI"- THE SPIRITUAL GRAIN THAT SUSTAINED AHANTA THROUGHOUT THE AGES.
The traditional food for the people of Ahanta is "Foomfoom" and the best of it is the one prepared with RED MAIZE also known as "Abele Azani" in Ahanta language. Preparing "Foomfoom" is a bit hectic and time consuming but it is actually what a traditional Ahanta man or woman would want to have as his or her last meal of the day. Why? Our forefathers said it cures and heal us of our diseases, sicknesses and grant us long life with good health.
Aside being their traditional food, Ahantas believe in the spirituality of "Abele Azani". For them, "Abele Azani" is a source of long life and good health. They believe it has spiritual connotations and ancestral connections which tightens the bond between the living and the dead. They consider it as a weapon to drive away demons and evil forces their homes. It fortifies them against dark powers and misfortunes but bring them good luck and fortunes during planting and harvesting seasons. Today, Ahantas especially those in Sekondi-Takoradi have lost touch of "Abele Azani" and it spirituality. That is very sad and it tells our true state as people and reasons why meaningful Ahantas should be worried.
In 1700s, Wellin Bosman the Dutch explorer toured Gold Coast and on reaching Ahanta, he noticed that they were the only people in then known Gold Coast and other places he had toured in Africa who had the "Abele Azani" which he described as SWEET. He further described how Ahantas were religiously , spiritually and customarily attached to these red grains apart from using as a staple food. They performed almost all their customs and practices with it and in fact, their whole lives as people centered on it.
How Ahantas came to possess this maize remains a mystery but our oral traditions and myths say that it is the exact maize that Dwarfs handed over to Akpoley when he chanced on them dancing while he was on a hunting expedition. There other accounts which say that maize in general was introduced to Africa by Portuguese from South America but Bossman's account indicates that the RED MAIZE was unique to only Ahantas. If this is true, then Akpoley's account certainly predates the arrival of Europeans in Africa though one should admits inaccuracies in oral traditions and myths. In as much as we should admit inaccuracies in oral traditions and myths, we should also admit the fact not everything good came from Europe to Africa.
Our oral traditions and myths narrate that Ahanta had been hit with intense famine as soon as they settled at their present locations after long years of migration from Bono. Akpoley being one of Ahanta's chief hunters was on a hunting expedition to find food or possibly another suitable area for settlement considering the intensity of the famine. In the course of his expedition, he chanced on Dwarfs dancing under a certain palm tree. He hid himself and studied how they danced for several days and in one of days, the Dwarfs noticed his presence and caught him. He pleaded with them to spare his life and also narrated how hunger was killing his people. Out of pity and mercies, the Dwarfs spared his life. They also gave him some red grains and asked him to go and grow it to feed his people and that was how the Kundum festival celebrated by Ahantas and Nzemas begun. The Dwarfs also taught him how to dance the ABISA which eventually became the traditional dance of Ahanta and Nzema people and the official dance for the Kundum festival.
Today in Ahanta, Kundum is gradually fading away with the Abisa dance. It is only celebrated in villages around Agona Nkwanta. Kwesimintsim has also been celebrating it and that is really commendable by the chief of Kwesimintsim, Nana Egozi Esoun VII and his people. They are probably the only people in Sekondi-Takoradi who are keeping alive traditions and spirituality of Ahanta in Sekondi-Takoradi. It saddens some of us how we are throwing away such dignified cultural heritage bequeath to us by our forefathers. We are greatly losing touch with our spirituality as people and the very reasons why many Ahantas especially the youths shy away from their identity.
Indeed, Wellin Bosman is on record to have been the first European to witness the Kundum festival in Ahanta and he gave a vivid account on how it is celebrated with "Abele Azani" featuring prominently in all activities as far as Kundum is concerned. He spoke about how they used it to prepare all their meals as well as performing other practices including spiritual fortifications with it. On the Kundum festival, Bosman spoke about how Ahantas danced at nights in circular forms around fires with bangles tied to their legs. They would stamp their feet hard on the ground with the bangles making noise. They also used the same formations when they are going to war.
While growing up with my grandmother at Apemenyim, she held certain spiritual and traditional beliefs about "Abele Azani" that wondered me. She treated it with some kind of reverence and specialty. She always made me feel that our whole lives as people depended on it. I never understood her until I started researching on Ahanta and red maize. In fact, I never believed my grandmother in those and felt she was being overly superstitious with her beliefs in "Abele Azani" but she kept on telling me that I would understand it someday and I guess I have understood it now.
Even though we lived on subsistence, we sometimes had enough maize and sold some of them for cash for household needs and my grandmother would sell most of her farm produce but certainly not "Abele Azani". No matter how she is in need of money, she would never sell it but would rather give it out freely to anybody who needs it. If I ask her, she would tell me "Abele Azani" is not for sale. She would never trade "Abele Azani" for anything that bring money. According to her, their forefathers cautioned them not to trade it for money and wealth but rather they should give it out freely to anybody who is in it need of it.
She recounted to me how in the olden days, Badu Bonso would call all his sub-chiefs in the kingdom to gather at his palace in Owusua (Busua) and share among them grains of "Abele Azani" . He would then charge them to grow it into larger folds and return some to his palace after harvesting so that he does not ran out of stock. The chiefs would return to their various communities and share the grains to heads of various families and households and also charge them to produce them in folds just as Badu Bonso charged them. Tthis is done every year to religiously ensure the sustainability of "Abele Azani" in the Ahanta kingdom. Sharing of the "Abele Azani" signifies the beginning of the planting season for Ahantas and after harvesting, the first yield must be sent to Badu Bonso at Owusua and failure to do that can result in your death based on the orders of Badu Bonso. To those who were faithful to this ancestral tradition, rewarded with dusts of gold and elevated some chiefs for keeping faithful to this tradition to ensure that Ahanta does not go back to the days of famine as it happened in Akpoley's days.
She further narrated how "Abele Azani" signified the passage between life and death in the Ahanta beliefs and customs. She recounted in the olden days in Ahanta and how Abele Azani was considered the most important family inheritance that must be shared equally among members of a family before one's death. It is the reason why she always had some grains of "Abele Azani" hidden somewhere and ready to share before her death.
If an elderly person in the family calls family members together and shares his or her stock of "Abele Azani" among them, it signifies that he or she is prepared to leave the world of the living and join the ancestors. Soon after sharing "Abele Azani" among family members, that person may not live beyond one week. It is for this reason that every Ahanta must have some stock of "Abele Azani" and pass it on to the family members before dying else it is believed that the ancestors will not welcome such a fellow in their midst.
Today Ahanta has lost in touch with "Abele Azani". I personally don't remember the last time I set my eyes on Abele Azani and let alone to taste it. How sad when we cherish the culture and practice of others and spite our own which gives our identity and spirituality as people.
Things are not the same anymore in Ahanta and I am very worried.
Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III
AHANTA - ONCE A GOLDEN STATE OF AFRICA WHICH WAS "RAPED" AND ROBBED OFF HER RICHES BY DUTCH COLONIALISTS.
Ahanta has lost its glory and shine in present Ghana. We are regarded as minority ethnic group with no social, political and economic relevance in the affairs of Ghana. It's like we have nothing on the table to offer socially, politically and economically.
Even in Sekondi-Takoradi, we have allowed ourselves to be relegated to the background and have become more of second class citizens who feed on leftovers and crumbles falling from the dinning table. We have stakes in nothing as far as Sekondi-Takoradi is concerned but who do we blame for all these woes ? I blame no one other than ourselves but the question, is it too late to wake up as people and take our place? I think it is not.
For more than 10 years, I have been researching on Ahanta and trying to trace our roots as people by connecting the dots and the missing links. In these years of researching on Ahanta, some of the things I have found beat my imagination. They are mind boggling and often leave me in me in awe if I look at the present state of Ahanta. We are failing our forefathers, ourselves and the generation to come after us.
How did we end up with high poverty levels and completely disintegrated as people when our forefathers and ancestors lived in glory and riches? Other tribes which suffered similar fate as we, have put the past behind them and moved on. They are rallying their strength socially, politically and economically for their collective well-being and interests but unfortunately my beloved Ahanta still lie in desolation nursing fractures of colonial wounds. To wake up and heal from colonial wounds and take charge of our destiny since the colonialists are long gone
The Ahantas are believed to be part of the Akan waves who were on migration from old Ghana through Bono and around 1229, they crossed the Pra river with their leader who was described by his followers as the one who possessed whimsical powers. They soon settled between Pra and Ankobra rivers and organized themselves into chiefdoms with the king himself residing at "Owulosua" which later came to be known as "Owusua" and came to be known as Busua by the colonialists. Between 1300 and 1400, they had already mobilised themselves into a powerful force occupying the territory between Pra and Ankobra rivers and the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Shama to Axim and beyond.
They came into contact with the Europeans particularly the Dutch around 1590 and early 1600s. They established friendly relations with them initially until the Dutch wanted more out of the their friendly relationship with Ahanta. At some point in time, the Dutch wanted the whole of Ahanta for themselves and that was when the hostilities between the Ahanta chiefs and the Dutch begun. The climax of the hostilities were the events which lead to death of Badu Bonso II and several Ahanta royals. Several others were also shipped to Dutch Indies and were made slaves in sugar plantations. For more than 10 years, no king was placed on the throne in Ahanta because the Dutch had deployed heavy military presence in Ahanta.
In the Dutch - Ahanta war which led to the death of Badu Bonso II, the Dutch invaded his palace after killing him and made away with all the gold dusts stored in the palace since the foundation of Ahanta. They also took away other treasures, chieftaincy regalias, precious stones and jewelries belonging to the king and the queen. They had heard that Badu Bonso II had a lot of gold dusts and other precious stones in his palace so as soon as they killed him, led by General Verveer, they stormed his palace and made away with everything. Apemenyim which was known to be source of gold and wealth of the kingdom at the time was completely destroyed together with prominent towns like Busua and Takoradi.
Whereas we are reminiscing the pains and agonies inflicted on us by the Europeans particularly the Dutch, we can also credit them with facts of records they left behind giving us the true state of Ahanta and its riches before they raped and robbed of everything. Apart from oral traditions and folklore handed down to us by our forefathers, the Europeans themselves kept accounts of their encounter with Ahanta and that partly confirmed what our forefathers and ancestors told us. One of such European who recorded his encounter with Ahanta was Bosman, the Dutch explorer who toured Gold Coast in the 17th century.. Douchez, F. (1839), Tengbergen, H.F. (1839) and Van Dantzig, Albert (2013) some of the recent European sources on ther encounter with Ahanta.
The early Europeans who came into contact with Ahanta described their king as the one who wear gold clothes and also sat on gold. They further described him as one who is rarely seen in public unless on special occasions, festivals and gathering of the people. They also mentioned that the king had his palace close to sea where a lot of whales are found. Of course! Still the palace of king of Ahantas is found at Busua and Ahantas themselves hold the account that they came this earth through the mouth of a whale. In as much as this appears to be a myth, it proves the fact and the significance of titles of Ahanta kings which suffices with "Bonso" meaning the whale which is known to be the biggest creature in both the sea and on the land
Europeans again described the king of Ahantas as one who has the power to grant life and death. If he forgives you, you are made to serve in his palace for a number of years and on the grand day of the festival, you would return to your village and people. If he condemns you to death, there is an execution square deep in the forest where they would kill you and bring your head to him as a proof. This is to ensure that the executioners carry out strictly the orders of the king. If he speaks, it is final and no one dare to challenge the words of the king. The one who does that will be put to death. Their king is greatly feared, they said.
They described the festival of Ahantas as one which is accompanied by drumming and dancing during the nights at the square. During the day, a strict ban is placed on noise and other activities because It is believed that their ancestors and gods will be visiting them with fortunes to have good harvest in the years ahead. A lot of sacrifices are made to appease their gods and ancestors and on the grand day of the festival, chiefs and people would come from all the villages and gather at the square of the king's palace to pay homage. Their king would then sit in public to receive gifts brought to him from all the villages. The grand festival lasts for about a month with full of activities after which the people would return to their village by walking.
They described our rivers and streams to have their banks covered with dusts of gold and they described Ahantas as natives who have gold in abundance. The above description is typical of how the Europeans describe many Akan states they came into contact with and Ahanta is not different. The history of Akans and gold can be traced from the golden kingdom of Kush through the old Ghana empire where the Akans were known to have been trading in gold and other precious metals. The story of Ahanta couldn't have been any different from all other Akan states. Ahanta was a state of gold and until the Europeans particularly the Dutch looted everything and left Ahanta in tattered penury.
We are now left with rifted chieftaincy and political fronts which is deepening our woes and agonies more than what the colonialists inflicted upon us but it is still not late to wake up and build Ahanta.
Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III
COVID-19 – HOW I CONFRONTED STIGMATIZATION IN A BANKING HALL AT MADINA.
On 18th June 2020, I went to my bank at Madina for transactions. I ended up leaving the banking hall unable to complete my business because I was heavily stigmatized as a survivor of COVID-19 but I was going to face the situation head-on.
Since I returned from COVID-19 treatment center, I have managed to surge above tides of stigmatization but what I experienced at the banking hall that day was really heartbreaking and a situation that made me very worthless as a human. It was really humiliating but I was not disappointed and discouraged.
After 22 days in quarantine, I needed some cash to sort myself out so I went to my bank at Madina, here in Accra for some quick transactions. I have a very good relationship with them but it has been a long time I went to banking hall to for transactions. Since the bank changed its name, I have never entered the banking hall. I usually sort myself out from the ATM and go my way but that day I needed to withdraw more cash and also do other transactions so it was imperative I go to the banking hall.
On entering the bank premises, I really appreciated their strict protocols in place to prevent infection and further spread of COVID-19. At the entrance, there this “Veronica bucket” filled with water. By the side of the “Veronica bucket” is liquid soap and tissue paper to satisfy the hand washing protocols. There is also a security guard who would direct anyone entering the banking hall to first wash his or her hands. The interesting thing is that one would have to use his or her foot to operate the “Veronica bucket” and that was my first time of seeing one like that.
Upon entering the banking hall, there is also another security guard who would ensure that your nose mask is properly fixed before directing you to a seat. Without nose mask, he would turn you away irrespective of your status as it is boldly written on the glass door “NO NOSE MASK, NO ENTERY”. Upon entering, the security guard would check your temperature with an infrared thermometer and again direct you to apply some hand sanitizer on your hands before directing you to sit down after asking you what you want to do in the banking hall.
After every one hour, the cleaner would come and disinfect the whole banking hall and clean all surfaces. I really loved and appreciated their stringent protocol measures in place to prevent the spread and infection of COVID-19 in the banking hall. That is exactly what many corporations and intuitions should do to protect their staffs from COVID-19 infections in these perilous times.
In spite of all the stringent and beautiful protocol measures in place, I left the banking hall unable to do my transactions because I was heavily stigmatized by people I thought are so professionals enough to know the dynamics of the time we find ourselves in. I felt very worthless as a being but I would return the following day very confrontational and not ready to tolerate "nonsense" of any kind from them in the name of COVID-19 stigmatization.
When I entered the banking hall, the security guard directed me to a seat and asked to sit down and wait till it reaches my turn so I sat down waiting patiently. It later got to my turn so I walked to my scheduled desk. The lady gave me a beautiful smile and a warm reception. She then directed me to sit down while still smiling to me and I smiled back. She was actually giving me best treats as a customer of the bank. She is not known to me but she was just doing her work as a staff of a bank whose ultimate responsibility is to give customers the best of treats and so I was happy with her.
I was in one of the locally made nose masks and I was really forcing to hold it to my nose as it was always slipping off my nose. Then a conversation struck and I told her I am in hurry to go home because I do not want to take chances as a former survivor of COVID-19. That suddenly changed everything and the beautiful lady with glowing smiles turned ugly instantly. She put on a frowned and hard face. Suddenly everything was not working as she kept shouting the system is not responding. All her beautiful smiles went away all of a sudden.
I sat waiting for the system to respond and pretended to watch something on my phone. While I was still sitting, she called the cleaner to come and clean her desk and where I am sitting but I still never minded because I have seen too many of such characters as a Police Officer. I was still pretending to watch something on my phone. I realized that another lady had come to join her. She then pointed finger above my head and whispered something into her ears but I was calm and smiling at whatever that was going on.
After a while, it became obvious that she was not going to attend to me because I had mentioned that I survived COVID-19. I then asked her whether she is afraid of me. I also asked her what if I never mentioned that I once got infected with COVID-19 and recovered? Would her attitude towards me changed?
I left the banking hall without finishing my transaction but not disappointed because the name of COVID-19 actually sound scary and probably I would have reacted the same way as she did in these times that all are try to stay safe. In fact, no one wants to hear the name of COVID-19 and let alone smile with people who once got infected so I understood her.
I left the banking hall but vowed to confront the issue at all fronts just to ensure that another COVID-19 survivor is not treated like that, especially by bank staffs who are supposed to know better. As soon as I left the banking hall I sent a mail to management of the bank and titled it “LET’S END COVID-19 STITGMATIZATION” and narrated my experience in the banking hall that day. Not quite long there was a response to my mail asking for my phone contact. As soon as I responded with my phone contact, I received a phone call from their sales manager who apologized to me almost in tears. She promised that she was going to query them but I insisted she should not but rather, they should provide the platform for some of us who survived COVID-19 to share our experiences with them to help reduce psychological fears associated with COVID-19 as that will go a long way to enhance their customer relationship in these times that we are all suspecting one another of COVID-19.
The following day I returned to the banking hall more confident that before. As soon as I entered the banking hall, I requested to see the manageress. I was directed to sit down and wait as there was another customer with her. This time I had put on a very hard face and not ready to tolerate any "nonsense" in the name of COVID-19 stigmatization as I experienced yesterday. I knew very well that that they have gotten reactions from mails I sent to their management.
Finally. I met the manageress and as soon I mentioned my name, she put on a very beautiful smile. I recounted my experience in the banking hall the previous day and she quickly apologized for whatever that happened. I took the opportunity to narrate to her my experience as a police investigator in these times of COVID-19 pandemic.
I told her how I suspected someone I was working on to be infectious but when I took the test with him, I ended up being positive and he was negative. I narrated briefly with her my experiences as one who got the virus and recovered and I told her that if there is someone to be scared of, it is those have never undergone COVID-19 test but not me because I have survived it and even in my case, my wife and son who stay under the same roof with me tested negative.
After several apologies, the manageress walked me to the desk and this time the lady saw me, smiled and greeted me. The manageress herself sat down with me to ensure that I go through with everything that I came to do in the banking hall successfully. I also noticed that lady was putting up a very positive attitude towards with a lot smiles once again. She was just at her bests again and realizing that, I asked the manageress to leave us and she left. I then took the opportunity to share my little experience with the lady. She also apologized to me and we all smiled. I left the banking hall with a lot of smiles and with a sense of a dignified human being.
I do not blame the lady for the treatments she gave me and that is why I insisted that her employers should not query her. Querying her will not solve the problem but what is really likely to solve the problem is when organizations give their personnel and staffs adequate knowledge and training on how to handle their customers and clients in these perilous times because they are also mindful of their lives and their families. Stigmatization is heightening because of ignorance and there is the need for organizations and intuitions to arm their staffs and personnel with adequate information on COVID-19.
I want end this by appreciating the management of the bank for their swift response to complaints. I would also appreciate the manageress at Madina branch and lastly the very lady who initially gave me that ugly treatment but later got to know that we are all in this COVID-19 crises together and no need to stigmatizing the one who survived it.
Together we can end the stigmatization.
Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III*
COVID-19 – I CAME, I SAW, I CONQUERED.
“Veni, Vidi, Vici” is a classical Latin phrase employed by Julius Caesar to describe how he conquered Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zeal in 47 BC. Not too many of us know the history or the story behind this famous phrase though we may have used to it one way or the other to describe our conquering exploits over wiles and struggles of life.
Life is war and many at times we come to the very slippery edge of it where we see death staring and scaring us in the face with its arms opened and ready to embrace our souls but then somehow we are whisked from its claws by natural designs of fate. We look back with a lot of gratitude in our heart because we have been given another opportunity live. Our death date has been postponed. It does not mean we will not die just that we are seeking for more grace and favour to die at our own appointed time and certainly not in this COVID-19 pandemic era when life has become so fragile and being blown away like straw.
In spite of scares and fears of death associated with COVID-19, not everybody will die of its infection. A lot of us will be infected with it but by the natural healing mechanisms of our immune system, we will recover from it without having slightest idea that we once got infected with this dreadful disease which is sweeping a lot of souls into the dustbin of death. Those with very good immune systems will survive the disease but they would not even know that they were once infected but just in case you get to know that you once got infected and survived it, then it calls for celebrations and jubilations because not too many people have been fortunate to go on that edge and come back. Some lost the battle and a lot more are losing it though you are not too different from them.
Julius Caesar’s victory over Pharnaces II at the battle of Zela was sweet, swift, epic and legendary. It was beyond his expectations and imaginations as there was not too many casualties among his soldiers so he celebrated his victory with spirited excitements. Excited Julius Caesar wrote a letter to the Roman Senate describing his victory with just few words – “Veni, Vidi, Vici”. Pharnaces II at the time was really a piercing thorn in the flesh of the Romans and so for him to be easily conquered by Julius Caesar made him to short words when describing his conquests.
Julius Caesar could not have gone to war without strict approval of the Roman Senate. At the time, it was the Senate who approves of wars especially when it involves the life of others who are husbands to wives and fathers to children so after the battle, Julius Caesar ought to report his conquering exploits to the Senate. He briefly described his conquering exploits as “Veni, Vivi, Vici” which means “I came, I saw, I conquered”.
This very particular Latin phrase, was going to become one of the famous quotes in man’s struggles against forces of nature, pestilences and diseases but not necessarily a physical battle as embarked on by Julius Caesar and his army against Pharnaces II at Zela. That is exactly how I would also describe my situation and experiences as former COVID-19 patient who was quarantined at the Police Hospital for 22 days before finally being discharged on 12th June 2020 after two consecutive laboratory COVID-19 test ran on me proved negative.
For those of us who have gone to the edge with COVID-19 but still pulled through without losing a single hair have a reason to celebrate and jubilate our reason of being among the living because a lot have been swept away by the waving current of this disease. For us, it is another opportunity for the gift of life to amend our ways. If for nothing at all, our death date has been postponed to later date. We escaped death unscathed even though our names appeared on the executioners list.
I may not have gone to physical battle to wrestle with flesh and blood as the case of Julius Caesar but I came face to face with scares of death and found myself in a state of psychological instabilities and imbalances. I was filled with fears and anxieties as I did not know what will happen to me in the days ahead after I was told that I was COVID-19 positive but I needed to put on mental fortitude and remain psychologically positive with hope that I will have the chance to live again. It was a kind of psychological and mental warfare but I needed to motivate and inspire myself to breathe hope as I count my days in quarantine. After testing positive while still in quarantine, I was finally declared clinically of COVID-19 after 22 days and sighed a big relieve.
I went to mental and psychological war with COVID-19, I saw it and I conquered it despite how death kept starring me in the face with scares. Just as Julius Caesar with excitements wrote to the Roman Senate to share the successes of his sweet victory, I also find it very dutiful to share my story with the world to inspire hopes in these perilous time of COVID-19 pandemic.
How did a hearty and male man like me who has never been sick or experienced any of COVID-19 symptoms and signs ended up at the Police Hospital and got quarantined for 22 solid days?
It all started when a case of defilement was referred to me to investigate as a police detective. The sight of the suspect looked very scary as he appeared to have gone for days or weeks without taking a bath. There was this undescribable scent around him and aside all, he would coughed occasionally. Working on such a person in this COVID-19 pandemic era was psychologically tortuous form me as I was very uncomfortable in my working conditions with the suspect. What even scared the hell out of me was when the suspect coughed on me while I was taking his fingerprints.
For days I was just uncomfortable and anytime I think about how the suspect coughed on me, I settled that he has infected me with COVID-19. I was full of prejudices about the suspect just because of his appearance though it is only a laboratory test that can prove COVID-19 status of a person. I was full of prejudices to the extent that I forgot that appearance can be very deceptive. How sad? I should have known better as a police officer with my over 8 years experience as an investigator but can be blamed in this era of COVID-19 pandemic?
On 12th May 2020, I sent the suspect to court at Adenta Circuit Court and he was jailed 24 years. We needed to send him to prisons to start his sentence but the Prison Service had issued strict directives that they would only accept convicts who have clinically been cleared of COVID-19 so by the time I returned from Court, my commander had arranged for COVID-19 team to take his sample. In the course of taking his sample, I also volunteered to have my sample taking bearing in mind how he had coughed on me earlier. After our samples were taken, I returned home not sound in mind and under the impression that the convict had infected me with COVID-19 but I am waiting for the test to prove it.
On 20th May 2020, I started my day on a very high note with a lot of positive energies. Everything was just alright as my daily expectations were falling in place so I was going to mark that day as one of my beautiful days in recent times but by the time the sun sets, I was in state of psychological shock, heavily depressed and mentally unstable. I was gripped with fear and scares of death as I ended my day at Police Hospital where I was going to be quarantined for the next 22 days for testing positive for COVID-19. The results for COVID-19 that I took with the suspect on 12th May 2020 had come. I was positive but the suspect that I so anticipated to be positive was rather negative.
By 6.30pm on 20th May 2020, I was alone in one of the ward rooms at the Police Hospital and taking a sober reflection of life. I took a stock of my entire life from where my serves me to the very time that I was told be COVID-19 positive. I was lost in my thoughts and very worried for my wife and child as I did not know their status. I was in very confused state but I needed to very calm and be hopeful. Suddenly I started to be courageous and preparing my mind to face anything including death if it should come. I resigned to fate and concluded that if I do not die of COVID-19 today, I would certainly die of something else at some other time and so if death has come to me early in the name of COVID-19, I am prepared to face it like a gladiator in the arena of death.
Suddenly I started getting some mental strength and some candles of hope started flaming in my heart. I started breathing hope and started seeing the brighter side of light and gradually my life started brightening up as fears and scares of death was subliming away. The scares and fear of death started leaving my thoughts. I started regaining my strength mentally and psychologically. The following day after my first night in quarantine, I woke up very hopeful and bright. I knew that I was not going to die of COVID-19 and for all the 22 days that I remained in quarantine, I kept hope and faith on mental and psychological strength with a lot of positive energies. Though the situation was very traumatic and psychologically stressful remained very positive in spirits till the very day that I was discharged from the treatment center at the Police Hospital.
To survive COVID-19, can only be described by Julius Caesar as “Veni, Vidi, Vici.” “I came, I saw, and conquered” but not without mental fortitude, psychological and mental strength. It takes very high spirits and a lot of positive energies to survive the traumatic experiences to COVID-19 patient and maybe I should lastly say that God’s grace was sufficient and that is the reason why I got infected with COVID-19, quarantined for 22 days but never experienced a single pain till I was discharged.
Testing negative after 22 days in quarantine is like the executioner telling you to go home.
Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III*