May 11, 2013
Charles Darwin told us that species die off because they are not able to survive the harsh conditions ‘nature’ throws at them. Scavengers tend to thrive under certain harsh conditions because they feed off the remains of victims of ‘nature’s fatal blows. Scavengers all but rejoice at they disaster because without it, food may not be much.
A week ago, a popular market in Accra was razed by what might have been an electrical fire. As at this evening, the entire market possible the size of a football field looks like a brand new construction site. Over the past week since the incident there have been protests staged by traders who are worried that the Government or some large firm will take advantage of the situation and knock them out of business for good (at least out of Kantanmanto).
This fear may not be far-fetched as humans have been known to take advantage of situations like this both natively and even by some subtle kind of teaching to advance their own personal agenda at whatever cost. These days people are taught that unfavourable circumstances are opportunities…. Opportunities. That sounds nice but often it is misunderstood as opportunities to make profit rather than opportunities to solve problems. An opportunity does not always mean a disaster and vice versa.
I recall the recent Dumso Dumso issue in Ghana and it reminds one of a certain giant country with a ridiculous Power Industry – power in terms of standby generators and inverters rather than transformers and power stations. Of course those in this “Power” business have taken advantage and are providing a service, making profit but really not solving the problem.
Back to Kantamanto. It is easy to see the situation as an unfortunate destruction of property and an opportunity to redesign the area and create a more beautiful city. But when one looks deeper, one can see the children that might not get fees paid on time in the coming term, young men that may resort to unconventional means to make ends meet, bad debts and the like. Sad … and even sadder when the situation is merely another subject of a strategy meeting at a table filled with those who have never been to and do not need to visit the market, emotionally out of touch with the human issues involved.
How do you see disaster? A business opportunity? A chance to make a political statement? Not everything is about money or power.
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