Haiti earthquake: a reminder of the unparalleled destructive force of nature


I was 13 years old when I felt an earth tremor for the first time in my life. It was frightening. It felt as if there was a giant ball rolling under the earth at McCarthy hill. For a few seconds my life came to a standstill. Up to date it is one of the most frightening experiences of my life.

Considering that it was just an earth tremor, I don’t want to even think about what an earthquake would be like, how it will feel like to have the very ground you stand on vibrating and shaking murderously. The Earth giving way beneath your feet; the buildings around you collapsing.

But unfortunately this is what happened to the residents and people who were in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti at 21:35GMT on Tuesday, the 12th of January, 2010. They were given a nasty reminder of the destructive power of nature in the form of an earthquake.

When nature attacks, it strikes unexpectedly and leaves behind indelible scenes of destruction which are etched on our minds for ages.

As I followed the events in Port-Au-Prince on CNN and Aljazeera, I realised one thing, Nature is the biggest terrorist threat out there. It kills without warning and unlike your usual terrorist who you can hunt down and hope to catch, you can’t catch nature. It will just run Scot free.

So much for all the Earthquake Alarm Systems, which I must say have never done anything to protect man from the cataclysmic power of earthquakes. They are nothing but expensive machines which can’t afford any protection to man.

The pictures and videos I have seen so far, I am sure are nowhere near to portraying the actual damage the quake has caused in Haiti.

I am glad that the aid relief services are working around the clock to provide some relief for the people of Port-Au-Prince but unfortunately they cannot provide the most important relief of all, which is emotional relief. They cannot provide relief from the pain of knowing that everything you owned is gone, they cannot provide relief from the pain of knowing that a person you were heartily laughing and sharing jokes with a few minutes ago is dead forever. These are the things most in need of relief but sadly cannot receive any.

Over the next couple of days we will get to know the full extent of the damage. The damage, that once again nature has shown the world that it can cause.

My profound sympathies go out to all the people who through this unfortunate event have lost someone dear to them especially the children who have lost their parents. I know time will only ease your pain but it cannot erase it.

Early into this new decade, man has been sounded a strong reminder by nature that it is the most destructive force around.

I’ll like to end here with an extract from a poem written by Mariam Mokhtari in 2005
What is the little child doing
among the ruins
searching for mum and dad?
It is so cruel and cold
the sky is crying
even the tears are frozen
the winds are blowing
and my sister is sitting
near her kids who are dead now
tell me my dear
how can I sleep, how can I eat
every night hearing
the sounds of the kids in school
who are all under ruins
stretching out their hands for help??

Credit: Daniel Sarfo Marfo, Accra.