Beware Of Being Slaves To Gadgets


The other day I met a friend who was in a ??? state because one of these modern machines at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital was not working. A scan could not be made so that diagnosis could be confirmed and treatment or management begin.

I wondered how the disease was treated or managed when these machines and gadgets were not available. Presently, a Ghanaian working as a doctor in the United States joined us.

He said these tests were a must in the States. Failure to use them may result in a law suit for negligence. I sighed with relief saying that our bad ways have some merit.

In Ghana such a law suit will not be concluded before the death of the harassed doctor and patient. More seriously, we agreed that our medical schools should continue to make our young doctors proficient in the use of age-old practices.

For one thing, these machines are unlikely to be available in many of our towns for a long time. When I visited the surgery as a boy , the doctor first looked at my tongue, my eyes and skin and sounded my chest.

I do not know what he discovered but he looked assured or concerned after the examination without much gadgetry. Of course these smart machines and instruments are of invaluable help. But they cannot completely replace keen observation, experience, and thinking.

The lack of this observation and of studying the human mind contributed greatly to the suicide bombing of American CIA agents by a Jordanian doctor believed to be one of them.

It was also a major cause of the recent attempted bombing of an American plane on Christmas eve. Machines cannot completely replace the application of thoughtful procedures and human intelligence. Interestingly, although the lapse in human communication was recognised, the immediate reaction was the use of a smart machine to search beneath the clothes of airline passengers.

When I saw on television what the machine would reveal, I wondered whether the pictures would be sufficient. Suppose a woman has sanitary pads on, would she be physically examined to ensure that the pads are genuine and not smart bombs in disguise!

I can imagine smart scientists who would think of bombing devices which would be embedded in the chest or elsewhere like pacemakers.

You frustrate the evil men and they think of more devilish contraptions. The only machine to defeat them is the one which can read the human mind. In the absence of such an invention we should use the human brain to assess the mind.

If there is anything like the mind of a people, then the fighters of terrorism did not think much of the African mind. This mind finds expression in behaviour patterns.

Ghanaians have much in common with Nigerians in this respect. The last thing any normal Ghanaian would do is to report his son to authority thereby, exposing him to possible ruin.

The saying when a police man enters a house and asks of a fugitive offender is “I don’t see him. My brother no see him. My sister no see him. We all no see him”.

According to the British Daily Telegraph of December 29, 2009 “the family of Umar Faruk Abdulmuntallah warned security agents two months before the incident that they feared their son had become radicalised after he disappeared to the al-Qaeda stronghold of Yemen.

Umar’s father Alhaji Umaru was so concerned about his son’s out of character behaviour that he contacted US agents.

A Nigerian of stature like a Ghanaian would only make this move if he believed strongly that his son was in danger and to save him he must report to a foreign intelligence institution with all the consequences it entails.

The US security and the father had a common cause which was not exploited. The routine reports were made but no sufficient importance was placed on the matter. After all it was only information from a Nigerian businessman!

It is not racialism to observe that the African is not fully respected by many non-Africans. Some of us are old enough to know how Japanese and Asians were regarded not so long ago. Today no sensible person thinks that the Japanese are inferior. Japan is a major industrial power. She feeds her people and helps others.

Right now America is sending substantial help to Haiti. The Chinese are already on the ground. What has Ghana done? What has any African country done to assist our kith and kin in Haiti in their hour of need?

We in Ghana and Africa should realise that respect and equality are earned and not conferred by those who feel they are superior. If Alhaju Umaru had been a former chairman of America’s biggest bank, his report to American intelligence about his son would have been acted upon immediately.

Yes, we are not taken seriously. Ghanaians should recognise this unpleasant fact and take foreign praises and advice with circumspection.

We should learn from others but not merely copy what is done elsewhere. Let us not only complain about machines and instruments we do not have. Let us also do what we can without them.

Let us do the most with the little we have. Let us understand ourselves and fashion procedures to suit our character knowing that we must adapt and sometimes change in the fast changing global village.

Credit: K.b. Asante/Daily Graphic