General News of Thursday, 4 January 2018
Several moonlight parties were organised at various places in the Upper East region on the last day of 2017 to usher in the New Year.
But one that appears to have won an exclusive attention from the heavens is the fairytale dinner a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Professor Thomas Akabzaa, threw at his hometown of Dua in the Bongo District.
His private residence, a lone mansion planted in the middle of scattered wild trees and an imposing cluster of rocks assembled heartwarmingly by nature to voice her beauty, hosted friends and neighbours from both vulnerable backgrounds and upper-class families.
It was an end-of-year feast meant not just to award some distinguished individuals who bagged some notable feats at Dua in 2017 but also to celebrate the 59th birthday of a professor, who despite his lofty accomplishments, naturally conducts himself so unassumingly strangers reportedly do mistake him for a watchman at his own house, and to commemorate a successful end of his civil service career.
Like Santa Claus unlocking a warehouse full of goodies to families and wishing them a great day, the philanthropist donated sports equipment to some teams in the community, books for a newly renovated library in the area, some medical tools for the Dua Clinic and prizes to some teachers and health professionals at an awards ceremony held in front of the villa ahead of a dinner prepared for everybody in the village inside a splashy compound.
“Every year, a few of us who have been blessed normally organise a community sitting at the end of the year. We invite the entire community and we fete them. This is a deprived community where not many are educated. I want to leave a legacy that will encourage parents to put their children on school path and retain them there.
“The concern of this region in particular is the fact that we think the youth need to be more responsible than they are and that we (the elderly folks) also need to nurture them through the right way. The only way we can get out of poverty is to take our destiny into our own hands,” Professor Akabzaa told newsmen moments before the awards function began.
He also disclosed: “The Dua youths and the Dua natives in the diaspora have contributed and we are putting up a laboratory for the Dua Clinic. The medical equipment that I brought in is worth over five thousand Canadian dollars. It is very important for the community.”
Bury your Party Colours for Development— Prof. Akabzaa urges Bongo
Whilst interacting with the media, Professor Akabzaa also emphasised the need for the political parties in Bongo to join forces for the development of the area.
“The interest of Bongo and the challenges in the district are beyond the boundaries of political parties. I think that people should bury their political colours. People have pursued some political divide for some time now and it hasn’t done us any good.
“The only way we can confront the challenges facing this district is to unite as the people of Bongo irrespective of whichever parties people identify with,” he stressed as music from an endless playlist, clatters from excited children and chitchats among guests and members of the host family grabbed hold of the festive air.
Dua Stars Recognised
Among those publicly honoured in what in the future may become the Professor Thomas Akabzaa Awards — or the PTA Awards— was Luke Washna Abande, a senior nurse at the Dua Clinic, who is reported to have even spared holidays many times to offer medical services to the deprived community.
Another awardee, who drew a sitting ovation equal in intensity to any standing ovation, was Madam Judith Ayelgum. A professional midwife, she is said to have turned the Dua Clinic, since her posting to the facility almost a decade ago, into a most preferred destination for an increasing number of women in labour.
Parts of her citation read: “Many women who used to deliver at home now choose delivery at the clinic. Also, the rate of referrals of women [in] labour has dropped drastically as she successfully delivered most of the women safely at the clinic. From 2009 to 2017, [owing to] her commitment to duty and hard work, she successfully delivered 825 women out of 1,116 labour cases reported. Many see the Dua Clinic as a clinic of choice. The clinic now receives patients from Borigo, Yorigo, Beo, Apowongo, Tankoo and Anafobisi.”
Lambert Kanmike Kanluke, who took over as head-teacher at the time the Apowongo Junior High School barely had furniture for pupils and the “performance of students” was in a free fall, repaired broken furniture as he also did acquire new ones with his own resources and, with the support of his staff, improved the “performance of students”.
For spearheading such developmental initiatives at Dua as organising farmers into groups, establishing cooperative unions, launching a tree-growing campaign, drilling of boreholes, building a community health facility, providing a community warehouse and establishing a primary school recently in the area despite “negative criticisms and attacks on his personality”, a community leader, Moses Akanperige Asabla, was recognised, too.
The Dua Junior High School was on the brink of collapse, with many people withdrawing their children to other schools on grounds of poor academic results, until Thomas Nyaaba took over as head-teacher. “Since you took over, you have worked hard with the support of your staff to transform the school and the BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination) results have improved,” a citation read.
Another “Grand One” to Come
Assorted drinks, handed out in bottles and served up through beverage machines, as well as a variety of foods were on display everywhere in quantities only found in fairytales. And the ‘cherry on the cake’ was a trio of pigs, grilled in full size the Chinese style, hanging on parallel wooden bars for all pork-loving guests to feast on.
One expression clearly written on Professor Akabzaa’s face, as he moved around to assist in serving anyone in need of attention, was that the good things you have are meaningless until you share them with someone else.
Organisers say this feast is nothing because “the grand one is yet to come” in December, 2018, when Professor Akabzaa is 60 and when he will be doling out scholarships to outstanding BECE candidates. Those who have enjoyed this one will do everything possible to stay alive to see that one, too. It appears hands that give are many at Dua. Patrick Apania, a native and veteran health professional at the Upper East Regional Health Directorate, together with his teacher wife, Bride, has supported strangers too many to count.
The frenzied community saw no sleep last Sunday as lights from giant poles scared the night far away for an all-night party. And one thing is for sure: from the close of this fairytale get-together to the moment the ‘happy mansion in the harmless jungle’ shall bring the community together afresh to “the grand one” in twelve months’ time, Dua will live happily ever after.