Today, I saw a sad photo exhibition and book launch on mental health in Ghana. I will not recover until after Easter. Do not get me wrong – it was a brilliant piece of work by Nyani the ace photo-artist. It was excellent. But to see people in slave manacles because they have some mental health ailment tore at my heart. But that was not the worst of it. Many such persons are ‘yoked’ to tree trunks by the leg (through a hole just big enough to slip the leg through and fastened with a big, big nail sure to scratch a nasty, painful wound if the ‘prisoner’ tried to escape, or maybe impale them if not cut off a part of the lower leg and foot).
A nation is only as civilised as how it treats its prisoners ... and mental health patients.
But it is poverty too. Families cannot afford about 25 Cedis (about 13 Dollars) a month to pay for the drugs that would create the right chemical balance which would make us call these unfortunates normal.
So they are shackled and manacled to prevent aggression or injury to themselves or embarrassment to their families.
When I saw it, I asked blogger Fiona: What country is this? I knew the answer; I feared the answer; I feared facing up to more evidence about the different layers of existence in this country.
There is a lot of work to do. More important than wasting venom on a corps of misguided journalists who published an inaccurate (not wholly untrue) article about internet fraud in Ghana. I kept quiet about that one because I did not care what they wrote.
I do care about our low level of civilisation and that we treat mental health patients even worse than convicted felons.
If you are also touched, repeat after me:
"I pledge myself to the service of Ghana with all my strength and with all my heart."