You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2021 02 20Article 1185127

Opinions of Saturday, 20 February 2021

Columnist: Seidu Danaa

It is true that tradition is slow to change, what is not true is to say that it does not

Persons with disabilities Persons with disabilities

One of the debates that raged on in the 1960s was about the question of what to do with the visually impaired people who passed out from the two schools for the visually impaired in Akropong and Wa respectively:

a. Were they to be rehabilitated un-mass into the craft industry?

b. Were the brighter ones to be encouraged to go into teaching, joining the clergy, etc?

c. Was it worth the while encouraging them into higher education that is to say secondary schools and universities?

Somehow, somewhat, a bold decision was taken to try some of the brighter and successful people up the ladder of higher education to see what the results will be like.

In 1967, therefore, the Wenchi Methodist Secondary School took the bold step to admit visually impaired students. Indeed, by 1971, there were seventeen (17) of us, some from Wa school for the blind and others from Akropong school for the blind.

Note has to be taken of the fact that the first batch which was admitted in 1967 were fifth formers preparing for the O’levels by 1971/72. It is also important to mention that the school fees for all of us the visually impaired were paid for by the Methodist Mission.

Eventually, after the exams (o’ levels) even though none of the two visually impaired candidates qualified for sixth form, one by name Andrew Naa was able to get a few good credits which was enough to convince those who mattered to continue supporting the experiment.

One should not at all overlook the fact that, had Andrew Naa not performed the way he did, the history of higher education for the visually impaired could have taken a rather sad dramatic turn.

This is because his performance not only persuaded the advocates and financers but also encouraged those of us who were following in the second, third, and fourth batches.

The life of a pioneer anywhere is a difficult one; but it is even more so with a pioneer who is a person with disability. This is because the inclination of a lot of people to avoid extra problems together with some negative traditional norms come into play now and then.

The situation, in fact, became more profound with those of us who pursued the legal profession. The Traditional understanding of the matter was that the hassle and bustle associated with legal practice was rather too cumbersome to be on the shoulders of persons with disabilities and in particular, the visually impaired.

Worst of all is when we come to talk about engaging in political activity or boiling chieftaincy disputes. The traditional view about the matter has been that because these areas are sensitive, volatile, and rather unpredictable, persons with disabilities can simply not cope with such assignments.

What a lot of people failed and still fail to realize is that no country can become great if its people are not capable of great aspirations. It is for this reason that the appointment of a physically challenged person as Regional Minister is heartwarming to all who belong to the disabled side of the social spectrum.

Since time immemorial, one of the things that have been constant in society is change. Like all other things in society, tradition also changes albeit slowly.

As tradition and law advocates, we believe that through hard work we can achieve a society in which there is harmony between our traditional values and our liberal democratic tenets for the benefit of all.