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Opinions of Sunday, 14 June 2015

Columnist: Gariba, Chieminah Abudu

What you need to survive the next flood-a lesson from the Accra floods

The recent floods which occurred in Accra has brought to the fore the importance of learning how to swim. Many of the victims of this flood could have easily waded through the water or swam to safety. Unfortunately, many victims due to their sheer fear of water got stuck in their heels; and were eventually carried away by the flowing water or were consumed by the Goil inferno. From the accounts of some of the survivors of the Accra floods, it was apparent that where some of those affected by the floods were seeking shelter wasn't safe; yet, they had to remain static and endure the rising flood water.
I believe, for many of the flood victims, a week's lesson on swimming could have made all the difference. It saddens me that so many precious lives had to be lost through flood water. I want to also believe that if half those affected by the floods even had ‘neighbours’ who knew how to swim, they could have mounted a good rescue mission to save lives. But this wasn’t the case on this fateful day.

We live in a country where many of us don't learn anything apart from what we need to earn money and make life comfortable. I can tell you on authority that if anybody decides to organize disaster safety lessons for Ghanaians free of charge, you may have to entice them with some money or material incentive to participate in such a programme. This kind of attitude towards disaster preparedness leaves much to be desired.

Following the recent floods in Accra and other parts of Ghana, I have been asking myself the following questions:

How can a nation bounded to the south by the Atlantic Ocean; and with the largest man-made lake buried in its belly have citizens who are so afraid of water?
Is the excessive fear of water by Ghanaians caused by their ignorance in swimming?

Why are Ghanaians so unwilling to take up swimming lessons; if for nothing at all to reduce their excessive fear of water?

What is the biggest lesson that Ghanaians are willing to take away from this Accra floods?

If God grant us long life we shall live to find answers to the above questions. I hope to find the next opportunity to complete my swimming lessons which I begun at the Tumu Dam about three decades ago. From all indications, the Tumu Dam is silting up. If I am unable to get my swimming lessons early enough, I would have to wait for the Tumu Dam to be de-silted.
May the pain we experience from the death of our compatriots from the flood disaster wake us from our swimming slumber.
Just as our parents guided us to walk on land, they should begin to guide us to swim in water. After all, more than half of the earth is made up of water.
May the souls of those who died through the recent Accra floods rest in perfect peace.

Chieminah Abudu Gariba