Magazine article New African

Simply Inspirational

Magazine article New African

Simply Inspirational

Article excerpt

They say that "what a man can do, a woman can also do (and even do better)". Lieutenant-Colonel Vida Otoo made history in Ghana when she became the first woman to win the Best All-Round Cadet Award at the Ghana Military Academy in April 1983. Recently, she was also recognised as the "Most Outstanding Female Military Personnel" at the Ghana Women's Awards, run by the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs. Dzifa Emma Tetteh interviewed her for New African. Here are excerpts.

Q: Who is Lt-Colonel Vida Otoo?

A: Lieutenant-Colonel Vida Otoo is a lady who was born in 1956 to the late Mr Benjamin Otoo and Hannah Daby in Nsawam in the Eastern Region of Ghana. She is the last-born child and only girl of her mother, but interestingly, she never got pampered by her mother.

Q: Well, who knows, maybe if your mother had pampered you, you wouldn't have come this far. Anyway, could you tell us about your educational background?

A: Sure. I received my basic education at the Nsawam Methodist School and continued to the Ghana National College at Cape Coast. I undertook my nursing and midwifery training at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra from 1976-1979 and in 1982 respectively. I then entered the Ghana Military Academy in 1983. I qualified as a Public Health Nurse in 1991.

I studied burns nursing in AMEDD [the US Army's medical department] in San Antonio, Texas. I hold a degree from the University of Ghana in Psychology and Sociology, a diploma in Human Resource Development from ICM in the UK, and a certificate in Health Administration from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). I am also a fellow of the West African College of Nursing.

Q: How long have you been in the army?

A: To the glory of God this is my 27th year in service. I was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1985, Captain in 1986, Major in 1989 and Lieutenant-Colonel in 2002. I served in three outstations-the Airborne Force in Tamale, 4th Battalion in Kumasi, and First Battalion in Tema. I have also served on three peace-keeping operations with ECOMOG in Liberia, UNIFIL in Lebanon, and MONUC in DRCongo. I am currently the Acting Matron of the 37 Military Hospital and also the substantive Deputy Matron of the 37 Military Hospital.

Q: What motivated you to join the army and not another profession?

A: That is a tough question since I didn't know about military nursing. However, I think I can mention two people. The first was a patient at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. She was the wife of a commanding officer who was referred to my ward. She became very impressed with my good attitude towards work and began talking to me about [the rewards of] military nursing. When her husband came to visit her, he also reinforced this. I therefore decided to give it a try. Unfortunately she didn't live to see me graduate from the Military Academy.

Another person who motivated me was Lt-Col Edith Tamakloe, the then matron of the 37 Military Hospital. She received me warmly when I approached her about military nursing and even assisted me in applying for a place at the Military Academy (despite the fact that I was late and it was the last day for the submission of forms). Her kind gesture really made me develop so much love for the profession.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Q: What are some of the major challenges you have faced in the army?

A: My major challenge has been how to create a space to operate in. Military training was a major challenge itself. But I had a completely different perception of it because I didn't know much about it. I thought it was going to be purely academic work but it was a totally different ball game. Many people dropped out and ran away when the going got tough. I was tempted to do the same, but somehow I stayed. I got injured during one of our field training exercises and I was hospitalised. I was then given the option not to partake in some field activities but I refused and pressed on. …

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