Now correct me if I am wrong, but personallly I thought the idea of naming a street or road after someone was to honour him or her, for a remarkable achievement. I thought streets or roads were named after people who had played a significant role in a country's or the world's history; or someone who has been successful, perhaps even a hero or someone that people are proud of, and admire. Seriously, I will never understand why the Ghanaian government in the year of our Lord 2012, decided, last February, to name one of the biggest and busiest roads in the country, the George Walker Bush Highway!
Surely there are millions of people in Ghana and worldwide who are more deserving of the honour. People who, unlike George W Bush, are doing something positive for their communities, countries and/or the world at large. We know of many heroes and heroines, some well-known, some unsung, who deserve such recognition. For example, Lila MacQueen Djaba.
Lila, who lives in Ghana, is 30 years old, but she became a hero in my eyes when she was in her 20s. At the time she started what has made her a hero, she was a student in secondary school. Every day on her way to and from school, Lila would see young children, some as young as 10 years old, working at a nearby rock quarry; the local marketplace; the local lorry station, or hawking on the streets. Children who should be in school were instead working to support their families. They were working not only because their families had asked for their help, but also because the family could not afford to send them to school.
Lila was truly disturbed by this and decided to do something about it. One by one, she found out about each of these children and made visits to their homes. She talked to their parents about why the children should be in school instead of risking their precious lives working at the quarries, lorry station or hawking on the road. Lila came across a lot of resistance, but she persisted and eventually some of the parents caved in. So now the parents had agreed the children could attend school, Lila's next challenge was how the children would go there. How could the parents afford school uniforms, fees for school lunches, transport to school, plus all the other bills and necessities of life? Lila decided to set up a charity. With her children (as she calls all the children who come under her care) Lila started stringing together beads into necklaces, bracelets, anklets, earrings and waist beads. She then contacted old friends from several European countries she had met in Ghana whilst both she and they were working as volunteers in an orphanage and told them about her project. All she wanted was for them to find people who would buy the beads in their respective countries.
And as luck would have it (or more likely with a lot of prayer and faith on Lila's part), people started buying the items. The idea was that all the monies raised would go towards the children's education in Ghana. And indeed, Lila has not only done that, but gone a step further. Today, the charity she set up, Child Care Foundation, educates and feeds 150 young children aged between 5 and 15 years from Monday to Friday. In addition, she also funds the education of some of the children who are now in secondary school. (One of them attends Mfantsipim, one of Ghana's "top schools", whose former pupils include Kofi Annan--I'm sure we all know who Kofi Annan is--Dr Alex Quaison-Sackey, former President of the General Assembly of the UN, and politicians such as Dr Busia and William Ofori Attah. Now this is the kind of person you name a street or road after ...) She may not be inventing the cure for HIV/Aids, but she is indeed a hero.
Another person who a road in Ghana could have been named after, is Jonathan Porter. For those who do not know, Jonathan is a white Englishman who has been living in Ghana for more than 20 years. To cut a very long story short, he not only runs the WAASPS aviation school in Ghana, but came up with the idea of Medicine on the Move (MOM). …