For almost every world leader today, 2020 would go down as a painful and disastrous year.  In the Ghanaian Akan language, we would aptly describe it as, “Afe bi ye esan”. Our President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo must be feeling the same too.

As Commander-in-Chief leading the nation in this atrocious war, he has given us regular updates from the coronavirus war front with encouragement and assurances. He has calmed down fears and tried to cushion citizens with some form of incentives. This too shall pass is his mantra.

Non-verbal communication

In his usual proud signature-tune Ghana-made print shirt, the President comes to us wearing local designs that sum up his mood. His articulation not in any doubt, he has ensured that his non-verbal communication, including his attire let people in into his feelings of the day as far as the enemy at the war front is concerned. 

The first time he came talking to the nation on the pandemic, the shirt he wore had the design popularly known in local parlance as “Ani bere a enso gya.” Literally translated, the design means no matter how painful and tearing a calamity presents itself, the eyes will never correspond to one’s mood because it does not flame up. Thus he communicated clearly the state of mind he was in as a Commander leading his people to war.

The non-verbal communication continued another time he came back to update Ghanaians. This time, the design of his Ghana wear was one named “Obuor fa, dade fa”. Again he was communicating the difficult, hard to crack nature of the pandemic before us. Literally translated, the nature of the pandemic was like trying to cut into half rock and half steel.  Separating the two would be extremely difficult and so was COVID-19. 

Hard to crack

The hard to crack pandemic that had challenged the medical front and world Scientists has launched its attack even harder on advanced nations irrespective of the resources available to them. It has simply defied all war strategies and keeps advancing further afield. 

Operation Covid-19 has turned out a world terror. It made its debut without warning.  Families and friends had barely said goodbye to loved ones after a good Christmas and New Year get-togethers when it first surfaced in the Far East. Since then the world has clocked one million casualties with tens of thousands of deaths.

Churches had just rolled out their plans for the 40 days before Easter when the enemy reared its head in full force. Not even the most significant

celebration of the Christian faith, Easter, could break the protocols of the virus which included no large gatherings.

Painfully disastrous

And so at his Church’s Easter Sunday virtual service, the President read the second scripture lesson. He appeared not in his white attire as is typical of Easter. He was in his usual African print shirt with the design known as “Afe bi ye esan”. This, literally translated, meant some year could be painful and disastrous. Covid-19 was probably on his mind that morning.  

As I joined that virtual service that Easter Sunday, I was surprised to see him not in his white shirt as the occasion demanded, but in that particular local design. I later reflected and remembered he was still in the business of communicating as a Commander at the war front. 

Perhaps as a celebrating Christian, even though death could not hold Jesus Christ captive, he was also communicating non-verbally how Covid -19 was holding the Lord’s people captive.

For the second time, the President appeared in a television broadcast the other day in a different “Afe bi ye esan” designed shirt. Was he drumming home to us that even though the lockdown was over and the situation seemingly well managed, he needed to remind us of the pain and disaster at the war front with the enemy? 

The overwhelming shock of Covid -19 can never be measured. It has thrown countries from the East to the West, North to the South into disarray. Governments have virtually been brought to their knees. Health systems, even in advanced countries, have been badly exposed. Economies have been threatened. 

The President has combined articulation with non-verbal communication to drum home the intensity of the war against COVID-19. He would remember 2020 as a painful and disastrous year, no doubt.