Thunderbolt: Message from the Morning Man

In Ghana, funerals are celebrations, and sometimes, this is a good thing. When great men and women die, we believe they go to join our ancestors in the afterlife, from where they can give us guidance wisdom. Now, if there's anything we need more of today as a nation, it's guidance and wisdom.

Exactly a week ago, our nation suffered a terrible tragedy. Scores of men, women and children burned and drowned to death in our capital city in the space of nine hours – all because it rained. This is a terrible moment in our  history. Ghana has been in mourning for three days. For many families across the country, the loss is not only unexpected, but inexplicable, and unfair.

How could this happen? It rains every year. We have two rainy seasons, for goodness sake. How could we not have guarded against this tragic pass?

In Ghana, funerals are celebrations, and sometimes this is a good thing. It symbolises the fact that there's something positive to be gained from everything – even tragedy. For those who have lost parents, siblings, children, relations and loved ones in this disaster, it may be difficult to imagine anything good coming out of it.

When we consider the global embarrassment of a nation that has suffered flooding every year for over two decades, but has still not figured out how to stop its own citizens from blocking their own drains with their own filth, long enough for common rain to wash away without taking our children with it, well, you can see how difficult it is to be positive about this.

But at about 1am this morning, I read something that might help us see the ever-present silver lining even in a cloud this dark. It's a quote from a British author, philosopher and cleric called Charles Caleb Colton. He said,

"Times of great calamity and confusion have been productive for the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace. The brightest thunder-bolt is elicited from the darkest storm."

My friends, victory cannot exist without conflict, healing can't exist without disease and order can't emerge from anything but chaos. Bad things happen, but if we learn from them, then bad things can end up making us better.  

Every year, Accra floods. Every year, people die and millions worth of property is lost. Every year, we fail to find a permanent solution, because we fail to learn from our loss.

This year, our loss has been colossal. Ghana can't afford two tragedies like this. Simply put, we have no choice but to solve this problem once and for all. We have had the darkest storm in our history, so it must produce the brightest thunderbolt from our greatest minds to find a lasting solution to the perennial flooding of Accra.

We must. It's the only good thing that can come from this mess.

No matter what we've lost in the floods, if we gain wisdom in return, then it won't be for nothing

My name is Kojo Yankson, and if as a nation, we can't learn from this tragedy, then we can't learn. Simple.