It all began on a Wednesday September 7th. Three years down the line, and after so much ‘water had passed under the bridge’, it came to a successful end, and the baton was handed over to the new and more daring ‘recruits’ into the
X-Ray Training School, Korle-Bu!
Talking of Willie, Boat and the rest!
Exactly 30 years ago today – in 1986 – yours sincerely ‘graduated’ as an X-ray Operator!
Nana Sarfo & Mr. Eric Nanteer (Korle-Bu days)
Experience, they say, is the best teacher!
And I would say that I have been a little taught! At least in my very short, almost retiring life on this blue-marbleearth . And as a Radiographer.
Of what use would it be to know and not share? This world has gotten to this level by the overall accumulation of what all peoples who did live and living, have imagined, tested, proven, realized, shared and left behind for posterity. That is supposed to be the purpose of life and living! Leave earth a better place for the generations to follow.
Life on this earth is getting better and faster. Very very fast indeed. Gone are times when one could stick to a business and get sustained for a whole life without any major modifications and/or expansions or extensions. No way now!
Just look at
‘phone booths’ – gone; along with the cards that went with them!
‘Space to Space’ – gone!
‘Internet Cafes’ – going!
‘Itinerant Photography’ – gone!
‘Oye ade3 yie‘ – gone!
And Radiography is metamorphosing fast – maybe too fast!
Darkrooms are gone, along with ‘Darkroom Assistants’. And we loved the darkroom in our days! There was no HIV! (The first two HIV cases that landed in Ghana from Cote d’Ivore were X-Rayed in our department by Mr. Gakpetor. Sometime in late ’84. And we stared at them as if they had just landed from Mars!)
We had entered the school a strong contingent of 22! Junior Jesus had closed down all universities for over a year and so some varsity folks had, for want of something doing, applied and gotten admitted.
Universities did eventually reopen and we were left with only 6 of us! Two ladies, with typical Fante names Etwire and Kae! Then Sebiyam, Togbe Asase, Hagan and my humble self.
The famine of the early 80’s had untold devastating effects on feeding Ghanaians. The US shipped down loads of yellow corn. One had to go round with a bowl in hand to the kenkey-making homes to queue to buy a ball for supper!
Some of the guys also, therefore, abandoned the course due to sheer hunger and cost of feeding in Accra.
It was not only food that was hard to come by. Along the way films, chemicals and other consumables became scarce.
Government now decided to introduce the antecedent of ‘Cash and Carry’! Patients started paying for X-Ray and Lab exams. And that eased our burdens a lot. One Darkroom Assistant by name Anthony introduced the term ‘Ajaguda’ in the department! You would go home with your back pocket filled up. The things we could afford were numerous and kept multiplying by the day!
It climaxed in the christmas of 1985 when the whole department was left in the hands of we ‘three-musketeers’. Hagan, Togbe and myself!
We virtually sacked the Revenue Collectors!
Nursing Training students were not doing Ajaguda but needed to maintain themselves. By whatever means. One of the means was us – the X-Ray guys! We were the ones loaded in the whole of the Korle-Bu community! Foohe was in Korle Gonno! Neways(?) was just across the road!
|Nana Sarfo in front of the then Casualty unit||Nana Sarfo & Sister Dora||Nana Sarfo, Togbe Asase & Sister Rosemond|
Kwame Buady was a ‘Johnny Just Come’ those days, and we had the (mis?)fortune of being the first class he assumed full responsibility of after his training abroad.
Imparting what one knows to others, especially students, is an art. This form of art, I dare say, that Mr. Buady was not well endowed with.
Books on Radiography he had them in abundance, but bringing the contents of his books to bear on his professional practice and teaching was a different ball game! You could however not help but admire his disciplinarian attributes! He did it to a fault! Whatever he lacked as a Radiographer was more than adequately compensated for as a disciplinarian!
For example, he removed me as the Class Prefect one hot afternoon! I had reported late for class and when he questioned me I said I was busy preparing Akple in the hostel. He further asked how often I ate Akple and I answered ‘nine times in three days’.
Pronto! He ordered that we should select a new prefect. None was prepared to do it! So she personally appointed one of the Fanti ladies among us!
For inspiration, we turned to Mrs. Duah.
For radiographic practice Mr. Quaye had no challenger.
For radiographic ‘improvisation’ and for a father, look for Mr. Gakpetor.
Mr. Ephson would humble you with his sheer humility and the graceful manner he went about his teaching.
Boss Armah aka ‘Play’ would teach you how to do a good Chest Xrays with a pair of 15 by 6 films. And top it up with a hip joint on a ‘whole plate’. You miss it, and that is all the film you could have for the day! No nonsense!!
‘Group Leader’ aka ‘Four Seven’, who would also respond to ‘ Mr.Bediako’ was the one who taught us the very rudiments of the job! How to be and live as a Radiographer! He is the one who took us under his very wings to make our stay in the job possible. His tutelage is very much invaluable! He was endowed with something else: he could smell a rich patient from a mile away!!!
There was Senior Foster, a mate of 47. Even if he got a basket full of money he wouldn’t give you a penny, as a junior! He would say ‘look for your own’!
He would make cat pepper soup aroma permeate the whole hostel on Friday afternoons without fail! He made no apologies for that!
And Casanova himself would jealous Foster’s exploits!
He left for Nigeria quite early!
Nobody came from their departments to mess around Radiology because of F F Christian! Whaaaat? The only Radiologist around and Head of Department! White-attired all the time! He brooked no nonsense, and insulated us well well! He took a liking to me (because of something) that he could serve me beer in his office in the afternoons!
At the hostel we had more than enough rooms to ourselves. Mainly because most of our guys left midstream! Hygiene and Lab guys were pairing in their rooms. They used to admit fresh students every year whilst Radiography did admit 3-yearly. When I was prefect, I could dish some rooms out to certain non-radiography students for appropriate favors. We also had guest rooms for our visitors! And we shared same bathhouse with all the women! Whatever else could anybody ask for?
Bubra at Foohe used to be ordered in Jugs.
We tried that but after a short while arrived at the conclusion that it was too bothersome counting and checking how many jugs we had done, especially when the effects of the stuff started taking its toll on our mental faculties.
So we discovered and introduced a new system in Foohe, and all credit should remain ours for all times: we ordered in Kegs!
We paid for a keg and it would be fixed to one particular dispenser and that dispenser would only dispense to our table. We kept eagle eyes on that. It used to fill 90 jugs per Keg! We only left the place when it had gone empty, by which time there would not be much traffic to endanger our lives when trying to cross the road back to the hostel.
There was Togbe, Hagan, me and of course our ‘handbags’!
We sadly and soon realized that some of the ‘handbags’ had ways of dispossessing us of some of our’ill-gotten’ money when we entered our elements.
So we decided that dames from our home villages should come around and join in our outings. Mine came via STC and we met her at Circle. Togbe’s own also came. Hagan had meanwhile bonded with one of the Fante ladies in our class. He was from then on barred from any ‘other matters arising’.
As usual the six of us entered Foohe and the attendant put aside our allocation for the evening. And we really did justice to it! It was time for the bar to close for the night. Togbe wobbled along with his ‘handbag’.
Mine was such a structured lady that I only had to persuade her to try her best to reach the hostel.
Hagan carried his lady like a small baby and as we prodded on she involuntarily began to discharge all that she had taken on that day – both solid and liquid! She really painted the Foohe street in her discharge. Hagan had his fair share all over his body. It kept that way on his body till the following morning!
The following dawn found Togbe prostrate on the Tennis court behind the Maternity block and adjacent our hostel. Try as his woman did, she could not manage to take him to his room in the hostel that night. He was found barefooted and we never managed to find his footware to date!
Someone found solace on the staircase leading to the second floor!
And Rosemond found another person secured in a bathroom upstairs around 9 am the following day.
From that day on, no one invited his friends to Foohe again. We made do with Neways which was far nearer our hostel.
Kwame Buady had assured us that four of us would not be able to pass his final exams. True to his words only two of the six of us passed at the first sitting. It had to take F F Christian to persuade him to pass the rest upon resit.
We, especially Hagan, were waiting for his lady to complete before we went on posting.
It was in the period between August and December at which time I had my posting letter that I met the two of them.
They had reported as new entrants when we completed. Both were dark in complexion and lanky. They did not lack height. And their very eye balls gave them out as veterans from their villages! One answered to William Antwi, and the other simply, Boat! Boat had shortened his very name as a disguise to his potential.
They proved to us that Togbe, Hagan and myself were ninos in so far as gulping down any intoxicating stuff was concerned. I do not have their permission to recount their exploits here but suffice it to say that I was lucky to have left for Kumasi at the time I did!!!
The 1st of December 1986 found me with my Portmanteau and Student’s mattress on my way to start life in my backyard.I have since never missed Accra – Willie and Boat are still there and they have lately been joined by Anomoa!! Safety first!!!
I must admit that we succumbed to the life in vogue at the time. Those were the times that choice lands were on sale around Accra and we could have purchased some for ourselves. We could have bought for ourselves nice cars. But even our big men didn’t have cars of their own. So it never crossed our minds as students, even though we were making the money.
That is why I asked in the first part that, what is the essence of experience if not shared?
These are times when banks are ready to give loans or partner professionals to build, operate and transfer money making facilities.
Must Radiographers always work for others? The trend should change just as ‘Space to Space’ faded out.
The young ones must be proactive and pool resources together, partner their colleagues to own their own facilities. That should be the way forward. Doctors build their own clinics. Pharmacists their Pharmacies and drug manufacturing firms. Midwives operate their own Midwifery. We must take the bull by the horns and own our Profession!!
Author: Abraham Akwasi Sarfo
Chief Radiographer And Technical Head
Department of Radiology
Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital