Date: Monday 18th January, 2010
My sister wakes me up to say, “There’s an earthquake coming. We have to go outside”. Having only just managed to fall asleep after 2am, I’m not appeciating being woken up. I ask, “Who told you there was an earthquake coming?” She says a friend called from work and said she’d heard the news from Joy FM. So I tell her that I’m going back to sleep and that if there’s an earthquake, I will wake up and find a good doorway to stand under.
Two minutes later, my dad is in my room teling me to get off the bed. I grab my phone to check the time and then open my facebook, reading people’s comments out loud. “Who is the idiot who’s waking me up at 4am?” and so on. Then comes the argument that should the story be real, I’m safer outside. I simply go back to bed and tell them that there’s no earthquake and that if there is one, I know what to do and that they can go outside.
Now as I’m laying there, it hits me. “Earthquakes being predicted?!!!” Now what I know is that they can’t predict the arrival of an earthquake to a T. Usually it’s only a few seconds forewarning. Certainly not the 10 or so minutes I spent arguing with my family about my need for sleep. And even then, it’s often based on foreshocks which I had not felt. (I often feel the shocks even when everyone else in the house does not….we ARE sitting on a fault and we get more tremors than people like to admit) Also, I knew that Ghana’s only seismometer was broken. So, how on earth did they manage to forsee this event?
9am and I’m about leaving for the office. I’m terribly late and still feeling sick and sleepy. Then I’m told my aunt in Hohoe called at 4am to tell us to get outside. Far as I know, Hohoe isn’t on a fault. Madina, East Legon, McCarthy Hil etc are the problem areas. The farthest a quake has ever been felt I think, is Kumasi in 1939. Now I’m awfully amused. Inquiries when I get to work paint an even more amusing picture.
Apparently, someone with an unregistered SIM sent a couple of text messages round saying he/she was with the Ghana Geological Agency and that they should get to safety because an earthquake was on its way. The result? The texts were forwarded, phone calls were made, and eventually most of the nation was gathered outside of homes. People gathered on football fields (wise option) and some on the beach (why on earth would anyone want to do that?) yet others stood in their yards and streets where eletric poles and trees stood ready to crush and electrocute (in the event of an actual quake strong enough to topple them)….
One thing was very clear. Ghanaians have a good broadcasting system. Granted the hoax started about 11pm the previous day and got to me at 4am, but the bottom line is, we’re a caring people and will do anything to make sure our friends and family are safe. That said, it’s a bloody shame that it turned out to be a hoax because the next time, should there be a real emergency, I am willing to bet that people will not believe it.
Now, I can understand why Ghanaians panicked. Our brothers and sisters in Haiti are still suffering the effects of their MAJOR QUAKE. In fact, Ghanaians havedonated $3 million in hopes of relieving some of the pressure.
Which brings me to the question….How on earth did we come up with $3million?!!! I’d like to see us put money like that into promoting mental health and helping orphanages here. If we’re capable of handing such money out, why on earth haen’t we helped ourselves? Granted, I’m proud of us for stepping in to assist….but isn’t this taking the splinter from someone’s eye when you got a log in yours?
One thing can be said about Ghanaians though. We’re ever ready to lend a helping hand to our brothers and sisters (even call them to warn about an earthquake). Makes me feel good to know this, despite the early April Fools.