Category: Nigeria and Ghana, 2013

Meetings and More Meetings

August 30

A productive, but not a photogenic, day.

We set out early for the four-hour drive to Kumasi, passing through towns lined with roadside shops, many bearing religious names. Here are a few: Christ is the Almighty God Plumbing Works, God First Catering Service, Everlasting Glorious Furniture Store and Amazing Grace Super Market.

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I am riding with Joe and Sola. We talk some about yesterday’s big court case announcement, involving the contest of the legality of the Ghanaian presidential election. There had been fears that the decision, eight months in the waiting, might provoke violence. The court upheld the validity of the election of Mr. Mahama, finding that any irregularities were not widespread, and would not have affected the outcome. Happily, the other side accepted the outcome of the election, and so there was no violence.

I learned about Sola’s decision to join Funmi in Global Health at the U of C. He had been a tenured professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where he’d been on the faculty for nineteen years. While their kids were in school at home, Sola and Funmi had made a decision to remain in their positions, but now that the kids were older, Sola decided to leave his tenured position to become a Professor at the University of Chicago in order to join Funmi in developing the Global Health Initiative there. I talked with Sola about the difficulties of being mentored and advancing as the sole Black doctor at UIC, which paralleled what I knew about the advancement of minorities in large law firms. We compared notes about the process of our leaving secure positions to strike out elsewhere.

I am going to conflate two meetings, because the issues and results were similar. The Global Health Initiative has developed formal relations with some fifteen hospitals and universities in many countries around the world. (They have one with Ibadan, in Nigeria.) These relationships are formalized with a Memorandum of Understanding that sets a template for future projects, each of which must be agreed to in a separate written agreement. They had proposed signing MOUs with two related entities in Kumasi, KATH (Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital) and KNUST (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology). We met separately with doctors and administration people, and it’s clear that both MOUs will be signed in short order. Sola handled both meetings very skillfully. Several months ago the U of C had sent a team of three Global Health students, which combined with three students provided by KNUST, evaluating wells built by the Kipharts and it’s this work that led to the MOUs.

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We drove to the Kumasi Maternity and Childhood Clinic to see Dr. Annie, who runs the clinic and who the Kipharts have supported for many years. Dr. Annie is an amazingly energetic, compassionate and engaging person, who is from Madagascar and received her medical training in the Ukraine.

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At the clinic, we saw Emily, a first year medical student at the U of C, who was spending three weeks at the clinic on a project through the Global Health Initiative. Each time we return to the clinic, we see many improvements, but none have been more dramatic than the beautiful new lab, funded by a foundation in Spain called Grifols, which came about because of friendship and investor relationships between Dick and Grifols.

Drove to The Four Villages Inn, our home in Kumasi, where we were greeted by Chris, the proprietor. Chris’ Ghanaian wife, Charity, is in Canada, visiting their kids. The Kipharts, Olopades and I met with Alex Eduful, the eldest son of Peter Eduful, who died suddenly about a year ago. This was a tremendous blow, both personally and to the work the Kipharts are doing in Ghana, because Peter was the indispensable point person for all of that work. The meeting, to gauge Alex’s interest in aiding in continuing that work was delicate, because the whole approach to the work has changed now that it will be done through the Global Health Initiative. The Kipharts were very clear about the changes. The meeting went well, and Alex is to prepare a proposal for the Olopades, for analysis of the 78 wells the Kipharts have built in Ghana, based on what we discussed.

As the meeting ended, the rest of the fifteen people invited for a dinner with us on the porch of the inn began to arrive. Most of them are people I’ve mentioned earlier in this blog, so I won’t go into the list now. Dinner was quite excellent, and ended with another happy birthday song and cake for Dick, as today is his actual birthday. After the guests left, our “gang of five” debriefed the day and discussed follow up action.

2 comments to Meetings and More Meetings

  • D. J. Baker

    Arnie – your notes and accompanying pictures continue to provide fascinating commentary on the social and economic issues confronting West Africa. Taken together, they are the next best thing to being there. Best. Jan

  • Wendy

    Fantastic! I didn’t realize that the Kipharts’ work in Ghana was going to be taken over by GHI/the Olapades! That is excellent news! And I’m very glad that the delicate meeting went so well.
    Rock on, Gang of Five!
    L,
    W.
    P.S. The Almighty God is my plumber, too! What a coincidence!

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