The 24th edition of the Mole Conference series (Mole XXIV) got off to a spectacular start on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 with women providing an unanticipated but vital direction to drive frank and witty discussions.
It was a rare day at Mole when the close of day came too quickly for many participants, who appeared tireless and still willing to continue discussions.
In terms of numbers, it was all square as seven men and seven women respectively took to the speaker’s box. But it was the women who lighted up the day, creating an enabling environment for a hearty deliberation.
The main architects of the day were chairman (or class prefect) for the day, Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) communications expert and the theme speaker (or teacher), Prof (Mrs) Esi Awuah, Vice Chancellor, University of Energy and Natural Resources.
They were so creative and versatile with their communication; employing anecdotal use and teaching skills in a manner that made the bitter truths they told seem like praise-singing. They made sanitation sound like the best ever topic to discuss.
But there were moments of brutal frankness. For instance, Dr Dartey said: “The crisis of sanitation is at the very heart of our national development as we lay claim to credentials of a middle-income country. Without a doubt, no matter how hard and genuinely we work at branding Ghana and enhance its international reputation, the current state of our sanitation will always get in the way. When tourists arrive with their cameras and we welcome them full-heartedly with the much acclaimed Ghanaian hospitality, our poor state of sanitation bruises the image we so much desire to project.”
For her part, Prof Awuah took her listeners from a serious conference setting into a typical teaching environment where a teacher is free to create a humorous atmosphere that made her criticism of systems, institutions and those who run them appear very harmless.
Suffice it to say that she did make her point, and very firmly too.
“I want to thank the Government of Ghana for the support it has given to sanitation. Our governments have done very well in spite of the fact that their knowledge in sanitation is very low…Our Development Partners have done extremely well. In fact they have pampered us by supporting us so much so that we have become very, very dependent on them.”
Dr Dartey and Prof Awuah were complemented by the likes of Ama Ofori Antwi of the Environmental Services Providers Association (ESPA), Betty Akumatey, who represented The Trend Group; and Akua Akyaa Nkrumah of Waste Enterprisers who made various presentations on the first day and did not fear to speak their mind.
Long after Mole XXIV is over, participants will look back on the role women played in driving and sustaining interest in discussions on the opening day.