I would have preferred to use the Adamorobe Sign Language to communicate what I want to say, but the question is; how possible is that? Even if that is possible, how many people will be able to read and comprehend it?
This is a brief narration about the Adamorobe village in case you did not know. The Adamorobe community according to Wikipedia is notable for its unusually high incidence of hereditary deafness (genetic recessive autosome). In the year 2012, about 1.1% of the total population was deaf, but the percentage was as high as 11% in 1961. (Wikipedia, 2017).
The Linguistics Students Association (LINGSA) of the University of Ghana had the privilege to organize a donation exercise to this village because of the long help and service they have always rendered to the Linguistics Department for Ghanaian Sign Language Students but also primarily because the students wanted to put into practice the humanitarian face of the association.
It will interest you to know what transpired there. The village initially which was known because of Deaf people has now been occupied by a bunch of people who are pushing the Deaf people to just a meagre side of the village and relegating and discriminating against them. These Deaf people who are the official occupants of the village, have now become a minority and therefore have no say.
The problem here is not why they have been pushed to one side of the village but why has a majority of the place been sold out to others to use for their commercial purposes? It is saddening how these people in authority do not think twice and even if they do, not well enough to take certain actions. I can say these people feel they are not human through these activities of those who use speech. But just as we all have our individual strengths and weaknesses, ‘they’ also have their strengths and weaknesses as well.
A man signed, ‘today, I can be able to sleep with my stomach full’. Why is this the case? The very people we have denied rights and privileges are the same people we have denied food. By this, I mean to say that the farms they had control over have been ceased by the majority of the people who use spoken the language. How then can they have something to cater for themselves especially the old who form a majority of this 1.1% of the Deaf population in the village?
A majority of them in the village use farming as a means of livelihood. What comprehensive measures has the Government of Ghana put in place to help these people in their farming activities to not only fend for themselves but also to contribute their quota of development to the nation as a whole? There are very modern practices, equipment, methods and others needed in farming but because they are Deaf have little or no access to any of these improvements and yet we are able to call them disabled with our ‘right’ conscience.
In fact, the building in which they hold their church services is not a thing to pride ourselves in as people who build churches and parade mosques here and there; or is it because we have a feeling that they wouldn’t be able to contribute their quota to the enrichment of the pastor or the Imam? It is a thing to be happy and pride yourself in being religious but what is religion when the real essence of religion is helping the needy — something we don’t do?
It’s about time the Government of Ghana and people in authority came to the aid of these Deaf people in all spheres of their lives so as to improve their lives, the lives of Ghanaians in general, the economy of the nation and to aid in the achievement in the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063.
How can we tap into their potentials? This is very interesting. These Deaf people have a bank of knowledge we probably did not know and here is a bit of it. They equally have skilled labour. We could tap into these people with the skills in hairdressing, shoemaking, farming, football, and others by involving them in activities other than segregating them. They have bright students alike who are skilled in a lot of ventures but the opportunity to display and be noticed is not given.
The Deaf people of Adamorobe are calling on all of us, likewise, those in Mampong, Osu, and all other Deaf communities which have not been discovered. They have no voice but their cry is much louder and touching than the voices of people. Let us come together and say no to the segregation of the Deaf people in our societies. They are Deaf but they are not dumb.
Author & Speaker,
The University of Ghana.