PJS (and not that’s not pajamas)

A 13 year old boy, who years before had a bowel resection for an intestinal obstruction, was admitted to our hospital several times with abdominal pain. The pain was intermittent but severe.  After conservative treatment, he got better, but only for about a week. He then returned with pain, vomiting and inability to pass stool or gas. I decided to operate.

I found an intussusception causing a bowel obstruction. A tumor attached to the inside wall of the small intestines caused the bowel to fold and twist upon itself. I was able to reduce the intussusception and remove the tumor. As I examined the remaining bowel, I realized that he had multiple other small tumors throughout the small intestines. I removed several of the larger tumors, but could not remove all of them.

As I examined the bowel and resected the tumors, I remembered something peculiar that I had noticed on the patient even as he was lying on the operating table waiting for surgery. I had not yet made the connection. He has black spots on his lips, palms and soles of his feet. Together, these findings constitute a syndrome, Peutz Jehger Syndrome.

The good news is that this means the tumors are benign, but have potential to become cancer. I explained to the family that he would have to be examined on a regular basis, including colonoscopy to rule out the presence of any cancers.

He is a sweet kid who lives close by, and always has a smile for me whenever we meet.

** WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES **
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Gambaga’s Bird (Muscicapa Gambagae)

My recent research into Dr. Rudolf Fisch’s 1910 trek through Mamprugu led me to another European visitor’s journals about a visit to Gambaga, Gold Coast (Ghana) in 1901. Lieutenant Boyd Alexander was a British Army Officer who was famous for his expeditions from West to East Africa in the early 1900s. He was a passionate ornithologist and through his travels he amassed a collection of African bird specimens that he later gifted to the British Museum – many of them from Ghana.

Lt. Alexander was lucky enough to discover some new species in Ghana* and he named one after Gambaga since he first spotted it there. This bird is Muscicapa Gambagae or the Gambaga Flycatcher.

In 1902, Boyd published a report in Ibis, a renowned ornithology journal, about his travels in Ghana and the birds he collected. That report first mentions this bird.**

I found his report of the journey from Kumasi to Gambaga to be quite interesting. Here are some excerpts from On the Birds of the Gold Coast Colony and its Hinterland. Read More

Heidi’s Video for Keswick Christian School

Heidi’s old high school Keswick Christian School had a banquet with the theme “I Am Second” and asked her to contribute a video for the program.

Zenabu’s Baby Naming Ceremony

My good friend Kolbugri‘s second wife Fozeaa just had another baby girl and they invited us to the suna (baby naming ceremony). I was honored to be invited to the observe the ceremony where the Muslim elders come and bless the child. This is a private ritual that I had not yet seen in my three years here.

Here’s how it went down. An Islamic name was chosen by the lumaam (maalam) based on the child’s gender and birth day of the week. One of the men brought the name over on a piece of paper and presented it to the father and who passed it around to those attending the ceremony.

ZENABU was the name to be given. It is a transliteration of the Arabic name  زينب‎‎, or “Zaynab” which was Mohammed’s daughter’s name. It is also connected to the Hebrew name ‘Zenyeb’ which means ‘pride of her father’. Read More

White Volta Rapids North of Gambaga

The White Volta River flows east to west just a few miles north of me and I’ve hiked down the Gambaga Escarpment to it several times. I recently visited a section of the river that appeared to have some rapids in Google’s satellite imagery. I was trying to find the exact spot that Dr. Rudolf Fisch photographed in 1901 and suspected (incorrectly) that this was the place.

My friend Nils accompanied me and we biked from Nalerigu to Dintingi to the scarp, hiked down (with our bikes), then rode to the farm settlement of Ayoobu, and hiked along the river bank to the fishing settlement of Achebu (Kyeebu). It was a trek of about 17km.

As we approached Achebu, we could hear the roar of the rapids. As we came out in the open it was a sight to behold! The massive river gets funneled down through a narrow spot full of volcanic rock which causes it rush and explode with energy.

I met Frances, the chief of the fishing settlement. He’s a kind man and a Christian – in fact, he was reading his Bible when I arrived. The settlement was a mix of several ethnic groups: Mamprusi, Kusasi and Ewe. The latter surprised me a bit for Ewe are typically found in the southeast of Ghana and southern Togo. However, they explained that Ewe are fisherman and tend to follow major bodies of water wherever they lead.

Magic Charms, Black Cats, and the Power of Jesus

Follow the title link above to read an article and photos I contributed to IMB.org about magic and superstitions objects in northern Ghana.

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