By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, January 24, 2014
Friends, let’s have some fun. The times are too rough and we need some comic relief to get us going, wherever we may be headed.
On Tuesday, this news report appeared, caught my attention, but slid away because I had other things to think of. Now, it has come back for scrutiny:
“Give your children cow milk and they will grow and think like cows—Frimpong Boateng”.
The President of the Ghana Heart Foundation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, has said parents who feed their children with cow milk risk seeing them grow to behave like cows. According to him, the best milk to give to children is breast milk but not animal milk.
“So I say if you want your child to grow and think like a cow, of course, then go ahead and give him cow milk,” the former Chief Executive of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital told Bernard Nasara Saibu, co-host of the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Wednesday.
His main argument is that “Our [human] milk contains the type of protein that is supposed to help the cell membranes to develop especially the central membrane system… and then after nine months the child begins to walk or crawl. But the cow milk contains a lot of proteins; drink, get strength and go and eat grass”.
Well, folks, it is only logical that human beings should go for what is naturally theirs—which is breast milk—as the direct source of nutrition for infants. Except where conditions suggest otherwise, especially in the case of mothers suffering from HIV/AIDS who may be feared to transmit the virus to their children through breastfeeding. Or others impaired by “conditions” beyond control.
Otherwise, breast milk is human infants’ natural nutrition. No two ways about this urge, which is why I agree with Dr. Frimpong Boateng. He must be hitting hard at a very serious issue, even if through an expensive joke of this sort.
No mammal depends on human milk for survival; but human beings go for what other mammals (of the lower kingdom) generate. If not the meat, then, the milk or other body parts. Our greed and misplaced priorities have led us to great lengths in appropriating anything in the animal kingdom that we consider usable.
I once had an Indian friend who drank a lot of cow milk although he had made me aware that his religion prohibited him from eating beef. In fact, the cow is revered in that religion. He laughed me to scorn and rejected my claim that by drinking the cow’s milk, he and others like him were denying the calves their due. There was no talk of cow milk turning the users into cows or bulls “upstairs”.
I know that Dr. Frimpong Boateng was making a serious call for a change in feeding behaviour, even though he coloured it with the expensive joke: “So I say if you want your child to grow and think like a cow, of course, then go ahead and give him cow milk”.
In those days, we had “Lactogen Babies” whom we teased for maturing fast and behaving in ways that we characterized as “foolish” but I can’t attribute that to the effect of the food supplement.
There are many food supplements, especially in the white man’s land, which first-time mothers mostly prefer because they don’t want to breastfeed and end up with sagging breasts (Remember the sexual benefits of firm breasts!). But it hasn’t yet been scientifically proved that these food supplements are responsible for the way the beneficiaries think.
Does it make them think faster and better than we (in Africa, especially breastfeeding infants) do, which is why they are quick to invent many things to improve the quality of life and to develop their countries while we continue to stagnate? And to equip them with the adroit means for identifying treasures elsewhere in the world to exploit to the disadvantage of the indigenes? I don’t know.
But what I know is that much of what causes infant mortality in our part of the world is attributable to malnutrition. And it can be proved that good infant nutrition encourages good growth and mental alertness when one is of age.
I suppose that all those who have been in responsible positions in Ghana since independence were breastfed (at least, the craze for feeding infants on food supplements wasn’t there when they were born). How much thinking have they done to help us solve problems?
Probably, a lot more needs to be done for us to know why drinking cow’s milk in infancy leads one to think and behave like a cow later in life. And there are many other sources of animal milk (camel, horse, etc.).
Indeed, it has become fashionable in our time for Ghanaian mothers to go for food supplements in the belief that they would provide better nutriments for their infants. A lot of money goes into this venture; and it is spreading fast, which is why Dr. Frimpong Boateng has given this warning.
If his claim is true, we will one day have a circus of “human” cows, horses, and camels in charge of national affairs. All influenced by the nutriments in the particular milk fed them and thinking according to whatever motivates them.
I hope not to be alive to see anything of the sort happen. All I can say for now is: Hurrah to the future Animal Farm with a government of the cows, by the cows, and for the cows!!
I shall return…