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General News of Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Source: www.yedweb.org

Report On The Online Discussion On The Insults

REPORT ON THE ONLINE DISCUSSION ON THE INSULTS IN THE GHANAIAN MEDIA HELD
ON AUGUST 9, 2011

Background

The recent spate of Politicians and Radio Commentators resorting to insults and the use
of offensive language in Ghana has attracted the attention of many including the
President and some opinion leaders, calling for an end to it. The Youth Economic
Dialogue (YED), a platform that promotes cooperation between stakeholders in youth
development, i.e. Youth and Youth Organisations, Government and the Private Sector
emphasizing their joint role of peaceful social change, organised an online discussion on
the topic to gather from its members, practical ways of addressing the challenge with
special emphasis on the role of Media, Political Parties/Government and the entire
citizenry.
The online discussion was held on Tuesday, August 9 2011, with participants mainly
from Ghana. The participants included Media Practitioners, Civil Society persons,
Student Leaders and Politicians. The discussion took place on the YED Facebook Group
Page, http://www.facebook.com/groups/youtheconomicdialogue, and was freely
accessible to all. To post a comment, participants had to be a member of the platform
used for the discussion.
Summary of Discussion
Participants came to conclusion that insult on our airwaves is not a good practice and it
requires a concerted effort to immediately arrest the canker. Media Houses, radio/TV
commentators, Civil Society/ Clergy, owe it a responsibility to ensure civility on any
platform that is used to communicate to majority of Ghanaians. The discussion arrived at some concrete steps that must be taken by the Media Houses, Political Parties and
the Civil Groups in Ghana.

Role of Media

The Media, the fourth estate of governance, must lift up their game to a more
responsible role of educating, informing and fetching concerns from the citizenry
and it cannot happen with half-baked individuals, engaged under very offensive
conditions as story tellers or "voice they don't have, for the voiceless!". The Media
is a powerful tool for development and there is the need for all media houses to
uphold that. Now, in Ghana, to be a successful politician is to read the archives
and know in detail who said what, where and did what, when, spice it up with
some semantics which when broken down amount to insults. It’s about time we
shifted from the practice of just reviewing papers to discussing issues that bother
on the socio-economic development of our communities and promote peace for
sustainable growth. Media persons are the ones who entertain the noise of the
political parties. The superior feeling of some individuals and groups and the
limited professionalism in the media have all culminated into this burden on our
collective shoulders. They need to name the parties and shame those whose
stock in trade is raining abuses on the nation's conscience.
The setting up of decency standards by all media houses, that seeks to check
hosts/hostess and their panel members, is needed. Individuals and organizations
must be sanctioned and if possible blacklisted from appearing on the sets
anytime they flout the decency standards. The Media is the salvation of our ears
and they must show the way.

Role of Political Parties

It is imperative to mention that the malfunctioning of internal party structures
(e.g. disciplinary committee) to deal with issues of insults internally, contributes
significantly to this problem. Leaders of Political parties must be seen punishing
faithfuls who insult or use foul languages on the airwaves or during political
activities. The attitude of our parties of always paying deaf ears to the internal
insults does not equally help matters at all. Closely link with the above is the
failure of leaders to openly condemn individuals who engage in the trading of insults. The President of the land and opposition leaders must walk their talk to
boldly sanction state officials/appointees who appear to be insulting their
opponents.

Role of the Civil Society

Civil societies have served as the third eye in every successful country and there is
the need for them to add their voice to the call for sanity on our airwaves. Our
clergy must be seen condemning politicians who engage in insults on our
political landscape. The citizenry must also call for sanity by openly rejecting
media outlets which give room for politicians to engage in insult and the use of
foul languages that seems alien to our cultural setting as a people. We should
stop thinking that we are powerless because it is the media house or the dirtymouthed politician/political party who control our lives.
Conclusion
The Youth Economic Dialogue urges all well meaning Ghanaians to join its campaign of
promoting peace and issue-based campaign in the lead-up to the 2012 elections
dubbed, “ISSUES or Lose my Vote 2012”. The aim of the campaign is to mobilize more
than 500,000 young people to send a message to politicians that they should run an
issue-based campaign. The campaign will move to hot spots touted as trouble zones to
educate the youth on the need for them not to allow themselves to be used as
instruments of destruction but rather, valuable assets in nation development. The
modus operandi will be using Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and the
Mass Media to mobilize, educate and inform the youth on the need to have a peaceful
Ghana as the country approaches election 2012.

We urge all to get on board the campaign by signing up on our Facebook page:
“ISSUES or Lose my Vote” (http://www.facebook.com/votewisely)Contributors
We are thankful to the following persons who contributed during the online discussion:
Nana Yaw Adu Gyamfi, Nana Fredua Agyemang Ofori Atta, Davis Opoku Ansah, Bright
Simons, Davis Adu Larbi, Harold Boateng, Collins Dakorah, Kwamena Bello, Awal Issahaku
Kanawu, Nana Poku, Edward Kwareteng, Kobby Gomez Mensah, Peter Appiah-Danquah,
Benedicta Lasi, Francis ab, Robert Dela, Donna T-M App
About YED
Youth Economic Dialogue (YED) is a programme including a community platform and a
milestone event for current and future leaders to engage in a trans-generational debate
on the issues, challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. In an effort to harness the
energy, imagination and initiative of Africa’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing
humankind and enhancing peace to boosting economic development, The Youth Economic
Dialogue focuses on five key issues. The Group has an entire membership of 716 from the
across the Globe, who contribute to issues bothering society, with special focus on
promoting Agribusiness, Trade & Investment, Technology and Leadership & Governance
on the African Continent.

For correspondence:

Harold Boateng-0244955898
Davis Opoku- 0244861593
No. 8 Afram Street, Asylum Down, Accra.
P.O Box AD 990, Adabraka-Accra
www.yedweb.org , www.facebook.com/yedafrica
+233 .302. 918 935TRANSCRIPT OF DISCUSSION
Davis Opoku Ansah: Even on my wall, i don't entertain insults so if you're a radio host and
you allow your platform to be used to insult political leaders, just bow down your head in
Shame. Moving forward, our Radio stations must shift away from the newspaper review to
picking issues of National Concern for proper dialogue by panellist. In so doing, panellists are
forced to learn and prepare before coming into the studios. (09 August at 09:32)
Nana Poku: Can’t help but agree (09 August at 09:36)
Edward Kwarteng: don't even know the kind of legacy these Radio panellists want to leave
behind...Don't want to mention names but I think some of them(Politicians who insult) should
be banned from the media and be left out of the communication team by their political
parties. (09 August at 09:40)
Nana Fredua-Agyeman Ofori-Atta: and that is what I think too. That is why I think that we
the people should not concentrate on the problems of the political parties but rather at the
media houses. They are the ones who entertain the noise of the political parties and they do so
because they know and rightfully believe that the general public likes that. if the public did
not entertain such matters, the political parties who want our votes will stop what they do
and then get back to our concerns.(09 August at 09:48)
Kobby Gomez-Mensah: Nana, I disagree with you, if political parties that form the base of
elected governments should be left to deal with their own challenges, we are screwed
completely. You know that if one means well, not just for his party or government, then, we
must be concerned with happenings in every aspect of our societal life. Media owners, hosts,
listeners and panellist have all contributed to this mess. The superior feeling of some
individuals and groups and the limited professionalism in the media have all culminated into
this donkey on our collective shoulders. We need to name the parties and shame those whose
stock in trade is raining abuses on the nation's conscience. Davis, like I always say, the media
must lift their game! That can't happen with half-baked individuals, engaged under very
offensive conditions as story tellers or "voice they don't have, for the voiceless!" Good
observation though. (09 August at 11:11)
Nana Fredua-Agyeman Ofori-Atta: kobby you misunderstood me. I repeat we should not
concentrate on the problems of the political parties but rather at the media houses, they are
the ones who entertain the noise of the political parties, and they do so because they know and
rightfully believe that the general public likes that. If the public did not entertain such
matters, the political parties who want our votes will stop what they do and then get back to
our concerns. (09 August at 11:16)Davis Opoku Ansah: We have very descent people in all the parties in Ghana but some
stations decide to invite people who can insult and talk trash for the length of the program
and we will still tune in and listen... (09 August at 11:20)
Nana Fredua-Agyeman Ofori-Atta: Thanks Davis. That is the first essence of my point.
Second point therefore is that if WE THE PEOPLE stop thinking that we are powerless because
it is the media house or the dirty-mouthed politician/political party who should control our
lives then we begin to see the end to the problem and do something about it (09 August at
11:30)
Kwamena Bello: I couldn't agree with you more, Davis, and Nana Fredua. It's a real SHAME!
We the emerging leaders ought to rise up and make our voices heard. (09 August at 11:48)
Kobby Gomez-Mensah: Nana, you and I know parties like to put their worst foot forward
most times and if you like, we can do an exercise here! The best General Secretary for the big
parties are not the most popular. The reckless, loud-mouth ones are the most preferred in our
political discourses, sometimes by top guns in our political structure. We cannot leave
political parties to solve their own problems. In fact, we must question the choices made by
delegates at every level. That way, we avoid being saddled with a confused party, running
affairs in the most reckless of ways! (09 August at 11:56)
Nana Fredua-Agyeman Ofori-Atta: It is not true, Kobby, that the parties like to put their
worst forward. I can at least say that for NPP - if you push me. I can cite examples of people
from NPP (Akomea, Osei-Akoto, Afeku, Kennedy, Djaba) to name a few, from the CPP (Kabila,
Jantuah, Dorwokpo) to name a few, from the PNC (I know at least two whose names escape
me because the media tend not to invite them and who are not friends of mine or regularly
known to me) and even from the NDC (John Mahama when he used to be on Metro, Iddrisu,
Tetteh) to name those who didn’t entertain such things. When these personalities were
regular we did not hear about what we are worried about today. It is the media who should
insist that they will not entertain those bad nuts when they are proposed by their parties. It
has happened in at least three media houses including Peace FM, TV Africa, and Xfm. I can
give you details if you want about these examples. The political parties have not stopped
sending representatives there, but they send "sensible" ones or those who will comply with
their decency standards. THAT is a great start to ensuring decency on our airwaves and also
making the concerns of the public the concerns of the media and the political parties. The focus of my proposal is to FOCUS on the media as a lead to the salvation of our ears. The
political parties will solve their problems. (09 August at 12:33)
Collins Dakurah: All it takes to be a successful politician in Ghana is to read the archives and
know in detail who said what where and did what when, spice it up with some semantics
which when broken down amount to insults. Like Kobby Gomez-Mensah said, they uncultured
are mostly preferred, I doubt Sir John would have won if he had not suddenly shot to fame
after insulting the President and getting into a fight in the studio. Sorry I am unable to give
examples from the NDC at the moment.
(09 August at 14:51)
Kwamena Bello: Let me help you bro, if I can. James Agyenim Boateng, Kobby Acheampong,
Koku Anyidoho, etc
09 August at 14:58 •
Awal Issahaku Kanawu: I think I agree with most of the things said already. First of all for
me I hold a strong view that the media houses possess the antidote to this emerging canker of
"verbal diarrhoea" and they can do it by ensuring that panellist noted for resorting to insults
are completely blacklisted just like Nana Fredua stated. Secondly I believe
host/hostess(moderators) of such programmes are sometimes equally blameable for allowing
such intemperate/vulgar language in their programmes and here I must commend people like
Randy Abbey, Kwame Sefa Kayi and dzifa Bampoe(these names because they are on record to
have force panellist withdraw certain uncomplimentary language use on their
programmes).It is also imperative to mention that the mal functioning of internal party
structures(e.g. disciplinary committee) to deal with such issues internally contributes
significantly to this problem. For instance b4 the Fonkar-Game congress a certain young man
called Dela Coffie is on record to have use a lot of unprintable words(not ready to repeat
them) in describing President Mills yet no body from within the NDC call him to order. Also
before the NPP Parliamentary primaries some candidates went "haywire “in personalizing we
did not get the courage to sanction them. So this attitude of our parties of always paying deaf
ears to the internal insults does not equally help matters at all. Closely link with the above is
the failure President Mills to boldly sanction state officials/gov't appointees who appear to be
insulting their opponents just like we are told in the case of President Goodluck of Nigeria.
Publicly our president has condemned politics of insults yet he has some kind of cataleptic
attitude towards sanctioning his appointees. May be Civil Society and the Clergy will have to
also sit up in reorienting members of the Ghanaian society on some of these issues. There is wise saying among the old folks of Dagbon that "stress may sometimes be the fertilizer of
wisdom and intelligence" hence the recent two instances of John Kumah's arrest and last
Saturday’s event in Joy studios has kept the whole nation under some kind of stress to help
induce possible ways of dealing with the issue under discussion and I believe what we are
doing here on this platform is a shining example of that.
09 August at 17:15
Davis Opoku Ansah How about compiling all these wonderful ideas and sending it to media
houses to discuss it......I need your permission first folks...
09 August at 17:20
Awal Issahaku Kanawu Just to add to the above that the attitude of using fake ids(wrong
name/profile pictures) by some faceless characters on this social networks like Facebook and
Twitter also contributes in breeding and developing politics of insults. For Instance I
personally know of some few highly insulting faceless cowards (names withheld for now) here
of Facebook who are not using their real identities.
09 August at 17:24
Awal Issahaku Kanawu : Davis Opoku Ansah-Ditto!
09 August at 17:26
Davis Opoku Ansah That is one disadvantage of the Social media... Admission into this
platform requires that you should have something meaningful to contribute and that you
need to be invited by someone who knows you...we don't just accept any faceless person here
09 August at 17:27
Nana Fredua-Agyeman Ofori-Atta: Davis if you want to publish such discussions let me
know when you finish compiling them. I can help edit and get it published. It is a good idea. It
will give a new life to this type of thinking. Only condition for me is that everyone who thinks
that they would like their comments published should reveal their real names to Davis if it is
not what registers on FB
09 August at 22:47
Harold Boateng: Nice idea guys.... the willingness of civil society, media, political parties etc.
cannot be overemphasized in dealing with this creeping canker. I suggest that the “ISSUES or Lose my Vote” Campaign be vigorously embraced by all stakeholders. To this end,
stakeholders must show commitment by getting their constituents (party members, listening
& watching populace etc..) to sign on to the campaign. An internet link to the campaign site
etc. to get their members on board etc is one sure way of establishing their unshaken
commitment to promoting an Issue-based electioneering campaign than entrenching an
Insult-based campaign. Together lets deepen True Democracy!
09 August at 23:03 (via Inbox)

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