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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Fuseini vs. Kwaku Baako, Kwabena Yeboah vs. Ackah Anthony!

“Thank you for painting my board. New Rector, new painting, new writing.” This is how one of the numerous known and unknown graffiti writers who keep the GIJ males’ washrooms awash with nasty inscriptions decided to welcome the painting of the place last year. Among the senseless and inexpressively humorous writings are some wise and philosophical sayings. One of those which were there before the place was painted read: “Guns don’t kill men. Men kill men.” And I cannot but appreciate the enormous wisdom this quote conveys. Our wise elders have advised, centuries before my father met my mother, that hounds of the same owner must not tear the game apart. But it seems Ghanaian journalists are yet to hear this admonition. And if they have, they are perhaps yet to come to terms with its meaning. And if there is anyone out there who thinks there is a seven-headed nocturnal monster threatening the downfall of journalists in Ghana, I say it is not true. Politicians don’t hunt journalists. Journalists hunt journalists! In Ghana. The other day I mistakenly tuned to Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme, and was forced to listen to the entire programme. I say mistakenly because some of the things the host allows his guests to say are not meant for the airwaves and decent ears. But as someone learning to be writer, I have to listen to everything: whether good or bad. But on this particular afternoon, it was a battle between two senior journalists. They were Malik Kwaku Baako, the Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide newspaper and Alhaji ABA Fuseini, Night Editor of the Daily Graphic. The battle was first between Alhaji A.B.A. Fuseini and Mr. Ken Korankye, who A.B.A. constantly referred to as “Kwaku Baako’s boy”. Kwaku Baako, who said he was at a meeting, was drawn to the station by certain comments made by Alhaji, which he needed to respond to. The students who listened to the unpalatable exchanges at the GIJ Media Center, from a radio phone which was put on loud speaker, were divided. While some backed A.B.A. Fuseini, others backed Malik Kwaku Baako and they strained the veins on their necks a great deal in order to make their points. Any dimwit there could tell which party each student belonged, as well as the two senior journalists who were insulting each other like what the foul-mouthed trotro drivers do when a colleague crosses them carelessly. At a point in time Kwaku Baako was so “mad” that after hurling insults back at ABA Fuseini, he shouted, “Who born dog” and paused for it to sink. As if the effect of his utterance did not produce the intended effect from the host and those in the studio, he asked, “Did you hear that?” I thought this man said he didn’t like Former President Rawlings’s utterances. Alhaji was accusing Kwaku Baako of some coins which passed through his hands when Kufuor’s government decided to be a toast of the Ghanaian media. Kwaku Baako asked him to produce evidence. “If I say this is a male, then it means I’m holding the balls,” was Alhaji’s reply when he was asked whether he had any evidence to back what he was saying. So why should journalists be at each other’s throat in favour of the very politicians they’re supposed to be watchdogs over? If game keepers have become poachers, then who is there to keep the hunter away? Then what becomes of the fate of the Ghanaian tax payer? I thought it was only “political journalists” were those disposed to politically motivated enmity until I bought the Saturday, May 8, edition of The Mirror, only to read the most horrible thing ever published by any of the Graphic Communications Group Ltd’s newspapers. What made it worse was the fact that it was from my favourite columnist of that paper, Mr. Ackah Anthony’s Candid Corner. I’m not an ardent fan of sports but I don’t miss Ackah Anthony’s column not because of the content but the writing. Another sports journalist who has whetted my appetite for sport Journalism is Mr. John Vigah, who I consider the most successful Ghanaian journalist. And I’ll tell you why later. This particular piece by Mr. Ackah Anthony, the President of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana, was titled, Glasshouse Stone Throwers and it was full of insults directed at Mr. Kwabena Yeboah of the GTV Sports Highlights fame and editor of Africa Sports. Ackah Anthony said he had written a piece captioned “Stop Playing the Saint” and Kwabena Yeboah had reacted to it, saying he (Ackah Anthony) was referring to him. The whole piece was full of insults to Kwabena Yeboah and I blame the gatekeeper of that paper, Mrs Margaret Safo for allowing Mr. Ackah’s emotion to get published. Just a day earlier, Mr. Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, one of Ghana’s most respected media practitioners was in GIJ on an invitation by the SRC to interact with students of the Institute. In his presentation he paid glowing tribute to Kwabena Yeboah, saying Kwabena Yeboah (his mate in GIJ and his first employer) taught him a lot in journalism. This was the man who was to be reduced to nothing in a column by a colleague sports journalist. My intention for writing this piece is not to say who is guilty and who is innocent. All of them – Alhaji A.B.A. Fuseini, Malik Kwaku Baako, Kwabena Yeboah and Ackah Anthony – have one judge. Posterity! We the young ones are looking and watching, senior journalists. In countries where journalism is journalism, your columns should be ample lessons for serious journalism students. The stroke of your pens is what the politicians dread. Your duty as senior journalists is not supposed to be moving from one radio station to the other defending politicians. Looking at the depth of your knowledge, I see it degrading for you to appear on certain talk shows and grant certain interviews. John Vigah has done what we rarely do here in Ghana and Africa. He has written a comprehensive text book in Sports Journalism. I can count the journalism books written by Africans. Almost all the journalism and communication books are written by Europeans and Americans, who do not have our socio-cultural settings in mind. We need more of John Vigahs. We the younger generation of journalists must have some standards to follow. That standard can definitely not be the pro and ant-NDC and NPP journalism. The politicians and sports administrators on whose behalf our senior journalists draw daggers are mocking us and if standards, are to rise, then we should cease to be their yes-men. If we are to safeguard our integrity and rights, then let’s learn to love ourselves and live in peace. “Guns don’t kill men. Men kill men.” But must journalists kill journalists? What are we competing for? Fame? Shame? Ignominy?

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [www.maxighana.com] Email: azureachebe2@yahoo.com The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism and Press and Information Secretary of the Northern Students’ Union. To read more of his writings, visit: www.maxighana.com