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Opinions of Thursday, 25 June 2020

Columnist: Prosper Setsoafia

Ghanaians welcome Dr Frankenstein


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Farewell to arms, to arms farewell!

This Nation under God

Must resume its allotted spot,

First in peace as first in war,

So in fame as in work,

Let's build this land anew

Till the topmost rafters ring

With our proud nation's song.



- Dr R.E.G. Armattoe

The usual pageantry associated with welcoming dignitaries was on full display. The spectacular scene worth seeing was how He dances to the polyphonic drums beats. Our guest exhibits an impeccable enthusiasm as if it was pent-up for centuries. The old folks might think this was a re-enactment of the Kwame Nkrumah’s heydays. Most of the speculations relating to Prez Obama’s were based on Ghana’s democratic laurels over the years. But Dr Frankenstein, what might be the bases of initiating his visit? Did our democratic credentials morph into something else - a Monster?

Let’s speculate using the current media landscape as a test case. The media which is the fourth arm of government seems to be in crises. The problem might be with the principles taught in our journalism schools or the inability of the practitioners to synthesise some of the foreign principles with the needs of its host. You might opt for the latter. There is a missionary idea about freedom of the media, but the idea is being preached on the wrong alters. Definitely, freedom of the media is the freedom of its owners not the professional practice per se. Some of these media houses only advance the personal and class interest of its owners. The attendant problem is party politics polarisation; this set the pace for a possible take off any monster that got ripped by these happenings. The media with its tributaries influences the politics of a particular country of which Ghana is not an exceptional-island.

Can the present-day Ghanaian media scene create a mood in which the Ghanaian becomes keen to get the knowledge, the requisite skills and the various disciplines of our indigenous institutions? Contrary to the promotion of nationalist ideals of the state, these media barons who decide what is read or heard promote other courses instead. There seems to be a monologue praise-singing tradition where some party activists vomit balderdash with no caution. Those that get punished are rather celebrated when released or granted bail. These attitudes have a high tendency of producing a Dr Frankenstein-like monster. Guess you remembered Rwanda - our brother in Christ. To avert that tendency, the media should prefer the interest of our mother Ghana to their party politics ideologies.

Let’s turn our attention to other contents aired on the various media outlets, which undermine the cultural values of the country. Karl Marx opined, ‘religion is the opium of the people’. Literally, religion is a barrier to critical thinking and understanding. You might be familiar with some of the content on TV or other outlets. It’s funny instead of revamping the Ghanaian theatre industry, we grant TV rights to some ‘pre-school’ preachers who staged various form of miracles either live or recorded on TV. The hypnotised public tends to prefer miracles to making good use of their thinking prowess. On our various screens, the coveted American Visa is delivered to prospective owners from preachers shoe, born-blinds are able to differentiate between colours presented to them. Priests are able to get people rich overnight on live TV but Ghana still owes the International Ministry of Finance (IMF). The finance ministry might invite them for possible negotiations. It is as if the National Theatre stage has been transferred to some churches and shrines.

President Obama advance in his ‘A new moment of promise’ speech that ‘each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions’. He was applauded, but what traditions are we to give life in our Paleo-ostrichistic democracy? A tradition of baron controlled media or the tradition of denigrating indigenous customs? Ghana needs a media that will reinforce our cultural values not to denigrate them, and uphold our democracy ideals above allegiance to political parties.

Let’s hope Dr Frankenstein never visits Ghana. His possible visit is an egg that must not hatch.

To be continued…


Prosper Setsoafia
setsoafiaprosperh@gmail.com

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