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Opinions of Saturday, 23 February 2008

Columnist: Obeng, Mensah Richard

Our Hypcrisy is killing us (II)

In the first version of this article that appeared in the 17th January, 2008 edition of The Chronicle, the 21st January publication of the Ghanaweb, the 23rd-24th January edition of The Enquirer, in The Ghanaian Journal, at www.zibb.com and other media, we incontestably illustrated that hypocrisy (acts of insincerity and pretence) is truly the greatest killer in the Ghanaian society today. That we paint the picture that we are saints but we do worst things than those that we are persistently criticizing.We examined the police service, the justice system, our leaders and the political system and the attitude of the citizenry to establish the above demanding issue. Today, we are going to scrutinise the media, teachers and lecturers and of course, our heath officials.

THE GHANAIAN MEDIA

In my article, ‘The Media, not Immune to Corruption’ which appeared in the 18th July, 2007 edition of the Ghanaweb and the September 3rd, 2007 version of The Chronicle, I unequivocally affirmed that the role of the media in every democratic society, such as ours, can never be downplayed. The media as the fourth estate of the realm serves as a watchdog to the government and private institutions alike. It for example holds the government accountable by making known to the citizenry what the government is doing. That democracy depends on frequent surge of information and the media profession facilitates such information flow. In its quest to promote fairness, prudent management, transparency and accountability in the administration of the Ghanaian society, the media is always ardent in bringing into public domain any untenable conduct of any individual, especially the public officials in our humble society. However, our much-needed media houses do little or nothing at all to act with the same vim and vigour insofar as some of the unprofessional acts dominating the Ghanaian media today are concern. This is highly hypocritical.

The Ghanaian media (both the electronic and print) continues to receive legitimate and very nerve-racking allegations from members of the public. That the media is culpable of lack of factual and objective reporting, crocodile analysis, bias, misleading headlines, publication of some wanton horrific pictures, lack of quality reporting, over- sensationalism (yellow journalism), media dictatorship and censorship and so forth. Of course there has been a remarkable improvement in the Ghanaian media since 1980s. Notwithstanding, the above allegations are no less what is actually happening in our media landscape. It is very hypocritical for the media to always lament about the worsening indiscipline, especially the increasingly sexual abuse, if it at the same time publishes unnecessary horrendous pictures. Besides, the misleading headlines and over-sensationalism sometimes throw needless tension among some members of the public, meanwhile the media is always criticising some of our politicians for making inflammatory remarks, passionate statements and beating war drums. What moral justification does the media have to guarantee fairness if it is blameworthy for being unreceptive and bias on certain pertinent issues, poor reporting and unsubstantiated analyse? Sometimes some of our media houses tend to know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.

The media profession is irrefutably the worse abuser of intellectual property rights in Ghana. Hypocritically, it is always lamenting that the Ghanaian music and film industries are collapsing. Not only does the media uses the creative works of some creators unlawfully, but also swindle the same creators of arts by compelling them to pay ‘payola or solidarity fee’ before any of their creative works could be publicised. Is this not hypocrisy? These no doubt kill creativity since such creators of works tend to gain nothing out of their ingenuity. In every civilised nation, before one could publicly perform any creative work, the originator of that art has to be paid what is due him.

Lastly, some reportage by the media stupefies its quest of ensuring fairness and rule of law in the Ghanaian society. Most often than not, the media at the same time accuses, prosecutes, judges and convicts suspected criminals through the manner at which it carries out publications about some suspected criminals. These aberrant publications paint the picture that the supposed criminals are already guilty until proven innocent. Disingenuously, the media tends to always condemn the upsurge of mob action in the country. In so doing, it shifts much of the blame on the justice system while refusing to remove the plank in its eyes. This is supreme hypocrisy! In my forthright opinion, the media was very hasty for granting live interviews to the so-called ‘sex commercial workers’ prior to the kick off of the Ghana (CAN) 2008 while it was very conscious that prostitution and for that matter acts of public sexual solicitation is a criminal offence in this country. The media no doubt plays double-standards if it turns to blame others for the deterioration and lack of respect for our moral values.

However, I must indicate here that the Ghana Journalist Association (CJA) needs to be commended for the various steps it is taking to curb some of the above menaces since the latter part of 2007. It therefore goes without saying that the National Media Commission (NMC), the CJA and similar bodies should be resolute in their bid to build a system that promote honesty, integrity and decency in the media profession for the betterment of our socio-economic development.

OUR TEACHERS, LECTURERS AND ACCOUNT CLERKS

There is no question that all professionals boast but the teacher taught them all. Undoubtedly, teachers play priceless role in the socialization process of our young ones. Notwithstanding these accreditations, the attitudes of some of our teachers are very hypocritical. Some teachers, especially the unprofessional ones in their ‘sincere’ bid to promote morality and inject good conscience into our young ones ironically do the opposite. Theodore Roosevelt, former American president is right for saying that ‘a man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railway.’

From my personal experience, some teachers do have sexual connections with some of their female students. Besides, scores of them despise the supposedly dull students and sacrifice the future of these students in the pursuit of their parochial interest. Appallingly, some teachers assist some students to hoodwink (dupe) their parents either by presenting false bills or terminal/semester report to them. During my high school days, I repeatedly witness situations where some account clerks colluded with some students to share their school fees. Shockingly, those students were never sacked for owing school fees, even after completion. These menaces are very common in most of our public institutions. Henry Brooks, an English novelist and dramatist, hit the bullet by saying that ‘public schools are the nurseries of all vice and immorality.’ Interestingly, some of these same teachers blame parents for failing to raise their children in an acceptable manner, hence the gross indiscipline and moral decay among the youth. Indeed this is utmost hypocrisy. Why should such teachers be so surprised if they later get to know that the student whose virginity they broke is promiscuous or a student they assisted to cheat the parent is now a thief or robber? Truly, the so-called bad students are the products of yesterday. According to Aristotle, we become what we repeatedly do. It could therefore be concluded that our youth are the product of the training we gave them in the recent past.

OUR HEALTH OFFICIALS

Our discussion today would not be complete if we by pass some of the heartless deeds by some of our health professionals. To say the least, the wanton strike actions by some of our health officials for better conditions of service leave so much to be desired. There is no dispute that our health officials by the nature of their work should not embark on unnecessary agitations for ‘better’ conditions of service. It is therefore very instructive to say that our health workers should be more interested in the saving of lives of their patients rather than focusing too much on astronomical increase in salary and allowances.

In addition, majority of our health workers, especially those at the lower rank are very unreceptive. Their facial expression and utterances alone propel most of our dear patients to the grave. It is dreadfully hypocritical to be bragging that we do promote the health of our patients while our needless strike actions thrust countless of them into the graveyard. Do we take pleasure in materialism over the lives of our people? It is widely known that people are more important than possessions, principles are more important than power and service is more important than success. Do not let us stop thinking about the fact that service to humanity is service to God and that money is not everything.

CONCLUSION

Let us remove the log in our eyes first before criticizing others to ensure our development in all fields. Join me next time to pore over the religious bodies and their cliques, Ghanaian employers and their employees as well as students and their leaders.

Obeng Mensah Richard, Faculty of Law, KNUST; borncapy@ yahoo.com. He is also with the Centre for Human Rights and Advanced Legal Research (CHRALER), Kumasi and the Values Advocates (A.V)-Ghana.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.