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Opinions of Monday, 18 December 2006

Columnist: Asamoah-Baido, Arnold

Rawlings is a 'Sell-Out'

President Jerry, sorry, Ex President Jerry Rawlings would be the most sought-after celebrity if he ever was in Hollywood. In Ghana, he is far bigger than any hollywood celebrity by virtue of the fact that, he is undoubtedly the most reorted-about personality in Ghana.

20 years he wore the crown as the man to feature most in almost all the newspapers in the country and incredibly, 6 years after relinguishing or to put it appropriately, after serving his term - the man is still featuring daily,weekly and montly in almost all the dailies in the country.

Some newspapers can't simply do without Rawlings. He is indispensable to many of them. It is as though no news on Rawlings means no news for some papers which also means low sales and more newspaper returns.

It is jarring to have some newspapers print stories on Rawlings and even make sequels out of them. On monday,"Rawlings Plans Coup I," on tuesday, "Rawlings plans coup II," and it goes on and on till we get "Rawlings Plans coup IV." Amazing!

Some editors and their newspapers wait feverishly for what they brand a 'Rawlings boom' - in reference to whatever the man blurts out. Whenever there is the so-called 'Rawlings boom' the newspapers also boom in sales. Some do report accurately whereas others misquote and over-quote him, all in the bid to sell.

Some also follow his every move and statement and report on them. He goes to England and Ghanaians are supposed to know about it, he treks to China and we're supposed to know what he said and what he did not say and when he schlepps to the US, we're supposed to know which flight he took and where he sat in the plane.

Outrageous!

I shudder to state that the former President is accorded more space in the dailies than the current President, and when the two get front page highlights,Prez. Kuffour gets a small headline and the Ex. gets such a huge banner headline.

Bill Clinton is not given more prominence in US dailies than George W. Bush, Muluzi is not given more publicity than Wa Muthirika in Malawi, Arap Moi don't get reported-on more than Kibaki in Kenya and the same is applicable to Chiluba and Mwanawasa in Zambia.

Even Mbeki is not side-stepped by the acclaimed Mandela in South Africa. So I wonder why Rawlings gets such publicity. Maybe it's because he's still in active politics so where he goes and whatever he says is essential. But then, does his involvement in politics warrant all the hype?

Some newspapers even go further to report on the endeavours of his son,yes his son. One particular newspaper made so much nuisance just because his son has declared he would rule the world one day. So what?

Everyone has some youthful exuberance so why should someone's over-exuberance be news for us to read everyday when there are more important issues to write about.

The NDC just had a mini-rally that presented the aspiring flagbearers to the Ex.President. So many personalities spoke including Rawlings, but then, almost every newspaper that came out the very next day, guess what: highlighted more on whatever the ex-president said.

The man really sells and I wonder how these papers will fare if he's no more. They will sell alright, but how much sales will they make?



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