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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Columnist: Obenewaa, Nana Amma

The Ghanaian Media: Is the Guard Dog Tamed With Roasted Sirloin Steak?

Despite claims that the nation’s media houses are independent, I am yet to see any political editor take on moral issues that speak to of the growing misery of the nation’s numerical majority who can barely pull themselves by the strap. Twenty-first century Ghanaian media has rejected the core principles that govern objective news coverage. Contrary to expectations, the Ghanaian media has metastasized into a corporate body that is more interested in marketing the political ideas of their paymasters while it downplays the cruel experiences of resource-deprived Ghanaians.

The imminent destruction of our nation will come from the media’s constant adulation of bad policies which it cleverly markets to domesticate the public’s insistence for good governance. The question that we have collectively failed to ask our political leaders is: do we need another Kenya, in Ghana, to become mindful of the murmuring dissatisfaction among the Ghanaian population? While we pray, and hope, that the Kenyan bedlam does not befall our dearest nation, the narrow-mindedness of some political actors, and their confrontational attitude, could incite a low-scale conflict should the outcome of the 2008 general elections become a contested issue. Prayers, in my opinion, do not, and cannot, wash away the mayhem that may take place should the supporters of the losing party be made to believe that, there were spiteful designs to subvert the outcome of 2008 general elections. What will, and can, forestall political violence is the media’s commitment to educate the nation to reject devious political plans to intimidate the voting public to accept a predetermined verdict.

The Kenyan crisis is due to leadership failure. It is also manifestation of a generation of neocolonial leaders who still savor the entitlements that come with “odikro amanbuo.” As we have learned from history, human beings can easily lose rationality, and show insane dispositions, if their emotions are stirred up by aloof leaders who misjudge the nonnegotiable spirit of the people and their resolve to part with an unworkable old order. The Kenyan state media is equally guilty in fueling the nation’s nightmarish experience. Like most dictatorships, the state media created an imaginary enemy out of Raila Odinga, the leader of Kenya’s main opposition party. Here, Odinga, who is a victim of a Kikuyu plot, was caricaturized as the devil, and blamed for state-sponsored terrorism. Like Kenyans, Ghanaians suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. We easily forget our artificial afflictions, and bond with those who cause destruction to our nation. My fear is that, in the months leading to, and after, the general elections, the Ghanaian media will create moral panic with sensational head banners to exploit the credulity of the Ghanaian public. In a climate where rumours thrive, and the public has little access to the truth, the state cannot be trusted with the outcome of 2008 general elections.

The possibility that the Ghanaian public will resist political deceptions, from the highest tiers of power, is not a speculation. The Ghanaian democracy has created a multi-tiered system. The nation’s corrupt politicians have created mistrust among Ghanaians. They have also taken away the dignity of the governed. As citizens become less assured, and lose confidence in the government’s recycled promises for a better tomorrow, the voting public could become pawns for political maneuverings in the aftermath of the 2008 general elections. As people’s access to resources becomes restricted, they are left with have no choice, but to use their numerical majority to bring the operation of the state to a screeching halt.

Outside the scope of politics, the nation’s media has failed to reassert itself as the ally of the people. While the nation’s education standards continue to take a nosedive, some of the nation’s media present the school feeding program as an admirable attempt by the government to nourish the nation’s youthful minds. The sad truth about this feeding program is that, the funds do not come from the governing administration but a foreign government. How long can our nation sustain a policy that was nurtured, and continues to be nurtured, by a foreign government? Do you create smart brains, and future scholars, just by feeding empty stomachs and not providing a decent environment, and resources, for knowledge acquisition? How do we wean these children from neocolonial dependence and teach them the values of self-autonomy?

From all indications, our nation democracy is failing. Our speech-democracy is manipulative. It extorts universal obedience with promises of gifts. It takes away human agency from the grassroots, and makes puppets out of elated party supporters. While we are told that we are all equal before the law, the Ghanaian criminal justice system does not hesitate to throw our juveniles in adult jails for possession of narcotics. As to whether these juveniles will grow to become the nation’s new Atta-Ayis, or Kwakuvi Agataxoe (alias Chorkor Spanner), very few people care. How can our nation sacrifice its young, yet treat the two British girls who were arrested at the Kotoka International Airport, for cocaine possession, as royals? The preceding highlights the fact that our nation is still a neocolonial possession of Britain.

The story of the two narco-British kids, and the imperial treatment they received for cocaine possession would not happen in Singapore or Saudi Arabia. After all, we know that these two nations do not allow their judges to cite innocent possession of narcotics as legal defence as Judge Kobena Acquaye would gladly do. In twenty-first Ghana, it is laughable to see Judge Kobena Acquaye misquote Sir Robert MeGarry and H.W.R. Wade, two British jurists, and use an outdated British Common Law on “Old Conveyancing: Title and Incumbrances” and “The Purchaser Without Notice” in a Ghanaian land case. Is Ghana a Republic with its own statutes or a colony of the British? From Judge Acquaye’s legal point of view, citing British Common Law in a Ghanaian Land case is his way of stonewalling the Ghanaian justice system. After all, how many Ghanaians have access to “The Law of Real Property (5th Edition)”. Maybe Judge Acquaye should spend a little of his busy time to read the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth editions of Sir MeGarry and Wade’s book, and how they, both, differ with Judge Acquaye on his unruly interpretation of British Common Law on “The Purchaser Without Notice.”

Our government’s sham determination to fight the plague of narcotics, and refurbish Ghana’s battered international image as a center for worldwide narco-distribution is pitiful. A nation that is truly committed to fighting narco-trafficking would not allow a suspected senior narco-cop to attend Law School. Apparently, the said officer is paying his tuition with taxpayers’ money. Maybe, our nation must conclusively accept a sworn declaration from greedy cats that, by enrolling in a monastery, and becoming vegetarian-feline-monks, they can watch over the nation’s fat mice without letting them disappear in thin air. I don’t recall the last time I saw a vegetarian-cat eat dinner without mouse meat. Does the nation have investigative journalists at all? Or, do they only surface when the information is meant to impugn the reputation of opposition party members? We are not a serious nation. Are we?

While the nation’s media has played a very useful role in building a workable democracy, it will be seen as a credible partner, if it trades political subjectivity for objectivity, and restores society’s sight to see the brazen injustices in our democracy. Rather than allowing itself to become a profit-generating machine, the media must help to build a civil society that is committed to the greater good of our nation. It must shed its existing image as the propaganda apparatus of the state, and the nation’s pot-bellied politicians, and take to debating, and critiquing, policies that are central to national development and universal enlightenment. While some media houses may think that they are insulated from the bitter experiences of the public, their indifference to defending the truth will only encourage wrongdoers to benefit from their transgressions.

I am not a predictor of doom, but a realist who see a positive correlation between increasing dissatisfaction and political crisis. Let’s hear from those who have made it their job to condemn my writing style, expression, and reflection on domestic issues. I reserve my right to respond by debating them, and not to slur their positions, as some of them would want me to do. I am not afraid to speak my mind, and I don’t, and won’t, retire from defending my personal convictions. Sometimes, exercising maturity is the best weapon to defeat those who have nothing to say, yet find something to say, when that something means nothing to some of us. Dzigbodi kple dzigbodeme nyo nto. Nifa Bankroh can join the debate, if he chooses, to show his grasp on national issues. Abotesem ara kwa. Hope all is well.

Good day and cheers

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