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Opinions of Monday, 10 October 2016


The press should not ignore major issues during the election campaign

The media as the fourth estate have a major responsibility to maintain focus on the national interest during the election campaign. At independence, we maintained that the liberation of Africa was vital to Ghana's interest.

Ghana played a major role in the eventual liberation of all Africa and the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity as well as the African Union. Today, we cannot be proud about the unity of Africa or the progress of people of African heritage.

As UN Secretary General Banki-Moon said: “People of African descent are among the most marginalised communities around the world.” The UN has, therefore, declared 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) to address the situation.

The overall objective of the IDPAD is to promote respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by and for African people, as recognised in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

IDPAD refers to other activities by UN member states and organisations to achieve its aims and objectives. It is, therefore, important for the media to highlight what Ghana is doing to implement the IDPAD objectives, both at home and at its Missions abroad.

It is to the credit of organisations in the diaspora like BTWSC/African Histories Revisited that they are maintaining discussion of the issues involved.

BTWSC/Histories Revisited are delivering programmes in the UK to raise awareness of IDPAD. A prominent member of the group is in Accra and will be delivering a presentation entitled How Can IDPAD (International Decade For People Of African Descent) 2015-24 Work For Us? on Friday October 5, from 4.30p.m. to 6.30p.m. at the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

A lively and instructive discussion awaits journalists, intellectuals, politicians, economists, civil society activists, students and all who are concerned about how Africans are treated at home and abroad.

The UN expects member states to support the IDPAD initiative at the national level and implement a programme of activities outlining specific actions for the International Decade. Ghana should, therefore, be passionate about the eradication of the notion of African inequality and the injustice suffered by Africans across the world. The objectives of IDPAD should be featured prominently in the election campaign.

In fact, the belief that rapid progress of Ghana depends on Africans working together and African unity is still valid, and our leaders should make the bringing together of Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora a major objective in the fight for material, economic, social and cultural progress.

We the people in Ghana should try to know more about our past, what Africans have achieved and the problems which impede progress. We should also show solidarity with what happens to Africans elsewhere, such as in America and Europe, when we see African (Black) Lives Matter or the Reparations campaigns.

Our education should make us conversant with African achievements in science and technology. And we should learn to quote from African literature, and not always pay homage to foreign writers and thinkers.

The media has a major role to play, and this is one of the reasons why the IDPAD seminar is taking place at the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

Some of our press houses and television, and other establishments are small and lack adequate resources to project major issues effectively. Often reports from the West are repeated without providing an Africanist or Ghanaian context.

But they should all try, as some do, to inform the public on vital issues, and not only promote the parochial interests of the owners or political supporters.

The major establishments should be assisted to have specialist reporters, and to follow stories or developments of public and national interest.

It is in the national interest for the administration to assist the media to improve its performance. Sometime ago the Media Commission engaged Professor Addae Mensah, Professor Yankah and KB Asante to review the press and comment on their findings. The reviews were well attended. Unfortunately, funds could not support the programme.

At election time, we should discuss important issues, and those who want to lead and improve the nation and Africa, should suggest the way forward.

I am glad that the Ghana Institute of Journalism now has university status. It should promote learning and knowledge about Africa. Its graduates should, where possible, specialise in the various disciplines like economics, social development in Africa, and in countries with large African Diasporic populations.

Language should be a subject the media should take seriously. For example the word “enthrone” is correctly used when applied to European monarchy. But it is incorrectly used when referring to Ghanaian chieftaincy. The correct word is “enstool”.

Announcements and reports on radio and television are sometimes difficult to follow and understand. They should be improved with state help, if necessary.

I am so particular about the language in the leading papers, because they can teach, or totally misinform. Recently I queried the Daily Graphic reporting President Mahama's UN address as a submission to his peers. I was not happy about my President reporting to his so-called superiors but I was wrong. The Graphic rightly reported President Mahama as being among his peers.

And so as our President traverses the globe, let him promote the message of Ghana as a member of a unique continent of Africans, determined to continue to group together to promote their interests and follow a determined line of action in the committee of nations.

The unity of African peoples is still most relevant to the progress of Ghana, just as Kwame Nkrumah believed at independence nearly 60 years ago.