When Mr. Yahaya Kwamoa, the young news reporter with Government-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), was savagely mauled by Mahama Communications Director Mr. Stanislav Xoese Dogbe – I hope I have his middle name spelt out correctly – the President of the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA), Mr. Affail Monney, literally put his tail in-between his legs. He would be called up to the Presidency groveling, after he had weakly whined about his junior-staff employee’s having been afforded a raw deal by the Mahama Presidency. He had absolutely no cojones or balls then. And then when Mr. Samuel Nuamah, a Jubilee House-affiliated Ghanaian Times’ correspondent perished in a road accident, primarily caused by the gross negligence of some key operatives of the Mahama Presidency, Mr. Monney, who is also a director at the GBC, did absolutely nothing by way of getting the Mahama government to substantially compensate the victims of this patently gross exhibition of rank professional negligence or dereliction of duty.
So, recently, when Mr. Monney made the banner news headlines in what was billed as a verbal fisticuff between the media and the judicial establishment, in what clearly appeared to be a scandalously curious attempt by some members of the Apex Court to put the kibosh on reportorial freedom, or a free press, I was a bit annoyed by the GJA President’s sudden muster of courage in what appeared to be a fast-creeping season of judicial intolerance and downright tyranny. But guess what, Dear Reader? I was also elated by the fact that the established leadership of the Ghanaian media was, finally, beginning to healthily make its imperatively indispensable presence felt. Imperatively indispensable because the resolute, watchdog presence of the media is inescapably about the only way to effectively ensure that Ghanaian democracy survives and significantly facilitates the remarkable improvement in the general quality of the lives of ordinary Ghanaian citizens.
I have often said that Ghana’s media operatives often find themselves being masochistically bullied and disdainfully lectured by the judiciary, in particular, on how to conduct their business because until very recently, not many highly educated intellectuals with specialties in the Humanities, Liberal Arts and the Social Sciences actively engaged themselves in the newspaper and media field at large. Historically, the obverse was the case for most of the late 19th century and the 20th century, in the heat of the independence struggle. But, of course, that was in the colonial era, when the art of journalism was virtually the especial or exclusive preserve of such elite and literary giants as Messrs. Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kobina Sekyi, the Rev. Attoh Ahumah and Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye Danquah and, of course, the future President Kwame Nkrumah. In those days and years of yore, relatively speaking, of course, offending journalists were more likely to be hauled before the British colonial law courts to defend some of the contents of their newspaper editorials than be cavalierly lectured or prescriptively told how to ply their avocational trade, for the most part.
You see, back then, media practice was a veritable and an inescapable choice weapon in the uphill battle for African Liberation against the exploitative and deleterious clutches of abject political subjugation. It was also, for the most part, a pure labor of love, an avocation, rather than a strictly bread-and-butter avenue. Which pretty much explains why Ghanaian journalism in the late 19th century and through much of the first half of the 20th century was far more conscientious and fearless than it is today. In advanced economies and societies like Europe and the United States of America, by and large, journalists tend to have the same level of education as members of the judiciary, the latter’s knowledge in the byzantine intricacies of statutes or the interpretation and practical application of the law notwithstanding. In fact, there often appears to exist a kind of epistemic fluidity much of which one does not routinely find in Ghana or hereabouts, except, perhaps, in neighboring Nigeria, where the media industry is almost invariably the prized preserve of the intellectually acute and puissant and ideologically principled and unwavering, for the most part.
Like its counterpart of the media, the Ghanaian judiciary tends to be professionally tentative because these two professional fields have also tended to be the most extortionately tyrannized in the postcolonial era. When the judiciary has not been selectively targeted for deliberate abuse, impugnation and nullification, such as was the routine practice under the John Dramani Mahama-led “junta” of the National Democratic Congress, the media has equally been selectively targeted for neutrality or paralysis, with contract assassinations being strategically orchestrated as the most effective means of influencing and silencing or “diplomatically” buying it over, even as some members of the European Union’s team of observers of the 2020 General Election reported, with the National Democratic Congress being implicitly cited as the more guilty of media manipulation between Ghana’s two major political parties.
Ultimately, both the members of the Ghanaian media and the judiciary may have to promptly come around to fully appreciate their indispensable synergy in the constructive and progressive forging of an executive climate of probity, transparency, accountability and justice of the kind direly needed to profitably put the collective resources of the nation to the most meaningful use without fear or favor. The Ghanaian media also needs to reach out and jealously protect endangered species like yours truly who, by the way, feel more unremittingly oppressed, strategically marginalized, systematically censored for the criminal convenience of the key operatives of the National Democratic Congress, for the most part, in cahoots with the bought-and-paid-for propaganda-drunk movers-and-shakers of the media industry.
*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
March 6, 2021
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2021
The author has 5519 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr