View Full Version : Oh, What A Press We Have In Ghana

6th July 2011, 10:27 PM
Listening to Akan News on most FM stations in Ghana today is a sad reminder to some of us who had the opportunity of listening to the likes of Akwasi Donkor, Amamoo Kakra and Kofi Amissah of old on GBC Short Wave radio some years back that times have changed indeed, or as the saying goes: ‘akom ko, aka ntwaaho nkoaa’ (the masters of the game have left the scene, leaving the field to pretenders).

For all we know, news reading is serious business as evidenced by the formal dress code of TV News Presenters the world over, including Ghanaian English and local language presenters. And thank God, in this global village of ours we all have the opportunity of watching TV broadcasts from all over the world. And personally, not for once have I seen a news presenter anywhere in casual dressing like jeans or something like that. And maybe if you want to see the best in Ghanaian dress culture and fashion without having to go to a fashion show just make it a habit of watching the news on any of the TV channels in Ghana. Whether in African or foreign dressing and whether the news is read in a local or foreign language not only are our news readers smartly dressed, they also present themselves in a dignified manner.

Since When Has News Reading Become Story Telling?

To the best of my knowledge even the best news presenters whether radio or TV – make it clear to their listeners that they have not come on air to lecture, address or preach to us but rather READ or present the news. I may be wrong but what this tells me is that there’s always a strong probability that a News Reader of a particular bulletin may not even necessarily be the author of what he/she is reading.

But what do we hear nowadays? Akan news bulletins have now become more of story-telling (‘anansesem’), a platform for people to display their knowledge in proverbs and idiomatic expressions or commedy-making rather than news reading. More often than not, what listeners are fed with is nothing more than 10% of an issue and 90% of the exaggerated and embellished personal view of the news reader in the form of jokes. The end result is that the same news items that will take 15 to be reported in an English news bulletin could take up to 60 minutes in an Akan Kaseebo all as a result of unnecessary, unwarranted and irrelevant proverbs and idiomatic expressions which are sometimes are in very bad taste.

Hear them report of a rape or defilement case and you would think they were eye witnesses. The story is likely to be reported like this: ‘Ever since the Lord God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, created this world, what we all know is that when night falls, married couples enjoy themselves in the four corners of their own bedroom whether on Ashfoam mattress, straw mattress or whatever. A strange story reaching ‘Fantastic FM’ this morning, however, is that a 32-year old manual labourer has looked directly in the face of the almighty God hanging up there, and still satisfied his insatiable sexual desire at the expense of a 14-year old primary school girl, Yaa Yaa. According to an eye-witness report, the man who lives in the same neighbourhood with Yaa Yaa took advantage of the absence of her parents and lured her into his room and subjected her to several bouts of wild ‘wobregas’.

According to our eye-witness, this giant of a man with the muscles of a body builder and palms as hard as the bark of a timber tree lured this tiny little girl to his room. After locking the door he forcibly removed the dress and underwear of the little girl before removing his hard pen-drive which was by then swinging up and down like the head of a lizard and headed straight for the hard disk of the helpless girl. By the time he finished his waist-swinging see-saw with sweat pouring all over his muscular body, the womanhood of the girl who could one day become the father of a future President of Ghana, was as tattered as a discarded sponge’.

Of course this is not a direct quote, but I have no doubt that keen and discerning listeners would agree that this may even be a watered-down version of what is actually heard on our airwaves these days. And I wonder how on earth this would be considered appropriate even if it was targeted at a local council meeting, let alone as news to the general population.

Vulgar Expressions, Insults and Careless Talk For News?

When some time ago the President made changes in the appointments of DCEs & MCEs one radio station thought it was funny to report that the President had asked them to go home and eat their wife......’s food. The first time I heard this joke was way back in my secondary school days but even then it was evident from the reaction of fellow students enjoying their ‘entertainment night’ that it was in a very bad taste. Of course it wouldn’t have mattered much if the targeted audience was some ‘Concert Party’ audience and not prime time ‘Akan Kaseebo’ being broadcast to the world over via several other radio stations and via the Internet this is certainly not acceptable! Terms like ‘Tarkwa bentoa’, ‘akatim-akapen’, ‘ayaase-donko’ ‘wobregas’ are simply not appropriate for radio news, especially when there are victims involved and I expect our local news readers to take note of this.

Indecent and Insensitive Pictures We See on TV and in Print
It’s a known fact that in other countries, identities of soldiers killed in war are not published before their families are formally notified. In Ghana, however, the moment an accident happens the first thing you hear in the report is the registration number of the vehicles involved as if to tell listeners that: ‘come and see, it’s your loved one who’s lying here dead’. Now just imagine what can happen to a father, mother, husband or wife to hear on radio that a vehicle with the number plate they’re so familiar with has been involved in an accident resulting in several deaths. And what’s even more disturbing is the way the reports are made. Just imagine hearing on radio that in the accident involving your spouse or parent’s vehicle, dismembered body parts are scattered all over the place. And not only that, we have indeed seen newspaper pictures of accident scenes with dead bodies with their faces showing.

And what was it we saw on TV, the print media and on the Internet some months ago? In December last year Ghanaians were fed with the most gruesome picture of a man holding the head of a reportedly seven-year old boy who had been murdered and chopped into three parts. Also displayed on the floor, as if they were goods meant for sale, were the two other parts of the boy whose name was given and his face clearly identifiable to any person who knew him including of course his siblings as well as school mates. I wonder if anyone considered the psychological effects such graphic pictures of a dead boy could have on his playmates.

And is if that was not enough in May this year we were shown not only print, but also video pictures of a man displaying the head of a murdered boy. Another case in point is the story about the young woman alleged to have stolen a laptop at the University of Ghana, Legon. As if the following heading: ‘Students Strip Naked a Woman Thief and Insert Their Fingers in...” was not vulgar enough, the name of the lady and her full face were published for the whole world to see. Surely, human dignity seems to be of no significance to us as a people any longer.

Misleading And Indecent Adverts We all know that advertisements are meant to promote products or services with a view to encouraging people to buy or use them. I’m not sure though that this gives anyone the right to deceive the public by making false or misleading claims about products or services.

We also know that media houses earn their income from adverts. With the proliferation of private FM radio stations in the country over the years therefore, it means competition in the advert market has become much keener. Normally, one would have expected that such competition would lead to more professionalism in the field of advertising. Unfortunately in Ghana, however, instead of improvement, the rush to join the bandwagon has rather resulted in mediocrity and downright amateurism. And it would appear that when it comes to advertising everything goes apparently there are absolutely no rules and regulations. You can make any claims and use any form of indecent language to promote and sell anything you want and there’s no one to question you.

And it is precisely here, that considering the gullibility of Ghanaians, I would have expected an institution or authority somewhere to get up and assure the nation that as much as people have the right to sell their products others also have the right to be protected from being deceived into consuming ‘unwholesome’ products or misleading information. Adverts for locally made drinks and herbal concoctions are usually the most vulgar especially since almost all of them claim not only to have the remedy for all diseases for reproductive and sexual organs; they also, and even more importantly, are said to improve sexual performance for both male and female.

The Heal-All Spiritual Centres I really don’t know what pertains in other areas but here in Brong-Ahafo it has now become almost impossible to listen to the radio if you don’t want to be told about this or that Malam or Prophet or a ‘Spiritual Home’ which has powers to turn a man into a tree. For example, one advert claims that to become a successful footballer (like Michael Essien, as specifically mentioned), instead of hard training and discipline all one needs to do is to visit some Malam somewhere.

If you decide to go check the background of this Malam, however, it may turn out that his own teenage son may not even have made it to a class team. Another also invites students who want to succeed academically to consult a particular spiritual healer, never mind that the Malam himself probably can hardly read and write. And what about adverts claiming that if you have a bad case in court there’s this or that Malam who can help you to win your case i.e. ‘deliver you from evil’? My point is: do people have the right to make any public claims they like under the guise of advertisement?

What kind of future do we hope to build for our nation when our young women get it into their heads that if they want a successful marriage all they need to do is to visit a particular Malam or Prophet instead of taking good care of themselves and leading morally upright life?

And why do we as a nation preach against ‘sakawa’ when we don’t appear to see anything wrong with public claims by cheating malams and so-called ‘Men of God’ that they have powers to turn paupers into millionaires overnight, not through hard work but by magical powers?
I pause for answers from the powers that be. I shall be back.

Source: Kwame Twumasi-Fofie