This is part of the reason why I could never practice journalism in Ghana, where the media profession does not seem to be much respected by our politicians, even the most stolid and incompetent politicians. Indeed, just about every also-run politician thinks s/he can instruct our media operatives on how best to do their job. This may be partly due to the fact that until very recently, the overwhelming majority of our journalists, across the various sub-genres of the trade, did not have college degrees. While I was growing up in Ghana, only an insignificant few of secondary schoolers had the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) as their first choice of a post-secondary education.
The situation may have gotten better over time, with the exponential explosion of privately owned and sponsored tertiary academies in the country these days. Even so, under the old order, the elitist nature of our British-inherited educational system meant that even a second-rate institution like the GIJ would be much more qualitative than what prevails these days. The abject lack of sophistication and specialization in the training of the overwhelming majority of our journalists has taken a massive toll on the quality of both public discourse and the level of general social thought in the country. But, of course, I am quite certain that quite a remarkable number of intellectuals and scholars in the field of communications are helping out considerably as they ought to. We still have quite a way to go, as it were. But what I want to discuss in this column is the abjectly perennially tardy attitude with which the overwhelming majority of our politicians treat our mainstream journalists, as we learned the other day about the inability of any operatives from Radio Gold-Fm to attend the maiden press conference granted by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The signal significance of the Radio Gold-Fm operatives, of course, inheres in the fact that it is the ideological stronghold of the country’s main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). On a personal note, though, I got interested in this subject because between late 1971 and mid-1973, I lived in the house located immediately next and to the north of the one which presently houses Radio Gold-Fm, when one is traveling from Mamprobi to the Kaneshie Market Area on Link Road. I suppose that major artery is still called Link Road and had not fallen victim to the “revolutionary madness” that saw some of our most significant city streets and other landmarks named after such junta thugs as Capt. Thomas Sankara, while legions of our own national heroes continued to be shrouded in oblivion, almost as if they never existed. Across the street from where I used to live, before we moved further off Link Road, was a hotel whose name I cannot readily remember, save the memorably wickedly funny fact that one day some of my playmates caught their father in the tight embrace of a woman who was not their own mother. Probably a colleague from work, because it was one of those annual get-togethers sponsored by corporate operatives. The adulterous Big Boy had probably told his wife that it was a strictly collegial affair.
And then there was also this quite well-appointed house called Dr. Barnor’s. It was quite popular in the vicinity, and I suppose its famous eponymous owner practiced some form of medicine in a portion of that building. But, perhaps, the most celebrated landmark in the Latebiokorshie area was one called Auntie Sisi. Legend had it that it was Auntie Sisi, the renowned widwife who owned the quite massive edifice, at least in the eyes of a country and suburban boy new to the Accra metropolis, who delivered the future Chairman Jerry John Rawlings.
Anyway, we are told that the conspicuous absence of any reporters from Radion Gold-Fm was primarily because the invitation to that propaganda headquarters of the National Democratic Congress had gone out pretty late, which made it virtually impossible for the station’s programs director, or whoever assigns reporters to cover events and functions, to honor the same. My gut feeling, however, is that some big gun at Radio Gold-Fm had felt convulsively miffed for having been clearly disrespected by Mr. Mustapha Hamid, the Akufo-Addo Information Minister, thus the decision by the NDC propaganda shills not to put in any presence at the President’s maiden press conference.
Not that it really mattered, anyhow, because I sincerely doubt that whatever the operatives of Radio Gold-Fm put out, vis-à-vis the detailed contents of the press conference, would have made any heck of a lot of a difference. I mean, we are talking about populist ideological fanatics here. Nonetheless, the mere fact of Radio Gold-Fm’s abject lack of programming objectivity did not excuse the apparently deafeningly disturbing lack of professionalism on the part of the Information Minister. You see, an official invitation is simply not done by a phone call at the eleventh hour. It is done by both sending out Electronic Mail and promptly following the latter up with a “Snail Mail” invitation or one by the traditional postal system, at least a fortnight before the event.
Well, as of this writing, Mr. Hamid had already apologized for this most avoidable faux-pas, and so there is absolutely no need to belabor the matter. About all I can say at this juncture is that this is one aspect of protocol that Mr. Hamid does not need massive infusion of foreign exchange into his Information Ministry to get done right.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
July 19, 2017
E-mail: [email protected]