Professor Kofi Agyekum, a Linguist at the University of Ghana, has called for a policy to check what he described as the use of impolite language in the country’s media and political landscape.
The policy, he said, would not violate citizens’ right of freedom of speech and expression but would help to sanitise the media space and encourage the use of “appropriate language” based on Ghanaian cultural norms and values.
Prof. Agyekum made the call when he delivered an Inaugural Lecture at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) Thursday night.
He spoke on the topic: Kasahuam-kasafi: Polite and impolite language in the Ghanaian media and political landscape.”
Prof. Agyekum expressed concern over what he described as the rampant use of impolite and intemperate language, hate speech, invectives and denigration of personalities in the media and political space.
He said those “negative tendencies” created divisiveness and conflicts and threatened social cohesion, national unity and development.
Prof. Agyekum said the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 21(1) (a) of the 1992 Constitution should not be “a licence to abuse, insult, and defame others.”
“…if my understanding of Article 21(1)(a) is reasonable or correct, then it leaves room for the formulation of policy on polite communication, especially for media practice, which will not violate the right of freedom of speech and expression,” he said.
Prof. Agyekum suggested that the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) could make a Course on “Communicative in Politeness” a requirement for accrediting Media and Communication Schools and institutions in the country.
“The National Media Commission could proactively create a Code of Communicative Standards for the guidance of Media houses and practitioners as they have done for Ghanaian language broadcasting,” he said.
Prof. Agyekum also called on media houses, political parties, and civil society organisations to institute in-house or staff development programmes to train and educate staff on the interface between culture, public discourse and nation-building.
Since 1973, newly-elected Fellows of the GAAS have to deliver an Inaugural Address before other Fellows and invited guests in furtherance of the Academy’s objective to promote the study, extension, and dissemination of knowledge of the Arts and Sciences.