The Role and Shortcomings of African Journalists on and Beyond Cannabis Legalisation
The Media has been described as the fourth branch of government, but that can have both negative and positive implications. Where the first branch or other branches of government misled or abused the people, journalists resisted or went along with the other branches until people resisted or resisted enough? I rather see the media as a shuttle bridge or messenger between government and the people. Journalists should not be misled by the government or the people, especially the companies. Since journalists are humans like us and prone to mistakes, sheer indifference, or plain cruelty for financial interest, temporal reputation , and others; their repentance levels are what can determine whether their choices were mistakes or otherwise. Average journalists may be proud of fighting illegal wrongs, but the best of journalists fight or fight along legal wrongs. History taught us when slavery, Apartheid, and other wrongs were legal, many journalists went along with government until people resisted, then some journalists repented before politicians, and when people or journalists resisted enough to make politicians change. This means change hardly start from the top (government) or journalists (middle) , but from the bottom. However, the bottom must get support from the middle or top for change to quickly exist, and history repeatedly shows the middle or journalists will sympathise with the oppressed minority of the public before government. However, even one government repenting official can trigger strong media support for change and embolden more grass root push. It is mainly illegal wrongs that tend to start with journalists. Similarly, the media in and beyond Africa fed the people government lies to criminalise cannabis beyond the u.s. The same trend was witnessed, people resisted and were ignored by mainstream media. Some smart people formed NormL, an organisation that fought for Cannabis legalisation in the u.s before I was born. However, throughout my over seven years in the u.s , as adult, I never heard about NormL because they were totally or largely ignored by the mainstream media, that was before online social media. NormL should have tried collaboration with Hip-Hop and Reggae Artists who were inefficiently supporting marijuana, but they didn’t have the idea, thought it won’t work, or the Artists they reached out to failed to partner up. Will African media repent enough to confront government officials, re-educate the misled public, pressure the artists, religious leaders, and others to help legalise cannabis for justice, health, finance, and beyond?
It is very important for modern mainstream journalists to understand Truth is our biggest strength and truth is not exclusive to any religion, culture, or government. These institutions are run by imperfect people who may misinterpret the truth they are blessed with or arrogantly reject others’ truth or blessings. Beside Truth, the people should be your first partners who may support or resist truth, but you should be convinced that truth will eventually triumph, especially with social media, despite how some major governments and some mainstream media houses fight or try to control social media. Since journalists get advertisement, mainly, from government and companies, speaking truth to them is financially risky. People buy or follow media houses and speaking truth to people can have short-term consequences . This is why conscience or faith in God is crucial everywhere, but more so in leadership, including journalism. Sometimes you have to lead the people in Truth, then some journalists or government officials may lead the rest of the people in to the world of Truth. The primary issue of legalisation is not a question of whether Cannabis is good or bad, but whether the laws are good or bad. Even many of those who believe Cannabis is bad agreed the cruel cannabis laws that seized even compounds/houses against children is absurd. They contrasted raping your neighbours wife or even minors may not make your own children homeless, but even medical marijuana in some u.s states and even countries like the Gambia can amount to losing your home than in Russia? Should we fight marijuana can be a hot debate, and that requires facts. Can we fight marijuana and for how long? Every realistic person knows less than ten percent of farmed Cannabis got caught in the u.s , the Gambia, and many countries. So only useless African Journalists cover a cannabis bust in ways the naive think the police or drug squads can stop Cannabis, especially when the world is repenting. Do we want to fight Cannabis? This is the question desire worshipping folks ask, but the should and can questions are even much more vital.
If we remember History then we will conclude government have to be dragged to truth sometimes. Journalists and average people also have to be dragged to truth at times. We can give other examples but states and many whites , Arabs, or xyz folks resisted the abolition of slavery, Apartheid, and other legal wrongs. Both Canada and u.s are dragged into legalisation, and this is precisely why even the u.s democrats are still not yet for marijuana in my book. However, some journalists were dragged, but most u.s journalists are now sincerely for marijuana legalisation, at least in their western world. African journalists are either afraid or simply too dumb to educate the fearful, greedy, and arrogant populace ; then confront the officials along the way. U.S public opinion change on cannabis due to social media, but also mainstream media and seeing other states having similar realities or better than before legalising. A secret ballot will have most African politicians legalise Cannabis, but they see it as ‘political suicide’, which it is not. Politicians want votes, so they tend to follow public opinions, avoid controversy, sometimes even against personal rights of minorities. Journalists don’t need votes, can educate some, and can resist arrogant illiterates, who may eventually benefit through cannabis legalisation and others. Regulations will tame fears, sharing may appease some of the greedy, but time will contain the arrogant?
The print media in Africa should have taken the lead, because most of the pro Cannabis folks and would be early reverts are educated. The Radio and Televisions hardly translate commentary articles, but do cover editorials more. Urging them to do more and appearing as guests in official and local languages can help develop Africa beyond Cannabis legalisation. Hemp paper is much better than the tree paper journalists use and does not require expensive machines to make. If we make enough hemp paper in the Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, etc, it becomes easier to convince the anti cannabis fat woman at the corner to stop selling food with tree and cement paper. Many who oppose self help or ‘self hurting ‘ through cannabis commit much worse sins between creatures. Politicians have the primary responsibility to educate and regulate against cement paper, but journalists are the primary responsible folks on mass education. You have to educate, re-educate, and even confront guilty and partially guilty private citizens. Caring about the health of citizens cannot be centered on number of health centers, health workers, or lack of medicine to carefree citizens… You must tell cement paper sellers they are making people sick, tell the customers they should not buy anything from such sellers or the dusted cement will spill to other food, then urge the officials to make laws and reporting numbers for video evidence. Urging exercise and others will bring health than government may.
I am not out of topic, the promise was on and beyond Cannabis. I have pointed some roles, but a very urgent role is partnering up for mass education and government engagement for Cannabis Legalisation. Everything start with an idea, but ideas need support towards realization. I cannot accuse you God gave you the idea and you rejected it, but if God gave me the idea of having a historic Africa wide Tour for Cannabis Legalisation, the Lord of Character is checking who will push on a collective responsibility and by when? Every African media house can meditate on the collective benefits of such, before asking what each will get. After idea are actions, which media houses will not just publish it, but debate and engage national and international artists they have contacts with. The artists may also need education like being part of historic tour can personally help, but those who join because they understand Africa is losing billions more than the billions they claim to make in the Cannabis Industry are better. Other Artists may need education like the Cannabis songs they make simply make them money, bait kids for police, and collaboration for legalisation is the repentance window of sincere care. You can also tell the artists they can perform one, few, or full tour with our Africa wide initiative. They can also contact fellow artists and even organise a national one without us, but the Africa wide make more sense. Artists who are interested can contact me on WhatsApp +220 3787 999 .
Beside your national artists, you can contact international artists, especially u.s and Jamaican Artists, who are enjoying legalisation and almost indifferent to Africa? Many of whom are descendants of Africa, some came here on financial tours or as tourists, but will they come on a humanitarian mission for freedom, financial uplifting, and other benefits of their fellow Africans. They should not make the excuse of trust because we are openly calling on folks like Burna-Boy, P Diddy, Akon , Master P, Damien Marley, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, etc to contact us and form a formidable trusted team with very secure rules. The promoters, artists, and producers of Jamaica should be contacted, especially by Jamaican Journalists and caring folks. I am fairly certain if a respectable voice in Jamaica openly calls for it, many artists will gladly see and join this historic tour. The western winter started and thus ideal to have the Tour in sweet African winter before the summer time and boost our tourism too. This means we must move fast and even consider one or few riddims (beats and album) for such a Tour. I can help in co-writing songs, they should be slightly different from their types of Cannabis songs. We should highlight benefits, ridicule or help erase fears, and call out politicians where need be.
Anytime African Journalists become echo chambers for government, then the ripple effects of even semi-factual reporting can be dangerous. For example, African Journalists, Jamaican, and perhaps many western journalists reported Ghana legalised Hemp over two years ago. Investigations and follow up pressures are important part of Journalism. Considering no hemp licences were issued since then, you have literally given false or incomplete information to your readers or listeners. You can either write special editorials against Ghana or your next reporting on Cannabis legalisation of an other country or state should include what Ghanaian officials are doing wrong. I called it false surrender or propaganda. Again, if we study the excuses and timeline of states producing regulations after legalisation, we can learn the feet dragging differs. I can write Cannabis regulatory document within a week, so giving the task to an anti marijuana person or novice may take months or years. Every task should have expected time or the giver is questionable. The reviewing team must also have dateline and balanced people, or they may endlessly ask bribes… Here I fault Ghanaian Journalists most, but the activists who worked hard for it must try suing them to formal and informal courts. Write to all media houses that published the first part of legalisation, but also organise a peaceful protest to be covered, or even consider defying in smart ways… Beside Ghanaian journalists, African and other journalists should follow up and update people. Many Gambians keep telling me Ghana legalised Hemp, president Barrow is sleeping, but really both are sleeping or their people and journalists are sleeping. Ghanaians are still importing hemp products, perhaps more than the Gambia and many African countries.
Although we all agree our government leaders are problematic, but our ordinary people are even worse at times. African journalists fault the government, but hardly the questionable people. We even have false diagnosis of both African leaders and western leaders. When I hear African people praise Liz Truss of U.K and read newspaper editorials praising her resignation even more, I laugh in anger or confusion. Liz Truss did not resign on her own accord, but due to three different types of pressure: Media pressure to an educated public pressure and inner circle pressure. All these three are largely due to Education and Conscience , so we must ask how can we raise the two beyond politicians ? Her inner circle started to resign and others gave her ultimatum, so she was perhaps the least conscientious and was simply reducing shame and bait some Africans+ for praises.
African journalists can complain about corruption, but corruption have many branches. Financial corruption is indeed problematic or why I verifiably called for international court against corruption before many African journalists and BBC HardTalk? If the annual budget of the Gambia government is about one or two Billion dollars, only a maths dummy will think thousands of people are taking millions from that and that is not to condone the thousands they may take. A deep diagnosis will reveal Africa lacks good learning and working culture and hurting us more than financial corruption. African journalists must pressure both the public and politicians towards better character, especially in learning and working. Ask every political party or even MP candidate what is your plan for one hundred percent literacy and at least over fifty percent of highly literate populace, and by when? The worst of them will point out to ‘successful’ petty traders and uneducated ‘skilled’ traders who barely pay tax, often give poor service to people with limited choice, and cannot understand how others’ education still significantly contributed to their ‘success’. My very self, I have limited formal education and understand how thinking may be lot more valuable than formal education. Beside my poor self for now, most successful people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and countless have limited degrees or are college drop outs… These same people will demand varying education qualifications on almost every post, and sometimes rely on verifiable past achievements to hire or do business with you. Also their success is partly due to over ninety percent of the populace are educated, contributing beyond taxes, easier to sell to… So the first ripple effects to financial success is largely from mass education, then some may think more and that raises the bar and direction of education. Many great Philosophers and writers are thinkers with some education. So if Cuba can do mass literacy programs decades ago and now helping Africa, how much easier should literacy be with apps, television, and other options? Education is not just to find work, but even your natural fun life will improve with education. You become less reliant even when jobless and easier to uplift beyond the world of thinking. When God chose Muhammad (pbuh) , the first commandment was learn, but some misinterpret it as read or recite, or worse! just one book. That learn means up to research through the root word, but how much we donate to research compare to counterparts or even gifts to marabouts and praise singers? The time and money the individual or political party plans to invest on at least education must be gauged and demand enough. The same Koran positively describes Christians as ‘lovers of Knowledge ‘, and African journalists must confront religious leaders who mislead people beyond Cannabis. Differentiation is a higher form of knowledge, but even our Christian journalists must learn the Koran to effectively subdue misinterpreting religious scholars. You can be a lover of knowledge than average Christians, but prove it and help fellow citizens to love knowledge for knowledge, not just for money. Beside knowledge, love truth and kindness.
In the world of working, African journalists must push for culture of cameras. Once we honestly agree our working culture is bad from speed, late, endless cultural absents, task deferrals, etc, then we must remind folks ‘workers’ responsibilities’ exist, not just rights. The excuse is usually ‘we are under paid’, but that is not acceptable. You accepted the pay because it is good or tolerable, then you should prove yourself you are way above average employee to deserve more. Without culture of cameras, the bad employees may kick you out, even if you were the head of the department. Too many Africans hate change, including the good changes marijuana or this marijuana guy wants to bring. Stop telling the populace we have natural resources and should not suffer, because that is often misinterpreted as license to negate our responsibilities on learning and working. Some western places like Alberta , Russia, and many others have many more natural resources than Average African countries and their people sought and seeking high literacy and good working standards. The people who ignore such still suffer in the west, become homeless, and turn to drugs…
My fellow Journalists, no work is easy, and I am not blind to your efforts. I dragged even western journalists, but always with great intentions and undeniable facts. Learning helps all of us and working together bring opportunities. The earlier you push along the better, beyond the tour. We may demand reasonable advertising discount, considering our cause is a multi billion dollar ripple effects to help beyond journalists. Do not charge us based on what we may get, but based on we all need to repent to tell the people the truth. Hundred years ago , The Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, and most African countries had legal Cannabis. A racist, sexist, and religious bigot called Harry Anslinger fooled or collaborated with u.s government and media houses on Cannabis. Then around 1970 was when Richard Nixon extended the lies with no resistance or verification by African governments and journalists. The cowardly hypocritical religious leaders then started to mislead the people even more. First, there is a huge difference between Cannabis and Alcohol from mere observation, machine brain scans, and the health benefits of cannabis versus the health woes of alcohol. Cannabis is something you are admitted to and has different levels. A group of people can take the same strain and get different effects. Our debate should never be much on direct flower usage, but more on the other countless benefits. Even those who claim it as intoxicant must be asked if the Koran or decent conscience won’t demand advice and patience on such like alcohol and pork? So let them claim the product is bad and handy work of Satan or God, but the punishing people over it is not Islamic and dangerous sins between creatures. The sick people we deny even medical marijuana is indeed cruel. Some will tell you they believe in medical Cannabis, but doing nothing to help poor patients with wide variety of legal strains. Others will claim ‘but the boys use it for fun’, as if that is good reason to keep the bad laws and be indifferent to even the sick?
With educated populace, politicians will act , especially in their last term. Once 20 to 30 African countries legalise at least hemp, a sweep over may follow. Our failures on improving our learning and working cultures make even simple fights for Cannabis Legalisation difficult. Fear is very weird though. Once regulated, within three months of legalisation, many who fear Cannabis will overcome fears of at least legalisation. After couple of harvests and seeing beautiful hemp houses resisting fire and being more comfortable, many more will subdue within years before election. Some smarter farmers seeing soil revival through hemp and less need for over priced fertiliser will help farmers and government. This is precisely why it is not a political suicide, because people will adapt if you regulate for the children to abstain, ban public and street smoking, encourage vaporizers and others. Pharmacies or special shops can be licensed, but avoid over taxing or the underground market may compete… May God bless us with Showlove Trinity: Let’s learn, let’s work, let’s have fun.
By Jarga Kebba Gigo
An Activist and Transformer.
The Blind trust we gave the west should be over, beyond Cannabis. Their claims on Internet cost is unfounded and we demand free Global Internet or well reduced unlimited packages per country. We should study an Africa wide Intranet as backup .
Making money is Vital and I gave Gambian media houses some tips over a decade ago, but some are yet to be employed. You must grow from what they taught you in school of journalism and even big western media houses are changing. You should try email subscriptions as trial and I know Africans can do unintelligent ‘kindness’. There are over 100,000 Gambians in the Diaspora and at least fifty percent want reliable sources on and beyond the Gambia. So trying to sell physical papers in small urban Gambia and having weak websites does not help either parties. By trying a one year trial of email subscription of about $10 per year means the average reader may choose five papers or fifty dollars to support home media or how Diaspora help is overblown? You will need a note at the end, reminding no forwarding or you are stealing , encouraging raising fees, and encouraging a stingy person who can afford to support home media. The national press Union can also facilitate an app with paid and donation buttons. The websites can still exist, but with limited info unless you have paid login credentials. With 10 to 50 thousands subscriptions for small Gambia and much more for bigger countries, you can make more money. Plus advertising with either routes. Who said I hate journalists who refused to compensate me for my articles and ideas? Some media houses will not even notify authors of published articles, that is not right in our age. Whereas I want you to make more money, African media houses must consider ways of helping rising journalists and voluntary writers . I know some of you are struggling financially, but partly because you are not asking reasonable donations and special sponsorships. Even many westerners may donate or subscribe if you have great writers. Having awards for major commentators and compiling such as book for university classes will boost people’s interest in writing, little bit on reading culture. Even though the Koran means Recitation, inside it says, ‘written by honored Messengers/Angels’. Meaning God’s inspire, Angels write, then Muhammad pbuh recite, and others write… The songs and movies you value than books often have to start with writing too.
So our print media must try to survive and thrive in this inevitable change. Consider videos on your sites and be diverse beyond your country. You can have national annual book of inspiring timeless commentaries , but Africa wide version too. It should be reason based by smart committees than public voting. They can be international sellers, help with great deals, inspire movies, and above all keep writing culture vibrant in and beyond Africa.
Be creative, writers who write long articles should not be snubbed or learn from new York Times and others. They publish part on paper and say, see rest on our website. Yahoo does similar arrangement with some news source. Rather than looking for excuses, see how you can be creative and understand some topics demand explanations from multiple fronts. The whole Koran essentially came from short chapter 103, but the long explanations (chapters) of that thesis help many. The best minds can also decipher lot from a title, lot more from the first paragraph, and then still surprisingly learn something new at the bottom.
Optional Note 2:
Shifting Public Opinions from not just the bottom, but from Outside and Middle Bottom?
While the u.s was not just the most brutal country against Cannabis, Canada played extremely crucial role in u.s Legalisation of Cannabis. Marc Emery is a Canadian Cannabis activist with charisma and defiant street and political tactics. Canada and u.s are two different countries, but largely seen as one nation, from what they call ‘national news’ and beyond. While the u.s Demonized Cannabis with lies, Marc Emery demonized Cannabis laws with facts and using u.s laws as ‘our laws’. So his target audience was clearly u.s. Again because social media was not there, I did not know about Marc Emery while in the u.s or even most of my years in Canada. Some smaller Canadian media houses gave him platform and word of mouth was the original weaker social media then. Although he and others eventually had a marijuana political party in Canada to get coverage than win elections , Marc is better seen as fighting from the bottom… He significantly helped overturn public opinion on how cruel our Cannabis laws were/are, even while Clinton was president.
President Clinton fired a black female minister (secretary) over her public suggestion that ‘may be we should decriminalise or legalise cannabis ‘. Weird cancel culture that may blame only Clinton today, but the lack of public outcry then shows where public opinion was on marijuana. Social media was slowly growing and president Bush came to power, respecting or worsening the marijuana laws he inherited from Clinton and Senator Biden+. I left the u.s for Canada to have more freedom and to write without fear. When Barrack Obama made the over praised speech for John Kerry vs Bush , I saw the speech as hypocritical and wrote an article titled ‘Top Black Agendas as America Elects’, it was published by Observer Gambia and was available on the Internet for NSA and beyond. In that article I wrote marijuana legalisation as the number one black Agenda and it temporarily put me in trouble with Canadian immigration. Anyway Kerry lost to Bush and Obama sought the presidency , not just admitting he heavily used weed while in College, but promising to legalise it. Despite our differences with Obama, he played a crucial soft role in shifting public opinion on Cannabis and did not fight states who want to legalise marijuana. While campaigning, he hinted, ‘change can come from the bottom ‘, meaning he have to be pressured from the bottom or some things may never happen. He entered his presidency in a recession and engaged Americans on how to revive u.s Economy, and online folks put marijuana legalisation as number one. He laughed at online folks, but I was honestly not 100 % eye to eye with online folks, I believed in weed legalisation on justice lens than economic prospects, especially then. More facts on Cannabis were spreading online, but when Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN did a weed documentary, it heavily shifted public opinion . Sanjay is a perfect example of how African journalists should repent, he once wrote an opinion on New York Times against weed, but when he saw the miracles of weed with his eyes, he knew the books of education or indoctrination got something wrong.
Although CNN did others, Sanjay had to use more social media and of course many other people were sensitising people. Uruguay legalised weed, ignoring u.s pressure. Since Obama failed us on promise, When the state of Colorado wanted a referendum on weed legalisation with NormL, Marc Emery donated two million dollars, while Black Rappers+ did nothing or very little. Activists can be very real, but God or the people making millions or billions through our efforts can be very ungrateful, because Marc Emery is reportedly lifting heavy boxes for living, according to his own Facebook posts. Partly because u.s and Canadian authorities still punishes him and weed companies who dare hire him? Can they secretly donate to him in gratitude? So Colorado successfully legalised cannabis with Canadian money and ideas, and this gave Trudeau the courage to run for leadership and promising to legalise marijuana and he delivered with lot of unnecessary delay. All these things are verifiable crucial history that is Asking where are the African ‘Marc Emery’ in words, donation, and beyond? Where are our Obamas, Sanjay Guptas, and CNN to shift public opinion? I do not think president Addo, Barrow, or xyz will fire a president or opposition leader for saying may be we should have at least hemp legalised or medical Cannabis cards. I do not think an African media house will get in huge trouble for years over Cannabis facts. Beside states rectifying federal laws, some cities and counties (Districts) in Texas are telling the state and federal government, with or without you? Can a city, district, or province (region) in Ghana, Nigeria, or xyz legalise Cannabis or should we only import foreign hemp+? Make sure you remember even Cannabis activists understand we can only win through facts, so avoid lying and do not ever deny questionable effects of some strains on some people. Countless blacks and others made money using Africa’s name or directly through Cannabis, so invest for Africa or where is your gratitude, love, and action oriented empathy for the sick and those in prison? Africans who indifferently believe in oppressing minorities should repent or deserve to be oppressed minorities somewhere or by Angels? Our spirits have to be at wars until you stop fighting us, period.