It is hard to say Happy #AfricaDay because there is no unfettered happiness among the people. From the East to West, North to South, Africa is rich in resources but plagued by underdevelopment caused by bad leadership and corruption.
The youth who can’t afford to emigrate stay behind and endure the curse of joblessness, hunger, high cost of living, poor health care system among other conditions. While enduring, those in authority continue to give hope as they take glory and comfort in the wealth of nations.
To whom much is given, much is expected but that doesn’t work with African leaders. They take, take and take for themselves and their generations. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Many propose the breakdown of the old order to make way for a working system. But they cringe and say they have more experience to share and they need more time. They hate to hear the word REVOLUTION. However, revolutions changed societies of the past like the French revolution, abolishing of slavery, end of the Jim Crow era, African independence struggle etc.
The catalysts of successful revolutions are formidable youthful organisations, a clear unapologetic objective, and a sacrificial spirit to break down the old order to make way for a new working system…NOT MILITARY INTERVENTIONS.
Like Nkrumah and the other independence fighters, I believe the youth are out of the continent to prepare for the revolution ahead. To solve Africa’s problems which are underlied by economic factors. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, but it will surely come like a thief in the night.
The old order needs to be torn apart to make way for the future we dream of. In our small corners and ways, let’s revolutionize the continent and get freedom from our old selves and independence from imperialists. Let’s emancipate ourselves from mental slavery and none but ourselves can free our minds. It’s about time! ✊ #AfricaDay2022
The 20th (2022) World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) saw Ghana dropping by 30 spots from 2021 to rank 60 out of 180 countries assessed.
As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, I wonder where the freedom is when:
1. Politicians and political entities control the operation of media organisations 2. Politicians and political entities set the agenda for media houses and journalists to follow 3. Journalists are underpaid but well paid with “soli” and “T&T” after covering events 4. Journalists are holding political offices while feigning objectivity before the masses 5. Media advertising is monopolised by a few mighty media groups 6. Small publishers are cannibalised by the few mighty media groups who give them no chance to thrive and rather compete against them 7. There is no culture of media buyout of small publishers that are doing well with no revenue to ensure media pluralism 8. Shutdowns are effected based on whose toe is stepped on 9. Journalists are attacked and we put the cart before the horse 10. The media only gets access to information when the right ass is kissed or during election years 11. Journalists are arrested and manhandled just to caution others or to influence media discourse 12. Journalists act as mouthpieces of the government to discredit other journalists and media organisations that go against unpopular state policies 13. Media associations have their hands tied behind their backs on issues of journalists 14. Journalists cannot share opinions without reprimand and the expression of the opinions of the masses are discouraged 15. Pull down the story, stop writing about me, pay me before I speak with you, I will sue you – are common phrases heard by media practitioners 16. The rich (in this case pastors and herbalists) have choked the airwaves on both TV and Radio while the poor publishers who can only afford blogs for a short time do not get the reach
These factors and many more affect the freedom of journalists and media practice in Ghana. To be victorious, we need to uphold the principles of objectivity, independence and freedom to ensure a quality and efficient media landscape.
We need a more inclusive stakeholder meetings and not only engage the “veterans” who hardly understand how new media works.
Times have changed and we need to change too. The media forces necessary change and it is up to us to decide whether we want a positive change or a negative change.
Today marks World Press Freedom Day under the theme: Information as a Public Good. As a journalist, since 2007, my freedom to inform the public has never been met with brute force, just some internal and external forces that journalists face. I am one of the lucky few who practice without any major hindrances.
I have been queried over my work a number of times but I sailed through because I could prove that the information was accurate and for the public good despite calls for my head. Only a good media organisation can give you that assurance of freedom and mean it when you are right. What if you are wrong? Then it could be that you didn’t give the information enough thought to put it out there. Whose fault is that?
The work of a journalist is not dependent on your skill and experience alone, but your mindset too. As the techies would say, garbage in garbage out. What you feed your brain is what you produce. Make it a practice to learn extensively and go outside the box to be able to understand human behaviour for interpretation of actions and thoughts.
With your skill, experience and rich mindset, you would know what information is for the public good and you can justify it. You would do what is right for the people and not what is right for you. The people would be the celebrities and not yourself.
We will get there when we finally agree that being a journalist is not an honour or privilege, but a duty which comes with responsibilities.
Those in power are treating Ghana like how so many citizens are treating their villages and hometowns. The problem is at every level. Until we Sankofa, change will elude us.
The “Sankofa” is a metaphorical symbol used by the Akan people of Ghana, generally depicted as a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. It expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress.