Opinion: There Are More Twi-Speaking Ewe Broadcasters in Ghana Than Native Akan Broadcasters, Trust Me – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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The writer, Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

He is now the Deputy Minister for Information; but until he was recently transferred there, in President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s first cabinet reshuffle, Mr. Pius Enam Hadzide was the suspended Deputy Sports Minister. Mr. Hadzide was suspended in the wake of some visa-fraud allegations involving the repatriation of some 60 Ghanaian “journalists” who were deported by the Australian government, during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, because they, reportedly, could not convince Aussie customs officials that they were, in fact, what they claimed to be. Now, Mr. Hadzide claims that these deportees were, in fact, journalists who ply their trade in the Akan-Twi language and were therefore not able to creditably acquit themselves in the English language.

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Now, such rabidly prejudicial assertion is inexcusably absurd. What this implies is that, somehow, being fluent in the Akan-Twi language is a great impediment to being able to fluently speak the English language, Ghana’s official language of business and academic and professional instruction. I suppose the obverse side of this equation is that, somehow, all non-Akan-speaking Ghanaian journalists are relatively more fluent or articulate in the English language than their Akan-speaking counterparts. The subject at issue here is broadcasters or electronic-media journalists, because I really don’t know of any well-circulated and/or well-read newspapers in Ghana that are wholly published in the country’s most widely spoken indigenous language. We also know that pretty much every broadcast journalist, in whatever idiom or language of professional practice, first must study the English language at least up to the level of a first college degree or its equivalent before getting employed by any of our major electronic media establishments.

Pius Enam Hadzide, Ghana’s Deputy Information Minister

 

Granted: the fact is that not every actively practicing journalist or reporter anywhere in the world is equally as fluent or versatile in his/her language of practice as every other practitioner, even within the same idiom or language. So, it ought to be obvious to Mr. Hadzide that even in the Akan language, his target of obloquy, not all journalists or practitioners of the media trade are equally versatile or conversant with the language. That would simply not reflect natural reality. At any rate, what I really wanted to underscore here is the very well-known fact that we have quite a remarkable percentage of native-born Ewes who speak Akan-Twi with a level of eloquence or fluency that would inspire the envy or jealousy of a native-born Akan speaker of the language. I am also certain that Mr. Hadzide has heard the name of Mr. Kwame Sefa Kayi, perhaps Ghana’s foremost Akan-Twi broadcast journalist even as I write.

The award-winning Mr. Sefa Kayi is a virulent living contradiction to this lurid ethnic stereotyping of Akan-Twi broadcasters in the country. I suppose Mr. Hadzide is also hereby implying that Mr. Kwame Sefa Kayi had the same Spoken-English language handicap that resulted in the massive deportation of the 60-plus Ghanaian broadcast journalists reportedly deported from Australia. Did any of the technical officers of Ghana’s contingent to the Commonwealth Games have to step up to the plate, as it were, to bail out an Akan-language-compromised Mr. Sefa Kayi? As of this writing, there was another news report claiming that the new Deputy Information Minister has since “clarified” the inexcusably derogatory remarks that had earlier on been attributed to him. I have yet to acquaint myself with such clarification and will comment on the same once I have done so in due course. Stereotypically speaking, I am not the least bit flabbergasted by the fact that Mr. Hadzide would utter the rather unfortunate remarks attributed to him.

What I also wanted to bring up here is the need for Ghana’s sports officials and, in fact, the entire staff or organizers of the Commonwealth Games to fully appreciate the fact that the English language is not the only idiom or medium of communication used by the citizens and inhabitants of the former British colonies. Yes, the English language may be the dominant idiom of expression in the Commonwealth Region across the globe, but it by no means the only language of mass media culture or discourse.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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