The call by Prof. Vladimir Antwi-Danso for a return to the colonial and pre-New Patriotic Party era when the repealed Criminal Libel Code/Law was arbitrarily used to muzzle the human rights of Ghanaian citizens is what is wrong with today’s intellectual in our country and society. Needless to say, such neocolonialist prescription abjectly smacks of uncreative intellectual imagination. Indeed, Prof. Antwi-Danso would be far better off paying heed to National Media Commission Chairman Kabral Blay-Amihere’s suggestion for a more constructive alternative to curbing media abuse of the dignity of diligent and responsible Ghanaian citizens (See “Antwi-Danso: Bring Back Criminal Libel Law Before Ghana Is Plunged Into War” Modernghana.com 9/15/11).
First of all, what the Legon lecturer ought to be wondering about is why for two consecutive electoral terms (from 2001, when the Criminal Libel Code/Law was healthily repealed, and 2008) President John Agyekum-Kufuor was effectively able to preside over the affairs of our country without any prominent politician or intellectual predicting the eerie imminence of a civil war. In other words, what I am suggesting here is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the current democratic regime of unfettered press freedom. What is wrong is the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) whose key operatives, including President John Evans Atta-Mills, have deliberately presided over a wanton culture of political abuse which has been allowed to carcinogenically affect the quality-output of our media, both public and private.
But that he would even call for a return to either the Nkrumah-led Convention People’s Party era, or that of its latter-day clone in the shape of the Rawlings-led Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), is all the more to be pitied. This, however, is not to imply that Prof. Antwi-Danso’s rather scandalous call, largely borne out of frustration, is the least bit surprising. After all, the caller is a widely known and staunch adherent of the faux-ideological tenets called “Nkrumaism,” the essence of which is neither democratic nor even Marxist but thoroughgoing neo-Fascism! Else, why would the quite notable academic of the Legon Center for International Affairs presume the “One O’clock Fever” atmosphere that characterized the entire tenure of Nkrumah’s government to be the most ideal for a laudably regenerated twenty-first century democratic polity such as Ghana’s Fourth Republic?
When I began searching for the possible motive behind Prof. Antwi-Danso’s scandalous call for political repression and regression as an antidote to unfettered press freedom, the first thing that came to mind was his geographically and geopolitically misplaced slavo-Russian name of “Vladimir.” This may seem all-too-superficial to the lackadaisical Ghanaian citizen, but for those of us steeped in African cultural mores and values, one’s given first-name has an inextricable nexus with one’s spiritual personality. And it was fundamentally for the foregoing reason that Mr. Francis Kofi-Nwia Nkrumah was to change his name into the more psychologically balanced alternative of Kwame Nkrumah. Indeed, available records indicate that his creatively redesigned first-name of “Kwame” came from his maternal grandfather, who had been known to be very hardworking and magnanimous.
Interestingly, I have not written about any of this before, but this nominal repackaging by the founding Life-Chairman of the original Convention People’s Party had an “Afrocentric” psychological influence on my own father, thus my unabashed nominal Ghanaian identity.
In the past, I have time and again suggested that any possible eruption of civic mayhem may be primarily provoked by the pathological “tribalization” of Ghanaian politics by Mr. Rawlings during the nineteen years that Ghanaians allowed this snooty half-Scottish waif to projectively resolve his crisis of identity and perceived ethnic marginality on the hardworking and largely prosperous Akan majority of our country. Recently, we all witnessed Mr. Rawlings attempt the same politics of ethnic chauvinism, when the former president, having been quite wisely rebuffed by President Mills, rabidly and invidiously appealed to the Anlo-Ewe wing of the ruling National Democratic Congress to summarily give the Fante-descended Tarkwa-Atta the boot at the 2012 polls. Now, that is what is wrong with Ghana!
Perhaps Prof. Antwi-Danso ought to be reminded that far gone are the days when a unidimensional media played the autocratic and censorious role of a “gatekeeper,” by unilaterally dictating what made news at seven o’clock every morning. In Ghana, oftentimes, the peremptory gatekeeper was none other than the chain-smoking (the rabidly anti-Akufo-Addo snitches ought to be made to understand this forensically verifiable fact) “Osagyefo” Kwame Nkrumah, a man who as editor-publisher of the Accra Evening News, an agitprop rag, rabidly accused the British colonial regime of flagrantly censoring the Ghanaian media!
Then also, precisely what does Prof. Antwi-Danso mean when he accuses “politicians of exploiting the gullibility of the Ghanaian” by using the media as the conduit? In other words, as a notable academic of remarkable repute, what has Prof. Antwi-Danso been doing to appreciably meliorate such purported Ghanaian gullibility? The preceding questions are what we ought to be discussing, and not whether a deliberate and flagrantly ill-conceived retardation of our media laws and culture is the definitive answer to the healthy induction of peace and quiet in our beloved nation.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005).