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22 March 2001 | General News

African-American Association of Ghana Condemn WSJ

GNA
Media Relations Ministry urged to set up Quick Response Dept.

ACCRA, March 22 -- The African-American Association of Ghana (AAAG) on Wednesday urged the new Ministry of Media Relations to establish a Quick Response Department (QRD) to ensure prompt response to derogatory local and foreign media reports and articles about Ghana.

Mr. Akbar Muhammed, spokesman for the AAAG, made the call at a press conference organised by the Nation of Islam to counteract what he described as a derogatory article on the front page of the March 14, 2001 edition of the Wall Street Journal, a US-based business daily.

The article, written by G. Pascal Zachary, under the headline: "Tangled roots, for African-Americans in Ghana, the Grass isn't always greener," said African-Americans are ill-treated and are not welcome in Ghana.

Mr Muhammed said such derogatory articles threaten the 42 years relationship between Ghana and African-Americans, adding that it has become imperative for the government of Ghana to expedite action to correct the erroneous impression the article has created.

He said information reaching the AAAG from the African-American community in the US indicates that people who have read the article dread coming to Ghana this year.

This, he said, poses a threat on the tourist traffic and revenue to Ghana this year.

"Such articles also pose a threat to African-American investor confidence in Ghana," he said. "Americans are terrified by anything that takes their comfort away."

"I would, therefore, like to recommend a QRD to monitor the Internet to know what is being said about Ghana in the foreign media and give a prompt response where necessary," he said.

Mr Muhammed suggested that such a department should comprise both local and African-American media experts who know the mindset of their respective nationals and can give appropriate response to derogatory articles.

He noted that the Wall Street Journal article has come at a time when thousands of African-Americans are preparing to come to Africa to spend the summer and to attend the Pan-African Festival (PANAFEST).

"It is a calculated attempt to put fear in African-Americans about what to expect in Ghana," he said. "It is simply an old neo-colonial modus operandi to frustrate attempts by Africans to unite."

Mr Muhammed said the other reason for the article was to discourage the decision by the 40 million African-Americans to shift a large chunk of their over 500 billion dollar annual investments in the US to Africa.

Mrs Victoria Cooper, Head of the African-American Association in Ghana and Rabbi Kohain Halevi took turns to deny a statement attributed to them in the article.

Mrs Cooper said she has asked the publishers of the Wall Street Journal to retract the statement attributed to her.

She said it is the right of the government to ask the publishers to retract the entire article, and take them to court if they do not.

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