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10.02.2009 Feature Article

The Slow 'Death' of Ghanaian Cultural Values

The Slow 'Death' of Ghanaian Cultural Values

when copying and copying blindly becomes 'deadly'

I had already started writing this piece when I read an article by one Bolus, Mercy Adede. The title was 'Reflection of how Ghana could emulate Tunisia' and it was very interesting. She raised an issue which is exactly what I am trying to address with this article. I would paraphrase a point she made: that Ghana has a rich cultural heritage but, unfortunately, we have not been able to preserve it. I hope to add my voice to this discussion and move it forward. Mercy talked about certain aspects of the culture and I will be dealing with other aspects of it.

It is true that cultures borrow from one another but does it mean that we should always copy and copy blindly without any Ghanaian cultural inputs?

We are gradually killing our senses of values and identity. How can the whole country operate on an 'anything goes philosophy'?

Where is the outrage when some men and women, masquerading as 'sex' experts, sit at radio studios to 'spew' pure profanity on our airwaves for hours?

The programmes come on late at night and so that must be okay!!! What reasoning!!
It offends the sensibilities of many people. One such individual drew my attention to it so I decided to have a first-hand experience. It was unbelievable. Did that come from a Ghanaian radio station? I asked myself. What at all happened to the Ghanaian sense of decorum? I know the argument has been that these are modern times and it is about time that Ghanaians talked openly about the subject of sex. OK.

So tell me what the purpose of the programme is and explain to me why we cannot talk openly about sex and use language that is not profanity?

We can always talk about the human private parts. Every Ghanaian language has its own words and expressions to describe these comely members of our bodies adequately.
I ask again, what is the purpose? What is it that use of polite language cannot deal with?
This is radio. And this is not even about the little ones so don't tell me the kids will all be sleeping at the time. I am talking about adults, right-thinking adults who still have some sense of self-worth and are offended by such profanity! I remember, during the PNDC years, J.J. Rawlings had to call upon our military men and women to desist from singing profane songs during their route march exercises. That was a direct result of complaints that he (Rawlings) had receive from the public. So if we could ask our service men and women to desist from such behaviour, how then do we sit unconcerned when such profanity is all over our airwaves?

My take on this programme is this: it is profanity disguised as a pseudosex education programme. Either they clean up their language or this must be scrapped.

I believe there was or still is a similar programme on Kapital radio in Kumase. It used to be hosted by one Mrs. Jackson and others. They also dealt with the same subject matter but never resorted to profanity. I need the organizers on 'Ghana waves' radio to come out with valid statistics showing that theirs is a better programme with better results due to their use of profanity. What is going on in Ghana? Is this what we refer to as modernization or modernism? This does not even happen in the US or Europe. Even the use of 'cuss' words on air are shunned and when used the studio managers make sure to 'block' them for consumption of the general public. There is no sex education programme on any TV channel (in the US) that throws the 'V' and 'P' words around throughout the entire duration of the programme.

I think most of us remember what became known as the 'Swedru girls' scandal or something like that. That came as a surprise to many and indeed there were people who could not accept that as being true. Then came information that a group of Ghanaians have started a 'company' producing pornographic movies in Twi and openly distributing it on the web. Is this what the Ghanaian has been reduced to? I have never understood why some of our colleagues have the opportunity to travel abroad and they almost always manage to 'assimilate' all the negative things in those societies but leave the positive ones alone. Do we still litter around everywhere and anyhow? Do we still 'pee' openly without any shame? Do we still put up buildings anywhere without any respect for zoning laws? I believe these are some of the things we could learn from other cultures that would add some progress and development to our lives.

Instead we bring back to Ghana the 'industry' of Strip Clubs and Homosexuality.
Yes, I know all the arguments about how homosexuality is not alien to our culture and that our students engage in these practices all the time and blah blah blah. That is pure nonsense. First of all it wrong for our students to be doing these things and every right-thinking Ghanaian knows that. Second, being 'gay' or living the gay lifestyle is different from having an experience or going through a phase in secondary school and once, school is over that ends it. I want to repeat that there is nothing about being gay that has its roots in Ghanaian culture!!! Period!!!

And I think the next time Joy FM entertains Prince MacDonald (a self-described gay-practicing Ghanaian) at their studios, the managers of the station should be arrested and prosecuted. As far as I know the laws against homosexuality have not been changed and they remain laws of Ghana. Until and unless they are changed anybody who parades himself/herself as such is flouting the law and should be dealt with. Also any institution or organization that tries to promote an illegality should equally be held responsible.
One of the things the NPP did right was to uphold our culture and deny use of Ghana as a venue for that Gay and Lesbian meeting (or conference) that never was. I hope the NDC will be equal to the task when the need arises.

Now our women, increasingly, are trying to expose as much as they possibly can of their naked bodies to the public. There was this foolishness called 'I am aware'
Why would any properly-trained and cultured woman want to expose her panties to the public??? I mean WHY. The situation on our beaches is no better.

Our young men either return home from abroad (or watch from music videos) with earrings in their ears and hairs braided. I guess that is what makes you hip these days.
Are we ever going to get away from this 'colonial mentality' and 'dependency mentality' and stand for ourselves? Why do we still, after 50 years, believe that ANYTHING from abroad is good?

And like our attitude to all other issues, we believe by ignoring it, somehow it will go away by itself and on its own. Our politicians spend our resources traveling all over the world; why can't they introduce the very progressing and development-oriented projects that they see elsewhere? What is wrong with an underground sewage system? What about an efficient and effective waste collection and disposal system? Many communities in our villages are way much cleaner than our cities. The very people we refer to as 'nkurasefoo' have a better sense of environmental cleanliness than we can imagine or are ready to admit to. Where does such 'qualities' come from? From the true Ghanaian culture. It is time to rise up, Ghanafoo!!!

By all means, let us embrace what is positive from other cultures, but let us also preserve the best of what we have.

Credit: Yaw Opare-Asamoa [email: [email protected]]

Yaw Opare-Asamoa
Yaw Opare-Asamoa, © 2009

The author has 55 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: YawOpareAsamoa

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