I was busily putting finishing touches to my day's work at the office on the evening of Monday,28th November,2011,when the news broke that some people who are very well-known in the media circles have been arrested and taken to the Nima police station, for being caught 'filifiili',bathing,drinking,chewing,eating and sniffing 'ntampi'(Indian hemp).
Initially, I thought it was just on of these pranks being pulled by some of these incredibly sensational and loud-mouth media outlets so I simply ignored the whole thing and continued with what I was doing at the time. It was not 15minutes after my grand dismissal of the whole story when one of my colleagues at the office, who had then gone out to get some meal, walked in to tell me about what was making waves on the airwaves.
I then realize that something serious was going on. I therefore halted what I was doing and started browsing the internet to find out if the so-called breaking news had actually been broken anywhere on these various media websites. My desperate search ended up in a desperate disappointment when I could not find a single news item on the incident. I then started fiddling with the tuning knob of my office portable radio hoping to get some information either confirming or denying the breaking news but that attempt also proved completely wasteful.
I therefore went back to continue with what I was doing till about an hour later when I happen to spot the news on the website of relatively new media outlet. And the little detail that publication gave was enough to completely throw me off my seat. Out of shock, I shouted “Ewurazde nyame, aaa saana dem na wiadze tse? Ei, onyimpa ho yehu paaa oooo”, to wit, “gracious God, is that how the world is? Man can really be unpredictable”. I inadvertently came out with that exclamation just for the simple reason that I simply couldn't believe the culprits involved in that act.
So I placed a phone-call to a very close friend who often noses around for information of such nature to find out if he had heard of the tsunami that had hit the very foundations of the noise-makers of our airwaves. And his response was that he heard it while eating a bowl of 'fufu/nkatebe' with a whole head of a matured and smelly he-goat, the type we Fantes often call “aponkye kwesi atta”, at a very popular spot, hundreds of miles away but quickly abandoned the delicacy and run like Usain Bolt, to the Nima police station where the arrested new 'herbalists' in town had been taken to.
Songo at the counter-back
So I asked if he had seen these people 'gaani-gaani'; and his answer was in the affirmative.So, with my sniffing nose for what is new in town, I asked this my friend to patiently take me through what was exactly happening at the station. In other-words, I wanted him to paint a vivid picture, as to the level of activities taking place at the station.
He obliged me and said; “oh I can actually see 'Songo' sitting behind the counter, very pensive, with stern look and a finger on the lip”. So I asked if he could get to close to get a word from Songo, as to what exactly happened. But my friend told me even if the police were to allow him to get to speak to songo, he (my friend) would have ventured into that senseless endeavor since the look on Songo's face was so scary to the point where even 'sasabonsam' wouldn't dare get close to him.
I therefore told my friend that if he wasn't going to get a word from either 'Songo' or any of those captured with him, then there was no need for me to continue with the conversation. So I cut him off my phone-line and continued with my work at the office with the belief that whatever be the case, the issue was going to be big on the airwaves and I will get the chance to know about all what exactly happened.
The morning after
I woke up a little early than my normal time of getting out of bed, all in great anticipation of getting the newspaper headlines which will afford me the opportunity to, at least, get an over-view of what was going to be on everyone's lips for the morning and possibly throughout the whole day. But to my utter shock, not a single newspaper, besides the almighty Daily Guide, dared to carry the story.
So I quickly placed a phone call through to a very good friend and classmate of mine at the prestigious Saint John's School, who is now a professional journalist working with one of the best media establishments of our nation, just to check from him why, in his honest estimation, such a juicy story had been completely blacked-out by the media. And his answer was quiet revealing.
He said “hmmmmm, charley, this is an issue we would have loved to publish but you know our bosses and the powers that be ooooo, hmmmm”.So I asked him to throw a little light on the statement he had made since he wasn't all that conclusive but he said “boss, as for this one, please don't try to push me into any big wahala oooo”.So I asked him what was 'wahala' about confiding in an Old Saint. But still, my friend wouldn't speak. So I thanked him and placed a second call to another journalist friend.
And what he said was even much intriquing; he said “you see, we journalists have what we call collective solidarity which makes it difficult to talk about issues involving our own”. So I asked if whether such a scandal had befallen a politician, they would have talked about it, and he said “why not, like that politician go smell real paper for over one month”. So I asked him to tell me if a crime committed by a journalist is supposed to be treated differently, by way of reportage by the media and his response was that; “aah, but that one you aaa you for know”.
I then realized he was speaking the mindset of the generality of the Ghanaian media so I decided to thank him and bid him good morning and carried on with my early morning routines whiles my ear-lobes were firmly adjusted in the direction of the radio. And to my utter amazement, but perfectly in-line with what my two journalist pals had told me earlier, there was a complete black-out of such big news on all the radio/TV disscissions, and I felt very sad on that day.
The fourth estate of the realm
The media has always been touted as the forth estate of the realm, after the executive, the judiciary and the legislature. And in my view, the work the media, which is to serve as the conscience of the nation as well as the window of opportunity for the ordinary man/woman to be well-informed in order to enable them make right choices at any point in time, will be deviating from its core mandate and fundamental principles, if it is allowed to become murder weapons in the hands of equally murderous block-headed charlatans.
I have travelled extensively across the globe and with my interest in current affairs and media analysis, I do a lot of reading and scanning through periodicals, wherever I find myself at any particular point in time. And nowhere, except Ghana, have I ever heard of any “journalistic solidarity” which allows murderous journalists to escape the claws of the law.
And I guess it is this 'huhudious' Ghanaian journalistic solidarity that has developed into a well-oiled conveyer-belt for churning out serial rapists, wee puffers and abusers of other highly potent and hallucinating concoctions, within members on the inky fraternity. Any wonder why an individual whose greatest claim to fame is the efficient manner in which he prosecutes reckless acts of sexual criminality, is now masquerading as an aide to a president who claims to be a saint.
Criminals in journalistic cloaks
Where on this planet would you ever find a plain-faced rapist being offered a job at the seat of government and yet, his fellow journalists are mute over the issue even when these very same rapists, on a number of occasions, has sought to denigrate the image of his fellow journalists.
Now, coming back to the issue involving Songo, I really pity this young-man because his programme is watched by many people, not because of the contents, but his style of presentation and other mannerisms on live television. He is a great guy and I wish he comes out of this unfortunate incident, learning his lessons and becoming a much better person with a will-power of steel.
But to Nana Kwabena Bobie Ansah, who has actually created a whole enterprise in deliberately tarnishing hard-won image of very decent and prominent members of our Ghanaian society and tagging them with all kinds of totally unfounded allegations just because some people at the seat of government are urging him on, I would take this opportunity to let him know that whatever he has also been doing under the cover of darkness and behind closed doors, are open secrets to a multitude of others.
Therefore, as the popular Akan adage goes; 'se worewe ofo nsa a, hwe wodze', to wit, as you frantically munch the hand of a monkey; just take a good look at your own hand. Until I come your way again next week, please remember not to play with “oooooogyaaaaaaa”!!!!!
Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei
E-mail: [email protected]