As a backdrop to the Ghana National Council (GNC) executives' response to the Editorial of the “self-claimed” mouthpiece of the Ghanaian community in Chicago-THE AFRICAN SPECTRUM, I would like to explain some of the policies that the current administration introduced when it took office in September 2003. One policy was to change the business-as-usual attitude of the council in its dealings. For the 2004 GhanaFest the council sought bids from vendors outside those that the council had been using year in and year out. This saved the council $5,000.00 for GhanaFest 2004.
The Ghana National Council publishes a GhanaFest Ad Book every year and the publication coincides with GhanaFest celebration. The council takes Advertisements from organizations and in return each organization is CHARGED $100.00 for a full page advertisement and $75.00 for a half page advertisement. The cost of advertisement is determined by a vote of the full council every year. Previously some organizations and business entities were allowed to post advertisements in the GhanaFest Ad Book and pay after its publication. One of these companies is The Spectrum. This year the executives of the Ghana national Council decided that these organizations had to prepay for the GhanaFest 2004 Ad Book.
Every year the GNC charges The Spectrum $200.00 for a TWO-PAGE advertisement in the GhanaFest Ad Book and $300.00 for a booth at GhanaFest, a total of $500.00. In return The Spectrum advertises GhanaFest in the paper for a cost which the editor claims to be $300.00. No money changes hands and it doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to realize that the GNC is at the short end of the transaction. The GNC actually loses $200.00 each year from this transaction. Frankly considering The Spectrum's Readership the only reason the council advertised in the paper was because it wanted to give a boost to a Ghanaian business (that's the only logical reason I can think of anyway). Yet the editor of The Spectrum claims the paper has sponsored the GNC for more than five years. If this is what the editor calls sponsorship then I must be using the wrong Webster's Dictionary. I call it MILKING THE COMMUNITY.
This year the council refused to give The Spectrum a booth until the council received the payment like every other organization. The paper never paid the money and as such no booth was allocated to The Spectrum at GhanaFest. It was only after consultations between the organizers and an appeal from a friend of the editor of The Spectrum who happens to be an executive member was The Spectrum allocated a Press Booth. The editor refused because he claimed the booth was too small. The editorial is surprising and even shocking coming from someone who the council did a big favor where no favor was due. I would actually have loved to have a time of my life at the expense of someone who wanted something for nothing but the executives were too busy making sure the festival was organized smoothly to snicker and think about a paper that overrates itself in the community. Frankly I would not have allocated any space to the Spectrum if had my own way. They were supposed to be going round taking pictures and covering the event anyway. What were they doing sitting at a table? I would like to point out to the editor of The Spectrum that the Ghana National Council is neither a philanthropic organization, nor a credit business so going forward the paper should not expect any credits from the council. It is strictly pay-before-service like the paper requires of the council.
Contrary to the editorial, the GNC decided NOT to advertise in The Spectrum this year because there were other papers that were willing to advertise GhanaFest FOR FREE and moreover there is an increase in viewers of the council's web site so the council did not need to pay $300.00 to ANY PAPER for an advertising spot for GhanaFest 2004.
One of the papers that advertised GhanaFest for free was the Ghanaian Herald based in Atlanta. If a paper from Atlanta had advertised the event at no charge why would the council pay $300.00 to The Spectrum for advertisement? Also to state facts, there was neither a Canada-based newspaper nor a web site based in Atlanta invited to GhanaFest. The invitees were the CEO and Owner of GHANAWEB, a Ghanaian-based web site in Finland which advertises and publishes almost every GNC event for free and a Ghanaian journalist who lives in Canada and publishes the GHANAIAN TIMES. He distributed his newspaper free. These two paid their own way to the event. I realize that the council must have cut deeply into the revenue generated by The Spectrum by not advertising but the council is a non-profit organization and it would take any offers for free advertising as opposed to paying $300.00.
To answer The Spectrum's statements about publicizing Jerry Azumah in his paper, the council is all for it because the council realizes the importance of Jerry Azumah, given his Ghanaian heritage. However the Independence Anniversary Dinner was not about personalities. The editor should remember that the council invited Azumah and the executives invited him to sit at the High Table and also give a speech. He wanted no publicity but just to enjoy the dinner in obscurity. It was after much coaxing that Azumah decided to say a few words.
The Independence Anniversary organizers are all for a profile of Jerry Azumah in the African Spectrum but that was not what the event was about. The event was about Ghana's Independence Anniversary and that was the message the organizers wanted the paper to convey. In a telephone conversation I had with the editor, he claimed nothing that was said at the Independence Anniversary Dinner was newsworthy and that was the paper's excuse for profiling Jerry Azumah instead of writing about the event. Azumah is no doubt a role model, there is no question about that and the council would probably be willing to pay for profiling of Azumah but that was the WRONG TIME.
Just to enlighten the readers, The Spectrum charged the GNC $150.00 and two free Independence Anniversary Dinner tickets (a cost of $40.00 per ticket) to write about the event in the paper. Again the editor might call this sponsoring the council. It is interesting that he accuses the executives of nepotism and corruption.
There was no sale of cloth and pastries by any of the wives of the executives. If the editor had paid attention he would have heard that the Anaka Enterprises, the cloth vendor, was mentioned as one of the sponsors of GhanaFest. Anaka Enterprises has been sponsoring The Ghana National Council's events much longer than The Spectrum has been taking advantage of the council. Anaka Enterprises prepays the $300.00 for three advertisement pages in the GhanaFest Ad Book every year and an additional $300.00 as sponsors. That is what I call SPONSORSHIP when the company supports the council for nothing in return. At GhanaFest 2004 Anaka Enterprises donated a piece of cloth to the council to be used as the second prize in the GhanaFest Raffle. I think even WEBSTER would classify this SPONSORSHIP. The booth allocated to Anaka Enterprises was fully paid before the event and the purpose was to display the company's products. The pastries were sold by an independent member of the community who was going round the park with them. The editor has to remember that there were food vendors at the event so seeing that shouldn't be a surprise.
To conclude I would like to ask readers to determine which of the two, The GNC and The Spectrum, displayed small-mindedness.