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Dr SAM JONAH’S CULTURE OF SILENCE EXPOSITION: MY CRITIQUE

Following Dr Sam Jonah’s latest lecture which touched on contemporary Ghanaian media practice, there have been the usual drawing of swords and throwing of punches by people holding divergent views on the issue. As expected, government affiliates are defensive while adversaries of the system are on a jubilant offensive.

Technically, this is the exact scenario Dr Sam Jonah’s exposition sought to shed light on so that as a people, we extricated ourselves from uncompromising political partisanship and embrace progressive nationalism.

Absolutely nothing in Ghana is analyzed through intellect based on facts and figures. Every conversation on any policy initiative from archaeology to zoology is discussed on the basis of partisanship with no room for sanity and cogency.

A party communicator who chronically throws sanity out of the window and traverses the route of unbridled buffoonery just to cloud out the voice of reasoning is carried shoulder high by crassly bigotted partisan serial callers.

A Radio/TV presenter who is openly sympathetic to a given political party, calls a sitting-President by all kinds of unprintable names, instantaneously, becomes the toast of bigotted followers of the said political party.

Every journalist in Ghana, today, is overtly or covertly supportive of a political party, and this is exhibited through the skewness of their reportage. Politics has permeated every sinew of the Ghanaian societal fabric so issues are never dispassionately dissected.

When the President speaks and certain persons from the academia, CSOs, Religious fraternity, etc., one can easily predict the nature of the analysis that will ensue. Similarly, when the opposition leader speaks and others from the abovementioned identifiable groups are called upon to analyze, the obvious will ensue.

Intellectually, this state of affairs is what motivated Dr. Sam Jonah’s exposition on the nature of our Ghanaian public discourse seek to explore, and categorized this under three main areas: MEDIA, ACADEMIA, and INTELLECTUALS.

Media

Here, Dr Sam Jonah’s exposition is that “our media landscape is so polarised and partisan. There is hardly any objectivity because a lot of the media stations are owned by politicians whose interest is in swaying voters one way or the other. Independent media practice seems to have faded and journalism has become a conveyor belt for political propaganda, insults, and acrimony”.

This assertion by Dr Sam Jonah can only be controverted by a Ghanaian who has just dropped to the earth from the planet Neptune. Indeed, the media space has been taken over by journalistic charlatans whose only area of expertise is crazy noise and partisan political skullduggery, which is perfectly in line with the parochial political agendas of owners of these media houses.

How on earth would the host of a program allow a panelist who is a carpenter with no academic qualification, to denigrate a Ph.D. holder’s capacity to critically critique issues?

A host with his head properly screwed-on would have surely called such an errand twerp to order. But as expected, such bigotted pronouncement by an unrepentant buffoon was splashed on various online portals to give it more oxygen.

Dr Sam Jonah continued “what is the state of the role of the media in holding the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature accountable as the fourth estate of the realm? Is it enough to just report the issues? Where are the investigations? Where are the facts?”

Here, Dr Sam Jonah’s inquisition is about the media shirking its core mandate of providing a genuine voice to the genuine voiceless in society, and also, holding every aspect of our governing structure to proper account. He also bemoaned the media’s lack of persistence in following cases to its logical conclusions and laying bare the facts for ordinary Ghanaians.

And here, I’m in fullest of agreement with Dr Sam Jonah, in that, the media is always divided along partisan lines so issues are never tackled with the intent to holding leaders to account. Every criticism is geared towards parochial political point-scoring and not patriotism for the general good.

Academia

Dr. Sam Jonah said “when all had failed, academia was the last vanguard. We all remember the role that the Legon Observer played under the hallowed cloak of academic freedom where men and women if conscience could write and speak words that penetrated the walls of power”

Here, Dr. Sam Jonah is simply eulogizing the days when members of the academia were not just neutral but sincerely impartial with their critique of issues of national importance, unlike today, where anyone called upon to contribute to national discourse does so purely on partisan lines.

Indeed, experts from our institutions of higher learning who vociferously criticize policies of ruling governments are always rewarded with political appointments when there is a change of government, and instantaneously, begin to see absolutely nothing wrong with policies being rolled out by the benefactor appointee.

Intellectuals

Dr. Sam Jonah opines “it is sad that the voices of the intellectuals are receding into oblivion. Sadly, it is the consequences of the deep partisan politicization of our country such that everything is seen through the lenses of partisanship”.

“It appears that the culture of silence has returned but this time, NOT ENFORCED BY LEGAL AND MILITARY POWER BUT THROUGH CONVENIENCE, PARTISANSHIP, HYPOCRISY, AND LACK OF CONVICTION”.

What Dr Sam Jonah is simply saying is that there seems to be a culture of silence but it is not as a result of the government curtailing media freedoms through prosecution or persecution of journalists or ordinary citizens exercising their freedom of speech.

He is rather blaming the culture of silence on our lack of courage to be truthful in our discourse because we have clothed ourselves in our respective uncompromising political partisanship bigotry.

In all, Dr. Sam Jonah’s exposition is rather blaming the unprofessional journalism, lack of objectivity of our academia, and shameless inconsistency of intellectuals, all because of unalloyed senseless politicization of everything in Ghana.

Absolutely nowhere is Dr. Sam Jonah blaming the government for this state of affairs? As such, journalists foolishly salivating just on the headline without critiquing the entire speech, are simply giving credence to the very damming verdict passed on them by the venerable senior citizen.