I wake up every day and speak to myself and the question I ask is ,who watches over the media.? In my country Ghana , I always hear people saying that, the media is the fourth estate of the realm.
The media claims to hold a very sensitive power, as result of its influential work. History recalls that, the media in Ghana served as an opposition in parliament after the 1992 election. The then opposition party , decided not to go to parliament. The media, which I know its purpose is to entertain, educate and inform the public is now delving into different functions, rather than its main responsibility. Are the main functions of the media, the same functions we know? Is the media really living up to task?
To set the ball rolling, I sometimes try to study how the electronic media emerged in Ghana, during the era of the then Governor, Sir Arnold Hudson in 1935. After some decades, our former heads of state and presidents, have all helped in the introduction of television which the late, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah first introduced. I always find different answers to some research I usually undertake, concerning the media of this present day being entirely different from Nkrumah’s media. It might seem that, I may not get answers to these researches I make but certainly, there are answers to my research. This is because there would be critics attributed to the change in the world and the growth of technology.
Again, I compare the functions of the current media to that of the media in the past decades : do the foreign media operate the same way as the media in Ghana?. Do western media concentrate on African culture to promote it? Spending much hours on a foreign movie without seeing any African or African culture been portrayed in the movie, sets me in a sad mood. A foreign station would only portray African culture by showing the wrong happenings in Africa. Some of these wrong happenings are wars, economic hardships, etc. Being in this sad mood, I only switch off my television set and take a deep breath, I then ask myself, “Are these all what the foreign media can show about Africans?” I then imagine what the rest of the world will actually envisage about the African continent.
I therefore conclude that, foreign media produce African representations just to tarnish the image and culture of Africa. What do the media in Ghana do? The media in Ghana are performing otherwise. In Ghana, 90percent of the media content is being diluted with foreign contents as compared to that of the African. Has the media ever thought of the effect this foreign dominance causes? The media by so doing generate a great harm to the society; as they turn to portray foreign cultures rather than African culture in Ghana.
The media (television stations) in Ghana now promote foreign products such as telenovella foreign movies, etc. I always feel the media in Ghana have failed, when it comes to promoting the Ghanaian culture and the African as a whole, both material and non-material. I believe the media is a strong agent of socialization – media transfer the values, traditions and norms of the society to the youth or younger ones. Officials of a media house I had an encounter with told me what they portray is solely entertainment. Talking of telenovella’s, I believe it constitutes entertainment which consumes much time of the primary and junior high schools students. Most students of our basic schools end up copying acts they see in these foreign movies.
These telenovellas have taken over our local movies, telenovellas then turn students to discuss what they see in them but rather not what they learn in school with their colleagues. Its sometimes pathetic to find out how young children and even some of the youth, know every single character and happening in these telenovellas but have no idea of the Ghanaian culture or African culture. I will therefore blame the media (television), for cultivating such intentions into the youth, rather than cultivating the Ghanaian culture into their minds. Again how many television stations do telecast the National Science and Maths Quiz? Television stations telecast telenovellas rather than educative programs that will propagate intelligence into the minds of the young ones.
I don’t think the media can operate, when society does not approve of their operation. The media in Ghana is fizzling out the fight; our culture which shows our identity is now disvalued, rather, foreign culture is being promoted in our local circles. Ghanaians don’t recognize the values and have no respect for their culture. This is all as a result of the media not promoting the culture of Ghana and Africa as a whole. This therefore is having an effect on us perniciously and its eating us up even when we get to our grave. It it high time the media in Ghana woke up and stood up for the Ghanaian and African culture as a whole.
JOSEPH OPOKU MENSAH
GHANA INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISM