GHANA’S 63RD INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY AND THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN THE NATION’S DEVELOPMENT –
Great as Ghana has been in liberating herself from colonial rule, it still has records of checkered history as a nation that has experienced the good, bad and the ugly. Ghana has come this far, perhaps not the best of heights though, but there are obvious developmental successes’ stability of democracy at least within the past 26 years is an enviable feat.
Within the last 26 years, the nation has seen a successful and peaceful transfer of political power from one party to the other. These and others are no doubt, have been possible by the massive contribution of the media. This is to say, Ghana’s democracy; economy, peace and unity as well as social development have come this far by riding on the wings of the media.
The media undoubtedly has played an enormous role in propelling the nation into where it is today. Like the media around the globe, the Ghanaian media has been the reflection of society and also portrayed what and how society performs. This is because it has been the major means or medium through which information is shared among the citizenry. It has also provided the much-needed public sphere for national discourse, growth and development.
The media in Ghana has been at the forefront of national development even before independence. History has it that, the first President of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, in pursuit of his vision used the media to influence and whip up the interest and enthusiasm of the people to fight for the liberation of the country from colonialism.
Colonial Governors before Ghana’s independence, had established newspapers whiles radio was also introduced on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of King George V, the head of the British Empire for disseminating information to the people to persuade them to support their policies and programs. Just before Ghana’s independence, that is, in the heat of the struggle, Dr. Nkrumah took a bold step to establish the Accra Evening News, which was primarily used for the objectives of the struggle for independence with its focus on “self-government now”, unleashing philosophical attacks against the colonial rule and demanding also the political rights for the populace.
The post-independence era saw Dr. Nkrumah establishing strong media institutions including the Ministry of Information, Ghana News Agency and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, for use as propaganda tools for national unity and development. He also established the Ghana Institute of Journalism in 1959 for the training of journalists in the country, the first of its kind on the African continent.
He perceived media as a tool for the executive in gaining total authority and power of information and therefore became very much interested in the use of these institutions. The media in Ghana in its quest to execute its mandate was faced with some fierce opposition and persecution. Perhaps the most difficult times for the media was during the era of the Provisional National Defence Council, when some private media houses were forced to close down.
Nevertheless, in certain periods of history, the media enjoyed some favourable executive relationship. For example, The National Liberation Council, reintroduced newspapers in the country. The Busia’s Progress Party government also repealed the Newspaper Licensing Act while The Peoples’ National Party government of Dr. Hilla Limann established an Independent Press Council all to help enhance media activities in the country.
The true freedom and extensive vibrancy of the media really occurred when in May 1994 Radio Eye was closed down. This raised so much concern around the globe, compelling the then government to have a second look at media freedom. This paved the way for the establishment of radio stations in the country.
The Ghanaian media have been at the forefront of almost all national crusades such as war against indiscipline, illegal mining, road traffic accidents, diseases, corruption, sanitation, Political Vigilantism and Electoral Violence’ among many others.
This year, for instance, the Ghana Journalists Association, GJA the frontline association of Ghanaian journalists, is feverishly working towards peaceful election coverage. “The 2020 election project will draw on the recent legislation on political Vigilantism and work with key stakeholders to campaign against political vigilantism and electoral violence”.
Concerns such as unnecessary sensationalism, fake news, strict professionalism and absolute adherence of the ethics of the profession as well as political communication must be seriously looked at and all errors corrected. As we mark Ghana’s heritage month and the 63rd anniversary of the country it is important to commend the media for their contribution to national development.
BY NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT.