Ghanaians Must Cherish The Free Press – Former Foreign Minister Hanna Tetteh
By Maxwell Nkansah
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, Hanna Tetteh has called on Ghanaians to cherish the free press in the oil-producing West African country.
The former Foreign Affairs Minister under the Mahama administration said in a tweet that news and comments from the many TV, radio and online platforms as well as individuals, reflect how Ghanaians just love to debate everything.
It is unclear the context in which she made this tweet however it comes at the period where there is an ongoing debate on whether or not there is culture of silence in Ghana.
She said we must cherish our Free Press because it gives us all the news and leaves us to draw our conclusions. According to her Ghanaians are heavily divided on whether or not there is culture of silence in the country. Whereas some believe it exists in different forms, other also think otherwise. A Lecturer at the Political Science Department at the University of Ghana Professor Ransford Gyampo, refuted claims that there is a culture of silence in the country. He said, where he sits as a political scientist and a citizen within the military regime of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) in Ghana, he cannot agree that there is such a culture in the country.
Dr Gyampo stated that the culture of silence as he knew it under the erstwhile military regime, when one makes any critical comments against the government, he or she will be picked up, brutalized, vanish and even murdered but in the current regime he and countless others are still speaking their minds without fear.
Hence, for fear of being picked up, brutalized, vanished and even be murdered for being vocal against the erstwhile PNDC regime, a lot of people adopted the mute approach by not speaking their minds when their freedom and lives were at stake, which induced the culture of silence in the country.
He however said that, since you are being vocal and critical against somebody, it is a natural reaction to be intimidated or heavily responded to by such individuals. That cannot suffice to be classified as a culture of silence in the right sense of the term.
Odododiodio lawmaker, Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye said there is culture of silence in Ghana under the Akufo-Addo administration. In his view, people are unable to express themselves freely without being insulted or attacked. This situation, he said, smacks of the culture of silence comment that was recently made by businessman Sam Jonah.
According him the cultures of silence really exist in Ghana and you don’t need anyone to tell you. Today, you go on radio stations to speak and you are afraid for your life. “Journalists have been beaten and attacked for doing their work. Caleb Kudah of Citi FM was attacked, what has happened to the killers of Ahmed Suale? A Graphic reported was also attacked recently so you don’t need anyone to tell you there is culture of silence in Ghana.”
He added “Today people who used to go to Sam Jonah to seek knowledge are now sitting on radio insulting him because he has said the obvious truth.”
A former AngloGold Ashanti boss, Sam Jonah KBE ignited this debate at a Rotary Club function. Mr. Sam Jonah said “What is baffling is that those who used to have voices on these things seem to have lost their voices. People speak on issues based on who is in power.
He said in their deafening silence suggesting that they are no longer concerned about issues that they complained about not too long ago, particularly when those issues persist.