Elizabeth Ohene rebukes African media for low reportage on Togo crisis

Elizabeth Ohene

Ms Elizabeth Ohene, a writer, journalist and communicator, has rebuked African media for their low reportage on the ongoing political crisis in Togo.

“Next door in Togo there has been a major political upheaval ongoing for many weeks now. You wouldn’t know this if you only watched or listened to our television and radio stations or read our newspapers. And they are our next door neighbours,” Ms Ohene said at the opening of opening of the Second Biennial Conference of the African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA) in Accra.

“The African story is, therefore, left largely to be told often by non-Africans and then we complain,” she said.

The three-day conference being held under the theme: “African Studies and Global Politics,” is being attended by over 260 participants from across the globe, with 142 of them coming from Africa.

ASAA was established in 2013 during the climax of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, to promote Africa’s own specific contributions to the advancement of knowledge about the peoples and cultures of Africa and the Diaspora. 

The ASAA is currently the only multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary professional association on the continent dedicated to the study of Africa from an Africanist perspective, what Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, referred to as studying our societies and experiences in an African-centred way.

Speaking on the topic “African Studies – Writing The Daily History”, Ms Ohene said she had spent most of her life reporting from or about various parts of Africa. 

“Take any newspaper or any FM station or television station and you are likely to get different versions of what you saw with your own two eyes or heard with your ears the previous day,” she said. 

She said throughout the years, when it comes to the reporting of the African continent, there had always been a feeling that it was portrayed unfairly by the animal called ‘the Western media’. 

Ms Ohene said: “I have always held the view, even during the time that I worked for the BBC, part of that Western media, that it does not really matter what the foreign media says about Africa. It is far, far more important what Africa says about itself.”

She said “I am suggesting that the definitions that we have given ourselves make our participation on the global stage cumbersome”. 

“It is crowded on the global political stage and if you position yourself to be called to provide the interlude, you can hardly complain when you don’t feature on the main agenda.” 

Ms Ohene, who was a former Minister of State under former President John Agyekum Kufuor, said there appears to be an unspoken agreement that the reporting and chronicling of our everyday affairs were not serious undertakings and can be left to entertainers and journalists. 

She said the academics and intellectuals fancy themselves as dealing only with the “serious” business of the study and history of our affairs. 

“You are experts and you know every angle of the history and facts about Africa. You are recognized as such by your colleagues and contemporaries around the world. I wonder why you don’t want to take an active interest in the daily writing and rewriting of our history,” she said. 

“It is, after all, today’s newspaper and radio headlines that you will be teaching us African Studies in 30 years,” Ms Ohene said.

Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Founding Vice President, ASAA, said the organisation was committed to providing a space where Africanists could formally collaborate to engage in the important work of reflecting on and proposing concrete responses to the global African condition.

“The work we do as professionals Africanists must impact our communities,” Prof Adomako Ampofo said.

Nana Kobina Nketsia V, The Paramount Chief of the Essikado Traditional Area, said African Studies had been ongoing since the existence of Africa.

Source: GNA 

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