5 November, 2010 19:20

This vendor has used jerseys from all over the world. Oh, except Ghana of course. 🙂

Is Ghana more violent or just trying to sell more newspaper?

In the past few weeks, I have noticed the Daily Graphic, “Ghana’s Biggest Selling Newspaper Since 1950” has been reporting, rather explicitly too, on violence in the country. In Friday October 29, 2010’s edition, there are two stories of murders – one on the front page “Gruesome murder in Kumasi” and the other on the back page “Mental patient kills boy, 17”. This struck me as odd, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought I remembered seeing quite a bit of gore in the Daily Graphic.

In fact, my desire to authenticate my suspicion led me to rifle through a stack of random Daily Graphic from July 2010 to date. My findings were rather disturbing (however unscientific):

October 28, 2010 –

  • “Boy, 10, drowns rescuing a sheep” – pg 1
  • “Girl stabbed to death over GHc10” – pg 64 (back page)

October 21, 2010 –

  • “Four arrested in connection with shooting of cops” – pg 64 (back page)

October 20, 2010 –

  • “Pastor’s killers remanded” – pg 1

October 14, 2010 –

  • “Five women accused of witchcraft in Tamale” – pg 64 (back page)
  • “Missing American priest murdered” – pg 64 (back page)

September 2, 2010

  • “Two farmers drown in White Volta” – pg 64 (back page)

August 18, 2010

  • “Man arrested for stabbing step-daughter” – pg 64 (back page)

August 6, 2010

  • “Father kills son, commits suicide” – pg 64 (back page)

July 28, 2010

  • “Police probe pastor’s death” – pg 1

Gruesome details aside (including limb dismemberment by a supposedly marijuana intoxicated step-son), what is going on here? Are we just trying to sell more newspapers by sensationalizing tragedy (this is nothing new) or is there really an influx of  violent activities in Ghana?

I understand the 64 page Daily Graphic (really, why?), whilst being the premier news source for most literate Ghanaians, is still a business and must ensure readership to justify its advertising rates. But this is Ghana’s New York Times or Washington Post. They too report on murders and violent crime but usually in a way that resembles journalistic integrity and standards. But I am being unfair here, I do live in an emerging market.

What bothers me is that most of these stories are poorly reported and eerie snippets that do not delve into the cause and effect of the reported incidents. There is traditionally no follow up (in any of the media outlets) and  hungry pseudo social-psychologists, such as myself, are left sorely wanting.

Why did the boy try and save the drowning goat? I thought we didn’t care about animals in Africa? What turned a twenty-one year old unemployed girl into a homicidal maniac stabbing her age mates in public over GHc10 (just under US$7) that she owed her victim? Was the step-son really on marijuana when he hacked his Belgium bound step-father into pieces? What led to his rage and violence?

I think a newspaper such as the Daily Graphic owes its audience better than these paltry pieces that should leave all readers disgusted with their lack of depth. Is this not where we can start to recognize the threats our family, friends and neighbors might potentially pose to us and work to fix them.

But who am I fooling, what recourse is there? If I identify a young child demonstrating violent tendencies, what would be the parent’s next course of action, if they even choose to act? Remember, most of these cases are about people in the lower echelons of Ghanaian society and cannot keep their stories out of the news media.

I am reminded of several news stories on Ghanaian television where victims of crimes were found in disturbing almost CSI or Criminal Minds worthy situations – the four young children who suffocated in blistering heat in an old car; and the body that was found decomposing stuffed in an old cool box in different suburbs of Accra – both wiht simialr social demographics. Both had a Criminal Investigations Department (CID) plains clothes officer at the scene giving some inane comment on air about how they would investigate the case vigorously (I must say the TV stations do make an effort to warn viewers that the scenes they are about to see might be disturbing). I hope to God that they did and found the perpetrators of those crimes. But honestly, I doubt they did – be it out of a lack of resources, training, or just plain laziness.

I can take solace in the fact that the Accra-Tema is back on track. As I write this blog, I can hear the horn of the train that runs by the Neoplan Station by the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. It is probably the same sound my grandfather heard as a young man up and about in Accra. Unconnected? Yes, but it is the headline that shares October 29, 2010’s “Gruesome murder in Kumasi” – “Rail Back On Track” I couldn’t possibly leave you on such a negative note.

Greetings from Accra

I am going to try and have fun by sharing my ideas with the great beyond. I am constantly thinking about things and feel the need to share but not necessarily with tangible entities – so, I have resorted to becoming one of the millions of people who feel they have the right to have a presence online and become relevant. But as a good friend told me recently, I am relevant and you are relevant, so we’re going to build our relevancy together. Welcome to my world and let me into yours.