Overhead in transit

A section of the Kasoa interchange

A section of the Kasoa interchange

Coming back to Ghana after a year or two is one of the most stimulating things that can happen to some of us.

As one brought up in what one “Good Old Gold Coaster ” calls the “BBC” years (that is, “born before computers”), I am for ever “working arithmetic” over Ghana (meebu Ghana ho akonta.)

How far has Ghana come since the American writer, David Apter, described it as “The Gold Coast In Transition”?

We’ve certainly left the “transit lounge” for quite a while now. But did we board the right flight for our preferred destination?

In order to find out, I try to find out whether this country would serve as a nice holiday spot for those of our countrymen and women who have dollars to expend here to help with our balance of payments.

“Go to Till’s Beach Hotel” someone suggests.

Till’s turns out to be a lovely beach resort at Gomoa Fetteh, about one and a half hours to the West of Accra. It is set on a hill that slopes gently down well-kept green lawns to an amazing, secluded beach with clean sand.

One can lie on a lounge chair for hours on the each, watching the waves in action. The water is rough, as can be expected in most parts of the Atlantic Ocean. But as rough goes, this is restrained roughness. It’s lovely.

We ordered coconuts – I hadn’t tasted coconut milk that was so sweet for a long time. The coconut also proved to be just the right age – so soft I could eat the stuff with my bare fingers.

The resort offers guests a choice of 3 room types in 17 rooms, with meeting facilities; two restaurants (one on the beach-side); a beach-side bar; summer huts, and a patch of ground for “mini golf.”

The food was extremely good and the service marvellous. (I had lobster thermidor and sauté potatoes and it was absolutely fresh and delicious. None of your tinned stuff!).

I couldn’t believe that so close to the hurly-burly of Accra, lies a place that could easily be taken for a Caribbean hideout. It wasn’t crowded, either – nice though it was.

We’d been there for just over three hours when the horizon darkened with clouds: a storm was brewing.

It was an intriguing site – the dark clouds formed a line that looked as if someone had deliberately stretched a huge greyish-black tarpaulin in the sky above the water. What a sight. And it kept moving!

I wanted to stay and watch the clouds dissolve into water and fall back into the sea – water-to-cloud-back-to-water: what a display by Mother Nature.

But the road to the place, although made of tarmac, has seen better days, and we didn’t want to risk driving over pot-holes that had been rendered invisible by pools of water.

 

ANTICIPATION

 

So we took our leave earlier than we had anticipated, in order to beat the rain at its own game. But I shall be back at Till’s, and next time, I shall read the weather forecast before I leave.

The road from Accra to Gomoa Fetteh wasn’t too bad, but, of course, we had to go past unspeakable Kasoa. When will it be finished?

Why didn’t the road-builders make a nice detour through a specially-created relief-road?

Why do our road-builders seem always to throw out the professional wisdom on road-building an embark on “eccentric” concepts that inflict hardship on the people the roads are meant to serve?

From Accra to Kasoa is now almost all built-up. Yet, hawkers are allowed to crowd their wares perilously close to the road.

And when they and their customers want to cross the road to the other side, they run risks that would make the person who invented the riddle “Why did the chicken cross the road?” congratulate himself on being a genius.

There are only a few markings on what is a very busy highway. There are no overhead bridges to serve as crossing points; neither are there any crossing assistants, or the people known in the UK as “lollipop” men and women, holding up signs to stop vehicles in order to allow to cross the road safely. So, how do the Highways personnel expect people to cross the road?

It is obvious, from the enormous number of hawkers and their customers, that there is an URGENT DEMAND for a safe system of road-designing.

As things stand, every time, people try to cross the road to the other side, they have to take their courage into their hands. And careful drivers also have to endure the tension of having their hearts in their mouths all the time. They have to wonder: when will someone cross the road on my blind side?

I have to appeal, once again, to the journalistic community in Ghana not to co-operate with the people who want to turn Ghana into a haven for peddlers of all manner of superstitious nonsense.

Now, journalists cannot control what the Bishop Obinims of this world will say in order to attract the weak-minded, the desperate and the fearful to bring their troubles to them.

But journalists are those who provide these quacks with the “oxygen of publicity”, without which their inanities would not be able to go beyond the four walls of their churches.

How can it be “news” for any journalist – and I include editors, who publish what their reporters proffer as “news” – regard a political forecast by a so-called priest as “news”? Or the prediction of a so-called priest that a calamity might befall a nation?

You see, these priests and prophets deal in what is generally experienced by all human beings.

Death.

Illness.

Poverty.

Love.

Hatred.

Envy.

Fear.

Any human being with experience of the lot of other human beings can find a whole lot of things to say by any of these subjects. But they are his or her opinions, and the rest of humanity should not be troubled with them. What the rest of humanity expects of journalists is to give them facts, and to discuss such facts with knowledge and deep understanding. No-one wants in his newspaper or on his other media, the illusory outpourings of deranged brains.

Those who want that know where to go to get it. The rest of humanity must not be forcibly subjected to religious advertisements masquerading as “news”.

The reason why religious advertisements must not be allowed to masquerade as

“news” is that the consumers of media products are basically sitting ducks who cannot express their views on a media products once they have bought it or tuned into it.

Of course, they can ultimately sanction the media products by either refusing to buy it (if it’s a newspaper) or not tuning into it (if it’s radio or TV).

But in the mean time, their morality, or their mental state, or their own personal beliefs, might have been injured just because they have opened a newspaper or tuned into the electronic media.

 

INFLUENCE

 

It is because of this influence that the media can exert on people who do not have a choice that editors observe self-restraining principles, generally grouped under the concept, ethics of the journalistic profession. Under these ethics, media personnel may not create panic among members of the public.

They must not deliberately deceive the public by publishing ”news” that can be easily ascertained to be false; nor should media personnel “mislead” the pubic by distorting the statements of other people, especially those in the forefront of politics, business or social life.

That is a tall order, I know, but people who call themselves journalists must realise that they have to abide by these rules that have been evolved from centuries of media experience, or get out of the profession.

After all, no-one forces any person to become a journalist! The Ghana Journalists Association should hold regular seminars at which these subjects are discussed. One gets the impression that the Association is currently known more for its “award” ceremonies than the actual nitty-gritty journalism it imparts to its members.

Yet journalism, more than any other profession, is known almost entirely through its output! Even doctors can “bury” their mistakes. But where does one hide a journalistic error?

Cameron Duodu

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