Happy 70th Anniversary, GJA

Seventy years in the life of every institution or organisation represent significant feat, success and brings about bountiful happiness.

Such is the joy and excitement that greeted the 70th Anniversary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) which was celebrated yesterday in Accra.

Initially christened “Africa Press Association”, the institution birthed on August 15, 1949, has transitioned through different identities such as the “Ghana Press Club”, “Association of Journalists and Writers”, to its present name, the GJA.

Although, the Association has every reason to be happy, she would be the first to admit that the road to the ‘top’ has not been a smooth one. It is one that has been fraught with intense oppression against the media from past dictatorial and oppressive governments leading to the prosecution and detention of journalists who dared to give a voice to the voiceless.

A number of journalists faced the wrath of those regimes and made the work of the Association very difficult.

The year 2001, however, turned out to be a watershed-a turning point that would remain indelible in the minds and heart of Ghanaians, as the then President, John Agyekum Kufuor, repealed the criminal libel law, which sought to suppress the development of media freedom and practice in Ghana.

 “Set free, I have no doubt that our media will play their honourable role with a heightened sense of responsibility,” he then said, in his maiden State of the Nation Address to Parliament.

The add-on, “we shall expand the boundaries of freedom of speech by repealing that law which criminalises speech and expression,” was just what the forbears of media freedom in the country had put their life on the line for.

Fast forward to 2019, under the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the much-awaited Right To Information (RTI) Bill, was passed into law to help journalists demand accountability and transparency from duty bearers.

Within these years, the media has benefitted from the exploits of prolific journalists who risked their lives to demand media freedom while contributing to build the foundation and shape the national and international profile of the GJA.

The Ghanaian Times would have preferred to name all of them but the list is endless, so we say ‘Ayekoo’ for their hard work and professionalism.

The GJA and the media in general deserve tonnes of commendation for their role in consolidating Ghana democracy.

While commending government and other social partners for supporting the GJA to push the frontiers of the Ghanaian media landscape, we cannot overlook the recent hike in attacks against media freedom.

As a lead advocacy and democratic organisation, we call on government to intensify its collaboration with the GJA in ensuring the safety and security of journalists in Ghana.

The GJA should in turn prioritise the welfare and training of journalists to promote professionalism and increase public confidence in the media.

 The media cannot thrive without the support of the public. We, therefore, call for collaboration in this regard as we work toward addressing our developmental challenges.

Long live GJA! Long live Ghana! Long live media freedom!

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