The lecture presented by Dr. Sam Jonah was full of wisdom and I think the government will note the aspects that sound positive.
He however, referred the country to “the culture of silence” which I disagree with him and urge him to come again to prove it.
Sam Jonah, an expert in mining, has been the most successful CEO in Ghana. He is an advocate of anti foreign control of national assets. I recall his last major contribution as CEO of Ashanti Gold was to sell it to Anglogold only for Obuasi to collapse within a decade for NPP to revive it in 2018.
It is necessary to digest the issue of culture of silence and situate it appropriately.
“Culture of silence” was first used by Professor Adu Boahen to describe the political situation in Ghana and, in particular, the absence of freedom of expression during a defiant lecture at the British council hall in Accra in 1987.
During that era, there was only state media fully controlled by the government: GBC Radio with two shortwave channels and GBC TV. The only print media were Ghanaian Times, Graphic, The Mirror, Spectator, and then GNA.
None of these could broadcast or publish anti-PNDC news.
Ghanaians tuned in to BBC or read West Africa magazine published in London for news critical of the government.
Political newspapers were banned. Only two types of newspapers were allowed. These were sports and lotto forecasting. Freddy Blay’s Daily Guide of today started off as Sports Guide. Even when political newspapers were later allowed, publishers had to apply for licenses from the Ministry of Information. Without a government license one could not publish a newspaper. A number of journalists and publishers were refused licenses.
In some instances, journalists were jailed sometimes for a year or more without trial for asking questions or making comments critical of the government at press conferences.
Citizens and journalists who tried to organize protests or express views that differed from those of the government were rounded up and thrown into prison. These included Tommy Thompson, John Kugblenu, Kweku Baako, Ben Ephson, Kwesi Pratt, Akoto Ampaw, Kwame Karikari and many more. Dozens of people disappeared for opposing the government. Kwesi Pratt used to keep count and put the number of people missing and presumed murdered by the PNDC regime at a minimum of 200.
It is this atmosphere in which Ghanaians lived, that Prof Adu Boahen of the NPP described as a “Culture of Silence”. That culture was created by the PNDC which grew into NDC.
Can one compare that culture of silence to the situation that we have today? Media freedom, freedom of information and the likes?
Mr. Jonah seem not to have really understood the phrase he used well. He might have seen it in the encyclopedia or may have borrowed from Prof. Adu Boahen without having a full grasp of its details.
He is free to criticize the government but failed to situate his phrase in the right contest. This country has well been managed by the president even under COVID-19 and the phrase “culture of silence” has no space in politics of today.
Dr. Sam Jonah please come again.