When the President of Ghana ‘cut a foto’ outside the CNN HQ building, it attracted a lot of mirth and guffawing from Ghana’s media which wallowed and guffawed about a seemingly trivial act.
Alas, all that Ghana’s media did was to display its appalling ignorance of the context and history of the profession it is practising.
For me (now standard social commentator jargon), the only thing missing was to have had Ted Turner standing next to the President. Our media will still not get it because the man actually visited Ghana and ghosted through the place like a civil servant on a computerised payroll waiting to be exorcised.
Ted Turner founded CNN in 1980 to herald the start of 24-hour news on television. As always, with the largely visionless experts, it was dismissed as the madcap scheme that was doomed to fail.
Nearly 34 years on, 24-hour news TV is standard fare; BBC World; Al Jazeera; Sky News; NDTV, CCTV, CANAL FRANCE plus many more have joined. “Breaking News”; “Don’t Go Away” and the slew of smart phrases that spew out of every presenter’s mouth, together with the almost cloned structure and format global news television mimic CNN’s pioneering style and continuing leadership.
Through CNN and all of the clones that it spawned, we get to know about everything going on everywhere around the world as it happens. Our local media, radio, television and the Internet, will all be lost but for the huge amount of content that is pilfered without acknowledgement from CNN and the Global 24 News industry.
So it is that in recent years, I have been able to join in the transition from the old to the New Year from the comfort of my Accra sitting room; welcoming 2014 or the Millennium as many times as the 24-hour news channels have their cameras and reporters on locations around the world (downing a glass of champagne as the clock strikes midnight at each televised location).
Before CNN, it was Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, London /Scotland’s Hogmanay, New York and Los Angeles; even then, getting it after the fact from ordinary news casts. Now, not only do we see the old locations live, we can celebrate also with Beijing, Delhi, Dubai, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro and all of the myriads of nations that have transitioned from abject poverty and backwardness to become big players on the global economic scene.
In the time that it has taken CNN and its imitators to bring the world instantly to us, many of the countries hitherto classified by the development business as among the “Most Seriously Affected of the Least Developed Countries (MSA/LDCs)” have joined the annual spectacular display of pyrotechnics and glittering skies of sophisticated explosions of multi-colour intricacies that is the hallmark of any country which wants to hang with the big guns of the shrinking global village.
And what are we doing in Oman Ghana, whose airport is the leaking gateway to Africa? We seem not to have moved on from the hand-propelled “knockout” and “bandit“ sticks of my childhood days and before more than 60 years ago.
Indeed, and quite coincidentally, our last Mega Modern fireworks show was at Ghana@50 when we put on the full pyrotechnics in Accra and every regional capital. Alas, even these few occasions of the state-of-the-art fireworks displays were made possible by the engagement of foreign igniters, As with everything else now, Africa’s last nation to gain self-rule made it possible for the first to ‘celebrate a golden jubilee of reverse gearing.
The God of Abraham and the three great religions that dominate our world in worship and conflict is said to have created man (plus woman to be PC) in His own image. The Good Book did not give the descriptor of white to the species. Every shade of colour, race and ethnicity was made in His image. My recollection of the teachings also talks about “not reaping where you have not sewn”.
My take; Our success on planet earth will come from how successfully we deploy our God-given talents to mould the elements and the natural resources of planet earth to lift our people up, and in so doing, manifest the power and the glory of God on earth, via the increasingly sophisticated pyrotechnics that literally light up the heavens as the old year fades, giving way to the new.
That is what those who brought the faiths to us are doing. And instead of aiming for the same, we have indigenised and reduced it all to the expectation that the Maker will take every decision concerning our lives for the everyday that we live. Our practice of the dawn of a New Year has been reduced to “Crossovers”, “Passovers”, “Pushovers”, and “Handovers” and for a few “Hangovers”. We seem not to be able to nor indeed want to cut our umbilical cords from the Maker and trust in the equal skills that He avowedly endowed to all people of all races.
While we deepen our total dependency and expectation on “manna dropping from heaven,” those who convinced us Ghanaians and Africans that we needed to be born again and the multitudes from similarly savage nations who also saw the light, now glorify the Maker’s wondrous gifts through the innovations and interventions of modern technology. The irony of us using Smartphone and “WhatsApp” to deepen the unrelenting intercessory requests to the Maker to kill our hunger instantly, alas “neat fufu”
And yet we have no shame or modesty. Rather, what we now see is that many of those urging us to look to our Maker for our daily bread have managed to reap the rewards of the increasingly ‘obese pyrotechnic plenty’ by assuming the earthly transfiguration of the One who asserted confidently that “ No one cometh unto the Father but by me”.
Remember, He made us in His image, not a perfect clone of Himself. So no earthly man has the right to assume the position of the gatekeeper to the Maker. Peddling salvation and the notion our Maker will continue to direct the development of our persons and our nation is not the answer we should seek from our incessant badgering of our Maker.
We the people of Ghana, Christian, Muslim, Jews, Baha’is, Traditionalists or whatever faith we hold and practice, must come to accept the underlying premise of all faiths; that while we are here on earth, our Maker will help the people of those nations who use many talents imbued in us to till the land and reap the rich harvest that will improve our lives on earth.
Unless we do so, we will continue the despair and desolate loneliness of seeing the New Year via the very primitive platforms of ‘knockouts’ and ‘bandits. And we will never be able to show the thanks and praise due our Maker through the spectacular fireworks displays that usher in the New Year.
Let Accra welcome our 60th year as Oman Ghana with a fireworks display put together by our own hands, keeping our eyes festooned on the heavenly showers of technicolor as we give praise and glory that Ghana has finally earned its invitation to join the global development celebrations.
The writer is a Chief Policy Analyst at the Ghana Institute for Public Policy Options, (GIPPO)