“Today, I really felt pity and hurt for President John Mahama. After such a colourful ceremony, an excellent speech and a splendid display of our traditional wear by the first couple, someone managed to creatively take the shine away from him. Someone’s unimaginable indiscretion to pack journalists in a tipper truck, and the “competent” hands that edited and proofread the programme booklet ensured that the wrong reasons are trending instead of the splendour of the day.
It is as if someone is constantly setting him up for mockery. Remember at his last ECOWAS meeting as Chairman he fumbled helplessly for missing pages. A similar thing happened at the recent State of the Nation Address, when he was heard asking for some pages. But, hey, who am I to weep more than the bereaved? Those who are around him were not appointed by my grandfather”.
Those are not my cries. They are that of Mannaseh Azure Awuni. I happened to agree with him completely. Now, just in case you have not seen or read or perhaps heard, the official brochure distributed to the Kenyan President and his colleague from Guinea Bissau and their wives, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and many other senior dignitaries from Ghana, was froth with so many mistakes it embarrassed some of us from simply seeing them. As captured in the attached photos, the errors included the wrongful designation of Uhura Kenyatta as Ghana’s President to errors in grammar, spelling and the sort of mistakes you will see in the school magazine of a junior high school edited by a JSS three pupil.
To be honest I found today’s parade to be lively and very befitting of the event (yes I know the debate on its relevance won’t go away). The speeches by both Kenyatta and Mahama were on point and I particularly liked the interaction between them on one side and the opposition party leaders as very matured and a welcoming sight especially as their follows do not seem to have a reason to jump at each other. But then some people had to make sure that we discuss these other sad spectacles that came out of the Black Star Square.
Among the questions I have been asking myself since I saw some of these images have included; who in God’s name supervised the 59th Independence Day brochure? Who commissioned it? Who supervised it? Who proofread it? Sorry, who DIDN’T proofread it?
Some people will start speaking rubbish about us ‘hating’ and not focusing on the beautiful event that happened. Tell you what, people rehearsed for today and delivered. However those taking the shine away from JM and the parade are people working directly for and with the government. That brochure was as hurriedly done as though March 6th sneaked up on those who had a job to do. It was as if they lived in December 2015 and before they could scream the K in Jack, it was March, and it was March 5th so they had to do something.
This smacks of incompetence, mediocrity, laziness, carelessness, and a complete disregard for the tenets of work, common sense. That document belongs to this state. It has the emblem of the Office of the President. Let’s treat that with respect.
Some people will want to play down on this. Event organizers say the reason they invest in brochures is that they expect people to keep them and to serve as some reminder of the event.
For some occasions, even corporate entities advertise in them. I imagine President Kenyatta reading this whiles flying back home. Bright Simons gives a more elaborate reason why these errors must not be downplayed. He thinks it portrays us as an unserious country.
“It affects our national image. Which has implications for the national brand. ‘National brands’ are economically quantifiable benefits to business. There is ample evidence to show that adding ‘Swiss’ to a brand name boosts the value of the brand measurably. To the point where nowadays many companies from Switzerland simply use ‘Swiss’ as a brand tag. Case in point ‘Swatch’. When a machine maker adds the tag line, ‘German engineering’, she is harnessing the benefits of the country brand for direct corporate gain. Demonstrating to the whole world that Ghana is an ‘unserious’ country has economic consequences, whether the hapless folks in charge know it or not.”
The matter of the journalists in a tipper truck
As I said in a Facebook post, if I don’t see news stories from JOURNALISTS condemning the way some JOURNALISTS were made to cover the 59th Independence Day parade by being holed up in a parked tipper truck, I shall praise organizers for doing well in further disrespecting media practitioners. These journalists should do stories condemning this and we should see these in print, online, TV and every avenue the media has. Our media folks allow themselves to be treated any how and as long as they don’t complain and demand their due, they will always be treated like crap.
Some people assumed I was speaking about government helping private media get needed equipment. I have intimated that you don’t go to a place like this and stand wherever you want. You are told where to. The onus was on the organisers to find an appropriate location for media.
No one is asking anyone to buy any equipment. As an event organiser you create a press centre otherwise you’d have them all over the place.
After the sad photos of media using a ladder to climb into the bucket of a tipper truck, party and government people released a photo of a riser that they say was meant for media. As Manasseh Awuni says, “some are saying those in the truck are not accredited. If they are not accredited, who brought them the truck? Count the number of “journalists” and police in the “riser.” Are these the only journalists accredited to cover the ceremony? GBC reporters and crew alone at the Black Star Square are more than the people on the riser.
David Andoh of myjoyonline told me he refused to climb the truck when it came because it didn’t look safe, but some of his colleagues did. He said the truck belongs to NADMO. Or they are telling me that the truck was brought in by the journalists themselves?
To such fortified and secure venue without anyone stopping them? The movement of journalists on such occasions are restricted, and rightly so to ensure order. For security reasons and space, the media houses cannot bring their own vehicles to the Black Star Square. The organisers are those who show them where to and how to move. They can put the journalists in a more dignifying vehicle than this. Let’s confront the issue. It happens all the time and we defend it”.
Someone must come out to apologise to the President, and then to Ghanaians. Then of course to the media. This is not a small matter. It may not be a direct bread and butter issue, but it does have an effect on that. Let us not be satisfied with mediocrity.