Freedom is Corruption?

Every week in Ghana, the headlines spew out new incredulous accusations of corruption. It is millions of Ghana cedis disappearing, or millions of Ghana cedis disappearing BUT found out and STILL NOT being payed back, inflated contracts being awarded, and after the painful truth about the Ghanaian justice system, this week we got it black on white even educational institutions are not following procedure. On top of this mess – that on some level also is positive as the rot is being reported on – I find it shocking that with each new topic, people around me say “but of course, this is how it has been since when I was a young…”

How does one cope on a personal level with all of this?

I have to say: I don’t know. I think do not cope very well! I get so angry and disturbed I cannot focus on much else on many days. I tweet, blog, and rant. I make plans to leave, I take deep breaths, and I laugh about it all. I try to balance the impressions.

I say to myself: Ghana is a country that does not meddle so much with citizens lives, I can more or less build what ever I want anywhere, drive at whatever speed I prefer on whatever side of the road, do whatever I like whether a street party or a business venture. But then again, this freedom is not as fun as it sounds. Even to a Swede coming from a cold, almost excessively state controlled environment. Mostly, this freedom seems it is just a freedom to be corrupt? To walk on others to get ahead? To overcharge and connive? To say “but madam, who will catch you?”* To destroy and walk off?

In the Ghanaian blogging community we have discussed when a tipping point will come for Ghana, if at all. Is it more likely with each big reveal? Or is it less? I get royally annoyed with those around me who say things like “well, this is Ghana” or “lets pray over it” or  “It will never change” or “getting annoyed doesn’t solve anything”. But sometimes, I also understand. It all seems so big and nebulous, like a monster we have to learn to live with.

Ghana’s leading investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, recently urged journalists to do more with the freedom we have here in Ghana:

“I think that when you look at the press freedom index Ghana scores very high. Ghana is not a place where you speak and somebody will clamp down on your rights. But now the issue is not about the rights but rather what we the journalists ought to do with that right.”

It is somehow so ironic that we all admire Anas, troop in our thousands to watch his reveals, but then that is it. People are not inspired to join the lone man’s struggle with the dragon?

Recently, someone told me a story of how a relative was in trouble with the law and payed something to a person at the municipal court to walk free. The twist to the story was that person in power accepting a bribe to drop the case now holds a higher position in the national government. We all look on, we all know, but who acts?

 

*Migration officer in uniform told me this when I was not given a three-year residence permit without the right to work.

This post is part of my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Friday

 

 

ECG Corruption Revealed by Anas Aremeyaw: The Reactions on Twitter

Ghana’s favorite (and only?) investigative journalist has done it again – revealing excessive corruption where the general public had a hunch something was fishy. Last time it was the Ports and Harbors (GHAPOHA). This time the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has been monitored over 8 months as Anas Aremeyaw took up work with the company. And what stories!

This morning, as radio station JoyFM carried Anas Aremeyaw’s story, I was first alone to be tweeting on it, but soon the Ghanaian Twitterverse exploded. I’d like to share some of the comments with you here (with a little help from widget BlackBirdPie):

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/kajsaha/status/161355926832562176″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/nautyinaccra/status/161368470578139136″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Ghanareporters/status/161371755976474624″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/SorayaSpeaks/status/161392936909668352″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/oBiii/status/161393883480207360″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/manifestive/status/161388592063713280″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/kinnareads/status/161385070756757504″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/grahamk5/status/161391241840431104″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MacJordaN/status/161389414247972864″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Joselyn_Dumas/status/161392577919205376″]

In Ghana, Twitter is quickly gaining ground. I believe social media can be highly useful to create momentum around a topic such as this, as many tweets or short posts, apart from showing the people of Ghana’s rage, also came with suggestions on how to move forward and who to hold accountable.

 

 

Anas Aremeyaw Anas: Interview with Investigative Journalist

Today is aptly a holiday as Labor day this year fell on a Sunday and in Ghana that doesn’t count – a holiday has to come with a weekday off – so here we go. Lazily surfing about on blog Africa Unchained, I came across this interesting article published in The Atlantic about award winning investigative journalist Anas Ameyaw Anas.

Anas was the one to expose the ill-conditions for children at the Osu Childrens’ Home, the bribes at Ghana Customs and some other high profile scandals. The article with the suggestive heading “Smuggler, Forger, Writer, Spy” outlines Anas sometimes risky methods and his background  – he is a lawyer, so draws on his knowledge to produce evidence that will hold in court! It also discusses the problematic aspect of Anas now running a for-profit investigative bureau, Tiger Eye.

Nicholas Schmidle writes in The Atlantic:

The demand for Anas’s services soon outstripped his capacity at the newspaper. Some of the requests he received for investigations didn’t quite qualify as journalism. So last year Anas created a private investigative agency called Tiger Eye. He rents an unmarked space across town on the top floor of a four-story building where a handful of his newspaper’s best reporters work alongside several Tiger Eye employees. It’s difficult to know where one operation ends and the other begins. But they’re all part of Anas’s investigative fiefdom. The work space is divided into two sections: a war room of sorts, with a bank of computers against one wall and a wide table in the middle where the team hammers out strategy; and Anas’s office, decorated with framed awards, oversize checks (including one for $11,700 for Journalist of the Year), and snapshots of himself in disguise. Anas appeared uneasy when I asked him about Tiger Eye, partly because he realizes that its commercial aspect puts him in ethically dangerous territory. Yet it also constitutes a major source of the budget he relies on for long-term newspaper assignments. During the two weeks I spent with him in January, Anas fielded calls from the BBC and 60 Minutes, as well as private security companies, asking if he could conduct investigations for them. All offered generous compensation.

An issue that is not explicitly discussed, but can be read between the lines, is how lonely Anas is at his post.

Do we really just have one investigative journalist in Ghana?

If you have time off this Monday, I recommend you read Schmidle’s well-written article in full!

 

Arise: Africa’s Change Makers – A Fab List

I must say I dig magazine Arise’s list of changemakers in Ghana. It is refreshingly young (“sub-35”) and I have heard all the names before, albeit not gathered like this.

On the list you find  musician Wanlov the Kubolor, techie inventor Bright Simmons, journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and my good friend  feminist activist Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah.

Read the details here.

I believe are many more changemakers in this category, who would you like to add?