Ms Elizabeth Ohene

Veteran journalist Elizabeth Ohene has observed that Ghanaians are suffering from culture of noise in the country.

She said contrary to claims by business mogul Sam Jonah that the country is slowly drifting into a “culture of silence”, the opposite is true.

Ms Ohene, who became the first woman in Africa to edit a major national daily, Daily Graphic in 1979 and a prolific writer stated this in her latest article titled, “Culture of Noise”.

According to her, Ghana, in the past few years, has been hit with a barrage of cacophony on national airwaves “so much so we can’t hear one another.”

 “The people of Ghana have taken President Akufo-Addo at his word that they should be active citizens and everyone has something to say on everything. Everyone seems convinced he is right and has the answer to our problems,” the former Deputy Editor of BBC’s African Service for English daily programmes stated. 

This, Ms Ohene noted, has fueled intolerance not just from the political class, but also from the average Ghanaian who engages in public discourse.

“Those who see themselves as experts are far more intolerant of being challenged than anybody else,” she stated.

She added that both the government and the general public have a right to challenge views that oppose theirs, and in the process of government challenging a view that dissents from their own held views, it shouldn’t be tagged as perpetuating a culture of silence.

“Who says that journalists cannot get things wrong? Who says CSOs don’t have their own interests that they seek to protect and who says they are always right? Who says academics cannot get things wrong and why should challenging them be seen as intolerance?

“Why should it be that those in government or in Parliament or members of the judiciary can get things wrong and be told as much but if you disagree with their critics, then you are intolerant? Ms Ohene added.

The former minister of state under the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration maintained that Sam Jonah’s claims of a culture of silence creeping back are unfounded.

“I suggest the problem we have is that there is too much noise,” she concluded.

Ms Ohene’s comments were apparently in reaction to a speech delivered by Sam Jonah at a Rotary Club event in Accra where he stated that journalists, academics among others, were suffering from self-imposed culture of silence as government supporters were critical of their dissenting views.

Sam Jonah had stated that the pervading silence was as a result “of the deep partisan polarisation of our country such that everything is seen through the lenses of politics.

“It appears to me that the culture of silence has returned. This time not enforced by legal and military power but through convenience, parochialism, hypocrisy and lack of conviction. Where are our Adu Boahens and PV ANSAHs?”