The culture of silence debate continues to rage following a trigger that was contained in a recent speech “Down the Up Escalator,” by Sam Jonah KBE.
Politicians, media personalities and ordinary Ghanaians have added their voices to whether or not Mr Jonah’s claims are valid
For UTV journalist Afia Pokuaa, popularly referred to as Vim Lady, the culture of silence was a reality and had mutated from the days when the military rounded up opponents of government for speaking out, to being insulted by party activists for expressing an opinion even for stating facts.
GhanaWeb monitored comments she made on the Saturday, May 1, 2021, version of her news analysis programme, Critical Issues, on UTV, where she stressed that even getting people to speak on key national issues had become a problem because experts and even some politicians preferred to be silent than expose themselves to insults by party activists.
“Prof Addai, Otumfuor Osei Tutu, the Okyehene have all been subjected to abuse for expressing their views on national issues. You invite knowledgeable Ghanaians to come to your program to help educate the general public on critical issues but they refuse the invitation.
“If you ask why, they say NDC and NPP footsoldiers will attack you. We have abused people till nobody wants to serve Ghana. We will eventually have to deal with the worse of both the NPP and NDC,” she stressed.
She continued: “It is difficult to get guests on a show, you invite an MP and he says, sorry but he is going to the constituency, he won’t come. They do not see why they should come. Because when they come to share ideas and views, small boys and girls will sharpen their mouths like Anopheles mosquitoes and rain abuse on them.
“Culture of silence is not the Rawlings-era when you talk and are arrested as was meted out to Kweku Baako and Haruna Atta. The culture of silence has now migrated to another form where they shut you up and insult you. That is the culture of silence we are talking about,” she added.
According to her, no one was immune to such insults despite a fine history under the fourth republic where politicians, media and students dared even the Rawlings administration in its early civilian days.
She disclosed that she was taking a stance of being quiet over issues in order to escape insults that she receives especially on social media.
What Sam Jonah said about the Culture of Silence
In the past, when all had failed, academia was the last vanguard. We all remember the role that the Legon Observer played. Under the hallowed cloak of academic freedom, men and women of conscience could write and speak words that penetrated the halls of power.
It appears to me that in recent times in our fourth Republican dispensation, the courage to stand up for the truth and the determination to uphold the common good are lost.
In our dark moments as a nation, it is concerning that the voices of the intellectuals are receding into oblivion. Sadly, it is a consequence of the deep partisan polarization 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?