Wednesday, 8 June 2016

HOW THE ILLS OF THE CULTURE OF SILENCE ECHO TODAY




For over two weeks since I heard a playback of a lecture delivered by veteran journalist Cameron Duodo about Prof. Albert Adu Boahene and his bravery at inspiring Ghana's march towards democracy and media freedom, I have been on a quest to find exactly what the academic said in full.

I have asked friends on social media -Twitter and Facebook but nothing substantial has emerged. Google popped anecdotal texts about the man and his famous terror shattering speech. The closest I've read was a tribute by Cameron Duodo for the London based Guardian newspaper.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to a speech with the title 'Freedom of Speech and the Culture of Silence' days after asking for Prof. Adu Boahene's speech. My first instinct was one of joy, thinking it was what I was looking for. However, it was a speech delivered by the learned Prof. H. Kwesi Prempeh, a speaker at the Prof. Boahene's lectures.

Both Cameron Duodo and Prof. Prempeh made some incredible statements about Prof. Boahene's life and activities-first as a renowned academic and later a politician. Like many other stories shared, they were selective references of his famous speech delivered at the British Council Hall, Accra in 1988 at the Danquah Memorial Lectures titled 'The Ghanaian Sphinx: Reflections on the Contemporary History of Ghana-1972-1987'

What made Prof. Adu Boahene's 'The Culture of Silence' speech, was that, it was the first time a Ghanaian have spoken harshly about a military regime which was governing Ghana at that time. The PNDC had usurped the administration of Hilla Limann on 31st December, 1981 and had been on a victimization spree, arresting everybody suspected of being against the revolution.

Ghana was under siege and the paranoid Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings led PNDC government had plunged Ghana into political and economic chaos. Food shortages, collapsing businesses, political victimization, stifled media and speech among other ill features of dictatorship was evident.

So, for someone like Adu Boahene, a history professor at University of Ghana to proceed on a 'we shall not sit for this nonsense to continue' coherent ‘rant’ shocked many present. I'm sure many feared he might be a dead man or be arrested and harassed by the PNDC regime. None of that happened. Instead, the PNDC picked the nuggets shared by the academic and step the country in motion towards democracy with the 1992 Presidential and Parliamentary elections as the climax of the process.

Prof. Boahene became the Presidential candidate of the opposition NPP and faced off with the transmogrified military junta to a democratic party, PNDC with JJ Rawlings, head of the junta as the lead candidate. NPP lost the elections. They disputed the results, boycotted parliament and wrote their epochal 'Stolen Verdict' book.

As my search found nothing substantial a la the full speech of Adu Boahene, it dawned on me how my generation has been robbed of that epic speech thanks to the obnoxious Culture of Silence he spoke about. At that time, there was no real private media as it exist today. The press at that time -Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times and GBC were under the control or thumb of the junta and took instructions on what to publish. They had no right to publish anything that offend the PNDC junta. Likewise GBC which could not broadcast the speech or make reference to it.

Tommy Thompson and his Free Press (private media at that time) were under constant attacks and perhaps publish snippets of the speech. And that is all we have now. Tales of the event, second hand stories of the epic and riveting nature of the speech is what is handed us interested in knowing exactly what Prof. Adu Boahene said either the full text or audio recordings.

Adu Boahene stood and spoke bravery against an evil that was eating into the psyche of the Ghanaian at the right time. Perhaps Ghana would have become a democracy without the speech anyway. What that speech did was to hasten the democratic march. Today, Ghana is viewed as a bastion of everything good about democracy within Africa. And we must be grateful to Prof. Adu Boahene.

PS: Please readers, if you come across the speech of Adu Boahene, kindly share with me, either on Twitter (@swayekidd) or Facebook (swaye Kidd) or mail (rahim.munir4@gmail.com).

Maybe Kweku Baako should be my last resort of contact.


4 comments:

  1. Swaye,it's such an important thing you've touched on.
    Good read...
    I would love to read as well, kindly hit me up should you find it...

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