This is no time to say “I don’t even know where to begin from”. No. I sure do know where to begin. And I do so by letting everyone know that very soon if care is not taken, some half-baked, self-seeking media practitioners are going to turn this country upside down with his or her inconsiderate and insubordinate reportage of disdain targeted at certain groups for whatever biases.
“One dead in Dagomba-Konkonba clash over pig”. Really? I could bet with all the rice in China that the caption would have read differently if the incident had happened in the South. What happened to a better caption that would still have communicated the message without reducing Northerners to people who fight over anything including pigs?
“N/R: Chief Imam confirmed dead in a bloody clash in Yendi over a pig”. Wow! ‘What business has a Chief Imam with a pig, this is a must read’! This and others would be people’s reaction when they sight the news item, and then what?
Were we all not in this country when Fulanis were castigated because of their cattle in Agogo? Why did we not see news headlines such as “Ashantis and Fulanis in turmoil over cow”? We were still here when there were ‘nice, nice’ reports on disagreements between the Asantehene and Okyehene. Still, we were here in Ghana when there was a Chieftaincy feud among some Ga chiefs. There was also the Nkonya-Alavanyo conflict which persisted for decades, and yet people from these areas were not victimized or dehumanized for it. The list could go on and on. So why is our own always different?
Dear Ghanaian Journalists, it is not cool to paint any picture about anybody or their ethnic group and walk away with it. Northerners are just like any other person.
If we mean to tag ethnic groups who have been warsome , it is definitely not Dagombas or Northerners exclusively as is always pictured, but we would probably talk about it some other time.
Let me state here unequivocally that almost every community or ethnic group in Ghana has suffered violent conflicts relating to ethnic disputes, political tension, and conflicts that have occurred between/among supporters of different political parties, religious clashes between different groups and violence resulting from industrial disputes, etc. but the reportage has always differed depending on which ethnic group is involved or what religion etc. Is it the proverbial “four legs good and two legs bad” scenario that is working here? It better no be.
Media practitioners, shall we talk about the root causes of conflicts and suggest ways of solving them rather than the determination to paint others black because they belong to the supposed minority and so have no voices, so anything could be put out there about them?
Just in case we have forgotten, the genocide in Rwanda which happened in the early 90s and claimed many lives through mass manslaughter was sparked by “elites”, reportedly triggered through a provocation on the radio. However, further reading suggests that there is more to it than just the radio provocation. If the supposed provocation on a radio is anything to go by, I think the Ghanaian media is towing along the same lane. Need I remind us of what seeds the genocide bore? Here we go; the Rwandan genocide had lasting and profound effects on the country and its neighbors. The persuasive use of rape as a weapon of war caused a spike in HIV infections, widowed mothers and orphaned children, destruction of infrastructure and severe depopulation, which crippled Rwanda, as people fled for their precious lives. We do not want this in Ghana, do we?
It is high time Ghanaian media got redefined and journos retrained on captioning, taking into consideration the sentiments of us “the minority” who are always at the receiving end. Hello! Not everyone reads details from news portals. For a lot of people, the caption is enough for a comment. A word to the wise…
Now, to the substantive matter, Konkonba-Nanumba/Dagomba war did not come about merely because of a guinea fowl, it couldn’t have been because of a pig either. Though there are traces of a guinea fowl in the matter, it was basically a trade dispute which could have been reported as such. But no, people from the north are too hungry and so they will fight over food; pigs.
I am not about to defend whether Dagombas eat pork or not. In fact, I do not have that energy but reading comments under the captions of news items I have seen regarding this matter made me so emotional and disappointed at the same time. I broke a tear reading comments like “these people too, they will never change, first, it was a guinea fowl, and now a pig, how do they even think?” Another read: I know Dr. Kwame Nkrumah brought Voltarians to Ghana, but who at all brought Northerners too? Well, I did not weep merely because of the retarded thinking of the people who made these comments, I wept because of the stigma I bear every day when I introduce myself as a Dagomba and people go like “you don’t look like one”. Seriously? How does a Dagomba look? I personally take serious exception to such statements. It is absolutely no praise. It is an insult to my clan. For anybody to think that I am “too refined” to be Dagomba is demeaning, and I look forward to punching a face in the near future for such derogatory remarks.
Fellow Dagombas/Northerners, have we not learned enough lessons to want to turn the other cheek to be slapped twice when someone even slaps us? It is my mantra that “if I know your problem, then you have no problem”. It is quite clear that we are going to be in the news for the wrong reasons for a long time. No. Not for entirely being violent over trivial matters like guinea fowls and pigs, but for the bad captioning some media reportage has sworn to give us.
If this issue of captioning is not deliberate, why did we not see headlines like “Ashantis and Fulanis clash over cattle?” Of course, the answer is clear, they are not a “minority” ethnic group, and, stuff cannot just be said about them.
Media, for the umpteenth time, it is high time you stepped up your game. News reportage is not about the caption but about the content and the truth. Na caption we go chop?
Until most of you stop going by the status-quo of putting up those silly and misleading captions in order to get your stories patronized…
Soya yi bi gong, tini nya tab’kpaya.
By: Suraya Iddrisu Kpabia :