“Ghana’s uneasy embrace of Slavery’s Diaspora” and “Ghana: Soft Control of the Press” both speak about some of the disconnects between law and reality. There are bound to be differences between the government and people because what is written might not always be what is thought, and what is politically beneficial might not be what the people agree with. The first article explains the discrepancies between Ghanaian government and its population in respect to the feelings towards the diaspora. The second article articulates the control the government still holds over the press even though the law gives them no official power.
“Ghana’s uneasy embrace of Slavery’s Diaspora” talks about the perceptions that Ghanaians have towards African Americans and people of the diaspora. Ghana has been trying to be the “door of return” for those people who were sold into slavery. Ghana is planning on offering lifetime visas for diaspora members so as to welcome them to Ghana. However, this is the Ghanaian state and its political goals. It does not necessarily match up with the views of the people. The article continues to explain that many Ghanaians still view diaspora members as foreigners and refer to the as “obruni” or “white foreigner.” Ghanaians find it hard to see them as family members because they come from a different culture, which is so important to them. In addition, Ghanaians don’t understand why African Americans would want to return to Ghana. While they think that slavery was painful, some may believe that it was worth it and better than having remained in Ghana because they get to live in America.
“Ghana: Soft Control of the Press” discusses the current ways in which the press is controlled in Ghana. Since independence, Ghana has liberalized its media. Before, there had been many laws and little freedom for the press. People have romanticized the idea of their freedom of speech because there is still control over the press; it is just soft control. Soft control is when the system favors certain types of journaling and hands out unofficial rewards for it, while the system punishes the journaling that criticizes the system by making it difficult to do so. Journalists’ success is based off of who they know and keeping those people happy. If you anger the wrong people, you can be fired in an instant. Whereas, if you write the things the state favors, you can be promoted just as fast. This is soft control because it is unofficial, yet everyone knows it exists. It is not law, but people live by it. The article explains that, “Ghana’s press is like an old man. We gum the government but never bite it.” They allude to the big questions and avoid the smaller, specific ones, ones that can get them into trouble if they dig too deep.
This can be seen anywhere. In any democracy there will be censorship and some sort of restrictions on what you can say. Even if you are a private institution, to be successful you must please the masses and not get backlash from people in power. Soft control of the press is not exclusive to Ghana; it is the US as well, and I am not surprised by it.
I found the first article extremely intriguing. The part where it said that some Ghanaians might feel that they got the short end of the stick when compared to African Americans even though they did not have to endure slavery really shocked me. It made me think about the ways in which the slave trade affected Ghana specifically. Colonization and slave exportation caused Ghana to not develop at the same rate as other nations. Ghana has only been a country for 60 years, and during that time there have been numerous coups and government unrest. Ghana has not had a chance to fully develop or industrialize because of colonization. Yes, slavery was horrific in the states, but to Ghanaians, America is now the land of opportunity for everyone no matter what skin color. They fail to realize that lack of reparations African Americans received and the block busting and redlining that still shapes the ways in which neighborhoods and school districts are set up. They don’t recognize the racism and unfairness that blacks have to continually face even though segregation has “technically” been abolished. It is similar to the soft control of the press in Ghana. The law has made all men equal and banned slavery and segregation, but there is sometimes a disconnect with the people. Just because a law changes does not mean that people automatically shift their views and actions to match it. People in both America and Ghana suffer in some way due to the slave trade, but both think the grass is greener on the other side.
The second article did not surprise me. I feel like no matter how much freedom of speech a country claims to allow, there will always be people in power that others have to please. Someone is always in charge, and that someone never likes to be angered. He or she might allow people to anger him or her, but that does not mean that people will do it. Even in America there is soft control. The media is only as successful as the people make it. They appeal to the masses and tell them what they want to hear even if it’s fake news. Media needs backup from the government and the people to stay successful. Success is always based off of pleasing others. Often times reporting certain things is made less appealing so people don’t do it. Soft control is everywhere when there is a lack of hard control. It does not surprise me that it exists in Ghana too, especially since the country is so young.