Censorship in Ghana by Amanda Edinam Ahiadormey

You may have grown up a stubborn child like me, waiting till everyone was asleep to turn on the television set to watch Viasat One’s infamous ‘Movies at 10’ after they had advertised that they would be showing the latest Fast and Furious movie. Ten-year-old you would have watched very quietly, with the volume so low it almost looked as though you were only watching moving pictures.

Just when the movie reached its climax and Dominic finds out Brian was the last person to contact Letty and aims to attack him, Viasat decides to go on a short commercial break. You would not have wanted to watch the advert with that little girl saying ‘Does Daddy know he is here?’.

You would have gotten bored and decided to change the channel to see what else was on, only to land on Adom Tv to see this woman in a headgear that looks like it would have her head rolling off on its own in a bit, and you would have relaxed to see if it really would.

It is the year 2009, and all children your age should be asleep, so she definitely does not know that as she plays that video with erotic content for her mature viewers, that there is a little boy somewhere watching as well.

You may be offended by the content now, and the thought that a child somewhere is watching it now, but before you get ready to attack Akumaa Mama Zimbi, Miss Nancy and other hosts of such late night chat room shows, know this:

Under Article 162(2) of Chapter 12 of the Constitution, 1992, which spells out the freedoms and responsibilities of the media, there shall be no censorship in Ghana.

One may ask, are we permitting just any media channel to show pornography, nudity, profanity and erotic content?

The simple answer is, without mincing words, we are.

Censorship, according to Wikipedia, is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or “inconvenient”.

This includes nudity, violence, and crass language, which is why most international decoders have the option of making certain channels available only with a code, and indicate the age permitted to watch certain movies.

Per Article 162(2), however, Ghana does not allow censorship.

This means that we can play all the unfiltered versions of Lil Wayne’s Bed Rock on our media channels, and show nude videos without necessarily being at fault for someone being ‘morally’ corrupted.

The real question here is, what makes us so different from the people who we seem to want to copy so much when it comes to such things? Why do they make two versions of every profane song and play the one with alternate lyrics and numerous beeps while we play the raw version out loud with our windows rolled down as we drive through town in our father’s cars?

What do they see that we don’t?

Do we want censorship at all? Do the profane words and nudity bother us at all or do we just want to call a spade a spade regardless of whether calling it a spade could scar someone next to us forever?

Until the lines are clearly drawn, there is not much we can do about minors watching Duvet and Odo Ahumasuo.

After all, don’t we all yearn to see the signature ‘Me da, me da, medaase’, before the lights go down and the cameras go off as Akumaa beautifully signs off having made some adult’s night?