By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
The decision by the management of Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), publishers of Ghana’s Daily Graphic, to relieve the Asante Regional Editor of the paper of his post is both laudable and all too appropriate (See “GJA Disappointed at Graphic Over Kenu’s Dismissal” Citifmonline.com 11/20/14). To be certain, the decision could not have come at a more opportune moment.
And on the preceding score must be recalled the widely reported assault of Mr. Daniel Kenu, the Graphic’s Asante Regional Editor, by a group of thugs led by Mr. Baffuor Gyan, elder brother of Mr. Asamoah Gyan, captain of Ghana’s senior national soccer team, the Black Stars. Mr. Kenu had dragged his filthy rich assailant and his gang of thugs to court, in what was steadily shaping up to be a test case on the wanton and cavalier maltreatment of journalists in the country, in recent months, only to have Mr. Kenu abruptly and capriciously withdraw his suit and all charges against Mr. Baffuor Gyan, himself a distinguished national and international soccer star in his own right.
Where the management of the Daily Graphic comes in regards the fact that Mr. Kenu had been brutally mauled while going about his professional duties as a journalist. As I vividly recall, what had allegedly provoked the assault had to do with an all-too-legitimate question that Kenu had reportedly posed Mr. Baffuor Gyan vis-a-vis the traumatic and near-mysterious drowning of the Hiplife musician, Castro, and the latter’s widely known student-actress girlfriend, near the Ada estuary of the Volta River. Mr. Asamoah Gyan had, reportedly, been in the company of his fast friend Castro shortly before the occurrence of the tragic incident, but had himself not joined the couple to water-skii.
It is also significant to observe that the Kenu assault incident was about the third or fourth instance of violence involving journalists and the Gyan celebrities. The management of Graphic Communications had gone to bat for their man, only to have the alleged victim beat a gratuitous retreat and bring the reputation and credibility of the government’s leading daily into abject disrepute. And it was precisely the latter state of affairs that prompted the Graphic’s management to dismiss Mr. Kenu.
In a statement justifying the dismissal of its second most significant regional editor, the management of Graphic Communications noted that Mr. Kenu had withdrawn his widely publicized assault suit against Mr. Baffuor Gyan and his posse of thugs without the courtesy of prior notification. The Graphic’s management also stated that it had establsihed a committee within the organization to thoroughly investigate the matter and had reached the conclusion that a definitive severance with Mr. Kenu was the best course of action for the government’s leading media organization.
As of this writing, some of the dismissed editor’s colleagues were reported to be spoiling for a battle with the Graphic’s management in a bid to having Mr. Kenu reinstated. What is also significant to note here is that whatever details the Graphic’s management may have vis-a-vis any factors motivating Mr. Kenu to withdraw his suit against Mr. Baffuor Gyan and his thuggish associates have yet to be publicly disclosed. Mr. Kenu’s flagrant and patently cowardly refusal to heroically stand up to celebrity bullies in the country, may very well have further complicated the uphill battle of Ghanaian journalists and media operatives for respect from the rich and powerful. Did any Ghana cedis, or even green bucks, change hands between the Gyans’ camp and Mr. Kenu? Concerned observers want to know.
In his reaction to the dismissal of Mr. Kenu, the General-Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr. David Agbenu, called the decision “unfair” and “unjustifiable.” He added, “We were all not happy about the step taken by Kenu to withdraw the case from the court, and we had our piece; we spoke our mind and told him it was wrong. But he apologized to everybody, so why are we hanging onto that and what are we looking for?”
Maybe what Mr. Agbenu ought to be looking for, is the need for the GJA to organize a professional development course for all of its members on the critical subject of integrity, credibility and media ethics.