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Building National Consciousness - The Role of Advertising Companies

Tue, 1 Aug 2006 Source: GNA

A GNA feature by Boakye-Dankwa Boadi

Accra, Aug. 1, GNA 96 Anytime an advert on 'Ash Foam' is aired on the various radio stations the heart of this Writer bleeds. One may ask why?

It is simply the words: "Ye adura ho se dee ye de afri abrokyire aba." These words hurt the national psyche. It is telling Ghanaians that good things come only from 'abrokyire'.

It is true that some imported items are better than those made locally because of various reasons but should Ghanaians be bombarded with this psychological arsenal everyday?

One would like to ask a few questions in this respect. Do the advertising agencies take critical look at the concepts that inform their adverts? Do they look at the words and their effects on the national psyche or they just consider whether they would catch on?

Another question that one would again like to raise is whether the advertising agencies have editors to look at the adverts? If you do not have the right expertise it is always better to get somebody to do the job for you.

Let us just take a look at another advert on diapers which says; =93ketewa, ene dee edi akyire, ene kesee=94. This shows clearly that the advertiser does not have a grasp of the language she advertises in. When an Akan is describing three things in such a context, he or she would say; 93ketewa, ada ntemu, ene kesee=94 or 93kesee, ada ntemu ene ketewa=94. Apart from these advertising companies another group whose activities give cause for concern is musicians. Some of their lyrics convey the opposite of what they intend to say: For example God is described as: 93Krotwiamansa a oda amansaa kon mu=94 to wit 93the tiger that hangs on the neck of all the people=94. One can bet with his last pesewa that Saint Peter would ask the Song Writer to explain why he described the Almighty in such a way if he or she got to Heaven's Gate.

The Song Writer might say: 'But I was trying to talk about the omnipresence of the Almighty. Then Saint Peter would tell him or her that he or she should have rather said: 'Kontonkrowi a oda amansan kon mu' to wit 'the Hallo that hangs on the necks of all the people.=94

Another Song Writer also states: 'Nipa nyinaa anyani nyani afri won nnda mu=94. This betrays the Song Writer. It shows clearly that he or she thought in English before translating it into Akan. 'All the people have waken up from their sleep'. Unfortunately this translation into Akan means: 93All the people have waken up from their graves'. It should have been simply: 'Nipa nyinaa anyani nyani.'

One could go on and on to cite numerous examples of the wrong use of local languages. Let us take a look at a very popular expression on one of the radio stations; 93edom a ekoo Twi koo Breman'. This expression creates the impression that there is a place called 'Twi'. This is not so. The expression is; 'edom a eboo twi koo Breman=94 to wit 'the crowd that rushed to Breman'.

One would wish to task the Ministry of Information and National Orientation to take upon itself to impress upon advertising agencies and musicians to engage experts to handle their messages.

It could do this by establishing a unit to assist in editing their scripts for a small fee. The unit should be manned by people, who are imbued with patriotism and have the grasp of the various languages to ensure that wrong signals are not sent out to the people. Did one hear Mr Kwamena Bartels, Sector Minister, saying 93that is a good one there=94?

Columnist: GNA