Teaching global comparative media in Ghana

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Fri, 1 Nov 2019 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

Teaching African students in Africa to accept themselves as Africans is tough; you either win the class or lose your job.

One of the objectives of the course Global Comparative Media is: to identify global best practices and highlight them as “This is what global media does.”

Of course, you should grant me the space that as an African lecturer I MUST find examples of African best practice that conform to the highest global standards.

“Sir they say my kinky hair is unkempt,” said a female student.

“And the camera is not friendly to the black skin,” said another female student.

I responded. “If you do not understand global culture you can never understand Global Comparative Media.”

The late Prof Ali Mazrui told of several instances where he was questioned: Why don’t you go back to Africa and impact African students with your knowledge?

He answered that he must stay in America and educate students about Africa so that they grow up without stereotypes of Africa.

While I agree with him, there is also important work to be done with African students.

And it is tough; you can lose your class and lose your job if you do not tread cautiously; the attitudes that have hampered our development are terrible and entrenched.

This is what won me the battle on Wednesday.

I read out from a large screen in our darkened Smart classroom, “Rabat – Flight Network, a Canadian-based online travel company, has named Marrakech one of the top 50 most beautiful cities in the world.”

“To gather the data, Flight Network asked more than one thousand travel writers, bloggers, and agencies from around the world to name the best cities they have visited. Marrakech and Cape Town are the only African cities on the list; meanwhile, the only Middle Eastern city Flight Network mentions is Dubai.”

Clearly, I had piqued their interest.

“Why is this information not readily available to Ghanaians?” inquired a male student at the back.

My answer was that I work through mass media students.

Ms AM concluded, “We have now understood it; almost all our raffles offer trips to Dubai. Nobody from Ghana goes to Morocco.”

“It is the same in my country Nigeria, we don’t go there,” added another.

“But now we know one million tourists are going to Morocco every month,” I reminded the class. “And they have been doing so for years. It works out to 33 thousand tourists a day, 1500 an hour or seven tourist flights every hour.”

“So sir what are we in ghana to do so that we can get to that level of tourist visitors and earn serious revenue?” a male student asked on behalf of the class.

I enumerated a few things that we need to do at world class level starting with SANITATION and our environment.

We also need to become enlightened in our attitudes towards, governance, efficiency, punctuality, customer service and organizational skill.

Winning the class back required “facts, evidence and reason”, as these are the time honoured best practice principles for public discourse; I had no option; I win back my class or lose my job on principle.

What was the status quo ante?

When I entered the class on Wednesday, the battle over the appropriate dress code for TV and social media presenters was “a salient matter for the class” as one student put it.

Controversy had been raging – fanned especially by the proponents of guess what? Western style wigs; they were adamant that the wigs were a necessary option.

So I simply started by showing photographs of an African lady diplomat in the right modest but elegant clothes and right hair style, appearing at high profile engagements, and effortlessly poised with the class.

Then I threw down the gauntlet by asking: “Do you know more than her, tell me, do you?”

Sudden silence; I had hit pay dirt.

Thank you Ambassador Eudora Quartey Koranteng, thank you for your excellent example of African Personality…..pure class!

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah