Delivered at the Launching of The Thunder
Golden Tulip, Kumasi , 10/9/9
Chairman, Nananom, fellow patriots of this promising land of ours, Ghana, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
Let me begin by extending a thunderous welcome to the Thunder.
In May 1992, when I decided to revive, The Statesman, a paper started by my Pa in 1949, exactly sixty years ago, who would have thought that 17 years down the line, every working day, there will be about 30 newspapers on our newsstands all competing for sales and some for mere attention. Freedom of speech is here to stay and its wings are strong and broad enough to carry along more media houses – those who can endure; those whose loyalty is ultimately to Ghana.
Ashanti Region has a long history of strong, courageous and independent minds and voices during the nationalist struggles. The Ashanti Pioneer, for example, represented the resistance of the press at its highest against oppression, and suppression of press freedom, when for a long time it served as virtually the only real media voice of alternative views under the First Republic .
Today, the national capital, Accra, has by far overtaken the second city as the bastion of production for organised press freedom in the form of independent newspapers
The timing of the launch of the Thunder cannot be faulted – and the vision and mission of the young people behind it, which is to set up a truly national newspaper from the capital of a region with some 17 percent of the national population, are most welcome.
The name thunder may strike fear or awe in the hearts of some. But, it shouldn’t be. For, it is said that “times of great calamity and confusion have been productive for the great minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace. The brightest thunder-bolt is elicited from the darkest storm.”
At this time of Ghana’s history, with 23 million people understandably impatient for a truly better Ghana, eager for faster growth, job security and an income that is stronger than inflation; at a period in our development when Ghanaians are looking for a national economic programme which is more than spot the deficit and shoot it down; an economic programme wider than mere stabilisation experimentation; in these times, the memorable words of the famous African-American abolitionist, Frederick Douglas, come to mind: “It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” We need action!
So for the physicians who are quick to describe Ghana as a sick patient, our message to them is that the patient is impatient for a cure. Pure and simple!
Let the publishers, editors and reporters of Thunder roam this region and the entire nation, including the countryside, searching, like da Vinci, for answers to things we do not know. Like, why thunder lasts longer that which causes it.
Don’t seek to destroy the hard-earned reputation of people with baseless, fabricated stories. Your success will not be based on another’s downfall. Let the paper highlight issues that will help develop Ghana and her people.
Let us focus on things that will renew and strengthen our belief in Ghana, our hope in her future and our resolve in unleashing the potential of a people resourceful, talented and hardworking. Let the Thunder temper sensationalism with sensitivity to human-centred stories.
Let it be bold on issues that will get the people elected as our temporary custodians to do what is right and productive, say what is useful and uniting and implement policies that will allow the enterprising people of this country the space, freedom and stable environment to work and prosper.
Let the Thunder make its own meaningful contribution to promoting human rights, protecting individual liberty, property and the rule of law. Let the Thunder name and shame mediocrity and incompetence. Let it praise and encourage the upholders of integrity, political morality, selfless patriotism and competence. Let it make role models of those who dared to win, so they can continue to set the pace for others to follow.
Thunder, strike like lightening to expose corruption wherever your searchlight shines on one. Let this thunder strike against all things that retard our nation’s progress.
Let the Thunder serve as a mirror to society by committing pages to our sanitary conditions, our children’s education and our pensioners’ wellbeing. Let the paper help the police rid our streets of criminals and protect our future leaders from the menace of drugs and armed robbery.
Let the Thunder support civil society and sincere politicians to take pettiness and violence out of our politics. Let us all together say: enough is enough to the culture of political vindictiveness and violence!
I say to the people behind this paper, you are going to face competition and challenges. Accept your challenges as opportunities. Don’t see your competitors as your enemies. The competition out there is tough. But you can succeed. Competition needs not create factionalism, whether in our media landscape or within political parties.
Newspapers are free to take ideological sides. Objectivity, some say, is an illusion. What is, however, not an illusion is truth. Stay loyal to the truth and your readers will forever be loyal – to you. Write the truth and always search for the truth.
Mark Twain remarked: “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work.”
In this media venture your lightning is truth held up by the stilts of professionalism in journalism. The truth can help you succeed. Remember to always see the difference between what is in the public interest and what may be of interest to the public.
I leave you with the wise words of Frederick Douglas: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favour freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”
Let the thunder roar!
Thank you and God bless you.