Lecturer at the Political Science Department at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has refuted claims that there is a culture of silence under the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the strict sense of the term.
He said, where he sits as a political scientist and a citizen within the military regime of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) in Ghana, he cannot agree that there is such a culture in the country.
Dr Gyampo stated that the culture of silence as he knew it under the erstwhile military regime, when one makes any critical comments against the government, he or she will be picked up, brutalized, vanish and even murdered but in the current regime he and countless others are still speaking their minds without fear.
Hence, for fear of being picked up, brutalized, vanished and even be murdered for being vocal against the erstwhile PNDC regime, a lot of people adopted the mute approach by not speaking their minds when their freedom and lives were at stake, which induced the culture of silence in the country.
He however said that, since you are being vocal and critical against somebody, it is a natural reaction to be intimidated or heavily responded to by such individuals. That cannot suffice to be classified as a culture of silence in the right sense of the term.
Professor Gyampo made these pronouncements in an interview with Kwaku Tutu on the 100 Degrees programme on Onua TV.
His comments come after former AngloGold Ashanti boss, Sam Jonah KBE insinuated that the country seems to be in a culture of silence.
At a Rotary Club function last weekend, Mr Sam Jonah said “What is baffling is that those who used to have voices on these things seem to have lost their voices. People speak on issues based on who is in power.
“Is our deafening silence suggesting that we are no longer concerned about issues that we complained about not too long ago, particularly when those issues persist….. The molestation of and in some cases assassination of journalists, murder of MPs, corruption, the harassment of anti-corruption agents.”
“We have just finished another election, the 8th in the series since the beginning of our fourth Republican democratic experiment. As usual, the accolades came in from all corners of the world, and we took them with pride. What we failed to tell the world is that some people lost their lives in the course of the election,” Sam Jonah said.
But Professor Gyampo said, “You see the culture of silence that we learned in political science and what happened during the PNDC revolutionary times when you speak against the regime, you will either get lost, vanish, intimidated, brutalized and even murdered. So if you don’t want to go through all the unfortunate things that can happen to you, then you better shut up. So when you say culture of silence in stricto sensu, I don’t believe it because I am still speaking my mind.
“Sometimes you can have people doing things to silence you or to gag you but for me it is normal because you are speaking against somebody and the person has got the right to respond. Unfortunately, sometimes the person may not respond in equal measure but I understand the terrain so I don’t mind but generally I don’t think we can utterly describe what is going on as a culture of silence in the country” the political science don stated.
Dr Gyampo said as far as one is in his or her right to criticize others, he or she must be prepared for a backlash from the people one offends. He said one must be tolerant of the people he or she criticizes and those who hit back at critics must also be civil and decorous in their approach in order to advance a healthy discourse in the interest of the country.
He, therefore, disagreed with Sam Jonah for espousing the culture of silence statement that has caught fire in the country in recent times to describe President Akufo-Addo’s government.
“I have disagreed with him already, today won’t be the first time I’m going to say that because during the days of the real culture of silence, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to say what he said. In my view, I think we have challenges, there are challenges that will make people cow into submission, that will make people want to coil into their shells, especially the fact that our politics is engaged in insults, mudslinging and vituperation and all manner of things that people say about people. These may be some of the challenges that will make people say: let me keep quiet and all that but I don’t think that is the culture of silence that I know in the country”, he espoused on 100 degrees.