The most disturbing portrayals on television these days are kissing and open sex.? Ironically, while the characters are all by themselves, they are not alone as far as the audience is concerned, and that is the problem.

As if that was not bad enough, we see cartoon or kids-show characters kissing on the lips. I saw it on Viasat1, but that does not absolve any of the other television stations.

White people kiss in public and in the presence of their children, because, as they claim, it is an expression of affection, but that is them. We Africans do not kiss in front of our children or in public, because kissing expresses intimacy, and we desist from it in public not because we are in self-denial, but because the possible extrapolation renders kissing non-didactic.

You could counter that by saying, well, it is on TV in adult movies. True! But instead of fighting to stop even that, we are now portraying intimate kissing in cartoons watched by our toddlers.? It is so dangerous, because our children will see kissing in public as regular, and grow into teenagers with no sense of discretion when it comes to sex.

The least said about how our newspapers are awash with photographs of naked and half-naked women the better.

Ei! Where are the elders in our society? Why are we pretending degenerate lifestyles are okay simply because it is coming from the US?

Elders

When I ask the question, where are the elders in our society, I am thinking specifically about all our priests, especially the Dr. Dr. Archbishop thiss and Most Reverend thats; Members of Council of State; the president and all his ministers; Speaker of Parliament and the Parliamentarians; all our magistrates and judges right up to Our Ladyship The Chief Justice; all our traditional leaders; journalists; professionals; artisan; traders and market women, and; even student leaders.

All the personalities in those bodies qualify to aspire to the title elder, because they belong in high public and private institutions recognised by the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. I say ?qualify to aspire to,? because the mere fact of being a member of those institutions does not make you an elder.

There are at least two reasons why that is so. One, Mpanyinfo se: ?Ye wo panin na ye wo panin ? Our Elders say: We have an elder and we have an elder. You can speak of an elder in terms of age ? Kofi is ten years older than Adjoa. And you can speak of an elder in terms of maturity ? Ama is more matured (or wiser) than Kwasi.

Again, when we say in our different languages ?Our Elders say:?,? we are, taflatse, not referring to an elder by age.? We are referring to wise persons of highest experience whose speeches are axioms. And here I use axiom in both the implicitly and explicitly philosophical sense. They say one sentence and you can thoroughly explain it only a thesis.

Also when we say ?Our Elders say:?,? we are actually saying our elders never kept their mouths shut when, among other things, they saw things going right or wrong in society. That simply means today all our elders by age have failed Ghana and Africa, and it is time to, serbe, prove they are elders by maturity.

No, no, no, Ti-Kelenkelen is not ?looking into any adult?s face.?? In many private conversations I realise that many people acknowledge that Ghana has a problem of morals, discipline and enforcing the law, but no one wants to speak up lest he or she is seen as a person who is against free expression and fundamental human rights.

If it is any source of comfort, exposing your private parts in public is not human right; it is personal irresponsibility. Showing on public channels movies in which adults have sex openly is not freedom of expression; it is pornography.? Showing on television channels, public or private, cartoon characters engage in intimate kissing is not an expression of freedom of expression; it is preparing our toddlers to grow into promiscuous teenagers and adults. And publishing pictures of naked women on the front and inner pages of newspapers is not a show of freedom of expression or press freedom; it is public display of promiscuity.

And that brings us to another crucial set of elders.

Gate-keepers

Staying within the particular context of publishing and broadcasting brings more specific categories of elders to mind. These are the Ghana Journalists Association, Independent Broadcasters Association, Private and Independent Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana, Ghana Advertisers Association (GAA,) Institute of Marketing Ghana, Cinematography Authority (CA,) Ghana Publishers Association, and the National Media Commission (NMC.)

These agencies are referred to by the technical term, gate-keepers, because in various ways they are tasked by the Constitution and laws of the land to control the content of what appears in our newspapers and books, is heard on radio and viewed on television and the Internet.? But none of them is doing that job anymore.? All the people in those agencies are interested in is getting paid fat salaries, hefty allowances and bouncy per diems.

Basically they are silent because of the fundamental reason I have stated above ? if they speak out they will be tagged as anti-freedom of expression by their peers and entities outside our borders, the so-called international community, which is actually a respectable but devious name for western countries that have agenda that has nothing to do with our progress.

Today most of us rile the poor creativity in the larger music industry. We bemoan the shallow and cheap lyrics, most of which is profane and pre-occupied with guileless expressions of sex.? We lament the music video clips that have as their main attraction young women virtually naked and flipping their private parts all over the place. That is not freedom of expression; it is licentiousness.

If I sound like I am talking out of the Bible or Qur?an, it simply because ?licentiousness? is a word used by religious people. That however takes nothing away from the fact that a loose life in whatever aspect of our lives reflects low moral standard and it has a deleterious effect on creativity and productivity, especially when there is no focus. For example if the thinking of young people is saturated with tardy dress codes, sex and pornography they produce the kind of music and video clips we have now.

When the thinking and conversations of young people are saturated with serious issues, they grow into persons who are creative and creative in solving problems. In the days when serious issues filled the minds of our youth we had groups such as Osibisa, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Marian Makeba, Bob Marley, et al.

I believe the goal of making appropriate laws and setting up all those public and private institutions of regulators and professional bodies is to control content and ensure high standards towards the singular goal of ensuring decency in public discourse and its attendant creativity that inures to the progressive interest of the people. But when those agencies ? especially regulators, such as the NMC, GAA and CA ? fail to do their job society is left directionless. A US sociologist has pointed out that whereas the church and family used to be the teachers of the child, today the television has taken over that job.? Ti-Kelenkelen must add that that places heavy responsibility on all who produce content for that medium, and of course for all other media of mass communication.

The regulators stand above all the other agencies, because in their respective media, they are the final arena where all complaints of anything published or broadcast or produced for broadcast go for settlements; they are the final arbiter in all such matters. And so when the NMC, CA and GAA take refuge under the cheap umbrella that the law does not empower it to do anything, it has shirked its responsibility to the people of Ghana. When that happens it has become an arena where personalities go to earn fat allowances and other luxurious pecks at the expense of the people of Ghana, but fail to deliver on the responsibilities with which we charge them.

Conclusion

Our Elders say: ?Se opanin wo fie na ose hweemfa ne ho a, asem ba ebebars ono a ne kon mu ? If there is an elder in the house and he or she says nothing concerns him or her, when there is a problem it hangs around his or her neck.

There is direct linkage? or as the scientists will say, direct co-relation ? between low morals that are pervasive in a society, the absence or scarcity of creativity that breeds and nurtures progress and the retrogression or stagnation of development in that society.

It is thus the responsibility of elders in society to speak up and do their job if we want to change our fate as a nation and continent. Otherwise we can forget about wanting to develop. It is an African American lawyer who states that ?Another definition of insanity is doing something the same way and expecting different results.?? Contrary to what it seems that is not an insult. It simply means you cannot keep complaining about hunger and a desire to be nourished and filled and still sit in one place doing nothing.? For a normal human being that is ?insanity.?? To be nourished and filled you must do something different, you must move and go get food and eat.

Mpanyinfo se: ?Oba nyansafo wo bu no be??

Yirenkyi Lamptey

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