Ghana, a country of some 26 million people nestles along the west African coast and is surrounded by three francophone neighbours; Ivory Coast to the west, Togo and Burkina Faso to the east and north respectively.
Ghana remains a stable democracy, one that is a model for other African countries within the subregion and beyond. One of the key successes behind their fourth Republican democracy which kicked off in 1992 is seen as the country’s media landscape.
The media in Ghana has and continues to grow from the print through to the electronic and online media outlets. Journalists continue to use their outlets to contribute to governance and to socio-economic development in an atmosphere devoid of any interference.
The Ghana Journalists Association [GJA] the umbrella body for practitioners recently held their awards ceremony for the year 2015 and the journalist who came tops was Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a ‘faceless’ threesome personality who tells Africanews he is purged of fear.
‘I am a product of my society, I have decided to embark on a kind of journalism that goes beyond the paper and pen, if you like the microphone and the screens. Yes, it is seen as risky and high pitched, fortunately for me since i undertook my first undercover assignment, I have naturally been purged of fear,’ Anas said.
A typical outing [home or abroad] for Anas is of three people dressed in long hooded robes with caps having beads covering their faces. Usually of the same height, same gait and mannerisms, one of the three is sure to be Anas, or so are we made to believe.
The exposé that won him this years’ top prize
Since his first newspaper story about petty police corruption broke onto the scene over a decade ago, Anas has transformed from just a newspaper journalist into one of Ghana’s biggest investigative documentary film makers.
The exposé that won Anas his second journalist of the year award was titled ‘Undercover in the Eyes of God.’ It bordered largely on corruption as it chronicled how top judges and magistrates across the country accepted bribes to influence their decisions.
Anas, as has become his trademark, filmed the interactions with the judges and magistrates as well as other judicial staff in what he calls ‘hard core evidence’ that helps him accomplish his three main aims of ‘naming, shaming and jailing,’ the bad guys.
Since the release of his work, he has testified before a committee set by the Chief Justice of Ghana. Its processes have led to the sacking of over a dozen judges.
Thanks to Anas, Ghana can hardly go a year without at least one scandal bothering on his main areas on interest: anti-corruption, human rights and good governance. Ghana waits with bated breadth whenever he hints of a release.
Global and local ranking
Anas was named among the Foreign Policy news outlets 2015 leading global thinkers, for his work on judicial corruption, but long before this, US president Barack Obama had described Anas as a ‘courageous journalsit who stood up to report the truth.
This was during an address before Ghana’s parliament on Obama’s first visit to the west African country.
Anas who heads private investigative firm, Tiger Eye, has over the past five years been ranked in the top 10 most influential people in the country. In the recent ranking carried out by a local media outlet, Anas was ranked 3rd most influential Ghanaian overall for 2015 and the highest ranked media personality.
Some of Anas’ works since 2010
Even though he started out as a newspaper journalist with the New Crusading GUIDE, Anas opened his own investigative firm where he put his investigative stories into documentary film formats.
In January 2010, Anas released an undercover piece title ‘Inside Ghana’s Madhouse.’ He got admitted into Ghana’s biggest psychiatric institution in order to reveal the rights abuses and corruption that was going on at the Accra Psychiatric hospital.
In September of the same year, he released ‘Orphans Home of Hell,’ a piece that put the spotlight on Ghana’s biggest orphanage, the Osu Children’s Home, again with corruption and child rights abuse at the heart of the report.
Down the years, Anas has released other human rights centered films, like ‘Careless,’ which zoomed in on Ghana’s biggest private orphanage which had similar issues as Osu. He also released Messiah of Mentukwa, a film that underlined the extent to which religion could be used to perpetrate issues of human rights abuse.
In the area of anti-corruption, his main works beside the award winning ‘Undercover in the Eyes of God,’ include a detailed exposé at Ghana’s biggest port, the Tema Habour, he titled it ‘Enemies of the Nation.’
He also did a nationwide assignment in cocoa growing areas, ‘In the Interest of the Nation,’ exposed security officials who were actively engaged in smuggling of Ghana’s cocoa beans for their parochial interests.
In the second part of this piece, I look at investigative collaborations that Anas has been involved in over the years and his social media presence. A bit of his awards at home and abroad will be chipped in.
Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa
Africanews web journalist
Congo, Pointe Noire