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Children's television in Ghana: a discourse about modernity.

ABSTRACT

The central argument in this paper is that Ghanaian children's television programmes are concrete realizations of a national discourse about culture for a modem Ghana. The principal themes in this discourse are that formal education is to play a major role in the construction of a new national culture; to be strong, that culture must draw upon the wisdom of the ancestors; to be relevant for today, it must selectively draw upon and adapt ideas from outside Ghana. Considering television as discourse enables us to drink of a national television service such as the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in a new way, not only as a spokesperson for the nation state, disseminator of didactic messages, and show case for the nation's cultural heritage but as participants in an on-going national conversation. This conversation is polyvocal but limited. It is circumscribed by institutional structures and practices as well as by the class biased expectations and attitudes of those individuals involved in the production of television programmes.

In this paper I examine Ghanaian discourse about culture for modern Ghana which originated with nineteenth century cultural nationalists and has been carried on by the nationalist press, the academy, and official policy makers. This discourse has been a response to the spread to West Africa of die technology, institutions, social practices, and attitudes associated with modernity. It is a reflective conversation that neither fully accepts nor totally rejects European and North American constructs of modernity. Participants urge Ghanaians to give priority to the construction of a new, national culture, a culture that is grounded in tradition yet receptive to innovation and is thus sufficiently strong and resilient to enable Ghanaians to meet the challenges of the present and the future. The argument in this essay is that Ghanaian children's television programmes are concrete realizations of this discursive tradition. As such, the programmes make visible notions about modernity and what children should be taught in order to become useful, self-sufficient citizens of a modern African nation.

The field work for this project was conducted in Ghana from February through April 1994. I interviewed TV professionals, actors, educators, and others concerned with the cultural development of children; observed the production process and carefully monitored children's programmes throughout the three month period. I did not conduct any formal audience research although I did speak informally with a wide range of people about their use of television and their reactions to specific programmes.

I begin the paper by considering the notion of modernity and the discourse of culture for modem Ghana. Next, I look at the place of television in notions of modernity and then explore the way modernity is imagined in programmes produced expressly for Ghanaian children.

Modernity

In a recent contribution to debates about cultural imperialism, John Tomlinson argues that the concept `is one which must be assembled out of its discourse'.(1) He discusses four possible ways to speak about cultural imperialism: as media imperialism, as a discourse of nationality, as the critique of global capitalism, and as the critique of modernity. While each discourse is characterized by its own set of assumptions and agendas, the discourses do overlap. The critique of modernity is the most expansive and inclusive as capitalism, nation-states, and the mass media are all `distinctive features' of modern society and `determinants of the cultural conditions of modernity.(2) Critiques of cultural imperialism can, thus, be thought of as critiques of the global `spread of (capitalist) modernity.(3) The spread of modernity is problematic, Tomlinson argues, because modernity or, more accurately, late modernity is `technologically and economically powerful but culturally "weak"'.(4) Thus a mood `of uncertainty, of paradox, of lack of moral legitimacy and cultural indirection' has followed in die wake of this global trend.(5) Kofi Awoonor has argued that for Ghanaians

As a people we have lost the full sense of our being. We hang in a limbo of cultural confusion, social incoherence, political chaos, economic despair and moral purposelessness.(6)

In the language of Canadian economist Harold Innis, the present day global political-economy is characterized by an unprecedented `bias' towards control of space made possible by electronic media of communication: the interconnection of telephones, computers, satellites, and television.(7) Transnational enterprises (TNE), which are able to operate outside the regulatory reach of national legislation or international resolutions, have what Innis called `a monopoly of knowledge'. This knowledge is biased to science and technology and to that which can be quantified. What is missing is concern for the unmeasurable: the quality of social relations; an understanding of one's place in human history that informs present actions and plans for the future; the domain of what Innis referred to as `time biased cultures'. Innis argued that challenges to monopolies of knowledge have historically come from the periphery, from peoples at the borders of empires or outside the established power structure. Today, examples of such challenges are apparent in the rise of religious fundamentalism and ethnic nationalism in many parts of the globe.

What is needed in the Innisian view is a balance between concerns for space and concerns for time. In a similar vein, Tomlinson, following Cornelius Castoridadis, calls for the reformulation of the `social imaginary' so that `qualitative goals and visions' not `quantitative growth' become the focus of modern societies.(8) As one cannot expect this reformulation to come from TNEs, one must turn to the margins, to peace movements, environmentalists, women's groups and to cultural nationalists in marginalized nations.(9)

Tomlinson introduces his chapter on modernity with the observation that modernity is a problematic term in that it is both `ambiguous and chronologically elastic'.(10) On the one hand, in everyday lay language, it refers to the cultural present -- a time which is constantly changing. On the other hand, the term is used by scholars to denote an era in Western European history that arguably began in the sixteenth century.(11) This period was marked by a fairly rapid shift from agrarian feudal. societies to a system of national capitalist political-economies in which commerce and industry rather than land were the principal sources of wealth. This shift was associated with the evolution of a new culture in which individual interests and accomplishments took precedence over the well being of the community, and science not God held the answer to the riddle of life. As similar shifts have taken place in Eastern Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa, societies there have been said to be modernizing.(12)

The ambiguity in the term `modernity' lies in the realization that much valued characteristics of modern life such as personal freedom and the products of science and technology are mixed blessings. Obsession with progress and the pursuit of self-fulfillment, it has been argued, have led to loss of community, degradation of the environment, and loss of moral purpose. But, as Tomlinson points out, criticism of modernization is more likely to come from scholars working in the comforts of climate controlled offices with fingertip access to the latest academic journals and reports than from African villagers who only dream of clean tap water, electricity, and accessible medical assistance.(13) The challenge for non-western societies, that must respond to the spread of modernity, is to develop a culture that is both open to useful technical innovations and cultural practices from outside and firmly grounded in respect for history and tradition.

Discourse of culture for modern Ghana(14)

For over 100 years Ghanaian intellectuals have engaged in self-conscious efforts to construct a culture that is

a fusion of what is good in the traditional and customary inherited from our ancestors with the adaptation of what is good -- and only what is good -- of what we learn by contact with Europeans.(15)

In 1889, a number of educated Gold Coast men under the leadership of John Mensah Sarbah founded the Mfantsi Amanbuhu Fekuw, a nationalist society `aimed at stopping "the demoralising effects of certain European influences" and "further encroachments into their nationality"'.(16) The Fekuw urged the use of African names and dress and a new kind of education for Africans that would include African languages, history, and culture as well as industrial and agricultural training. Members looked to Japan as a model of a nation that had retained that which was of value in traditional social norms and material culture even while industrializing and liberalizing its political system.(17)

Since then, the discourse of culture for modern Ghana has been carried on at a theoretical level in the nationalist press, academic papers, political speeches, and official policy statements. It has taken material form in research projects, schools' curricula, literature, the performing arts, and the mass media. Woven through this discourse are three principal themes which reflect efforts to come to terms with and reconcile the ambiguities inherent in the notion of modernity and thereby achieve a balance between the spiritual and the material, between concerns for time and space in modem Ghanaian culture.

The first theme is that education is the key to the construction of a culture for modern Ghana. Implicit in this aspect of the discourse is the assumption that cultural engineering is not only appropriate but necessary and that it is the educated elite who are in the best position to do that engineering.(18)

At the turn of the century members of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) with support from the Wassa chiefs founded Mfantsipim, a secondary school in Cape Coast which was to offer a curriculum for `a new kind of educated African'(19) not a `Europeanised native' who was alienated from his kin and village.(20) This education was to include the study of `the Fanti language' and `the History and Geography of die Gold Coast having special reference to the local institutions customs and usages' as well as `agriculture and industrial training and English Education'.(21) Much the same language was used by Dr James E. K. Aggrey, first vice-principal of Achimota College, in a 1925 London wireless talk. The Achimota curriculum aimed, he said, `to correct the mistakes which have been made in the educational system of Africa'. It would offer `not only professional training, but also technical courses that [would] teach both boys and girls the dignity of labour'.(22)

With independence in 1957 came major efforts to make up for the short comings of education in the colonial period. These entailed discussions of educational philosophy and curricular change as well as greatly expanding the number of schools at all levels and the types of secondary and post-secondary educational institutions.(23) An appropriate education for an independent African nation would `take account of the African environment, child development, cultural heritage and the demands of technological progress and economic development, especially industrialisation'.(24)

A modern African education would `undergird national unity, be related to African conditions, and meet the needs of an independent African state in a technological age'.(25) It should encourage creativity, prepare students f6r self-sufficiency, and enable them to solve local problems.(26) In a 1986 speech, Head of State Fl.Lt. J. J. Rawlings said,

It is not enough that our children should learn to read and write. They must be educated about their environment and about how to use the resources around them productively for their community's benefit. That is the essence of the new educational order we seek to build.(27)

Or, as Ghanaian educator Moses Anwti has put it

As we live in a technological age we must educate our pupils for it and in such a way as not to make the technological society highly efficient but also in such a way as to make its citizens happy, self-reliant and able to enjoy their work and maximise their leisure hours.(28)

The 1988 Ministry of Education and Culture Policy Guidelines are among recent official efforts to correct what has been repeatedly referred to as `the wrong type of education'. Once again, the need for education that instills in every Ghanaian a sense of cultural identity and dignity as well as an understanding of one's environment and scientific modes of thought is expressed.(29) At a 1995 Seminar for Managers of Culture and National Heritage sponsored by the Ghana National Commission for Culture, participants were urged to develop a `truly independent and integrated national economy which has as its base a strong agricultural, industrial and indigenous cultural base'.(30)

The second theme is best expressed by the Sankofa symbol, a bird looking over its shoulder representing the proverb 'return and take it'.(31) The concept here is that in order to move forward, one must draw upon the wisdom of the ancestors. Knowledge of their accomplishments, techniques for survival, and artistic expression provide the self-confidence which is necessary for self-reliance.

The concept of SANKOFA in our culture does not imply a blind return to

customs and traditions of the past. Sankofa affirms the co-existence of the

past and the future in the present and embodies, therefore, the attitude of

our people to the confrontation between traditional values and the demands of

modern technology which is an essential factor of development and

progress.(32)

The study of history will enable citizens of a multi-ethnic state to discover commnonalities in their traditions, values, and cultural practices thus facilitating the construction of `unifying memories and myths, symbols and values' often deemed to be lacking in Africa.(33)

It is my firm conviction that a good knowledge of the past of different

groups composing the states, of their cultures and institutions, and of their

roots will promote mutual respect and understanding which will break down the

barriers fear, suspicion and distrust that keep the various groups apart.(34)

A third theme in the discourse of culture for modern Ghana is the importance of selectively borrowing and adapting new ideas coupled with setting aside those aspects of culture which may have had value in the past but are no longer useful, thereby achieving what has been referred to, as cultural homeostasis or structural amnesia.(35) A 1975 statement of cultural policy prepared for UNESCO by the Ghana Ministry of Education and Culture asserts that Ghana has a long history of absorbing elements from others

Thus Ghana's culture and social life, instead of being absorbed by foreign

elements, has selected only those elements which have enriched it and endowed

it with the strength to develop and grow.(36)

In her introduction to a set of papers on the Asante, Enid Schildkrout suggests that `flexibility in selectively incorporating ideas from outsiders . . . may be one of the keys to the success of the Asante'.(37) Imports included skilled craftsmen, literate Muslim physicians, marabouts, and foreign policy advisers.(38) Associated with this theme are warnings against creating a `fossilized culture' that is divorced From and irrelevant to lived experience.(39) Rather, cultural practices must be adapted and reshaped to suit new media, new patterns of life, and new political demands.(40)

Television discourse

Television discourse differs from print discourse in ways that are particularly relevant to this discussion. Television in Ghana is at once a symbol of modernity and a medium of communication that is less alienating than print. It is a product of industrial technology, a medium that links Ghanaians to the rest of the world and to each other. Yet, as a medium that employs visual, aural, and verbal elements, television appeals to the senses rather than to the mind.(41) It is accessible to those who do not read and even to those who do not understand English which is the language of the print discourse reviewed above and, indeed, nearly all television in Ghana. As discourse that is broadcast, it is more readily available than academic papers and government documents which remain the preserve of university libraries and bureaucrats' files.

Audiences experience collages of images, sounds, and colours which are juxtaposed and overlapped in non-linear sequences that simulate the simultaneity of traditional African performance art. But, unlike the flow of stimuli associated with fireside story telling or annual festivals, electronic stimuli are rigidly contained in the tube at the front of the box. They are selected and edited to conform to conventions established in North American and Europe to suit the daily rhythm of life imposed by demands of industry and commerce not in conformity with indegenous African customs and the cycles of planting and harvesting.

Viewing can be a private, individual act like reading or it can be, and often, is a public experience. Audience involvement can be intense, as it is for soccer matches, or disinterested, as it often is for presidential speeches and pedantic talks by extension officers. While there is probably some peer pressure to watch TV, ultimately the choice to view rests with the individual unlike participation in funerals and festivals which is governed by tradition and kinship bonds.

Because the discourse of television is more concrete, more tied to the life world than that of print,(42) it makes visible what is said or implied in print. Children's television programmes, I suggest, are concrete realizations of ideas about modernity, in particular ideas about what children should be taught in order to become useful, self-sufficient citizens of a modern African nation.

Modernity in children's television

Public discourse about broadcasting in Ghana is replete with assertions of the power of radio and television to propel development that is firmly grounded in Ghanaian culture. Shirley DuBois, the first Head of Ghana Television Services (GTS), promised that GTS would `reflect our culture, our philosophy of life and our national objectives'.(43) Speaking at the inauguration of GTS, President Nkrumah said television `must be the okyeame [linguist/spokesman] of Ghana's development, and its economic and industrial advancement'. He pointed out that nearly six years of planning had preceded the inauguration of television in Ghana so that it would be truly a service by and for Ghanaians.

Our television service should be African in its outlook; its content, even

though it may express and reflect outside and foreign experiences, should

remain geared to the needs of Ghana and Africa. It must reflect and promote

the highest national and social ideals of our ideology and society.(44)

Nkrumah called upon Ghanaian writers, artists, and film makers to `share their talents with television, in order that all the Ghanaian arts may reach that communal outburst of creativity, which has marked the great periods of art in other parts of the world'.(45)

In lectures for the GBC'S Golden Jubilee, the late Professor Paul Ansah critically assessed the role of African broadcasting in fostering national integration. He pointed out that in order to create a national consciousness national symbols with which all citizens, regardless of ethnic origin, can identify must be created and projected. The electronic media are well suited to this task, he argued, because they can overcome `barriers of illiteracy and distance'.(46) A recent proposal for national cultural policy calls for the state to use radio and television to `enhance national consciousness and self-reliance' by making programme content,

relevant to Ghanaian reality, history and achievements, and giving adequate

attention and coverage to children, traditional intellectuals and custodians of

traditional culture, public service and cultural programmes.(47)

In 1994 the GBC still had a monopoly on broadcast television in the country. However, the state corporation was subject to limited competition from video viewing centres, home video rental stores and, in the Greater Accra region, a subscription satellite service which carried BBC World Service Television and M-Net, a South African commercial network that offered mostly western movies, music videos, and TV series. The growing availability of unmonitored cultural imports has provoked expressions of concern about the negative impact films and videos that glamourize violence, promiscuity, and disrespect for authority may have on the nation's youth.(48) Efforts have been made to restrict viewing centre attendance by young people during school hours and to require video operators to have an early evening showing of videos `suitable for children' before the regular feature which is then restricted to adults.(49)

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Television programmes for young people are intended to be, inter alia, wholesome alternatives, or antidotes, to imported commercial fare.(50) What is more, they carry on and extend the print discourse of culture for modem Ghana. Like the older disclosure, it is an elite conversation. Those who produce television programmes in Ghana are members of the educated, salaried classes. Many are professional educators; many have lived or studied abroad; many have participated in the discourse discussed above; all are actively engaged in negotiating and defining modernity. As access to television is still quite limited,(51) audiences are, for the most part, people in these same classes. The parents and guardians of young viewers are likely to speak English, value education, and own material symbols of modernity such as electrical appliances and automobiles.

Taken as a whole GBC-TV children's programmes comprise a representative range of educated, elite voices in the discourse of culture for modern Ghana. At the time of my study, GBC-TV aired 7 locally produced programmes for young people each week: Toddlers' Time, Hobby Time, Kyekyekule, Dos Computer Byte, Brilliant Science & Maths Quiz, and 2nd Generation. The GBC also broadcast a few, carefully selected imports for youngsters: Chemistry, Sesame Street, and The Gummi Bears as well as Unicef programmes and some cartoons for young children and Oshin (a Japanese dramatic series), The Cosby Show and Star Trek for teenagers and young adults. What follows is an analysis of the two programmes I think best illustrate the discourse of culture for modern Ghana, By the Fireside and Kyekyekule.

By the Fireside clearly exemplifies the element in that discourse that calls upon Ghanaians to reclaim from the past that which has value and significance today. It is produced by The 31st December Women's Movement and is said to be the brain child of the organization's president, First Lady Nana Ageyman Rawlings. In 1991 Ms Rawlings convened The Television Enrichment Think Tank (TETT) to discuss improving the content of TV programmes for children. Recalling the educational role of traditional story tellers, TETT decided that a TV series, in which stories are used to give children a kind of civic education should be developed. These would teach children how to fit into society and how to behave as well as educate them on their cultural heritage.(52)

Abibigroma, The National Theatre Company, was charged with collecting folk tales and adapting them for television. These efforts were not altogether successful; young children were apparently confused and frightened by the masked characters, and older children and adults complained that these same characters were not sufficiently `realistic'.(53) Furthermore, the use of professional actors was expensive. So, in 1993 Ms Rawlings asked Grace Omaboe, a well known actor and teacher, to develop a new format using school children as actors and participants. At first only Junior Secondary Schools in the Greater Accra Region were involved, but in 1995, Fireside moved out of Accra to work with children in other regions.(54)

The stories narrated and enacted on By the Fireside are drawn from tales traditionally told in the villages by grandmothers. Considerable effort has been made to adapt the style and formal elements as well as the messages of this ancient genre to the modern medium. Each show opens with children dancing and singing familiar songs that alert the audience to the story to be told that day. In the fashion of traditional African story telling,(55) this is followed by an exchange of greetings, jokes and riddles between the story tellers, Maame Dokono and Doctor Rokoto,(56) and the children. The story itself is broken up by song and dance interludes which elaborate an element in the tale and offer variety and diversion. The studio set is made to represent a rural village and the portions of the story which are acted out are taped on location in `the bush'. The children who form the studio audience, enact the stories, and provide the musical interludes; they are dressed in simple printed cloths or smocks of homespun typically worn by people in rural parts of the country.

Like traditional oral forms of education, much of children's TV is explicitly didactic. The stories on By the Fireside always contain a message: don't be greedy, tell the truth, in unity there is strength, obey your parents, and the like. In case a viewer might miss the intended message, the story tellers call upon children in the studio audience to say what they have learned. The `correct' response is then repeated for good measure. While the themes are enduring and the characters and narrative form are drawn from stories collected in the countryside, the stories are interlaced with contemporary elements and directly related to topical issues such as corruption, disunity among opposition political parties, and adolescent delinquency.(57)

In addition to making visible traditional cultural elements that are thought to be appropriate for Ghana at the end of the twentieth century, By the Fireside affirms the role of education in constructing culture. The programme reminds adults that children leap better by doing and playing than by reciting and memorizing and that story tellers are powerful educators. The children who participate in the shows are given opportunities to develop their talents and gain the self-confidence they need to do well in school and in civic affairs. Less apparent to viewers, though perhaps of greater value, they learn to listen to and take on different points of view, to take responsibility for a project, and to cooperate.(58) Working on the programme also provides valuable insights into the nature of modem technology. Children learn that television programmes are human constructs, made by people who work hard, make mistakes, and are passionate about their work.

Kyekyekule most obviously exemplifies the aspect of the discourse of culture for modern Ghana that urges Ghanaians to adopt attitudes and practices that will enable them to be self-reliant in a technological age. These include acquiring technical skills and know how, understanding scientific principles and methods, understanding one's environment, creative problem solving, and individual initiative. Implicit in this agenda is a rejection of rote learning, an unfortunate characteristic of much formal education in Ghana, and education for social conformity said to be the purpose of pre-modern education.(59)

Kyekyekule was developed in 1985 by the Education Section of GBC-TV. In 1994, in keeping with current GBC policy to seek cooperation and financial support from the private sector,(60) it was turned over to an independent media enterprise, Focal Point, which produces the show for its sponsor, Maltina.(61) In the tradition of Children's Own which Kyekyekule replaced, each week the pupils of a different elementary or junior secondary school are invited to be the studio audience and to share their talents with the nation via TV. The 45 minute magazine show is hosted by `Uncle George' Laing, a masterful teacher and charismatic performer. It is Laing's intent to `pull children forward into the modern world' by helping participants and viewers to understand and become comfortable with modern technology and by encouraging them to adopt attitudes and behaviours that will enable them to be confident, self-reliant, and morally upright citizens of a modern African nation.(62)

Kyekyekule, which takes its name from an ancient children's hand clapping game, is perhaps the most modern Ghanaian TV show. It has an infectious theme song -- the old words set to a lively new tune -- and a cheer -- kyekyekule! shouted with fists raised in a black power salute -- that engage home viewers as well as the children in the studio audience. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal. Most weeks there is a special guest, a young computer whiz, a young actor or musician, someone who is successful in the modern world and whose hard work and dedication viewers are encouraged to emulate. At other times, viewers accompany groups of school children to places such as the huge Akosombo Dam, Takoradi Harbour, and the Kakum National Park, places that symbolize Ghana the modern developing nation. Viewers and participants are taught that use of modern technology carries with it responsibilities. For example, the tour of the hydroelectric plant at Akosombo and accompanying explanation of how electricity is generated were bracketed with poems and songs emphasizing the need to use electricity wisely.(63) For weeks afterwards, the programme's host told audiences that they must set good examples for their parents by turning off fans, lights, TVs, and radios when they are not being used.

Laing's relationship with the children on and off the show is warm and affectionate suggesting that contemporary life demands more open intergenerational communication than was typical in the past. Laing firmly believes the old notion that children should be seen but not heard is no longer useful. Modernity demands that everyone's voice be heard, a view shared by Irene Boeteng, Head of the Education Section of GBC-TV, and her staff.

Kyekyekule gives voice to children in several ways. At the beginning of the show `Uncle George' goes into the audience with a microphone asking children to introduce themselves and to share their ambitions with viewers. During a segment dubbed `The Communication Spot' three or four children read letters written to `Uncle George' by admiring viewers from all regions of the country. The letters are selected by producers from the hundreds that flood the GBC on the basis of how well they are written and whether or not they offer meaningful observations on contemporary social situations or raise questions that are thought to be of importance to primary and junior secondary school children.(64) Laing never fails to praise the children for reading the letters well or to comment that wherever one goes in Ghana, one will find children who can read just as well. Moreover, he demonstrates respect for children by responding seriously to the writers' questions and expressions of concern. Finally, children from the guest school are given opportunities to demonstrate their talents: to recite poems, play flutes, perform traditional dances, or sing choral numbers.

Conclusion

For more than a century educated Ghanaians have participated in a public discourse about the proper nature of culture for modern Ghana. The principal themes in this discourse are that formal education is to play a major role in the construction of the culture; to be strong, that culture must draw upon the wisdom of the ancestors; to be relevant for today, it must selectively draw upon and adapt ideas from outside Ghana. I have argued that this discourse is made visible in children's television programmes which draw selectively upon the old and the new. The broadcast professionals and educators who are responsible for the programmes see their task as providing young Ghanaians with the skills and attitudes they need to lead healthy, productive, and morally upright modern lives. These skills and attitudes range from proficiency in English and constructive use of leisure time to conserving electricity and understanding how computers work. At the same time, the programmes are intended to reinforce traditional values such as obedience and respect for elders and to foster national unity by teaching tolerance for cultural diversity and inculcating pride in Ghana's rich culture.

Considering television as discourse enables us to think of a national television service such as the GBC in a new way, not only as a spokesperson for the nation-state, disseminator of didactic messages, and show case for the nation's cultural heritage but as participants in an on-going national conversation. This conversation is produced by many, frequently contradictory voices. In principle it is boundless; in practice, it is contained and disciplined.(65) The foregoing analysis of By the Fireside and Kyekyekule suggests the polyvocal nature of the discourse about culture for modern Ghana as it is manifest in children's television. A more extensive analysis that included all children's programmes, imported as well as domestic productions, would make that even clearer. However, the discourse is clearly circumscribed by institutional structures and practices of the GBC, participating schools, and corporate sponsors and by the class biased expectations and attitudes of those individuals involved in the production of the programmes. Popular culture is eschewed by Ghanaian children's television. For the responses of young street peddlers, adolescent house girls, and tro-tro mates to modernizing influences one must look elsewhere, perhaps as Ulf Hannerz suggests at personal photo albums, bar room tales, popular writing, and sign boards for commercial artists and barbers as well as at the dress, performance styles, and sounds of popular musicians and their fans.(66)

(1.) John Tomlinson, Cultural Imperialism (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1991), p. 3, emphasis in the original.

(2.) Tomlinson, Cultural Imperialism, p. 173.

(3.) Tomlinson, p. 173.

(4.) Tomlinson, Cultural Imperialism, p. 174.

(5.) Tomlinson, Cultural Imperialism, p. 175.

(6.) Kofi Awoonor, `Enhancing the African's Dignity', Keynote address Cape Coast Colloquium, Panafest, 1994. Quoted in Ian Hall, `Panafest Dissected', West Africa, 6-12 February 1995.

(7.) Harold Innis, The Bias of Communication, (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1951; reprint ed. 1977).

(8.) Tomlinson, Cultural Imperialism, pp. 158-59.

(9.) Colleen Roach, ed., communication and Culture in War and Peace (Sage, Newbury Park, CA., 1993).

(10.) Tomlinson, Cultural Imperialism, p. 140.

(11.) Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986).

(12.) See for example Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (The Free Press, New York, 1958); Joseph A. Khal, The Measurement of Modernism: a study of values in Brazil and Mexico (University of Texas, Austin for the Institute of Latin American Studies, 1968; and Talcott Parsons The System of Modern Societies (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ., 1971).

(13.) Tomlinson, Cultural Imperialism, p. 27.

(14.) Following Adu Boahen, Ghana: evolution and change in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Longman, London, 1975), I will use Ghana and Ghanaian rather than colonial terms, Gold Coast and Gold Coasters, even when referring to the period before the adoption of the name Ghana in 1957.

(15.) The Gold Coast Leader, 20 April 1907, quoted in S. Tenkorang, `The Founding of Mfantsipim 1905-1908', Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, 15: 2 (1974), p. 165.

(16.) Boahen, Ghana, p. 63.

(17.) John Mensah Sarbah, The Fanti National Constitution; a short treatise on the constitution and government of the Fanti, Asanti, and other Akan Tribe of West Africa (1906; Frank Cass, London, 2nd edition 1968); Tenkorang, `The Founding of Mfantsipim'.

(18.) Attah S. R. B. Ahuma, The Gold Coast Nation and Nation consciousness (1911; Frank Cass, London, reprint edition, 1971), p. 62; H. V. H. Sekyi, Education, Nationalism and Nation Building. Annual Alumni Lectures University of Ghana (Ghana Universties Press, Accra, 1974), p. 19; Mary E. Yirenkyi, `The Development of Drama Studies in Primary and Junior Secondary Schools in Ghana', M. Phil thesis, University of Leeds, 1991, p. 166; Cultural Policy in Ghana (UNESCO, Paris, 1975), p. 20.

(19.) Tenkorang, `The Founding of Mfantsipim', p. 168.

(20.) `Mfantsi Amambu Hu Fekuw', The Gold Coast Aborigines, 8 February 1902, p. 2. Compare K. A. Busia, A Purposeful Education for Africa (Mouton, London, 1964), p. 7.

(21.) Notice for Mfantsi National Education Trust Fund in The Gold Coast Aborigines, 26 April 1902, p. 1.

(22.) Quoted in Magnus Sampson, Gold Coast Men of Affairs (1937; Dawson, London, reprint edition, 1969), p. 65.

(23.) Moses Antwi, Education, Society and Development in Ghana (Unimax Publishers, Accra, 1992).

(24.) Directive of a UNESCO sponsored Conference of African States on the Development of Education in Africa, Addis Ababa, May 1961, quoted in Antiw, Education, p. 234.

(25.) Busia, Purposeful Education, p. 31.

(26.) See for example Sekyi, Education; L. K. T. Dorvlo, Integrated Approaches to Rural Development: an interpretation (E. P. Church Press, Ho, Ghana, 1980), p. 53; National Commission on Culture `The Cultural Policy of Ghana' (unpublished paper, 1990), p. 20.

(27.) Nation wide broadcast by the Chairman of the PNDC, Fl.Lt. J. J. Rawlings on the occasion of the 5th Anniversary of the 31st December Revolution, 31 December 1986, in J. J. Rawlings, The New Momentum: speeches of the Chairman of the PNDC (Ghana Information Services, Accra, 1987), p. 10.

(28.) Antwi, Education, p. 235.

(29.) Ghana, `Ministry of Education and Culture Policy Guidelines' (1988), in Yirenkyi,' The Development of Drama Studies', Appendix B.

Carla Heath teaches in the Department of Communication, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Virginia. The research for this study was made possible by grants from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and the Randolph-Macon Woman's College Professional Development Fund. A short version of this paper was presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in Orlando, Florida, 4 November 1995.

(30.) Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, `Artful Designs', West Africa 8-14 May 1995.

(31.) The extended proverb is Se wo were fi no wosankofa a yennkyi. It is no taboo to return and fetch it when you forget. You can always undo your mistakes. `Adinkra symbolsim', a chart prepared by Ablade Glover (3rd (revised) edition, February 1992).

(32.) National Commission of Culture, `The Cultural Policy of Ghana', p. 2.

(33.) A. D. Smith, `The Myth of the "Modern Nation" and the Myths of Nations', Ethnic and Racial Studies, 11:1 (1988), p. 11.

(34.) Boahen, Ghana, p.11. Compare Sekyi, Education and Cultural Policy in Ghana.

(35.) Jack Goody and Ian Watt, `The Consequences of Literacy' in J. Goody, ed. Literacy in Traditional Societies (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1968), pp. 30-32. Although Goody and Watt ascribed this phenomenon to oral societies which relied on human memory to recall the past, I believe with Kathleen Gough that 'structural amnesia' is characteristic of literate as well as non-literate societies. Kathleen Gough, `Implications of literacy in Tradictional China and India',in Goody, ed. Literacy in Traditional Societies, p. 81. See also Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, (London, Verso, revised ed., 1991). `All profound changes in consciousness, by their very nature, bring with them characteristic amnesias. Out of such oblivions, in specific historical circumstances, spring narratives', p. 204.

(36.) Cultural Policy in Ghana, p. 16.

(37.) Enid Schildkrout, ed. The Golden Stool: Studies of the Asante center and periphery (Anthropological Papers of the Museum of Natural History, New York, vol. 65, pt. 1, 1987), p. 10.

(38.) Kwame Arhin, `Savanna Contributions to the Asante Political Economy', p. 53; A. M. Opuku, `Asante Dance Art and the Court', and J. H. Nketia, `Cultural Development and the Arts', all in Schildkrout, The Golden Stool.

(39.) J. C. de Graft-Johnson, `The Significance of Some Akan titles', The Gold Coast Review, 2:2 (1929), pp. 208-23 reprinted in the Institute of African Studies Research Review New Series, 6:1 (1990), p. 25-35; K. N. Bame, `Culture, Youth and Development' (Arts Council of Ghana, Accra, 1978); Margaret A. Novechi, `Interview with Mohammed Ben Abdallah', Africa Report, July-August, 1989, pp. 14-18.

(40.) J. H. Nketia, `Cultural Development and the Arts' (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Oct. 1976 mimeo).

(41.) K. E. Agovi, `The Philosophy of Comunication in Traditional Ghanaian Society: the literary and dramatic evidence', paper presented at the Seminar on Communication Policy for Ghana, Legon, April 1987; Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public discourse in the age of show business (Penguin Books, New York, 1985).

(42.) Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy. the technologizing of the word (Methuen, London, 1982).

(43.) Radio Review & TV Times, 10 April 1964, p. 3.

(44.) Radio Review & TV Times, 10 April 1964, p. 3.

(45.) Radio Review & TV Times, 6 August 1965, p. 11.

(46.) P. V. A. Ansah, Broadcasting and National Development GBC Golden Jubilee Lecture (Ghana Publishing Corporation, Tema, 1985), p. 21.

(47.) National Comission on Culture, `The Cultural Policy of Ghana', pp. 19-20.

(48.) Larry Otto, Executive Secretary Ghana Comission on Children, interview with author, Accra, 16 February 1994; Irene Boeteng, Head Education Section GBC-TV, interview with author, Accra 13 April 1994.

(49.) S. T. K. Boafo, `Cassette Recorders in Ghana: impact on press freedom in sub-Saharan Africa' in Colin Sparks, ed., New Communication Technologies: a challenge for press freedom (UNESCO, Paris, 1991).

(50.) Irene Boeteng, interview.

(51.) According to GBC, '1994 Audience Reports', in 1990 there were 211, 244 TV sets licensed in Ghana: 60 percent in the Greater Accra Region; 20 percent in Ashanti. The GBC estimates there are about 20 viewers for each set. Based on these figures, I estimate that about 30 percent of Ghanaians have some access to TV.

(52.) Ebo Hawkson, Director DuBois Centre, interview with author, Accra, 15 March 1994. This was not an entirely new idea. A review of Radio Review & TV Times for the 1960s and 70s indicates that didactic folk tales have been featured on GBC radio and TV for many years. In the past, they were often intended for adult audiences.

(53.) Dzifa Gomashie, Producer of By the Fireside, interview with the author, Accra, 10 February 1994; Grace Omaboe, Host and script writer of By the Fireside, interview with the author, Accra, 21 March 1994.

(54.) Dzifa Gomashie, personal communication, 1995.

(55.) Ruth Finnegan, Oral Literature in Africa (Oxford University Press, London, 1970); Efua Sutherland, The Marriage of Anansewa (Longman, London, 1975); E. K. Agovi, `Towards an Authentic African Theatre', Ufahamu, 19: 2/3 (1991), pp. 67-79; Isidore Okpewho, African Oral Literature: background, character, and continuity (Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1992).

(56.) Maame Dokono is the stage name for Grace Omaboe who, in addition to writing the scripts, casts the shows and works with the young actors after school; Doctor Rokoto is the stage name for Yaw Ourisu who is a okyeame by profession. He usually speaks in Akan which is understood by about sixty percent of Ghanaians. Then, for clarity and emphasis, these contributions are rephrased in English by Maame Dokono.

(57.) Grace Omaboe, interview.

(58.) Mary E. Yirenkyi, Lecturer Department of Theatre, University of Ghana, interview with the author, Legon, 5 April 1994.

(59.) N. K. Dzobo, Modes of Traditional Moral Education Among Anfoega-Ewes (University Press, Cape Coast, 1971).

(60.) Team Vision: a newsletter for GBC-TV Division, 1:1 (1994).

(61.) Maltina's sponsorship was part of a campaign to change the product's image associated with a change in ingredients -- adding vitamins -- and slogan, `Maltina cares'. Kyekyekule, which is a family show, offered the right environment for a drink that is `good for the whole family'. Charles Bucknor, President of Focal Point, interview with the author, 15 March 1994.

(62.) George Laing, host of Kyekyekule, interview with author, Accra, 25 March 1994.

(63.) Kyekyekule, GBC-TV 8 February 1994.

(64.) George Laing, interview; Alex Ahulu, Producer GBC-TV, interview with author, Accra, 10 February 1994.

(65.) Tomlinson drawing upon Michel Foucault, Cultural Imperialism, pp.9-11.

(66.) Ulf Hannerz, Cultural Complexity (Columbia University Press, New York, 1992), pp. 239-46.
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Publication:African Affairs
Date:Apr 1, 1997
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