During the first republic, Kwame Nkrumah became the first President of the Republic of Ghana. He formed the one party government. After Independence and under the one-party government of Kwame Nkrumah, the CPP set up the Guinea Press which published the party’s propaganda and ideological newspaper and magazines to propagate socialist ideas and politics: among them was the Evening News, The Spark, several periodicals for party organization.
Taking into account how the media faired under the first republic of Ghana, it would be fair to say that the commander-in-chief of the armed forces was a dictator.
Regular cartoons often reflect dissenting opinion, a degree of public anger or a spirit of activism against any number of perceived social ills. They are a form of “angry laughter” indulged at the expense of the perceived perpetrators of “social ills”. They are often on the side of the underdog and potentially subversive of authority, secular, religious or otherwise. They feed on the art of gross exaggeration and deliver their punches by gross magnification or diminution of their subject. Often, over a period of time, cartoons evolve into sophisticated narratives on historical events and representations of historical realities (Westin 1979). French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan complicates the idea of images representing realities when he suggests that “in its relation to desire, reality appears only as marginal” (Lacan 1998: 108). Let us take look a demonstration that cartoon representations of Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah underwent a dramatic transformation following his removal from power in a military-police coup on February 24, 1966.
After the Independence, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah capitalised on the media to promote their agenda. To ensure conformity the post-colonial state sustained and enforced rather than reformed the colonial legislation that make critical and dissenting voices of criminal offences. When the Preventive Detention Act was passed, the first victims to be rounded up for detention without charge or trial included A.D. Appeal and Kwame Kesse-Adu, respectively and Accra correspondence of the Kumasi-based Ashanti Pioneer.
State-owned media from colonialism
The cornerstones of the media landscape as we know it today were laid during colonial times. The first newspaper was published by a governor of the British Gold Coast settlements in the 19th century. Radio was introduced by colonial authorities on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of King George V, the head of the British Empire, and was used to transmit BBC programs to colonial residents and privileged native elites. During the struggle for independence, newspapers were used to shape and stir up the people to fight to liberate the country from colonialism. British radio served as a means of countering those anti-colonial campaigns of the nationalist press.
In the March 1, 1966 issue of the Accra Evening News, Nkrumah is depicted by the cartoonist Ghanatta as “Nkrumah – The Vicious Octopus”, his tentacles firmly wrapped around basic commodities, liberty, democracy, justice, wealth, confidence, free voting, and free expression; a near-naked. Ghana stands bound hand and feet in a corner lamenting “oh, my possessions” (Accra Evening News, March 1, 1966)
No privatization after colonialism
The approach of avoiding the privatization that characterized colonial governments was also observable for the postcolonial state. The first regime under Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah followed socialist and neo-communist thinking that supported state-ownership to ensure that capitalist influences connected to private ownership would not creep into the media. Nkrumah managed to eradicate all private newspapers and, together with them, disapproval of his administration through direct censorship and repressive laws. (Tutwane, 2014). The Preventive Detention Act (PDA) allowed to lockup or detain anybody without trial for up to five years while the Newspaper Licensing Act made it impossible for anyone outside the government to operate a newspaper. Eventually, no law existed in the country because Nkrumah became the law unto himself. He could imprison anybody without trial for as long as ten years. He could appoint and sack judges at will. He effectively abolished pluralistic democracy and made himself a life president with untrammeled powers to run the country as his personal property. He created an ideological institute to corrupt the psyche of the youth to sing his praise until their deaths. He squelched the activities of the Trade Unions that helped him ascend to power. He incarcerated every one of those people who at one time helped in the independence movement, including Arko Adjei and Gbedemah who virtually made him president