The other day I clicked on an image sent on a WhatsApp platform I belong to, only to be greeted with a gory and mortifying image of a young lady. She was purportedly electrocuted by a power bank. This however is not the first of such demeaning photos of dead persons, and others in very dehumanizing circumstances, to be circulated through the media spaces – especially social media. There have been several others in the past.
Consistent with the African, and for that matter, Ghanaian tradition; there are three very solemn and distinct occasions in any human’s life; Birth, Marriage and Death. On these occasions, we treat the person with all the dignity and deference we can muster.
However, the afore-stated civil culture is being thrown to the dogs, especially with regards to death and other mortifying experiences suffered by persons in our society. To think that not only average persons are treated to this fate; and that the practice is not limited to unguided individuals or fly-by-night media outlets alone, makes it all the more worrying.
One can recall how a purported morgue picture of the late P. V Obeng was bandied about in a rather demeaning manner on social media. This was an illustrious son of Ghana who had served his country in several capacities. The least we could have done after his last breath was to accord him that last respect and dignity he deserved by one and all. But alas! It was a feast of frenzy. All manner of persons – old and young, rich and poor, educated and illiterate – clamoured to pass their last comments; as the ungodly image was circulated as though it were a mummified figure on auction.
The spate of such undignified circulation of images of persons within our society, who have either passed or have suffered one form of a humiliating experience or the other, has reached a fever pitch lately; thus eliciting this article of concern from me.
In a streak of events within the space of a month or less; we have seen the mutilated remains of Alhaji Adams Mahama, the late Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, unseemly paraded on social media. Modernghana.com, firstdigitalghana.com as well as other print media did not exercise the requisite editorial propriety and went ahead to publish gory images of Mr. Adams’ acid-scoured remains.
Then was the unfortunate story with another set of humiliating photos of an alleged transgender wizard arrested by the Police at Madina. Apart from individuals, Media worth mentioning for their lack of discretion in publishing an undisguised image of this person was Starrfmonline.com and similarly, the Daily Graphic. In that same breadth, it must be mentioned that Ghanaweb did a great job in veiling the picture in their publication of the story.
The other day, the Managing Director of the Daily Graphic – Mr. Edem Ashigbi, came out and took responsibility for his newspaper’s misguided step. One would think the most widely circulated newspaper in Ghana would go and sin no more. I was therefore scandalized when they once again published on their web page, graphic.com.gh, an open casket showing the hair and facial region of the mortal remains of Madam Theodosia Okoh; with no mean a person looking on but the President of the Republic.
Our television channels cannot go unmentioned in this matter. More often than not, we are treated to very ghastly images in some of their reportage –especially in cases of fatal road accidents.
It is crucial to know that, the brazen spread and publication of such indecorous photos does not only go to degrade the memory and image of the deceased or the victims. It also leads to the growing psychological effect of desensitizing viewers, and subsequently the society at large; to issues of death, horror and other unpleasant happenings.
For our social and psychological health; I hope in the coming days we have seen the last of inhumane and gory images of the dead and others maimed in unfortunate circumstances. Let such images be treated as distasteful by one and all. The senders must be reprimanded as uncouth henceforth. Mainstream media culpable of this must cause their editorial chiefs to resign and guilty officers fired if need be.
I want to believe we are a civilized and advancing society; our progress therefore cannot be whole if we do not check these little foxes that have crept into our body politic.