In the beginning, was Anas
And Anas was a journalist
And Anas was a mere reporter at Crusading Guide.
Anas covered political press conferences and mundane parliamentary debates and beauty pageants and rainfall patterns.
But Anas was not happy.
Anas saw that the stories he covered did not address the issues that were dear to his heart. Anas saw that our nation was ill – in fact, terminally ill – and resolved to use the only tools he had as a journalist – the pen and the camera – to address those ills.
Anas started small. Very small. One day in 1999 he observed that those police officers deployed to keep street hawkers off certain highways in the nation’s capital were taking bribes from the poor hawkers and allowing them to flout the law. So Anas went undercover. He became a street hawker selling nkatie burger’ on the street to get the full extent of the problem, and what he found shocked him and galvanised him.
Next, Anas heard that some Ghanaian workers of AfKO Fisheries were maltreated by their Korean employer in the high seas. So Anas went undercover aboard a shipping vessel to get hard-core evidence. What he brought back outraged a nation and thrust Anas in the national limelight.
Next, at the height of the Ivorian crises, Anas got wind that some Ivorian rebels had invaded Ghanaian territories, made incursions into some northern communities such as Walata and Saru, and subjected the inhabitants to constant torture and abuse. So Anas went undergo as the ‘Prince of Walata’ and managed to meet the rebel leader, receiving information about the rebels’ camp and operations. The government of Ghana secured its border. Anas became a national star and received presidential attention.
Next, Anas heard that there were problems in a popular second cycle school in Ghana. So Anas got a school uniform and a “chop box” and went undercover as a student to gather first-hand information.
Next, Anas went undercover to expose officials within Ghana’s passport office who provided Ghanaian passports to non-citizens for a fee. What he found shocked the nation and led directly to the biometric passport for Ghanaians.
Next, Anas heard that Ghanaians and other West Africans were suffering severe maltreatment in Thai prisons in the capital Bangkok. So Anas got a cassock and travelled to Bangkok to infiltrate its prisons as a Catholic Priest. What he brought out shocked the nation and forced the government of Ghana to negotiate with the Thai government for the transfer of all convicted Ghanaian prisoners in Thailand to Ghana.
Next, Anas got hints that a biscuit and confectionery factory in Ghana, Eurofood, was using expired and maggot-infested flour to produce biscuits for public consumption in Ghana and other parts of Africa. So Anas went undercover as a labourer in the factory and brought us all the maggot-infested details. I was a teaching assistant at KNUST at the time when the story hit, and Anas was the hottest thing in Ghana, hailed by politicians and common men alike.
Next, Anas heard that a brothel right in the centre of the capital was hiring teenagers and forcing them into prostitution. So Anas got a broom and got a job in the brothel as a cleaner. When he emerged with the details, the brothel was closed and the teenage prostitutes were taken in by Social Welfare.
Then Anas heard that there were corruption and abuse of children in Ghana’s biggest state-run orphanage – Osu Children Home. Anas went in undercover and brought us the details.
When Anas heard that some security officers and their cohorts were operating a cocoa smuggling syndicate to neighbouring Ivory Coast when the nation was spending a fortune to spray the farms and increase yields, he jumped on a motorbike and followed the trail undercover in the interest of the state and at the peril of his life.
When Anas heard that the nation’s biggest psychiatric hospital was a den of criminals and a safe abode for patient human rights abuses, he went “high” and went “mad” and got admitted there. And he brought us all the gory Babylon details!
Next, Anas heard that the nation’s key point of entry – the Tema Harbour – was a den of thieves. Anas went undercover with his lenses and what he brought out nearly gave a president a heart-attack. It led to several changes in operations at the harbour.
Other high profile investigative works followed, with such interesting titles as the “Messiah of Mentukwa”, “the President’s Assignment – Stealing the People’s Power”, “the Spirit Child”, “the Ghana Sex Mafia” and “Ghana’s Soul Takers”.
Anas’ fame, reputation and influence went beyond the boundaries of Ghana and the world began to take notice. So he went international, collaborating with the likes of Al Jazeera and the BBC to investigate stories across the vast land of Africa, from Nigeria to Tanzania.
Then on 23 September 2015, Anas premiered a movie that broke the nation’s heart. Titled “Ghana in the Eyes of God”, Ghanaians were treated to unbelievable scenes of the nation’s judges selling justice to the highest bidder and allowing criminals to go free. It led to the sacking of 21 justices of the high court of Ghana and some much-needed reforms in the judicial sector.
Anas became the darling of the nation, the standard bearer of impeccable journalistic ideals. So much so that a major politician told a cheering nation in a televised presidential debate that when he wins power as president, he will deploy what he called the Anas’s style to expose and punish corruption and wrong-doing in Ghana. Every politician wanted to be associated with Anas. Every politician wanted to claim ownership of a piece of Anas. Anas had arrived. Anas had achieved what no other journalist in Ghana had achieved.
But Anas was not satisfied. Anas could not be satisfied. Anas realized that the real trouble with our society was the politicians and those who controlled large sums of money in the affairs of the nation. So Anas tested the waters by turning his lenses towards the football administrators of our land, and hell broke loose.
Ghanaians were treated to scenes of the president of the Ghana Football Association telling a supposed corrupt Arab businessman that he had the President of the Republic of Ghana in his pocket and that some ministries were created by the president as “chopping avenues” for some powerful party financiers and businessmen.
That the President of the Republic of Ghana, Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, that handsome, romantic, some-may-even-say-sexy, man, who had told Ghanaians in broad-daylight during the campaign that anyone who was interested in graft and money-making had no place in his government, was in the pocket of a football administrator! Anas had gored a sacred cow!
You don’t expose the ruling class that way and get plaudits. So naturally, the heat was turned on Anas. They started questioning his methods; they said he was trapping people and forcing them to accept bribes; they asked who polices the policeman, and they said he was a blackmailer. They started making distinctions between bribes and gifts, but the distinctions couldn’t hold water. You shouldn’t fear mouse traps if you are not a mouse.
But Anas would not be cowed. So he followed that by hitting directly at ministers of state and government appointees, and the picture doesn’t look pretty. The government has begun to circle the wagons. Government appointees and spokespersons are in a full frontal attack. They say Anas is now an enemy of the nation and must be silenced.
Does the president still believe that Anas’s method of exposing and fighting crime is the best for our country, or is he deep in the pocket of Kwesi Nyantakyi? Only time will tell!
Columnist: Dr. Richard Tia | Lecturer, KNUST