The Real Anas: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
17th September 2015
Since the judicial scandal broke, several of you have been calling and messaging, asking me to get Anas to come blow the lid off fraudulent deals and corruption in all kinds of places – from churches to workplaces to government offices to trotro terminals. The more calls and messages I received, the more clearly I saw just how deep the roots of corruption have spread throughout our society. It made me sad, but I was also struck hard by the irony that a society as corrupt as ours could produce an anti-corruption crusader as effective as Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
And let’s face it: Anas and his Tiger Eye Investigative team are highly effective at exposing the ills of our society, and bringing the people behind those ills to justice. I’m sure none of us need to be reminded of the shocking truths and dehumanizing injustices they’ve uncovered, that may otherwise have stayed hidden for all eternity.
Who can forget the shocking human rights abuses he revealed in Ghana’s biggest psychiatric hospital? Or indeed, the sweeping reforms that the authorities were forced to implement as a result of that shocking story? Who can deny the millions of dollars Anas saved for Ghana by shining his unflickering spotlight on the corruption at Tema Harbour, the smuggling of Ghana’s valuable cocoa, the daylight robbery at the Electricity company of Ghana, or the sickening fraud at the core of Ghana’s vehicle licensing system?
And let’s not forget the numerous times when his talents have been applied beyond our shores by Al Jazeera and other global news networks to uncover the ills of other societies like Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Tanzania? No, there’s no argument: He may be part man, part myth, part journalist, part detective, but Anas is fully effective.
Which broadens the irony even further. How did an upside-down republic like Ghana, where none of our systems are effective, end up creating an individual such as this? How can a nation that gets things so wrong, spawn an individual who gets things so right? Where this guy come from? And why is he so hell-bent on fixing society’s problems?
Well, since this latest scandal broke, I have been spending some time with Anas, getting to know the story behind the story, and from the many things he has shared with me, I have a theory of what makes him tick.
For him, the turning point may have been in journalism school. There was probably that one watershed moment when Anas walked out of a lecture and realised just how diametrically opposite our society was to the world described by his professors and in his textbooks. There must have been that moment when it struck him that none of the valuable knowledge he had gathered in school would be of any use to a boy from Bimbilla whose entire family, whose entire tribe, was counting on him to come back and use all that knowledge to effect positive change in their lives.
It must have been a moment like that, when he was seized with the conviction that something had to change – when he must have decided that he could not take all of that knowledge and cast it aside to merely function as an insignificant cog in a crooked wheel – when he must have made a conscious decision to not be a part of the problem, but a part of the solution. It must have been a moment like that, when Anas Aremeyaw Anas was born.
Whether my theory is right or wrong, one fact remains uncontested: Anas does it all for the people. He picks the topics that the people cry about. He risks his life to reveal the truth that society NEEDS to hear – even if we sometimes don’t WANT to hear it. Like the superheroes we read about in comic books, Anas puts on a mask and goes out to pursue justice, no matter how many goats are placed in his way. He puts himself in danger because we need him to. He sacrifices his identity because we need him to. And we thank him endlessly for it.
So now, I’m thinking again about all the calls and messages I got yesterday, requesting Anas’ investigative skills. People see a superhero, and in addition to the gratitude they feel for his presence, they also grow a certain dependency on the hero to always come and save the day.
My friends, I want to remind you of the real reason why heroes exist. It is to remind us that we all can be heroes. After all, Anas came from amongst us. He came from Bimbilla, just like many others. He went to Christian Methodist Secondary School – ChriMetho – just like a bunch of others did. He graduated from Legon – just like almost a fifth of Ghana’s graduates did. He came from us. He is one of us. He is us.
His presence reminds us that no matter how corrupt and unjust our society may be, we can individually make a difference by standing up for what is right and exposing what is wrong in our own small way. We can all be superheroes – with nothing but our phones as weapons. If you see someone doing what they shouldn’t, film it. Record it. Share it. Expose it. Report it. Live Anas’ mantra: Name, Shame and Punish. Let every public officer be afraid to ask you for a bribe, because they can’t be sure whether you are Anas or not. Let’s not leave this brave man’s work to stand on its own. Let’s all don our capes and masks and stand beside him to fight until there is nowhere for the crooked to hide.
Anas does it because we need it to be done. We need it. So let’s do it too. Let’s all be the real Anas’ in our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our local government offices, our trotro terminals. Look what he has done on his own. Imagine what we will achieve together.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I am the real Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!