Manasseh, Lydia Forson, Trolls, and The Festival of Opinions

Manasseh, Lydia Forson, Trolls, and The Festival of Opinions

Obviously, this post is in relation to seasoned Ghanaian journalist, Manasseh and specifically, on the "man of the moment," Nana Kwame. I would procee

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Obviously, this post is in relation to seasoned Ghanaian journalist, Manasseh and specifically, on the “man of the moment,” Nana Kwame. I would proceed to the nuances of the entire viral post in a minute but first, take a close look at the image below.

That is a photo of “Daddy” Reggie Rockstone, a pioneer in Ghana’s Hiplife movement. I use daddy to reference that image of him as the grand-papa of Hiplife, and literally, as a married man with kids in real life. Even if he wasn’t married and without kids, the tittle would still be relevant. Reggie Rockstone might look like your older brother, but he is in fact 52 years and was 51 at the time the photo was taken.

In this photo, Grandpapa Reggie, husband and father, is seen gyrating with a girl in “skimpy” clothes. This girl is half naked and their bodies are in close contact at a very critical point. From the angle of the shot, one is tempted to find out how grand papa is doing “behind the veil,” sorry, behind the “behind” of the girl.

Now why is this photo relevant? This appeared on my Twitter feed just around the same time of last year’s VGMAs. An issue that erupted almost immediately after the awards was Hamamat and her “scandalous” red carpet appearance. As expected, she was slaughtered mercilessly by Ghanaians and as we’ve grown to know, her private, domestic, marital affairs were brought into the matter. It got so bad, Hamamat, a grown independent woman, mother of three, and arguably one of the most intelligent and successful Miss Malaika winners was pushed to offer an apology to her unknown critics.

To this effect, Lydia Forson rose to the occasion to show solidarity for her fellow woman to address the double standards in our society and to bring out some of the nuances around our critiques.

First of all, how Reggie Rockstone’s image above did not go viral, I don’t know. But what I know for sure is that had it been any of his female colleagues in the music/entertainment business, hell would have broken loose! You know what’s surprising, if the said female celebrity were single, it would have been an issue, if she were married, it would still be an issue. What does this suggest? You do the math!

These, and many other reasons, was what Lydia Forson sought to achieve in her defense for Hamamat. She writes,

I’m more appalled by how people tried to use this as measurement for whether she was a fit mother or the reason behind her failed marriage( and FYI failure only means something didn’t work and not because it’s the end of the world). You could have talked about the dress without bringing her children, family and personal life into it. It’s just a DRESS ah! I don’t know Hamamat personally and I’m quite indifferent about her, however if I’m going to speak out for women I can’t with a clear conscious pick and choose who I support or speak for based on my feelings towards them.

Now if you haven’t noticed, Manasseh Azure and Lydia Forson both seem to have quite a few things in common. One main trait they share is their strong opinions, and their “bluntness” in conveying them. The difference though, is that they are of different genders and in our society, your gender is always critical in how people “receive” your opinions.

Another observation is that while Miss Forson seems to operate on plain “empathy,” Manasseh’s goodwill opinion pieces are clouded by his personal moral convictions, which even though reads well with Ghana’s largely conservative hypocritical audience, might not always speak for the few who do not ascribe either to his religion, or moral principles. And then there is his subtle narcissistic tendencies. Therefore, I will always maintain, he might be an authority on national politics, but never on gender. Simply because, he writes from a very privileged angle/perspective: a Christian/Religious Male in Ghana.

So guess what, Manasseh shared his opinion on the whole Hamamat red carpet brouhaha by sharing a video interview of her defending her views on nudity. His accompanying comments on the video read, “When you get WISER, you will look back and realize that THE LIKES of Lydia Forson who ENCOURAGE you to hold on to such LAME-MINDED VIEWS really hurt you. Madness!” (My own emphasis here.)

Lord knows how I hold Manasseh Azure strong and dear to my heart. I believe if half of our journalists were as bold as he is on national issues, maybe the profession would regain its relevance in our society. However, occasionally, he has attempted to spread his wings to the realm of gender activism and even prides himself as a supporter of women empowerment on the basis of one or two articles he has written on the matter. While it is appreciated, I still maintain he focuses on Ghanaian national politics and continue to sow his mark on being the “voice of conscience” in our national politics.

Let’s go back to his comment on the video. Remember I mentioned “Narcissism”? Pause here for a moment, go look up that word and come back to the party. Now let’s break up the quote:

1. When you get wiser…

Ergo, you are not wise. Or you might be, but not wise  enough yet. Manasseh Azure, a self-proclaimed gender activist, said this to Hamamat, a woman, mother and well-accomplished woman in her feats. By this inversion, he subjected the already slaughtered woman to further slaughtering by an inconsiderate public that consistently find joy in belittling women irrespective of their achievements.

2. The Likes of Lydia Forson…

Gosh! I could just end this piece here. The level of condescension should be enough to condemn not just any gender advocate from any further advocacy work, but it is also enough to disqualify any general human rights advocate. So if even Lydia Forson erred, or you simply disagreed with her, must you reduce her to this? Now let’s examine the nuances by looking at those he has “satisfied” in this rather unfortunate comment: (1) Those who cannot stand opinionated women simply because they are women, and not because what they say is valid or not; (2) People in our society who think single women like Lydia are a liability; (3) People who blame the single status of single women on the women themselves and never a consideration of other critical factors; (4) People who expect single women to hide away in shame rather than continue living their lives to the fullest, like Lydia does every single time.

3. Lame-minded views. Madness!

Do you see the narcissism here yet? Lame-minded views is both an attack on the person of Lydia (or anyone who bears those views). I can just really, drop off here…

This post saddened me and at the same taught me something very valuable: We (opinionated people), cannot claim this right of ours and not respect other people’s views. Again, we cannot be right all the time! Finally, we should learn to choose our battles and fight them cautiously and strategically.

I must admit, even I, need some serious coaching and reflection on this as I do fall victim to it rather often.

So Lydia responded in an open letter to Manasseh and for which he again responded in an article titled, “A Common Sense Response to Lydia Forson.” Now although he admitted to his goof on his initial comment on Hamamat’s defense on her views on nudity, his headline, “A Common Sense Response,” leaves nothing to write home about his convictions. Why? As a self-proclaimed women empowerment advocate, he yet again used his voice and medium to subject Lydia Forson, an outspoken, single, never-wedded-before, childless woman to the mercy of Ghanaians to do what they do best to “women of her kind.” 

During this time, I really wanted to speak on this issue but I just could not find the words. So fast forward to today on the issue before us, what can we say about this?

Manasseh’s initial comment on the African CEOs conference reported to have been held in Europe without any African representatives, raised valid questions about the conference. In fact, many of us held similar reservations when the report broke out. But, let’s also admit Manasseh goofed big time on his conclusion, that somehow the organizers had no valid, slash logical reasons to have taken that decision. His conclusion was harsh, condescending and very uncalled-for for a journalist of his caliber. When I saw it, I scrolled past it in disappointment especially when it had been confirmed that the annual conference apparently rotates each year, and that maybe, there was no “malice” intended after all.

Nana Kwame’s “clap back” should definitely make its way to this year’s Jigwe awards for viral comment of the year! It might not have been as “logical” in reasoning, but the analogy worked best, to drive home some critical points in sharing one’s opinion on issues: (1) Get your facts right; (2) Refrain from labels; (3) Keep an open mind; (4) Leave room for correction and information from those who actually have the facts.

I have restrained from posting something on my timeline about this issue because even I, have taken it as a huge learning curve, and my prayer for Manasseh was that he would do same by letting this issue die a natural death. Manasseh’s dubious rhetorical questions at the end of his comment certainly provided an invitation for this personal attack from someone who is probably tired of his narcissism in expressing his views.

His reply to Nana Kwame even made it worse and has proved every single thing I’ve spoken about in this piece about our dear Manasseh. The damage control did even more damage to his image the moment he referred to Nana Kwame’s comment as “illogical” in his own clap back to Nana Kwame’s clap back.

Dear Manasseh, you a great writer! You are gem and a great asset to mother Ghana. Henceforth, choose your battles, and choose them wisely. We still love you…

#IStandWithManasseh

Efe Plange

Efe Plange

Efe Plange is founder and editor of Sankofa Reviews. She holds a Master's degree in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University. She is passionate about the Arts and Cultural industry and her background in the field is fueled by a longstanding dream of seeing theory work together with practice. Connect with Efe on social media.
Efe Plange

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 4
  • comment-avatar
    Nana Shakes 3 months

    Fantastic piece. Your article has summed up all the views I hold about Manasseh’s writings. I was particularly peeved by his comment about the recent funeral of the Asantehemaa, describing it with pejoratives like “archaic” and “backward” culture. You are absolutely right. Manasseh should choose his battles carefully because some of his comments are leaving a trail of disappointed readers in their wake.

    • comment-avatar

      I think it would be safe, hence, to always leave room for “speculations.”

      Thanks for the feedback Nana Shakes!

  • comment-avatar
    Vonnie 3 months

    Dear Efe, this is a great piece!! I’m grateful for intelligent and articulate women like you who keep readers spellbound till the very end. You make some very valid points, and I see how misogynistic we can be without realizing it sometimes. My takeouts from this – Keep an open mind and Leave room for correction and information from those who actually have the facts.

    Keep it up!!

    • comment-avatar

      Thanks Vonnie! Another take from this is how all of us, both men and women propagate this culture.

      Thanks for reading.

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