It has been almost a week since a finalist of the Miss Commonwealth beauty pageant, Nana Ama Essien, braved the storm and came out to make what some people have called wild allegations against the organizers of the pageant. The traumatised lady claims she was sent her to a shrine for allegedly stealing ¢500 during her days as contestants in the event.

Though the said contestant had lodged a formal complaint with the Police in Koforidua prior to speaking to the media, it would have been expected that of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, which in a way regulates what happens in the entertainment space would at least issue a statement on the matter.

The nonchalant posture of the Ministry in the wake of the alleged brutality meted out to Nana Ama Essien is despicable, to say the least. And oh the Gender and Social Protection Ministry also sat on the fence and did not say anything. And please out women’s and feminist groups, your silence was very loud and well heard! 

But thankfully, news broke that the Attorney General’s Department is pursuing the case and investigating it to put those found culpable before the court.

It was difficult for me to fathom how the eventual Miss Commonwealth delegation including the 1st runner up and others visited the Tourism, Art and Culture Minister Barbara Oteng Gyasi and her deputy, Dr Ziblim Iddi at the height of the embarrassment with news of the alleged abuse making headlines all over the country

Last week Friday, October 18, the Ministry posted pictures of the visit of the 1st runner up of Miss Commonwealth, Miss Portia Agyeman Ahenkan and the Minister and her deputy on its official Facebook page captioned with enthusiasm. The Ministry adopted the hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil attitude by not mentioning the trending saga that had marred the beauty of the pageant.

Perhaps the issue of alleged abuse that bedevilled Miss Commonwealth is of no interest to the Ministry as its focus per the caption attached to the pictures posted were the ‘so-called’ projects of the 1st runner up in the area community sanitation sensitisation which aims at improving the poor sanitation in the country, education on breast cancer awareness and to also encourage the teenage girls to go back to school.

The Minister who was enthused about Miss Portia exploits congratulated her for attaining that onerous feat in the international competition. She stressed that her outfit is committed to supporting any industry player who would aid her ministry in delivering on its mandate.

The first time the ministry has assumed such a posture. I recall with pain the brouhaha surrounding one of the country’s longest beauty pageant, Miss Ghana. After years of having contestants of the pageant insinuating and even openly making allegations that the organisers of the pageants have been involved in all sorts of acts that contravenes what they sign up for, the Ministry has not done anything about it.

It is sad that the Deputy Tourism Minister, Dr Ziblim Iddi, the distinguished political scientist endorsed the 2019 edition of the pageant without bothering to go call for investigations to sanitise the pageant which carries the country’s name! Indeed during his speech he referred to those who criticised the operations of Inna Patty and her team as naïve and peddlers of negativity.

“For the past two years that I have been in this industry, we have sat back, we have monitored and we have observed and we have come to the conclusion that this is an asset, a national asset that we cannot alone to collapse, a national asset that we cannot continue to allow people who do not know much to sit back and say all the negative things that they want to say,” he said. 

I am wondering if the Ministry is aware of the resignation of the 1st runner up of Miss Ghana. With this laissez-fare approach to issues under its authority and in an environment where no institution is directly responsible for the conduct of organisers of these beauty pageants as has been eloquently espoused by the CEO of Miss Noble Ghana, Miss Adu Safowaa, I can only conclude that were are heading into an abyss of abuses of contestants.

Entertainment Pundit Ola Michael claims some of the pageant organisers are pimps in disguise and we heard some past queens share their ordeals but as usual, evidence is the name of the game so mostly the issue ends up being a banter of words between contestants and the organizers.

We should all bow down our heads in shame as a country where the Gender Ministry issues a statement to disassociate itself from an individual’s generalised comment about women because it was on an international media platform yet they have not seen the need to condemn or disassociate themselves from such wanton cases of human right abuses right under its nose. Perhaps they are waiting for international outlets to question them on it before they pay attention.

I hope the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture since they are more interested in photo opportunities and persons who will promote their Ministry through pageants will wake up and streamline the activities of such pageant organisers.

It is really pathetic that all effort to get the Ministry to react to this issue so far has proven futile and I hope in due time they will come out to respond to the issue and send the right signals after this epistle.

Long Live Ghana, 

Long live the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. 

Long live men and women with conscience who will always stand for what is right even if it is not a popular move.