The Culture Joint

Opinion: Embracing constructive criticism – A call to elevate Ghana’s creative industry


In Ghana, a culture exists that struggles to appreciate one faction without disparaging another.

This dynamic makes objectivity challenging, especially in the arts, where much of the work is inherently subjective.

Art is delicate, and few people connect with it in ways beyond fanatical loyalty, enabling them to enjoy, appreciate, and critique it from a place of sincerity.

It’s often said that those who cannot accept constructive criticism are doomed to stagnation. Throughout my life, I’ve grappled with duality, a concept integral to our world. There is no positive without negative, no God without the Devil, no good without evil, and no hero without a villain.

In Ghanaian culture, the day of one’s birth carries specific names and characteristics. However, I was born on one day and given the name of another, symbolizing my lifelong battle with internal duality.

This duality manifests in my roles as both a creative and a critic in Ghana, where criticism is often seen as hate, and unwavering support devoid of critique is mistaken for loyalty.

The value placed on yes-men exceeds that of any natural resource, leading to an industry riddled with roadblocks. Creatives feel entitled to dish out criticism but lack the bandwidth to receive it.

For years, this has been the norm, fueled by a misguided sense of loyalty propagated by fans and so-called loyalists. Ghanaian creatives have demonstrated their world-class abilities, yet they struggle to transcend their potential.

Mediocrity prevails, and the industry is marred by petty politics, unwarranted conflicts, and derogatory language. This culture is driven by the mistaken belief that any one person knows best, ignoring the collective wisdom that is crucial for growth.

The problems in Ghana’s creative industry stem from biases and an inability to give, receive, and adhere to constructive criticism. Instead of craving high praise, we should focus on recognizing and addressing existing issues.

A culture of stagnation has taken root because we are divided, quick to resort to repugnant language, and resistant to new ways of thinking. We have allowed the emotions and ideas of fans to permeate the core of our creativity, making it nearly impossible to envision a brighter future.

As an observer and participant in this industry, I see the need for a paradigm shift. Creatives, critics, and stakeholders must embrace new perspectives and methods. This call for change is not an attack but a plea to address the barriers preventing us from reaching our full potential.

We must focus on facts, policies, systems, and open-mindedness. Constructive criticism should be welcomed as a tool for betterment, fostering overall growth in our industry and nation.

Let us not be divided by fickle loyalties. Instead, we should unite in our pursuit of greatness, avoiding mediocrity and embracing change.

As both a creative and a critic, I call for a shift in perception and thought processes. By adopting a balanced approach that values both subjectivity and objectivity, we can achieve greatness and avoid stagnation, propelling Ghana’s creative industry to new heights.

By: Jephthah Osei – Mensah

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