I am admittedly one of the many who have ended up making the producers of this movie richer. People like me are just the ripples emanating from the huge rock that government, through a Deputy Information Minister Baba Jamal, has thrown into an otherwise quiet, still stream.
I saw the poster of Atta Mortuary Man in a small town in the Brong Ahafo region and I made a dash for my copy. Naturally the thought ringing through my mind was “what is in this movie to warrant the wrath of the government to use the almightily fearsome BNI machinery to seek to pull it off the market?”.
Atta Mortuary Man is your usual Agya Koo movie. Usual meaning that there is disjointed dialogue, bizarre story lines that make no sense, horrible set designs, distasteful costumes, amateurish acting dotted with supposed wise-cracks which end up being neither wise nor funny, Agya Koo stealing glances into the camera as though to confirm if indeed the cameraman was recording, etc. Atta Mortuary Man tells the story of Atta (played by Agya Koo) who loses his job in a plot so unrealistic I felt my intelligence was being insulted. After losing his job as the Manager of a savings and loans company, he sends out 400 applications one of which lands him a job as a mortuary attendant. That is it. That is all of it. Of course there is Parts 3 and 4 on the way.
Just a Title
Now, there is clearly nothing in the movie which bears any resemblance or incline to our dear President. Yes, Rawlings told a boring and meaningless story about Atta a mortuary man he knew at the 37 Military Hospital. He told this story at an NDC congress and until the story checked out, people felt he was taking some unusual swipe at his ordained. But why should we read any further meanings into the title? I don’t know.
I recall once reading in one of our many tabloids a bold headline saying “E.T. MENSAH RAPES GIRL, 9”. It turns out the ET involved here was not our famed Sports Minister at the time. There are countless headlines like that. Editors and filmmakers have over the years tried to capitalize on people’s fame and stature in life to sell newspapers and motion pictures. Rawlings I believe was once reported to have said that opposition newspapers will probably sell nothing without writing about him or using his images.
So What Did These Guys Do Differently?
I am going to try not to veer into the arena of politics here. However I am of the view that the Bureau of National Investigations is perhaps the most abused governmental agency. The government uses them too much. Someone coughs and someone in government unleashes theBNIon him. They also seem to draw some connection to justify their actions even though their excuses are always balderdash to say the least.
I recall back in Presec that if a senior wants to ‘get’ you he could always find some offence to charge you with. There was a preamble to the School Rules which had been used during the old system and transferred to we the SSS lads. It read “A misuse of your common sense is an abuse of school rules” or something like that. Who determines a misuse of one’s common sense? That is what the BNI seems to have being; the bully senior.
We have all heard Baba Jamal, who foolhardily put his face to this embarrassing specter make a complete turn around and put together a bunch of confusing statements in trying to justify an action almost impossible to do so. He commits public relations blunders with such gross impunity it makes Ivy Lee and Edward Barneys (the fathers of PR sad). Even though not a member of the Cinematograph Board of Control, by virtue of the fact that the Board sits under the Ministry he is a deputy minister in, he shouts hoarse about issues he did not know of. Firstly, he claims that Atta Mortuary Man and another movie, Oh Agya Atta did not go through the due process before release. It turns out that the Cinematograph Board of Control indeed okayed Atta Mortuary Man. Yes, the board did not okay Oh Agya Atta. I have heard the producer of the movie give a reason why that was so. He adds though that, Oh Agya Atta is not released it, and he is ready to go to the Cinematograph Board of Control.
In a bid to cover this shameful show of force with that broad day light storming of Opera Square to seize the two movies, Baba Jamal turns around to accuse the producers of not registering their company and not paying tax. Funny, is it not? That the government has to be right no matter what?
Government Utterly Embarrassed
Obviously the government, BNI and indeed the so-called ‘National Security’ apparatus have been embarrassed. They have even made it worse by obviously compelling the makers of the movie to apologize. What the heck are they apologizing for?Seriously, what did they do wrong? Yes if indeed they have failed to register their company and have failed to pay taxes then the appropriate agency should take them on. That agency is certainly not the Ministry of Information or the Bureau of National Investigation.
I don’t want to be the guy carrying the bad news but if the government of the day will want to get into the habit of using sledge hammers to kill flies then we have a big problem coming up on us as a people. Seriously, what was Baba Jamal (as a government spokesman) and the hierarchy of the security apparatus thinking when they went in to seize 13, 000 copies of Attah Mortuary Man? Do you not feel insulted when such silly excuses are rendered by people whose monthly pay check emanate from our collective taxes? I don’t pay taxes so the BNI are paid to waste our time, resources, and embarrass the image of Ghana home and abroad like they are doing. They least they could have done was do this on the quiet if at all they felt anything had to be done. Clearly Baba Jamal and his team of ‘intelligent’ intelligence man did no intelligence work. Otherwise if they did, I wouldn’t be writing this.
I hope such gross misconducts by people in authority do not end up stifling the creative industry.
I’m out. Like that.