Live From the Woods: BBC ‘Sex for Grades’ Documentary Weak in Form, Substance
I have asked myself several questions after watching the “Sex for Grades” documentary put together by the BBC, which is owned, funded and operated by the British government. The work forcefully sought to push out the narrative that some lecturers in so-called prestigious universities in West Africa have been demanding sex from their female students in exchange for grades.
As a practicing journalist, I see nothing wrong with the effort of the BBC and would on any day support such attempts to expose the ills in our society. Also, as a former student leader and graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon, I would love to see an end to the issue of ‘sex-for-grades,’ which I know is rampant in schools, and countries like Africa, America and Europe.
But any such attempt to expose this infamy must be done without any equivocations. I am reminded that the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Cape Coast (UCC), and the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) among others have their own internal mechanisms for dealing with such matters, provided they come to their notice. This means that the victim, whose grades and timely completion at the school are at stake and must be bold to make a formal complaint.
The challenge with this arrangement is that what then happens when the victim fails or refuses to report the matter to the appropriate authorities? It stands to reason that the internal mechanisms cleverly put in place by the various universities to curb the issue would actually not do anything at all. It is for this reason that I think the team at the BBC deserves a special commendation for their work, which is a stark reminder of the horrors faced by some female students on some university campuses in Africa, America, and Europe.
But beyond thanking the BBC for the unsolicited reminder, the documentary is pathetically mediocre, substandard, hollow, empty, and weak in form and substance.
I want to put on record that this piece is no defense for Professor Ransford Gyampo and his compatriots who were caught on camera for compromising their morality. I don’t think they deserve that from me and I will not waste my time on that. However, my issue with the BBC’s work is that it is haggard and deficient on all fronts. I will attempt to elaborate on this below.
‘Sexual harassment’ or ‘sex-for-grade’?
First, a critical examination of the video filmed by the BBC makes it abundantly clear that Ransford Gyampo is not being accused of demanding sex from the fictitious female student in exchange for grades. He is rather being accused of ‘sexual harassment’ in a video which talks about ‘sex-for-grade.’ Is that it? Surprisingly, there was nothing said and written about the advances made by this so-called female student in the video. The BBC wants us to walk home singing the halleluiah chorus and thinking that Ransford Gyampo is looking for his latest female victim to devour. This is cheap propaganda that does not befit the status of the BBC. Where are the critical minds in Africa?
Second, the so-called female student of the University of Ghana turns out to be a BBC employee after all. The question then is: How were her grades going to be changed? Were they going to be uploaded into her DNA or was her beauty going to be altered by Ransford Gyampo? Where are the critical minds in Africa?
Implications of BBC’s work
First, to better appreciate the impact the documentary would have on our continent, especially our educational institutions, we need to see the bigger picture from the perspectives of the BBC. A critical mind would know that the British-funded media company is trying, with the help of Africans, to run down our prestigious public universities in the eyes of the world. This is a clandestine agenda to undermine degree holders from universities in West Africa and right-thinking Africans need to see this. It is a direct, well-calculated, and blatant attack on the reputation of our universities and we must not fall for this. We will have nothing to hold on to if we allow the BBC and its paymasters to succeed in destroying our educational system.
Second, if we fail to thoroughly vet and interrogate the work done by the BBC, they will think that Africans are a bunch of uncritical and shoddy people. These people know how to attack our strong institutions, which are scared of outcompeting theirs. This has been their way of life and from history, the only way they can succeed is by using our own people against us.
Attack the message, not the messenger
I am not instigating attacks against the BBC. I think we can attack the message without hitting the messenger. I have deliberately steered clear of the methodology used in filming the video because I think the process does not matter provided the greater good outweighs the cost. I would have celebrated the work done by the BBC if:
They had used a female student of the University of Ghana, Legon, in entrapping Professor Ransford Gyampo; and in the event they caught him on camera, demanding sex from the female student in exchange for grades; and he had ended up changing the grades after the student agreed to have the affair with him or deliberately failed the female student for refusing to yield to his sexual overtures.
If the above had been the order of things, I don’t think Ransford Gyampo would have had the temerity to put up any defense. But he does in this case, and rightly so, because the work by the BBC is riddled with many palpable and unpardonable inconsistencies and loopholes, not befitting a global media giant, such as the BBC.
Nyame ne hene!!!