A celebrity talk show host with a fiercely loyal audience, Gifty Anti might best be described as the Oprah of Ghana. Her women’s oriented talk show, The Standpoint, which is now entering its fifth season, tackles taboo topics like child abuse, rape and domestic violence.
One of Ghana’s foremost female journalists, Anti serves as a role model for many young Ghanaian women. Ama, a 22-year-old student from Ghana Institute of Journalism’s JHR chapter, is one of the talk show host’s biggest fans.
“I started watching the show when I was in second year of high school,” she said.
Recently, Ama and I sat down with Anti in the office of her production company so that Ama could interview her journalistic hero for a profile for a local newspaper as part of an internship facilitated by JHR.
There, Anti told us that she decided to start her own show because she wanted to empower women in the country. Anti, who was raised by a single father and attended an all girls school, explained that she didn’t realize the limitations that Ghanaian society can place on women and girls until she graduated from high school.
“I started Standpoint because I was raised by a man and he never treated me as second fiddle,” she said. “When I left school and I came into the real world, I realized that girls can’t do this (or that). As a woman if you seem to be succeeding, if you are being assertive and outspoken, then (people say) you are rude or somebody is sleeping with you . . . It’s crazy.”
Through her show Anti, who was most recently honoured by the African Women in Leadership Organization for giving women a platform and a voice in Ghana, has provided a venue for women to talk openly about highly sensitive topics.
One program, on spousal abuse, featured a woman who told the story of being forced to eat her husband’s faeces. Another upcoming program will feature a survivor of incest, who will appear to be interviewed with her face uncovered- a first on Ghanaian television according to Anti.
Getting people to open up about these sorts of topics isn’t easy for journalists anywhere in the world. But convincing women to appear on television to tell their often horrific personal stories is a particularly remarkable feat in a highly conservative society like Ghana’s. The talk show host says she believes her guests often speak out because they are tired of remaining silent.
“I think they just reach the point where they think, ‘I have had enough,'” said Anti.
Perhaps excited to see such a frank treatment of these subjects, audiences have made the show one of the most popular on Ghanaian television. Its Facebook page has over 16,000 likes.
The show has also opened up conversations about sensitive subjects among audiences. In many of the comments on Anti’s Facebook page, women and girls share their personal stories.
“I was also a victim of rape,” wrote one female fan. “I was raped by my grandmother’s man-friend at a tender age…..God have mercy!!! God (bless) you for the great work you are doing.”
Women in public life often face harassment from the media; in Ghana, the problem is especially acute. Anti, who is 43 and unmarried, has often been the target for tabloid-style slander from other media outlets in Ghana. Her friendly relationship with the country’s former president, John Kufor, for example, has been satirized in less than tasteful editorial cartoons and articles.
And it’s Anti’s determination to continue her work in the face of these insults that has proved particularly inspiring to 22-year-old Ama.
“In Ghana, being unmarried is a serious thing. It comes with all this name (calling),” said Ama. “(But despite) all the things they say about her, she is still Gifty Anti.”
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