Anas Aremeyaw Anas has been injected with a used syringe, he’s been sedated and he’s witnessed “terrible” things, all in a bid to better his area of the world.
Speaking at a TEDxAccra event in Accra on Wednesday evening to an audience of media practitioners and enthusiasts the investigative journalist shared his experiences going undercover as excerpts of his work played on a huge screen behind him.
The event called ‘ReThink in Media, Art and Entertainment’ included talks on rethinking issues within the media and being more innovative with delivering stories.
It featured a range of journalists, including Nana Boakye-Yiadom, Kojo Yankson and Esther Ama.
While he has an international following, Anas’ work is well known in his home county Ghana, where he has played many undercover roles to expose corruption and violence.
On the stage at the Kempinski Hotel, Anas was joined by two others, clad in the same disguises as he spoke about work.
Offering his signature quote on what his journalism is about – “naming, shaming and jailing” – the crowd joined him in unison as he said his mantra.
“This says I am home,” he mused.
“I’m a realist, I know where I am, I know the country I live in and I know the problems associated with this country.”
However, his work and philosophy has not come without criticisms from people across the world.
But he was interested in the kind of journalism that stands the test of time, noting his work as landed many people in jail, as he reeled off the numbers and the sentences.
“These are palpable results,” he says.
And it “makes an impact in the society I live in.”
Anas went through some of the major investigations he has done, showing footage, explaining what happened and the consequences.
There was the “terrible” months spent in prison in the “harrowing conditions” where he saw people die of preventable diseases.
He wanted the audience to know prison quality needs to improve, as anyone could end up behind bars.
“As people we don’t ask ourselves whether this is a place a human being deserves,” Anas said.
He also showed footage from his time checked into Accra’s psychiatric hospital, where on arrival he was sedated.
“I was off to bed for 37 hours, gone.”
He struggled with the concoction of drugs to sedate him and others he took to try and counter the sedation.
He saw a lot of deaths that he said occurred because of negligence, and he also witnessed stealing of food belonging to the inmates, which the staff of the hospital then sold, he recalled.
While the audience gasped and grimaced at some of the footage shown, Anas said he had to show it as it was “the truth of our country”.
“Sometimes we just deceive ourselves, we think we are living in a perfect society, this is the reality of our country.”
He also showed footage of his expose on Nigeria’s fake doctors, and spoke about one of the fake doctors using a well-used syringe on him.
However, he said it was worth it, because his stories are benefiting Ghana.
His “hardcore evidence” exposed wrong doing, put people behind bars and forced society to reexamine ideas and institutions.