Accra (AFP) – Few people in Ghana would be able to recognise Anas Aremeyaw Anas on the street — but almost everyone knows his name and his burgeoning reputation as the country’s anti-corruption hero.
The journalist keeps his identity a closely-guarded secret and on camera wears a trademark hooded tunic, his face covered by a veil of red-and-white beads.
His latest undercover documentary, “Number 12”, was released last Wednesday, and as the start of the World Cup finals loomed, detonated with the force of a bomb.
In it, he and his team of reporters caught dozens of football referees and officials accepting bribes.
The head of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi, was accused of requesting $11 million (9.3 million euros) to secure government contracts.
He later stepped down and apologised unreservedly after world football’s governing body FIFA launched an ethics investigation into his activities.
Ghana’s government is trying to tackle corruption, which its special prosecutor Martin Amidu has called “an invisible violence that kills millions without anybody seeing it”.
Anas has already shone a light on graft in the judicial system.
Football, he says, is a symbol of a wider problem of pay-offs in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
“Football is a very powerful tool in telling the African narrative,” Anas told AFP in an interview. “We have a decision to make, either save our continent or not.
“This is not just about football but any other issue that affects us and will create problems for us.”
– Think twice –
Anas said despite not being a football fan, a tragedy involving a match between two teams — Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi’s Asante Kotoko — always stuck in his mind, reminding him about decisions that cause a cascade of victims.
On May 9, 2001, 127 fans were crushed or suffocated to death as they tried to escape tear gas and rubber bullets fired by police trying to stop crowd trouble.
The disturbances began when the home side, Accra, scored two late goals to beat their long-time rivals 2-1.
“Number 12” includes footage of officials planning to end a more recent game between the two sides with a Hearts penalty.
Despite his widespread appeal, Anas has faced some criticism for his unconventional methods.
Filming with a hidden camera, Anas offers money to officials, who agree to taking the loot in what could be interpreted as entrapment.