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A thank you message to the Graphic, my age-mate

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari
Graphic launched its 70th anniversary with an extravaganza
Graphic launched its 70th anniversary with an extravaganza

Last Saturday, the Graphic Group climaxed the series of activities marking its 70th anniversary with an extravaganza, namely a ball and awards ceremony in Accra.

Reflecting on the history of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), it seemed opportune for me to do this commemorative piece because of the undeniable, positive impact the company has had on my life.

I think I have one or two things in common with the Graphic.

For a start, it came into being in 1950 which was also the year of my birth.

In fact, I can claim seniority because having been born in March of that year, I was more than six months old when publication of the Daily Graphic started.

Indeed, when a few months ago, on March 9, the GCGL launched the countdown to its 70th birthday at the head office on Graphic Road, Accra, my 70th birthday was only a few days away.

Secondly, although my journalism is more associated with its first sister paper, The Mirror, what is not known is that I was actually employed, in 1971, as a sub-editor of the Daily Graphic.

Reason? The then editor of the weekly Mirror, Eddie Agyemang explained to me that the staff quota for his paper had been exhausted, but the Personnel Manager had suggested a way out as Mr Agyemang had made a strong case for employing me: technically, I would be employed as a member of the Daily Graphic staff, but I would be working on The Mirror.

Thus, considering the privilege of technically having a foot in each of the two newsrooms, I feel a special bond with the celebration.

The Mirror launched on August 2, 1953 as The Sunday Mirror, later became simply The Mirror.

Incidentally, I landed the job by way of its Short Story page.

One day, I plucked up courage, went to the Graphic Corporation, and asked to see the editor of The Mirror.

I introduced myself to Mr Agyemang as a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

Fortunately for me, Mr Agyemang was very affable and received me warmly.

I handed him two of my short stories and asked if they could be published.

Not only were both accepted for publication, he also suggested that I should do some freelancing for the paper, including starting a column!

So it was that while still a student at the GIJ, I had a Mirror column, ‘Yaa Yaa’s World’ – about the life of a young woman – which ran for a couple of years.

It was followed in 1976 by the ‘Thoughts of a Native Daughter’ column. (In 2013, after a break of some three decades, the then Editor, Ms Janet Quartey, invited me to resume the ‘Native Daughter’ column.)

In 1987, during the era of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) I resigned from the Graphic Corporation owing to an untenable situation I found myself in.

Some of us, staff members, had somehow been tagged as ‘anti-revolutionaries’, viewed as not supportive of the PNDC, and were being side-lined.

Prior to my resignation, my career had been advancing steadily.

In 1984, I had been promoted Deputy Editor of The Mirror and a couple of times had the opportunity to act as Editor in the absence of my boss.

Furthermore, on December 31, 1986, I was the proud recipient of a long service award for my 15 years as a “faithful and dependable employee”.

Following my resignation, I became a full time freelance journalist reporting for a number of international media, including an appointment as the country correspondent of the BBC (‘Focus on Africa’ programme).

In 1996, I was recruited by the Commonwealth Secretariat, in London, as its first Public Affairs Officer and thus moved to London with my family.

On my return home in 2002, in October 2003, I won an election to become President of the Ghana Journalists Association and in January, 2004, was appointed Editor of the Ghanaian Times.

Each time I was requested to work for an international media house, I had no doubt that it was the Graphic link at work, through my column and by-line in The Mirror.

Thus I remain eternally grateful to Mr Agyemang, unfortunately now deceased, who without hesitation gave an unknown youngster a huge push up the professional ladder.

The Mirror editors I was privileged to work with were: Mr Nicholas Alando; Mr Yaw Boakye Ofori Atta; Mr George Aidoo; alas, all now deceased.

Like Mr Agyemang, they all treated me with courtesy, respect and trust.

They also encouraged me to explore my initiatives and suggestions to attract readership.

Despite the frustrations sometimes encountered, I believe I can say that my time at the Graphic was phenomenal.

The benefits were uncountable, including winning the ‘Journalist of the Year’ title in 1972.

How else would I have received a coveted State Award, the Companion of the Order of the Volta, awarded by President John Agyekum Kufuor, on June 30, 2006?

I have no doubt that I owe it all to my link with the Graphic, my stepping-stone and, coincidentally, my age-mate.

Certainly, it would be quite remiss of me if I didn’t say thank you to my loyal ‘Native Daughter’ fans.

Your support made even the bad times worthwhile.

Again, thank you, Graphic; and congratulations!

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