Thank you, Millennium Excellence Foundation, thank you column devotees

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

This week marks the eighth anniversary of the resumption of this column in August, 2013, after a break of some 30 years and, interestingly, it has turned out to be a double-milestone. 

A double because, coincidentally, I recently had an award conferred on me by the Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF), for my contribution to the Ghanaian media. Therefore, I thought it would be appropriate to share these developments with readers and express my gratitude for their moving, abiding support.

First, my appreciation goes to the MEF, especially its indefatigable founder and President, Ambassador Ashim Morton.
Next, of course, my heartfelt gratitude is to fans of this column. Any journalism honour ever received by me has been possible mainly because of the support of the loyal column devotees.

Although I had heard of the MEF awards, I never imagined that their spotlight would fall on me. When a few weeks ago, Ambassador Morton contacted me to request a meeting, I assumed that he wanted me to edit a document or perhaps assist the Foundation to produce a publication.

Therefore, it was a huge surprise to receive a letter informing me that I had been nominated and would be honoured at their Awards Night.
Normally, the Foundation’s awards ceremony takes place in Accra, but the delayed 2020 event (postponed to this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic), being a landmark commemoration, it was moved to the Manhyia Palace as the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, is the Life Patron of the MEF.

Thus it was that on Saturday, July 17, I became one of the proud awardees at the historic MEF 2020 Excellence Awards, held at the Manhyia Palace, Kumasi, to celebrate their 20th anniversary. A plaque and a giant citation, bearing the signature of Otumfuo, tell the story better and bear witness to an extraordinary, memorable night in the life of this journalist.
Part of the “Excellence of Distinction” citation reads:

“The Life Patron, HRM Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, and the illustrious Board of Governors of the Millennium Excellence Foundation, are pleased to confer on you the coveted Millennium Excellence Award for Journalism and Media Personality in recognition of your long commitment to national development for over three decades.

“You are a proud daughter of the soil who is renowned for her principled stance on social justice and democratic governance and have used your profession for promoting same …Your display of courage on sensitive national issues is a definition of class statesmanship and patriotism.”

By all indications, the MEF awards always stand out because of the high status of the recipients. Nevertheless, the Manhyia ceremony is sure to leave an indelible imprint.
The exceptional laureates included President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; Speaker of Parliament Alban Kingsford Bagbin; and National Chief Imam Osman Nuhu Sharubutu.

President Akufo-Addo’s ‘Gold Coast Prize’, was the highlight of the night. His citation underscored the “high recognition of your lifelong commitment to national cohesion and stability.
“This category of prize goes to a man who has made positive impact on the lives of his people today and will continue to influence them for a better future.”

Other honorees were a veritable Who’s Who from the political, business, academia, sports and show business fields.
One other journalist who was given an award was Manasseh Azure: “The Foundation admires the fortitude with which you fight corruption. You have mastered how to stand up against corruption with the most resolute conviction when standing up is not for the faint of heart.”

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The following are excerpts from some of the inspiring messages in the anniversary brochure:
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Life Patron

“I am pleased that the Millennium Excellence Foundation is playing a positive role in promoting the quest for high achievement at all levels of our society. By recognizing and allowing the nation to celebrate achievements of excellence today, the Foundation is helping to inspire new generations to strive harder for excellence.”
MEF President Ambassador Ashim Morton

“Since the beginning of this millennium, the Foundation has set the Millennium Excellence Awards, which is organized only once every five years, on a very high pedestal as the most distinguished and most prestigious award in Ghana. As a non-profit and human development oriented organization, the MEA is reserved for individuals or organizations with the highest positive impact on humanity rather than just a personal achievement.”

MEF Chairperson Mrs. Grace Amey-Obeng
“It is my hope and belief that as we hold up these few torchbearers here today they shall serve as the lamps of hope, the seeds of motivation and arrows of the future for stimulating and propelling the greater masses of us into a better future.”

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Decades ago, I entered journalism with the perhaps overly-ambitious aim of making a difference in the media landscape. The MEF award maybe suggests that my modest efforts are indeed helping to make a difference.
As indicated, it’s remarkable that this period also marks eight years since this column resurrected, on August 3, 2013, thanks to the persuasive efforts of Ms Janet Quartey, who was then this paper’s Editor. She convinced me that readers would be delighted to see my column back.

I’m indebted especially to this newspaper which has been the vehicle for my thoughts to reach the public.
Accordingly, I feel it is only right that I should dedicate my Millennium Excellence Award to the memory of the late Eddie Agyemang, a former Editor of this paper, who facilitated my entry into journalism. I had not even completed my studies at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, but Mr. Agyemang was prepared to give an unknown young woman the chance to write for his paper.

Again, thank you, ‘Native Daughter’ devotees, for your encouragement, an indisputable contribution to this most unexpected MEF recognition. I see it as a phenomenal testimonial; and I owe it all to you, readers.

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