Sometimes it is hard. Writing a column every week for years is not the easiest thing in the world.
To maintain presence on a specific newspaper page week after week means day after day one is generating ideas for that next article.
Indeed, somewhere in the corner of your brain you are always planning how the next column should be. It doesn’t end there. Researching materials and finally writing the article out to suit editor’s specification completes the task.
But nothing makes it easier than the encouragement from you, dear readers. You make it - oh so - worthwhile. And last Friday I had - not one but - two of such encounters from two special people.
Brigadier-General Dan Frimpong and Kwame Osei Prempeh. Before I proceed I wish to salute every single person who reads us columnists of The Mirror. May you continue to be informed and enlightened in your endeavours. We shall continue to do our best for you.
As a growing secondary school lad, I had the opportunity to follow some columnists. I must say from hindsight that I didn’t really grasp the political implications and nuances in the things I read. But I enjoyed them nonetheless.
I was tickled by Henry Ofori’s Carl Mutt, Kwesi Yankah’s Woes of a Kwatriot, Merari Alomele’s Sikaman Palaver, Efo Kodjo Mawugbe’s Letter to Dora, Ajoa Yeboah-Afari’s Native Daughter and Audrey Gadzekpo’s To the Powers that Be.
Obviously, I am better off today after reading all these great minds. Growing up it had never crossed my mind that I would ever write a newspaper column. I never set out to. It just happened as a spin-off from my journalism practice.
And despite the challenges I mentioned early on, writing a column can be an enriching experience. For the many young ones out there who are considering it please go for it!
It helps to identify a niche area that interests you and focus on that. Read around that area and if possible take a course or two connected to that area. It also helps to stay in touch with practitioners and experts in that field.
If you have to join a professional group to enhance your knowledge and currency in the subject area do. Finally when you start your column find a way of getting feedback from your readers.
Enough of the tips for now. So last week Friday some members of the Ghana Association of Writers visited the home of the late Prof. Atukwei Okai in Accra. Just on arriving at the premises this distinguished-looking man approached me.
“Are you Kofi Akpabli?’’ I nodded trying to recall the face.
“My greatest pleasure to meet you.” Then he dropped his name: Brigadier-General Dan Frimpong. It was my first time of coming face to face with the famous Soldier-Writer! I had admired his writings from afar.
“Sir, you also read the Mirror?’’
“I don’t miss your column’’, came the reply. ‘’I just read your Russian story,” the General added.
I thanked him and told him he is such an inspiration. I really felt so humbled and thought to chat him up some more but we both couldn’t get the chance that day.
Later that evening when I started my computer there was this email from Kwame Osei Prempeh. Apparently, I had made a mistake in the Russian article and hadn’t even noticed it yet. Kwame wrote:
“Kofi, St Petersburg, was the original name before it was changed to Leningrad after the death of Lenin by Stalin. It was later reverted to Petersburg, after the end of Soviet Union.’’
Then he concludes: Anyway thumbs up for a nice write up. Finally, Kwame’s kicker:
“It is because of you I buy the Mirror.”
Aww, isn’t that nice!