When in 2011 the international media baron, Rupert Murdoch, decided to close down his best-selling UK newspaper, the News of the World (NoW), over some telephone hacking scandal, the final edition of NoW captured on its front page a simple message: “Thank you and Goodbye.”
Today, I recall that headline and, with so much humility, want to use this opportunity to say: “Thank you and Goodbye” to all my numerous readers far and near, the Daily Graphic, as well as its Editor, for the opportunity to contribute to the social discourse in this country.
This column, “Reality Zone”, has been featured consistently on Wednesdays since May 2008 in Ghana’s best-selling and widely circulated daily. And so for nearly eight years, between the Daily Graphic, my first love in journalism, and Multimedia’s myjoyonline.com, I have produced over 500 published articles.
I have tried over the last eight years to focus on some of the nagging social issues bedevilling our society. I have sought to bring to the fore, issues bordering on family sanity, religion, economic pressures, environmental concerns, health and safety, as well as lawlessness and impunities. I have always put my writings in the perspective of a beautiful and possible Ghana.
I have received hundreds of feedback through phone calls, text messages, whatsapp and emails. While many more commended me week after week on issues brought to the fore, sometimes with suggestions, others have criticised, telling me their piece of mind. The beauty of all this is that people far and near are reading the column. Indeed, I have been convinced without doubt that Ghanaians do read what they want to read.
Over the weeks, months and years of writing for the “Reality Zone” column, I have been inspired by the commendations and criticisms to go in search of more social topics to write on. That search made me read widely from all sources every week. I was even inspired in 2014 to take up a Master’s programme in Development Communication to understand some of the development issues in order to communicate better and to put some of our country’s development issues in perspective.
I have over the period made acquaintances with some of the people who read me religiously and would not miss a Wednesday issue of the Daily Graphic. I have made friends with some traditional rulers who read me regularly and give me feedback where necessary. I have had feedback from politicians, pastors, diplomats, professionals, depending on the topic I treated. I have had feedback from university professors some of whom were even ready to share some of their research findings with me depending on the topics I treated. Medical doctors have given me feedback and so have ex-servicemen, including retired police commanders and naval officers.
Ghanaians abroad have read me online and given me their feedback. Some news websites have sought permission to reproduce some of my publications. Film producers have asked if they could develop some of my publications as story lines for their films. All these have been encouraging.
I have made friends with some octogenarians and so I am using this opportunity to pay tribute to them as I bow out. My new-found friends include Mrs Frances Ademola, Mrs Grace Tei-Botchway and Mrs Grace Obeng who regularly looked out for my column on Wednesdays and called to give me feedback. I have also connected with some students and other young adults some of whom have requested that I mentor them while some asked me to help them find jobs and go on to send their unsolicited CVs.
But above all, there have been a few others who disliked my views as and when they touched on their raw nerves. I have received insults and warnings from some while others told me I was cynical and not patriotic Ghanaian.
At the last count, I had recorded 461 remarks and feedback sent via my personal e-mail from readers of all shades.
To everyone, it is time to say “Thank You”. “Reality Zone” survived almost eight years because of you. You were the reason I religiously searched for topics so I could come out every Wednesday even when I was out of the jurisdiction.
Like all things in life, however, this column has come to the end of its journey with today’s issue being my last. As I put my pen down, I wish to thank the management of the Daily Graphic for the opportunity to reach out to my readers. I also want to thank all my readers for looking out for me.
“Thank you and Good bye.”