Countdown begins...Uneasy, nervy beginning
Last week, I indicated that because of some developments, I sought transfer from Kumasi to Tamale. Due to my limited knowledge of history, I got the names of the managers wrong persons. The matter of the fowls involved Nii Annan, while Nii Adjei Anum, messed me up in Tamale.
I started my internship with Graphic in Kumasi from October 1982, under Mr. Albert Sam, as the Ashanti Regional Editor. Albert remained my immediate boss until I got my appointment letter in March, as Staff Writer, which placed me above Chief Reporter.
I automatically became the Regional Editor. It was not an easy task and it created a nervy and uneasy relationship like the proverbial “Besepa ne konin ahahan, yetase no oba nyansafoo” literally meaning picking cola nuts and the leaves of the Konin tree, which demands more than tact and discretion.
The first test came when we were invited to Accra for a seminar. During the self-introduction I introduced myself as the Ashanti Regional Editor. Albert simply said everybody knew him and left for Kumasi that evening although the seminar had not closed. The Editorial Manager, Mr. D.A.Okine asked me not to be disturbed as the issue would be dealt with to enable me exercise my authority.
Feeling uncomfortable and not willing to begin my working career in an environment of hatred, I went to see the Editor of the People’s Daily Graphic, Mr. Kojo Yankah, to transfer me as he had proposed when he first spoke to me about permanent employment. He asked me to return to Kumasi and promised to monitor the situation before the next step.
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On my return to Kumasi, I was physically and brutally assaulted by one of the drivers called Abukari who refused to take me on assignment on May Day although he had reported for duty and was entitled to overtime. I said I would not recommend his overtime for which he slapped me a couple of times. The matter was reported to Accra for investigations. When I learnt who wrote his statement for him, I felt there was enough evidence to transfer me from Kumasi. I thus pushed the Editor to act in my best interest and although I was asked to go to Tamale for a month to see whether the environment was conducive, before the end of the first week, I had so glamourised Tamale that the Editor gave in to my wish.
I soon found myself in the good company of a large number of Old Vandals holding positions in the districts either as District Secretaries of Administrative Officers. Having served variously as President of Non-Resident Students Association, Secretary, President and Editor in Chief of the JCR of Commonwealth Hall, I received a lot of support from these public officials and immediately made an impact. Until my arrival a number of Tamale residents had refused to associate with the Graphic because of some misleading stories that had been published in the paper. But all these were over within a month of my assumption of duty in Tamale.
I later learnt that while I was pushing hard to be transferred, a group in Kumasi had also approached the Personnel Manager to get me out of Kumasi. The good thing about the development is that after my transfer to Tamale, the bond between Albert and myself grew stronger and deepened. So when I was transferred to Accra I took keen interest in stories from Kumasi including demand for follow-ups with the concomitant that Albert won the Journalist of the Year in 1991.
Albert brought in a social announcement about some ADB officials. Since the ADB had a branch close to Graphic, I asked Albert to find out the meaning of the announcement. That prompting exposed fraud involving huge sums of money belonging to clients and the bank. Albert received a vehicle as his prize the only one to have been so rewarded in the history of the GJA awards. Much later Albert came on transfer to Accra and worked directly under me.
In seeking transfer to Tamale, I did not feel the need to assert my authority at whatever price. A productively cordial working relationship at the start meant a lot to me. Indeed I am proud that despite the uneasy and nervy beginning, Albert Sam has remained a good friend. My life as a practising journalist began when he assigned me to cover an event organised by the Justice and Peace committee of the Catholic Church in Kumasi, where I met Fosuaba A. Mensah Banahene, a former Executive Secretary of the GETFund, who has since become a lifelong friend.