“The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.”
The foregoing quotation from 2 Samuel 1:19-20 (KJV) are excerpts of the lamentation of David after he heard about the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan in the Battle of Mount Gilboa. David’s lamentation is one of the most widely quoted tributes ever paid to men of great substance who graced the earth, not merely because he bade his kinsmen to teach their children to do same, but more essentially because of the aptness and glow of his words in honouring great men in death.
On such a solemn occasion, as the media fraternity in Ghana and, indeed, the entire nation unite in mourning, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) could not have found more befitting words for solace and to dignify one of its illustrious servants than the lamentation of David. Although the circumstances that warranted David’s lamentation several millennia ago may be different from those that have summoned us here, the tears drawn from the eyes, the pain inflicted in the heart, the grief pumped into the soul and the agony unleashed to the body are all shared in both circumstances.
Undoubtedly, Edward Ameyibor, affectionately called Oga, was a mighty man in the media, particularly the GJA. Under his stewardship as president from 1988 to 1992 (having served for two terms of two-year tenure), the GJA gained more recognition and made a bigger impact in national affairs. He also served as the GJA representative in the Consultative Assembly that drafted the 1992 Constitution, the supreme law of Ghana upon which our democracy and essence as a nation thrive.
Apart from the presidency, Oga served the GJA in many other capacities, including serving on the flagship GJA Media Awards Committee for many years and facilitator for training programmes for journalists. He brought a lot of dynamism to the association through which journalism in Ghana discovered its prestige, pride and decency. As the anchor of the old order of the GJA leadership, his swift sprint paved the way for the new order of leadership to take over.
Oga worked with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) for almost four decades, from October 1, 1963 to August 31, 2002, retiring as Supervising Chief Editor. He also served as GNA Correspondent in Nigeria for many years, from where he appropriated the nickname ‘Oga’. After retirement from the GNA, he joined Diamond FM, a private radio station in Tamale, where he worked for many years as General Manager, grooming many more young journalists in the northern sector.
Within the media fraternity, the number of journalists Oga fathered and mentored is uncountable. One of his mentees is Bright Blewu, who Oga encouraged and actually campaigned for to become the GJA General Secretary, a position he held for about two decades to earn the title ‘General Secretary Emeritus’. Oga prepared the heads, hearts and hands of many journalists to push their pens for the development of self and country. He had open arms that embraced everyone and a warm smile directed at all, whether young or old, tall or short, fat or slim, Ewe or Akan. Like magnet, he had a unique ability to pull people around him. He was humble, respectful and always desired to help people. Also, he was very jovial and planted joy everywhere he went. Indeed, the beauty of the GJA has fallen!
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In his retirement life, Mr Ameyibor also served in various capacities as acting Chairman of HelpAge Ghana and General Secretary of the SSNIT National Pensioners Association. He was, indeed, a servant of humanity.
To the GJA, Oga attained the status of media legend. And we believe he deserves a space in the annals of the GJA. That is why we take inspiration from David to tell his story in our media houses and schools and publish same in the history books of the GJA, lest the daughters of ingratitude rejoice. Again, like David, we will tell our children — the new generation of journalists upcoming – about Oga in order to immortalise his name.
To the bereaved family, old and new colleagues, friends and well-wishers, inasmuch as Oga’s death is heart-wrenching, we encourage you to be sober and take consolation in the words of the Methodist hymnist Joseph Scriven in the second stanza of his evergreen song, “What a friend we have in Jesus”, which reads thus:
“Have we trials and temptations?
“Is there trouble anywhere?
“We should never be discouraged,
“Take it to the Lord in prayer.
“Can we find a friend so faithful?
“Who will all our sorrows share?
“Jesus knows our every weakness,
“Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
Oga, our father, brother, colleague, senior and mentor, as you make a journey to the land of eternity, may the good Lord find you a resting place in His bosom till we meet again.
Fare thee well, worthy servant of the media and humanity.