Eugenia Tachie-Menson, the star of the Spelling Bee Ghana

By: Francis Doku
 Eugenia Tachie-Menson
Eugenia Tachie-Menson

A lot has happened in the last one week. One of which was how radio presenter and host of Starr FM’s mid-morning show, Kofi Okyere Darko aka KOD got himself in the eye of the storm last Friday and the entire weekend. Scratch that, he held the tail of the tiger and the beast mutilated him very badly.

He was one of the first people to post on Instagram that actor, John Dumelo, was getting married. It would have been good if he had just mentioned the marriage that would happen the following day, Saturday, and left it at that. He, however, chose to add a few lines about how men prefer to marry women who make homes than those “all over”.

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“Got me wondering why most men in the public eye settle for quiet/unknown women and not the ones all over. That could be a lesson for some of our sisters ooo. Men want women who can make a home and not be all over,” parts of his post read.

Many women, including some female celebrities like Yvonne Okoro and Lydia Forson took offence to this comment by KOD and properly tore him apart.

It is fair to say that the former Radio Gold presenter was skewered very well.

As it turned out, John Dumelo got to marry his bride that Saturday and got himself off the list of eligible bachelors in Accra. Regardless of what was said about him, the brouhaha that KOD’s post created and the rumours of another woman claiming she was going out with him, the deal was done before the sun would go down on Saturday.

Another issue that came out on the entertainment and showbiz front has got to be what happened at Adom FM last Monday. Ghanaian actress, Gladys Mensah Boaku aka Nayas, last Monday stormed Adom FM with a cane hidden in her dress and attacked Gospel musician, Ernest Opoku, over claims that he had had sex with her and dumped her.

Well, it was a very horrible thing to do and the station was widely condemned by people who felt they should have provided enough security to prevent what happened. It is important to note that Adom FM saw it right to apologise to the musician.

Part of the statement said "all times, guests on our premises receive necessary protection. In this particular case, which is a one-off, a well-known guest, unfortunately, abused the privilege afforded her. Our sincere apologies to Ernest Opoku once again.”

These happenings in entertainment aside, something very great happened that I think should be the focus of my piece this week. The Country Director of Young Educators Foundation and the brain and force behind The Spelling Bee Ghana, Eugenia Tachie-Menson was recognised by the president of Ghana for her immense contribution to education.

This is a big deal. Any recognition by the president is a big deal and especially so if the person being recognised deserves it. Eugenia has been working on this Spelling Bee thing for over a decade. Each year she and her team would train young people, give them a platform to compete while learning and choose one of them to represent Ghana at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the USA.

Eugenia and her team of trainers travel across Ghana to look for children who want to take part in the programme, groom and train them for the final event that always takes place in Accra. She has been doing this since she brought the Bee to Ghana some 12 years or so ago.

Over the last three years or so, I have been very close to Eugenia and the Spelling Bee and I can assure you that the woman puts in a lot to make The Spelling Bee what it has become. From pitching for and chasing sponsorship to managing suppliers from production to media to pushing for visas and others for those who would travel, it’s a very tall list for her.

The fact is that we have not properly understood the concept of the Bee and how we need to support it. Last year before the final event in Accra she made a post on Facebook about how the show might not come on after a sponsor pulled out at the last minute. There was sorrow and horror in that post of one willing to help, but not getting the needed support.

I have worked on the production and media for The Spelling Bee, I have been a judge as well and I travelled with Eugenia and Emmanuel Afful, the Deputy National Coach to the United States last year to attend the US national final. Thanks to these experiences I have come to know the level of effort that woman puts into the Bee’s success any given year.

It is on the basis of this that I have no doubt that Eugenia Tachie-Menson indeed deserves the recognition that the president bestowed on her. She has paid her dues to education considering the many children that have passed through the programme and whose knowledge has increased as a result.

The letter of recognition signed by the president said it was for “12 years of dedication and commitment to the education of our Nation’s children through her work at the Young Educators Foundation and establishment of the National Spelling Bee and Young Debaters Competition in the nation of Ghana”.

In her Facebook post, Eugenia expressed her wonderment at the recognition. “The 3rd President's Certificate of Recognition goes to you, Madam," Mr. President says. HOW? WHY? WHAT? I was dumbfounded...really? Oh my GOODNESS!! This cannot be happening...but it was... the Presidency has recognised my contribution towards education in Ghana over the last 12 years!!!!!”

So yes the woman deserves the accolades bestowed on her by the topmost person in the land and I feel very honoured to have known her and have somehow recognised her hustle to make the Bee what it has become. Not everyone is as passionate about their work as Eugenia is and that alone deserves commendation.

Eugenia may be the face and force behind the Bee, but there are others behind the scenes who have helped to make it what it is. People like Nii Teiko Evans-Anfom, Nancy Keteku, Jocelyn Coleman, Stella Kankam, Emmanuel Afful, Salome Dzakpasu and many others who have contributed over the years as judges, pronouncers, trainers, volunteers and more have helped in diverse ways over the years and deserve to be commended.

Also to be commended are the sponsors whose contributions have helped to push the Bee to where it is. Prominent on this list is Indomie, which has been a sponsor for ten years and has promised to continue to sponsor for ten more years. Congratulations all round!