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Opinions Mon, 9 Dec 2019

Farewell Joseph Emmanuel Allotey-Pappoe

Joseph Emmanuel Allotey-Pappoe (JEAP), aged 72, the primus of Institute of Public Relations – Ghana, was cremated at the Lashibie Funeral home on 6 December.

The cremation and funeral service of the 72 year old soft spoken teetotaller provided Ghana’s PR practitioners with many useful lessons.

Ghana’s PR “gurus” were there – the ladies in their wicked and surreal western-style wigs, but it is all good; their students can now tell the difference.

My students were also there to support their classmate, Godfre, JEAP’s son.

Now at least one of my classroom battles has ceased, my students having witnessed some proper protocol at Lashibie for themselves.

JEAP’s son is my student. He always sits quietly in the corner, watching his colleagues battle me while clearly imbibing the lessons.

JEAP practised PR as an employee of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) “for 37 years”.

“We were poached from the classroom,” he recalled with nostalgia in answer to a question from his PR class of 2006-7 at the School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana Legon.

When JEAP was a student in the 1970s and ‘80s at the Department of Communication Studies (DOCS), the school offered the post graduate diploma programme, and “communications professionals were rare”.

He handled us with finesse, “Yes, it’s in Grunig but you haven’t read it, you haven’t read it,” as he shook his head to show mastery of Professor James E. Grunig’s textbooks.

Even those who hurriedly brought in a “Wikipedia summary” had to cite their reference and then he would smile and pardon them with his trademark remark, “You are not far from the path of the righteous”.

His passion was to institute ethics into the practice of PR and jettison “propaganda” from the practice.

He admitted Ghana had failed in PR ethics for which reason IPR-Ghana was seeking a parliamentary charter to license practitioners.

He worked hard with others and made then sitting president John Mahama, an alumnus of DOCS, an Honorary Fellow of IPR-Ghana, all in a bid to bring national attention to PR ethics and regulation.

But Shakespeare’s “What’s in a name?” quote should now be a sharp reminder that our failed institutions will require more than IPR-Ghana certification to restore order.

“Look, the South Africans and Egyptians are far ahead of us,” JEAP who held several positions in the African Public Relations Association, once told his class.

JEAP bemoaned how the Ga chieftaincy hierarchy will not allow PR scholarship to influence their image. He served the chiefs in an advisorial capacity but was not acknowledged as an “expert prescriber” or “problem solving facilitator” for his scholarly opinion.

In 2012, he constituted Major (Rtd) Albert Don-Chebe, and his students Kofi Akpabli, Eric Addae and myself, into JEAP and Associates.

We did our best but did not win even one contract.

And as each of us already had our other public and private avocations, we just left JEAP and Associates to fade out.

The last time I saw JEAP was in June this year, when he quickly entered the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA HOUSE) building; his medical condition had taken a toll on his otherwise youthful frame.

I prayed for his speedy recovery but I also knew “There is nothing like death; it is part of life,” as my mentor has succinctly unveiled.

Thank you too, Lashibie Funeral Homes: you have helped mark out the battle lines on propriety.

Farewell JEAP: rest in peace. And may the family you have left behind never fail the PR test.

Aluta continua!

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah