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*Ode to The New Ghanaian Newspaper

Thu, 15 Dec 2011 Source: Ofori, Oral

*Ode to The New Ghanaian Newspaper on its 10**th** anniversary*

*By Oral Ofori*

I've been writing for The New Ghanaian newspaper for almost three years now and I can confidently say it is one of the most consistent Ghanaian Newspapers in District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV), I'll confidently go as far as saying almost the entire USA. It is on this basis that I was filled with great excitement in November 2011 when the paper's Managing Editor, Emmanuel Gamor invited me to cover the paper's 10thanniversary at the Hilton in Springfield Virginia.

The celebration inside one of the immaculate ballrooms of the Hilton attracted people of Ghanaian descent and persuasions all over the DMV and it was such an honor to be amidst all those great compatriots, of which included Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, head of Ghana's National Media Commission who was the special guest of honor at the event.

Almost a decade back inside the offices of the Ghanaian Times in Accra Ghana, I was a fresh-out-the-oven journalist doing my first internship (and yes I had two internships, the other was with The Voice of America radio in DC) with the sports desk of Ghana's second largest newspaper at the time when Kabral Blay-Amihere walked into the office to visit with Emmanuel Amponsah, then Managing Editor of the Sports section of Ghanaian Times newspaper. That was the first time I ever saw Ambassador Amihere and even though I didn't know who he was, I knew he was obviously an important person even at the time.

As I sat among the guests last November listening to the special guest of honor speak, I thought to myself how small the world is and how life goes around in circles. Almost a decade after I first saw him, I'm still a striving journalist perfecting my skills and I still feel there's a lot more to learn and I'll ever remain a learning practitioner of the inky fraternity. Ghana's former Ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire and High Commissioner to Sierra Leone was full of praises for The New Ghanaian newspaper and the milestone it has chalked by being a credible news source for happenings among Ghanaians and non Ghanaians alike in and out of the USA.

The Media Commissioner was full of admiration for the paper's founder; Joseph Vanderpuye and its current Managing Editor; Emmanuel Gamor and asked that they be given the necessary encouragement and support by the Ghanaian community in the USA and continued backing by all who have supported and affiliated with the paper since the past decade. Now know this, the first time I saw Emmanuel Gamor I was so inspired by his enthusiasm especially at a time when I was going through my own storms of life. I thought to myself if this man, as young as he is, could handle this huge responsibility of gate keeping a newspaper... then I sure too must be able to rise above my own storms and I personally think he's one of the youngest practitioners in the trade from Ghana resident in the USA with the position of a Managing Editor, unless you know of a much younger newspaper editor, then give me a call and I'll investigate!

At the event I was asked to tweet about proceedings and I did that coupled with trying to be a good date and taking an occasional note or two while my voice recorder captured the speech of Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere who is tasked with defending and promoting press freedoms in Ghana and also regulating the country's media. In his address, the Ambassador had some criticisms also for so called 'serial callers' to radio programs in Ghana. These are people who are paid to call in to talk-radio programs in Ghana to either incite or promote a particular individual or group's interest irrespective of the negative outcomes their sometimes reckless actions occasionally incite.

Now this critique sent me down memory lane as I relived the days when I used to listen to blokes like 'Dr. Asem Fofro' whom all forward thinking Ghanaians a decade ago knew was definitely a 'serial caller'. I know people are allowed to speak their minds in this era of freedom of expression provided it is done objectively. Unfortunately in the quest to ensure freedom of expression, there has been a few individuals out there that have taken undue advantage of this powerful privilege.

When one looks across the African continent today, it has been established that wars in countries like Rwanda, Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire have all seen their respective media being the catalyst in the commencement of strives and atrocities that were begun by such 'serial callers' and people on the radio who were being unnecessarily inflammatory while exercising their right to speech.

With national elections approaching in Ghana, the National Media Commission finds its self bearing the arduous responsibility of ensuring that the country's media is well regulated in such a way that does not limit press freedoms and yet guarding against irresponsible media with the little resources at its disposal. The lack of resources is a matter that needs to be addressed by Ghana and the International community in a timely enough fashion to allow the Media Commission of Ghana execute its responsibilities appropriately so as to help ensure a free, transparent, peaceful and fair elections in Ghana.

I am looking forward to visiting Ghana sometime soon, but even before my visit, I've been following with keen interest the on goings in the media circles and I personally think there are some bad nuts that must be brought to check, lest they misuse all that power that good citizens of the country have entrusted to them. The peace that Ghana enjoys as a country today is built on a very thin fabric of tolerance which could easily be torn if not well kept. Every night I go to bed, I thank God for keeping watch over my family and friends back home and pray the worst never happens. Well yes I also pray for my protection out here as well, given all this 'occupy this' and 'occupy that' demonstrations happening all over the place in the USA now.

My relationship with the publisher and CEO of The New Ghanaian has been akin to that of a father and son one, I must say Joseph Vanderpuye has been a great motivation and tutor who unbeknown to has greatly inspired me to improve upon myself by sending me back to the drawing board whenever I felt like I had just churned out my best. I will always remember his fatherly advises and the much needed checks he'll write for me that always came in handy just when I needed them the most.

Another person I greatly enjoy working with in the offices of The New Ghanaian is Eddie Ekuban. Now Eddie as he's affectionately called is one whom I have chosen to imagine as a fashionista, he's always talking about this or that cool fashion design or clothe idea, yet what I really like him for the most, besides his writing, is his 'blast from the past' stories which sends him reminiscing about the good old days, especially in Ghana. Eddie is also an exceptionally gifted cartoonist who's artistry always graces the pages of The New Ghanaian newspaper with not just humorous caricatures of personalities, but with accompanying words of wisdom, he's a man of few words and many actions and I felt happiest the most for him when he got married not so long ago.

The New Ghanaian newspaper is gifted with a whole host of talented contributors, columnist and writers that give the paper its flavor and flare and also make it one of the credible sources for news about Ghana. Today the paper is slowly but surely incorporating the West African community in the USA to be a beneficiary of its service. Sunlight Radio recently became affiliated to The New Ghanaian and is equally mirroring the newspaper in the objective to serve not only the Ghanaian community, but the entire African neighborhood currently in the USA.

Even though other engagements today have limited the amount of time I spend with The New Ghanaian, I still cherish every opportunity I get to play a small role in the paper's gigantic responsibility towards the Ghanaian community in the DMV and the entire African community in the USA. I am looking forward to spending more time with them as the year draws to a close and come 2012, history will be made. I can't wait to be a part of this new dawn, by the way someone please tell Clarence D. Robert not to seat me on his radio console (I can see him smile now), my work is better done behind the scenes but oh well, I'm forever open to new challenges.

Next time you find yourselves in an African Market anywhere in the DMV that carries The New Ghanaian newspaper, please don't hesitate to pick a copy, its a free paper so be kind to flip through the pages. If you don't find an entertaining, educating and informative read then please feel free to call me on +1202-702-1220 and I'll personally give you $1.23 for the time you spent on perusing the paper, if not then I'll feature you here on my blog and have you talk about how cool you think the paper is!

Columnist: Ofori, Oral