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Feature Article of Saturday, 7 July 2012

Columnist: Mensah, Solomon

Kebab and the breast release

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo’s kebab and the breast release

By Solomon Mensah

It was a sunny Thursday afternoon (I think Judas might have been on duty) when the man who once got married to the microphone stepped on the campus of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo had announced his presence earlier on to the school as his posters flooded the campus. One of such posters pasted somewhere at the entrance gave students assurance that Kwaku’s talk, as usual, will not be as boring as a civil servant’s memo.

So when the day was due, I was thorn between the anvil and the hammer contemplating as to whether I revise my notes for the mid-semester examination or join my colleagues at the seminar room to listen to the ace broadcaster.
At last, the man I listened to on News File (Joy Fm) from the two loud speakers of Alavanyo Spot in Sunyani was in front of me. I could not believe my eyes but really it was Kwaku Sakyi-Addo. As old as (I guess) he would be, Kwaku’s well built muscles popped in his white long sleeve cotton shirt gave him a youthful look.
Unlike some of our leaders who bury their heads in written speeches like the ostrich does in the sand, the onetime BBC’s correspondent exhibited a sense of intellectualism. For his close to an hour interaction with the students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, he poured statistics pertaining to the Ghanaian Telecommunications on the writing board without looking on any paper. Impressive! As pleasing as he sounded to the ear, at a point in time, I thought he was reciting one of the best African poems we learnt at secondary school.
All too soon, the lecture was over but Kwaku Sakyi-Addo could not have resumed his seat without passing a word of advice.
As benevolent as Kwaku is, he had provided us kebabs and some crates of Coca Cola. This was a funny way of a guest “welcoming” a host. But without toeing the Ghanaian way of hesitating over a gift that he would ultimately accept, we said ‘thank you’ to him for his benevolence.
He “prayed” that the kebabs and crates of Coca Cola, which he sponsored, become the “last supper” of the would-be journalists. Kwaku’s concern was the shame some journalist cause the inky fraternity at gatherings when they fight over kebabs, Coca Cola, “soli” and the like. So his benevolence should tell us that if we work hard, we can afford to buy more than a stick of kebab.
Shunning the sweat that trekked in-between his left eye and the nose, he rose again on his toes. This time, the seminar room was calmer than the cemetery as he lamented over the attitudes of the bad nuts. Looking at the contours on the face of my secret admirer, one needed not a psychologist to tell that the man with a patented throat-clearing stints signature was disturbed.
With his agility with words, crafting and weaving them as though he was weaving a basket, he advised the gathering. “As you go out into the field of journalism, do not go and join the black sheep in the media landscape. Value yourself. Mind you, you are more valuable than a kebab or perhaps a bottle of Coca Cola. I find no sense when trained journalists chase such eateries at the expense of their duty,” he said.
Kwaku’s words goose fleshed our skins sheltering us like the brood of ducklings lain in-between the bent leg of one of the horses in Animal Farm. Indeed, the accomplished broadcaster and now the CEO of The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT) wish we (would-be journalists) rise above his achievements. He would therefore not leave us to wander aimlessly in our chosen profession.
I think it will be prudent clearing the air that Kwaku Sakyi-Addo had no beef with kebab sellers neither the Coca Cola Company nor a section of any media practitioners. Rather, a share of sentiments that has the potential of crippling the Ghanaian media.
So, was it wrong when Kwaku Sakyi-Addo posed behind the podium as a father in advising his ‘children’? I guess your response is a gargantuan NO! The time has come for a rigorous cleansing of the journalistic profession.
“Profession” according to the Oxford dictionary online is “a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.” Moreover, the Cambridge dictionary also defines it as “any type of work which needs special training or a particular skill, often one which is respected because it involves a high level of education.” Pardon me for bothering you with definitions but it is a way of helping understand what we might take for granted, “profession.”
From the two well carved definitions above, one must do all things gentlemanly to further uplift the image of his or her profession. So satirically, we hear lawyers, especially the student-lawyers, say that all professionals are educated but only lawyers are learned. This irrespective of its impact on academia, it is a way to make the “I put it to you” profession look lucrative and special. Therefore, if one spends two to four years in school to be taught and trained as a journalist, then it behoves upon such a person to hold the journalistic profession also in high esteem. Whereas a doctor who gobbles over food at a gathering would be chastised by the Medical Association, the journalist who does not only gobble but packs food shamefully must also be chastised by the journalistic body.
As if by design, while Kwaku Sakyi-Addo was saddled with some journalists’ bad attitude towards “item 13,” a chunk number of the lecturers at the Ghana Institute of Journalism buried their chins in the palm over indecent dressing. Bursting out (but soberly) like over pumped football, one of these lecturers pleaded to the First and Third Year students (females) of the Institute to put a stop to their “breast release.”
When this Lecturer (who I will like to remain anonymous) first mentioned her coined term, breast release, the ‘editors’ among us (the students) gathered for orientation towards internship thought she meant “press release.” She said she had observed an indecent dressing among some section of the female students whereby their breasts pop up like the mucus in a crying child’s nose.
I almost said amen when she said, “declare today that you will put a stop to this kind of indecent dressing as you are leaving for internship.” Don’t mind me for I was so touched. “Be mindful that not only will you disgrace womanhood with this indecent exposure but tarnishing the image of journalism as well,” she added.
Personally, I find it hard to comprehend why a woman would like to expose her breast publicly. To my surprise, I have never come across a dead woman laid-in-state with part of her breast released. Tell me if you have found one yourself.
This lecturer in question said she has for many occasions called on such breast releasers to teach them how to dress and advised them to stop broadcasting what they release to their viewers. I am therefore tempted to ask that if the dead’s breast will not be shown, why the would-be journalist?
It is said that when rain falls, it does not fall on only one roof. So another worried Lecturer could not let the first Lecturer’s “rain” fall on only the female students. The blindly copy of Otto Pfister’s (a coach who once managed Ghana’s football team) trousers below his buttocks was frowned upon.
This second Lecturer was also worried as to why one will intentionally pull his trousers below his buttocks. He called on the few students who adore this style of dressing to emulate their colleagues’ proper way of dressing.
As if that was not enough, a word of caution was sent across instructing that one keep a well shaped hair. “The vagabond way of hair style does not befit any profession especially journalism,” the second concerned Lecturer said. Well said, one can just tag another to a group of people by a mere look of his or her haircut. Owing to this, nurses (both student-nurses and practising nurses) cannot just put up any hair style. Can you imagine a nurse with a six feet high wig like Papa Ajasco’s wife’s headgear attending to you as a patient? Such frightful scene of hair style is now being worn by men as well with some having inscriptions written on their heads. This, common sense tells us that it will not be welcomed in the media landscape.
It will not be out of place to applaud Kwaku Sakyi-Addo and the Lecturers at the Ghana Institute of Journalism in helping ensure that “sanity” prevails in the media profession.
This piece built upon the words of the two parties above does not seek to restrict anyone in the media of any kind of reception offered him or her, but, rather, to advise that one must put self value first before the stomach. The breast release (a new term you can adopt) is just a reminder to the practising journalists and would-be journalists to continue to be decent and modest in terms of clothing.
How I wish someone tell Kwaku Sakyi-Addo that “I want more” of his kebab as said in the Pure Milk’s advertisement on television. Hey, I do not mean to make noise over it like the “stubborn” child in the ad. I have learnt my lessons.


The writer is a student-journalist at the Ghana Institute of Journalism
Email: nehusthan4@yahoo.com

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