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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Columnist: Reggie Tagoe in Brescia

Ghana face on Italian TV

… Akosua Adu newscast on R.T.B

Dayana Akosua Adu, a Ghanaian, is the only African female newscaster on Italian Television.

Rete Brescia (R.T.B), a well established TV station housed in the Italian northern city Brescia, broadcasts its news and programs, apart from Italian language, in 5 other languages including English of which Akosua Adu is part of it.

Having worked as a Secretary to a Bank in Ghana, she joined her husband in Italy 20 years ago and her courageous acts, tenacity and determination has pushed her to the position she is today. But says she owes everything to the grace of God as she granted an interview to

Coming from a family background that would not yield to hindrances and discouragements to achievements, Akosua looked back at the early years in Italy and what an Italian journalist told her at that time has now become a reality of which she is relishing every bit of it as a journalist. As a gospel artiste and an activist who likes to speak on behalf of the down trodden she could be seen at public rallies in Brescia speaking at the forefront against treatment of migrants in Italy. At one of such rallies, where she has been invited to perform with her gospel band she recalls how an Italian journalist interviewed her. She narrated that story this way: “It was at one of my concerts at a public square during a demonstration, an Italian journalist covering the event told me in response to her question, ‘you don’t look like a gospel artist, you look like a political activist’. I spoke against their continuous views and reports on Africa showing children with bare feet and pot bellies. I cannot keep silence over that. The lady journalist response was, ‘then you have to come and work with us and present Africa as you like it’”. According to her it was like a joke but a confrontation with the lady. Today she is a news anchor woman at R.T.B vividly remembering what the lady journalist told her at that rally.

Akosua Adu who hails from Akwapim Akropong, in the Eastern Region of Ghana, admitted she wasn’t a journalist and didn’t think of becoming one but one thing led to another which again she pointed out is the work of God. Looking at the family background in Ghana she mentioned that from a personal research she did it came out that the family can boast of some seasoned journalists in Ghana among them was her grandfather who composed the signature tune (a drumming tune called Ghana ‘muntie’, meaning, Ghana listen) for Ghana News on Radio/TV which is still being used today.

Life in Italy in those early years according to her wasn’t the best she had expected though her husband, Nana Biney, who was also a source of inspiration, made her aware of the situation that prevails for migrants before she arrived. She went through the mills doing some domestic jobs and working as a factory hand for 18 months but all along she knew she was going to change lane and was not discouraged or distracted by what some friends said when she started some courses provided by the City Council which included a computer course. “Two years after completing some of these courses I was called by one of the Trade Unions (CGIL) in the city of Brescia which said they are looking for a journalist to work at a TV Station. My initial response was, I’m not a journalist but a banker and also a political activist who likes speaking for people using my music to get the message across but they insisted and asked me to go for the opportunity being presented at Rete Brescia,” Akosua mentioned.

Speaking about the audition she again recalled: “We were a group of people from different nationalities, some accredited journalists, being auditioned for a job to be taken on as a newscaster when R.T.B decided to go multi-lingual in 2001. My performance was terribly bad on that day when put on set with the lighting systems and all the Italian camera crew standing and watching. I thought I miserably failed but was surprised the man in charge picked me among all the rest. He said my voice is good for the job and have good command over the English language believing I can be worked upon,” She indicated it was not only about English but realised they needed also someone with command over the two languages, English and Italian, the latter which she has because of the courses she did earlier. “I was employed immediately,” she said.

Since then the Ghanaian has been enjoying her job and interacting freely with the staff. Have been trained to use the camera for covering events and been sent alone several times on locations. When I asked her about the difficult part of the job she took a deep breath and burst into laughter before responding. “Sometimes when I go out on location for news they look at me up and down and ask me, ‘did you miss your address?”, she told me still laughing.

Programs on R.T.B has won several awards internationally, they give a positive side of the foreign migrants in Italy and Akosua Adu, who also works with the City Council Office of Brescia as a social service mediator between the Council and the Ghanaians and Nigerians community, said:“We have a hard working Director whose editorial lines is to portray the positive side of the immigrant in Italy, give information about the migrants and to give out necessary information that will ease their stay in the country.”

In the concluding part of the interview she was quick to point out she desires to be a politician in Italy appearing to take inspiration from her father who was a Politician, a Magistrate and a District Commissioner in Ghana”.

What would you want to change in Italy if you have a position of authority in Italy?, I finally asked her. She replied: “Working as a newscaster here in Italy, for that matter African immigrant, is in its self a change. Some gave me a short time thinking it will all be over for me but it has not turned out to be the case. I believe I’m at R.T.B as a pioneer to pave way for other Africans here and right now it is stirring up the youth. There are opportunities in the land of Italy, what people don’t like are challenges and hindrances. If you leave Italy and go elsewhere, you will still have challenges. It is only that, it comes in a different form,” and she added: “Life is full of challenges and for one to break through you must be somebody who believes so much in what is in you to be able to cross the barrier and that is what I am”.

The President of R.T.B, Virgilio Baresi, praised the working ability of the Ghanaian describing her as a selfless individual who has learned more about the job with time and added the station broadcasts to 5 continents across the world. “We want to help all immigrants who want to put their problems across. Those who come to Italy must be helped not only to make money for us. In Brescia every 100 people you meet in the street 38 may be foreigners, we have 156 ethnic groups in the city. We need to educate them on the laws of the land because if they misbehave Italians pay for the cost,” Baresi said.

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