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Opinions of Friday, 24 January 2014

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Iced water economics and Mr. Dumor’s departure

We were perfectly right the last time, Jomo, yet incredibly, we still managed to get our thesis about life all wrong at the same: We argued that the only certainty in life is uncertainty itself, but we neglected to make one exception: Death.
Death is certain for every living creature but even there again, there is uncertainty in the certainty of death: No one knows at what age, place, precise date or manner in which death will suddenly show up and say “up and lets go, old chap, time is up.” Imagine Ghanaian literary icon and statesman Professor Kofi Awoonor dying two years shy of 80 in a foreign land and at the hands of international terrorists!
The General Telegraph last week reported the case of a healthy looking young man in his late twenties who dropped dead while walking merrily along a street at Ashaiman. No sir, no one knows at what hour the grim reaper cometh.
“He was so hale and hearty” some colleagues and acquaintances said of Ghanaian BBC broadcaster Komla Dumor who died last Saturday aged 41. A perplexing question is whether we should place the label “unavoidable” on all deaths or whether in cases like the sudden departure of the late Mr Dumor we should wax quizzical.
Book authors and motivational speakers who have been bee-busy these last few decades preaching success and prosperity messages forcefully to the younger generation at all manner of forums have rarely bothered to add the rest of the information:
Once career excellence and achievement have been attained to the admiration of society, the constant and unrelenting pressure to maintain the level of success achieved can be killing. As Kofi Jack is given to saying, “enye easy!”
In many professions, colleagues will generally leave you alone in peace if you commit yourself to being ordinary or average but often not when you escape the confines of the pack and peak phenomenally. By his own account, some of Mr Dumor’s colleagues at the almighty BBC made him a target of jealousy-inspired abuse.
The pressure that comes with maintaining high levels of achievement also eats up time needed for adequate rest, self-care and psychological healing from the little-known vagaries of the achiever’s work environment. The late Mr Dumor spoke of sometimes having to leave for work at 2a.m.
Once success and acclaim have been achieved, the rest of it becomes a balancing act and that means constantly balancing the high achiever’s emotional, psychological, physical, physiological and {very importantly}, spiritual health, with the taxing effort to stay at the top. The pullers of the success and prosperity crowd don’t teach this!
When it comes to work, Dumor was an excellent broadcaster by all standards, gifted with a great broadcast voice, a rich vocabulary and good diction. His own spectacular performance with The Super Morning Show on Joy FM and the Ghana Journalist of the Year Award he won in 2003, helped launch his career into international flight.
I was a member of the Ghana Journalist Association Media Awards Committee which selected the late Mr Dumor for the prestigious award but somehow, it turned out to be the most controversial award in the history of the GJA awards for journalistic excellence.
We had initially written to another highly accomplished journalist, Mr Kwaku Sakyi-Addo informing him that we were nominating him for the award, but he declined to accept the honour, saying he had already won the prestigious award twice, and that it would be appropriate to present it to another deserving journalist.
Word that Mr Dumor then topped our shortlist for the award somehow got out and was met with vehement protests from most media houses. One argument against his selection for the award was that he was not a trained or professional journalist but a radio presenter.
A second argument was that he was a defendant in a case in which the Social Security and National Insurance Trust had filed a law suit against him in connection with a radio report of investigations he undertook into some aspects of the Trust’s operations.
Our committee was left in a quandary and divided over the validity or otherwise of the arguments raised. At our very last meeting, our committee took a vote to give or deny him the award. The vote ended in a tie. In a subsequent round of voting, the majority agreed to name him for the award.
Not that it matters anymore, merely to say how tortuous the journey to success and accomplishment was for the late Mr Dumor who reportedly died of cardiac arrest. Renowned Ghanaian heart surgeon Professor Frimpong Boateng while being cautious in his comments, notes that all heart attacks have a trigger, with stress being one of the leading triggers.
Hang on a jiffy and don’t go yet, Jomo: The utility politics in the republic is getting bizarre: Had I the means, Jomo, I would manufacture a peace machine to dispense peace generously to individuals and the nation for our common good. Instead, I am inclined to warn that there could be a massive explosion one day if the long-suffering masses {this has nothing to with Karl Marx} are pushed too far!
Imagine making water, that precious fluid of life which is as indispensable as the air we breathe, a prepaid commodity! It is madness. Even when water is available, many in the poorest segments of society are unable to pay for it. Asking them to pay upfront for water in an era of frequent scarcity is in my opinion, a social and human development tragedy.
Shattering news: News just coming in says the government has explained that the introduction of prepaid metres is intended for large scale water consumers in commerce and industry and not for you, me or Kofi Jack. Fantastic, Jomo. Absolutely fantastic!
{The author is Editor-in-Chief of the General Telegraph}
Website: www.sydneyabugri.com/Web
Email: editing@sydneyabugri.com