It is September 15, 2012…
I have not had a good morning; battling with the effects of a malaria medication, and in my recuperating mode. I decided as is usual, for a Danso Saturday morning, to just lie in there and listen to my favorite Radio News Analysis Program on Joy FM, viz., News File.
Usually, out of habit or should I say laziness, I often would leave the dial there. I no longer pay rapt attention as I would have the three hours preceding. I listen though until something striking is said. As such, subsequent shows such as the mid-day news, the sports show and the entertainment piece have my partial interest.
Today is a bit different, because I am too ill to even sleep; I am FORCED to listen. Well, I am glad I did. On the show (Sports Link), Nathaniel Attoh (the man who has love for sports), hosted the legendary Octogenarian Benjamin Koufie affectionately called Uncle Ben (as distinguished from the Pollster Ben Ephson of the Daily Dispatch Newspaper) and Ghanaian-born Nigerian, (or is it Nigerian-born Ghanaian?) sports and football aficionado Mr. James Bode Oyedeji.
Over the years, and even in my apathetic approach to radio programs beyond mid-day, I have nevertheless been intrigued by the historical capacity and prowess of Mr. Oyedeji. Of course, this is often reinforced by the fact that between 09:00 hours and 12:00 hours GMT, I am positively provoked by another such brain; like regular panelist of News File, Mr. Abdulmalik Kweku Baako, Managing Editor of The New Crusading Guide newspaper.
These men seem to have yesterday as a sister and tomorrow as a mother gone shopping. They are adept with often exact recall of historical facts and events that you just wonder how they do it. My enchantment has often been doused by a nagging question: what happens when they are no more – when the grim-reaper comes by (I hope, only hope and pray it comes in the VERY distant future)? I needed not worry if these men, like Uncle Ben Koufie, put together their historical knowledge so that present and future generations have something to refer to.
I make a case for writing…
This agenda of mine isn’t limited to Messrs Oyedeji and Baako. I wished that as Mr. Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, the genial host of Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, has often advocated, ex-Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor would also put together their memoirs as is the case with most, if not all, US Presidents either in office or upon exiting office.
I am aware for example that Ghana’s first President, Dr. Nkrumah wrote volumes, so did a few other nationalists like J.B Danquah and one time Prime Minister Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia. In very recent times and barely two months ago, current President, then Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, launched his first book, My First Coup D’état.
I also recollect that as part of ex gratia package, President John Agyekum Kufuor, suggested in the Chinery-Hesse report a need to have what his administration christened a Presidential Library. The intention in my opinion was awakened upon the demise of President John Evans Atta-Mills when as a nation, Ghana began considering a way to immortalize the memory of the late president. The status of the agenda to put such a library together I do not know. As has become habitual, we on this side of the planet, have a sleek way of not doing anything. We tuck wonderful concepts in the refrigerator with no particular intention to work with them. It is for this reason I write.
This is my attempt at imploring all who have whatever fragment of history to help the rest of us out. I marvel every time I read the Bible. Recently, I read through the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. I was fascinated by the details therein provided. And more, I thought, someone took it upon themselves to do this [by Ezra (?) the Scribe and Isaiah (?) the Prophet]. Over the centuries, these records have become not just knowledge mines but instructional cannons and a moral compass. And interestingly, even in that civilization, there were court scribes whose business it was to document their monarchs tenure. Of course, our universities have historians who are doing their bit, and I doff my hat to and for them. But men like ex-Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor, Messrs Ben Koufie, James Oyedeji and Abdulmalik Kweku Baako owe it to their love for this great country Ghana to put down their memories in books.
Sometimes I think they are inundated by personal schedules, they are unable to do this, however important they may perceive it. If this is the case, I suggest the use of shadow writers. Ghana is too endowed not to have such. (The sports and specifically football loving Sports Callers Association would be most useful oral assistance for this exercise, as far as sports and football is concerned. They have witnessed the events and matches very closely.) If they need an editorial team, even for free, I am persuaded they’d have to run a screening to keep back the numbers. All they needed do, for example, is to advertise this intention and I assure we’d have this dream materialize.
Writing a book not only immortalizes a memory or preserve history, it affords the opportunity for critique and reviews. I do not suggest that everything these men write would pass uncontested. By all means, they should and must. But we are better off with a contested write up, than none at all. At least, the critics have a job, and the writers have a patent!
But while I do this advocacy, permit me to push the call beyond these men. I wonder whatever happened to the culture of ‘journaling’. We seem to have lost the culture to sms fashion tweeting and ‘facebooking’. I do not object to that; at least we are writing, but we can do better. I am aware of blogs and bloggers, but how many are there for Ghana? And what is the content of their posts?
We needed to keep diaries. It is amazing how many blockbuster movies are the product of books and an individual’s well-kept diary plus diligent research by would-be Hollywood Producers and Script Writers. Immediately, I recall The Diary of Anne Frank, The Great Debaters, Freedom Writers, Coach Carter, Hotel Rwanda, Titanic, Pearl Habour, The Pursuit of Happyness, Not Without My Daughter, Nothing But the Truth just to mention a few of the plethora.
Every time I have read my older journals, I have been enthralled by the course of my journey in the years gone by. It has challenged me to make amends where a not-so-good trend has been unfortunately established. Of course, it has given me reasons for joy and gratitude too. I say like the divine, John Newton, “…though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was…“. I have been challenged to outdo myself. Personal goals have been refocused and targets re-evaluated. And all these because I wrote.
Sadly, I have not been consistent with this. I repent in sackcloth, dust and ashes. I wished I could ask you dear reader to write everyday about your day and the events of the day as you experienced them. I know that isn’t realistic with our fast-paced world and our very demanding 21st Century work schedule. But we can at least write on the events and days that are truly remarkable; can’t we?
Fortunately, we are blessed with PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and mobile electronic devices: laptops, notebooks, smartphones, ipads and the like. We can do a lot of (mobile) digitally-assisted writing in spite of our schedules and the demand on our time. We even have speech-to-text software to go with these!
“Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” – Sir Francis Bacon, English author, courtier, statesman, scientist and philosopher (1561 – 1626)
Sir Francis Bacon speaks of writing making an EXACT man. We have had a lot of conferencing and some reading, can we have some writing? I wish Presidents Rawlings, Kufuor and the gentlemen Ben Koufie (who has just authored the book “The Principles of Modern Soccer Coaching”), James Oyedeji and Kweku Baako would enrich our libraries, knowledge and national heritage in governance, sports, politics etc. I wish Parliamentary Hansards in this fourth republic at least, could be book-packaged for public consumption. Besides the archival value of these documents, it has a potentially-economical value.
I wish to do more than I am currently delivering to myself and posterity. I wish to write more. Can I ask you to come along?