I kept fantasising in my head. The normal stuff people do when they aspire to be on TV as their favourite presenters – mimic what they do, enunciate as they do and all of that stuff. Took a keen interest not to sound like the average Ghanaian who speaks the English language.
Turned 17 and entered the university. I had the opportunity to study Economics, Theatre Arts and Study of Religion – such a weird combination. I was curious so I pursued Economics and had a love for the stage, so went for Theatre Arts after completing my first year at the University of Ghana, Legon. Economics was like a raging fire and Theatre Arts was simply the water that doused the flame.
Level 200 came and went. Boom! Level 300. Wait, I had not done my internship. Feared I would not live my dream. Unfortunately, I could not at that time. I didn’t really get the media house that offered what I was really looking for but I learnt good stuff there.
One day, I met my burning bush just like Moses of Israel from the Bible – more like an awakening during a lecture. Mrs Ekua Normeshie, a media resource person said “If this had been a job interview, I would have hired him.”
Those were her words after she handpicked me to run an evening news session. To be honest, I was so happy not because the class were cheering me on but because someone other than myself believed I could make it. I then told myself, pray and let us work.
Juggled studies till it was time to say goodbye to the university. Now, there was a challenge. I couldn’t get the media house I wanted for an internship, how would I be able to do that for national Service? Drafted a letter and went on a hunt. I did the needful and left the rest in the hands of God and the companies.
Three solid months I waited while finishing my final exams. It was tormenting especially when workers were being laid off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘Why won’t anyone call me? Will anyone call me?’ Those were part of the few questions I had running in my head for like a month.
Finally, a man called and said I am from The Multimedia Group Limited. Hahahaha, I was excited. I gained composure and spoke with him. It was not a vis-à-vis interview. He told me I would hear from him. I did hear from the company but this time from a lady. She asked if I could start work early and I was like ‘why not’. Didn’t say that precisely, had to be formal.
For the first time, I met Ato Kwamena Dadzie. It was mid-August, the date is kind of blurry but I think it was an 18th. He was a short, bubbly man. Met three other wonderful ladies who were to start work with me. Had a week for training and we were finally introduced to the team.
Now, tighten your seat belt because you are in for a rollercoaster. Week one was good. The pressure was okay. The rookies tried to observe the working space – what to wear, how to interact and how to work effectively. The task as at then was not tedious, just get the international stories.
Although things were not heated, I felt ineffective because my other colleagues had another task. They edited videos for publication whiles working on international stories. A bird advised us to start writing our own stories. I gave into the suggestion because of my insecurities.
My first story was a political one and so was my first published opinion piece. I delved into the area of lifestyle, stories about relationships. Someone should have knocked that idea out of my head. I earned the name “eating cookie from behind” because of a sex tape story. Till now, that name still lingers.
The more time we spent, the pressure grew. I felt I needed a counsellor then because it was tough. I mean, you have such a large audience locally and internationally reading stories from the website, Myjoyonline.com. So definitely, one had a lot to carry on his or her shoulder.
One day, I got heartbroken. It only took “so, is this what you have been writing” to knock me off my stallion. Never thought I had the love for writing but I knew I wasn’t a bad one. For a thinker, those words could not let me be. I asked what could be done so I meet the house’s standards. Let’s say that was all I needed to sashay my way to work without feeling so down.
The journey as a writer started. The complaints came but they were not severe. I felt an improvement and I believe my colleagues also did, especially the young lady who hit me with those words. I know she meant well.
Finally, the rest of the service persons joined us. I couldn’t wait to see how they will fare for the first month. Already, I had done a month and some weeks. I was so excited to see who they were and where they were coming from. We got acquainted and let’s say it wasn’t an easy ride in October.
I had been around for some time but there was still a lot to learn. I was assigned to get stories for the National Maths and Science Quiz (NSMQ 2020) competition. A colleague and I were tasked to do that actually.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger they say. Anxiety filled my entire body every day I saw my Assistant Editor go through my story. I didn’t want to approach the bench for an error I could have avoided if I had been more attentive. Some days, I evaded and others I couldn’t.
The finale of the contest approached and I was introduced to live updates. In less than an hour, a senior colleague took me through what needed to be done so we jumped into action straight away. The job was done. I picked up the skill in my third month. Pretty cool right?
Did I make mention of drama? Yes, there was drama because of the JoySports team. Met the legendary Nathaniel Attoh, a gentle jack. I am not so much a fan of football so whenever football loud discussions happened, I could not believe my escape from such loud noises would be short-lived. Aside from this, they were such good company.
Days turned to weeks then to months. Congratulations, and a happy new year to you because it was 2021. It was about six months more till the end of service. If you had to share your weekends and even your holidays with work, believe me, you would have a countdown.
At this point, everyone was growing and doing what he or she had to do. I had garnered so much experience from the 2020 general election coverage.
Sleepless nights and lodging at a hotel was the nightmare and dream but it was all over. In grand style, I ushered Myjoyonline audience into a new year through my live updates. Did that while I was at church. Couldn’t just miss it.
The bond grew and so did the experience after covering the 2021 election petition at the Supreme Court. I made a lot of friends though reserved and quiet. I lost one down the lane. Still cannot fathom how that happened. But now I could work on stories that would be positioned on the homepage of Myjoyonline.com without fear and trembling. The anxiety and fear subsided, almost nil.
I joined the Multimedia choir after sports journalist George Addo Jnr approached me.
That was another great family. Got the opportunity to be on several platforms such as the Adom Praiz. So it wasn’t all work. There was fun in there somewhere.
It is still July in my world as I sit to draft this piece. I ponder over all these months and realise I beat my fear. I had the opportunity to work with one of the best media houses in the country. I did hope to venture into radio and TV but that is a tale for another day.
But just like me, a whole lot of others across the country had the privilege to serve mother Ghana. Though the allowance is another issue on its own, this past one year, has been fulfilling, thrilling, frightening, exciting and a lot more. We all complained on the way somewhere but with perseverance, we pushed forward and made it out alive.
Some virtues such as patience, dedication, tolerance are a few at our disposal.
What the future holds, I’m no fortune-teller to say. What I can assure all who in the past year have learned something new is, things are getting better and you are a step away from what you desire to build for yourself.
August, they say is a month for kings and queens so If you decided to take the month leave, use it effectively. Breathe, rest and ponder anew what exactly you want and how to get there. If you already are on the path, work smart and hard. If you are not, tomorrow is just today hoped for yesterday.
After July 31, the world is a new place and a new beginning. Well done, 2020 National Service Personnel, you have served your country well.
My name is Andy Ogbarmey-Tettey and I am a proud worker of The Multimedia Group Limited till the future says otherwise.
The author, Andy Ogbarmey-Tettey, works with Myjoyonline.com. However, the views expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the company.