Events leading to the National Radio & Television Personality Awards ceremony that particular year were beginning to gather momentum when that accident occurred. The facts had it that the mobile telephony company which was the headline sponsor committed an error in their contractual agreement with the organizers and thus had their main rivals give them a good run for their money. The rival company, because they were financially superior, wanted to dislodge this small one and therefore submitted a counter proposal to the event organizers with a juicier deal, capitalizing on that trifling error. The organizers felt tempted and gave these usurpers a written assurance, pending the termination of their existing contract. Little brother was smarter; they provided further and better particulars to tighten their grip on the package. When big brother failed in their attempt to usurp small bother, big brother resorted to an interim injunction for a parochial deus-ex-machina effect. By so doing, the event organizers could not campaign for the public to vote for their favourite radio and TV presenters. When the war was over, organizers had too little time to mobilize enough resources, so everything was done hurriedly. Cash prizes were slashed: veteran judges were initially scarified at the altar of cash for neophytes. In a way, big brother had nearly succeeded by causing a financial loss to little bother as revenue for the event was all time low.
As soon as the substantive cases in the injunction were resolved and the injunction itself stayed, Our Daily Graphic, the most trusted newspaper of the nation, was caused to advertise names of nominees and their various award categories, and that was it. It seemed someone did not do their job well and had the name of a little-girl-newcomer broadcaster slip onto the list for the coveted Television Presenter of the Year award category. The girl herself was then in the UK for a one-week programme and so was oblivious of the tagging, the hullabaloo and mumbo jumbo concerning the pejoration and travesty on her civil nobility.
The organizing team was feverishly preparing to issue a press statement to the effect that the girl actually was nominated for the Discovery of the Year award and that her name slipped into the other category by accident when Noesha Buddorg, the lady with the aberrant mouth, let her tongue go berserk yet again. Her declaration was scandalizing. In fact the nation was just beginning to forget about what she had told the top BBC journalist about business women in the country when this one too happened. She herself did not apologize.
Her manager said her loose talk was all a part of her popularity stunt, but that statement aggravated public sentiments. They said it was the most tasteless defense ever made since the country opted for multi-party democracy. Noesha Buddorg aroused the pent up spleen in civil society groups and disability associations who considered her comment not only as improper but unbefitting of human speech. The Minster for Gender and Social Equality told her friend the defense statement sounded as if the speaker had no useful connection between his mouth and brain. She did not know the call was being recorded, anyway. Her statement, though an AK-47’s aim for a mosquito, fizzled out like a drop in the ocean because the National Federation for the Disabled said worse things. Noesha actually said there was no way Madam “Oiseau Unijambiste” could be a TV Presenter of the Year. The accent was on Oiseau Unijambiste!
The event organizers now spent time dissociating themselves from the unfortunate comments of their pre-event favourite and by the time they could recover, Oiseau Unijambiste actually became the most popular TV presenter. Grandpa & Sons Primal Communications, the most powerful media house in the country poached the juvenile TV presenter who now called herself L’oiseau Unijambiste, thus dwarfing her real name. She was now given prominence as she hosted two primetime news programmes daily.
Later, in a live interview with the controversial Adwoa Schwar, Buddorg reiterated never in her life had she seen any Unijambiste present a news programme on television and much worse work as a news reporter, or named a news anchor or even,….. the prattle continued. She relied on unbalanced literature review, naming Zenab Badawi, Veronica Pedrosa, Lyse Doucette, Christina Amanpour, Barbara Sam, Beatrice Aidoo, Selma Valcourt, Akpene Avor, Nana Aba Anamoa among others as presenters fit to cover live events. She advertised the propensity of her ignorance by not mentioning the British born journalist Francis Rollstone Gardner who moved only with the help of a wheel chair. Buddorg even insisted that Oiseau Unijambiste did not hold a degree in journalism, forgetting again that Komla Dumor did not read journalism either, but was a BBC World Service news anchor. Everyone knew Buddorg was wrong headed but she would not accept it. Asked if she thought Oiseau Unijambiste was more beautiful and photogenic than she was, she reserved her comments. As usual, her stance drew some support from the public. Her supporters argued that Madam Unijambiste was nowhere near the award. They might be right, but Buddorg later opted out of the competition on personal volition.
In a week to the big event, Fox News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4, CNN, Aljazeera, UKTV, and the rest descended on the national capital to cover the greatest insult ever on the person of a journalist in history. The fun was that all the foreign media houses gave Buddorg an editorial blackout thus dashing her hopes of coverage in the international media. This time, the bad news-maker did not sell! For the sake of balanced reporting, they interviewed her by phone and made her response a mere voicing over with the usual excuse that the phone line from her residence was unclear. Sordid!
In the heat of events, the UK Prime Minster and the US Veep would wade in with their red herring argument. They claimed there was no freedom of expression in the country and thus called on the government to do something about civil rights and especially gay rights. This time, the Honorable Speaker of Parliament in an apprarachick fashion did not mince words in telling the superpowers the bitter truth to the face. The President of the National Pentecostal Council as well as the National Chief Imam rubbished the call to legalize homosexuality in the country.
Many kept wondering what it was about Oiseau Unijambiste that took the national headlines by storm until the young newscaster was interviewed on national TV and the programme carried live on all radio and TV stations nationwide, all paid for by her adoptive father, Mr. Jedidiah Forson. That was when the whole nation was moved to pity and tears. To some it was a sad moment that marked a purgation of catharsis. Oiseau Unijambiste took her time to tell her whole story about parents, accident and all. She showed old photos of her childhood, her accident and hospitalization, IGCSE and IB days. It was a whole biography played out on a structured timeline, moving, dramatic and suspenseful. The whole nation learned about the budding media icon, Oiseau Unijambiste, that night.
A pretty girl at 18, fair in complexion, proportionally formed and exuding a warm smile, her type of diastema was beautifully different. She spoke fluent British English with the South London accent. It was Grandpa & Sons who discovered her when they came to cover an event, at the time she was in school. Though hitching on two armpit crutches, she was a co- MC of a graduation ceremony. Grandpa later ceded her to a smaller media house.
It was at the end of the interview when the audience realized that the name Oiseau Unijambiste was a stage name meaning “a bird with only one leg”. Initially, they had thought Oiseau was her first name and Unijambiste a surname. At this point, the whole nation decided to vote for Besiwa Kubina. She told her weeping TV host how the principal of her college told her to be strong and make sure she left a lasting impression with positive punctuation. Oiseau Unijambiste at the end of the day became a national role model.
The President of the Republic, out of enthusiasm and the petty need to score political points as one supporting journalists and disabled people, invited her over for coffee. He had hoped he could make few declarations that would translate into votes later that year but was in for a rude shock. In the meeting, Madam Unijambiste pinned the president to the wall into accepting that he had a meeting with a member of the opposition who had sought his powers to stay investigations into the alleged double salary scandal involving the minority. That was what shot Unijambiste to high fame. All along, no journalist had been able to corner the President that strictly. The way she engaged the president made him feel embarrassed. With the IB learner-risk-taking-and-daring attribute, she asked the president if he thought shielding members of the opposition from facing the full rigours of the law was national unity. The message came in a subtle way. Anyway, she had made her point. She had already become a national heroine.
Later that week, Oiseau Unijambiste had to be given police escort because some thugs were planning to assassinate her by using stunts to end her life on the highway. It was to be some stage-managed paparazzi gimmicks like in the case of Princess Diana…. The ruling party was quick to finger members of the opposition for planning the assassination of an anti-corruption campaigner while the opposition also said dissidents in the ruling party thought the girl had poked her finger too deep into the president’s nose and therefore needed some whipping. The debate raged on. Either way, the ruling government was happy newspaper and tabloid headlines no longer focused on the bleeding and laboring national economy, while the opposition was also happy Oiseau Unijambiste had taken attention from details of the police investigation into the double salary saga.
The D-day came. Oiseau Unijambiste, aka Besiwa Kubina swept three prestigious awards. Apart from the scholarship package that went with the prize, she was awarded two vehicles: one from the event organizers and another one from a former minister of state who was purblind. The cash prizes were undisclosed. The spacious national conference centre could not hold the patrons. There were 22 international media houses present, some of which carried the ceremony live. Presidents from 8 different counties were in attendance. It went unchallenged that Oiseau Unijambiste made the organizers raise more funds than they could immediately manage. At a point, Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo’s emergency mobile solar air-conditioning units had to be relied upon to chill the conference centre because of the unbudgeted numbers.
Three days after the ceremony, Besiwa had to leave for the UK where she had been given scholarships by three top universities by virtue of her performance at IB. She had already signed advertising contracts with different moguls and multi-national companies before her departure. Yet there was a challenge: she could not immediately decide which of the schools to opt for. On the advice of Mr. Jeddy Forson, that decision should be taken after visiting the university campuses and inspecting their facilities.
As she met the president that morning of her departure, having the president talk to her as if they were peers, she wondered what good she had done in life to deserve such a treatment. It was then she realized that the accident of letting her name slip into the supposed wrong place made all the difference. What a pleasant accident!