[MADAM SECRETARY GENERAL ARRIVES]
Today was Tuesday, a humid summer Tuesday. The Turkish-born maiden female Secretary General of the United Nations, Mrs. Ecrin Gogovy was visiting Ghana for a first time since assuming office. The nation went agog because she was the first female to occupy that seat, and being married to a Ghanaian, her acquired surname made everyone count her Ghanaian. She, indeed, was Ghanaian, was she not? And that, sort of, made Ghana the producer of a second Secretary General of the world union. After all, how many paused to question Mrs Gogvy’s maiden name?
The Ghanaian population bore this visit with a sense of pride. They were ever so happy her husband’s surname had dwarfed her real identity. They were at their political best, trying to speculate which of the two main political parties played a part in her appointment. As usual, a panelist on a morning talk show was funny enough to daydream that Dr Gogovy and his wife were likely to vote for his political party because they bore a name that suggested they hailed from his political party’s stronghold, but his conjecture was rebutted.
I could not recall how it happened, but I found myself leading a news crew from my Grandpa & Sons Multimedia colossus to the airport to cover a historic event of this sort. I was for a second time reporting for a medial house I owned. The last time I used knowledge from journalism school was when I covered the arrival of Komla Dumor’s corpse from UK. I questioned myself then why Africans always glorified the dead, only the dead. But today, we’re celebrating another Ghanaian achievement: Dr Gogovy, Ghana’s finest husband, married right. I took a cursory look at my silver wristwatch: 10:13 am. Mrs. Gogovy was still more than an hour away, I assured myself. I switched to rehearsing my last-minute notes on Turkish phonetics and phonology because I was certain to say a word or two in Turkish, most assuredly, “You’re welcome,” and I intended to get it right.
Around me, there was a new outpouring of journalists from all sides of the globe, positioning and trying to reposition their equipment when we’re 33 minutes from receiving Mrs. Gogovy. And that was when a full load of Airbus A380, with Emirates colours appeared in our airspace. The sheer spectacle of it communicated something awry. For one thing, the arrival schedule for KIA did not have Emirates that hour. It was a bit melodramatic. Journalistic perceptiveness led the way; this was indeed a newsworthy occurrence so we followed it with all sensorium.
At first it came in, descending uncharacteristically slowly. Yet as it approached the runway, it made a U-turn mid-air. That was the very moment the KIA bound Boeing 737 Max Lufthansa airliner carrying the UN Secretary General also announced its intent to land. Control tower acknowledged them. The next moment, Emirates went over the Atlantic and was soon out of sight, and we supposed that was the end. We presumed it had been declined landing permission.
Presently, the UN Secretary General was also disembarking. To everyone’s surprise, journalists moved to T3 to cover a blow-by-blow account of how the world’s largest passenger aircraft landed unscheduled at KIA. The main purpose for which cameras and microphones were bussed to the airport was momentarily shelved. Or rather, reporters were caught wanting because as they moved their equipment to T3, the behemoth airliner yawed away. They were undecided whether or not to return to the coverage of their primary assignment. When the wait became protracted, they returned to base only to realize Mrs. Gogovy was in the middle of a news conference. There was now a new definition for a newsworthy event. National television, however, kept faith with viewers by doing a cross cut into parallel actions. For sure, they had dispatched more than two teams to the airport and could therefore afford the luxury.
Mrs Gogovy’s arrival was given a political colouring that took longer than expected to fade. As Dr and Mrs. Gogovy made their way to the top of the gangway, that radio station was still having their discussion of the Secretary General’s arrival. The opportunist who thought Dr Gogovy would buy stale information from tribal political rumour mongers was reminded that Dr Gogovy was more a Fante than Ewe at heart. Secondly, he was told Dr Gogvy had no time for their polytricks and tribal political tomfoolery.
From afar, I could now see those international media icons I used to admire. There was BBC World Service’s Zeinab Badawi, the Sudanese-British television and radio journalist, then came Lyse Doucette and Julian Marshal. I saw also two faces of BBC that I reckoned destroyed the image of Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole: Joseph Winter and Will Ross. I could not blame them much. Of course, every media neophyte knew that reporters’ news angle was dictated by press house editorial policies which, in turn, were shaped by some territorial ideology or philosophy of the regime. They were just doing their paymaster’s bidding. The unmistakable face of Christine Amanpour was there. I saw Bilkisi Labaran of BBC Pidgin Service, Naija and of course Peter Ndoro. Then the man who insulted me few years earlier when I was seeking a BBC Pidgin Service reporter job. He told a colleague they could not hire me because I was hitching on an underarm crutch. There he was with a neck brace and an elbow crutch to match. At the press briefing, I greeted him politely.
“Hope you’re well,” I said sarcastically.
“Sorry, but I don’t know you.”
“Yea,” Bilkisi affirmed. “You’ve recovered fully now,” she courtesied.
“Yea, my sister,” I reciprocated.
“You’re in crutches too,” I jabbed.
“Sorry to say… I’m”, he cried.
“For the fun of it?” I mocked.
“How possibly? That’s rude!” he hollered.
“You denied me a reporter job on the grounds of physical disability. You now realize one does not pay to get fixed with a broken limb,” I smirked.
“Sorry,” he begged.
“Sir, when we unconsciously become what we, with clamour, fight or are unable to escape the contagion in what we vociferously mock, we virtually end up touting our failings like a boy does his utopian ideals,” I philosophized.
“Do you know who I am? I’ll show you where power lies,” that’s his threat.
“I’ll be waiting. Here’s my call card, in case you know not where to locate me”, I proffered.
… to be continued