In a few hours, 2017 will end. For me, it has been a great year. As a journalist, my main aim is to torment nation wreckers, speak for the voiceless, bring hope to the hopeless and fight for justice and equality.
2017 saw a lot of fierce resistance to what I do from politicians, business moguls, colleague journalists, the Ghana Journalists Association and many other individuals. I was served my fourth defamation suit this year, and the same person went to court to stop state agencies from giving me information on my corruption investigation.
I have also enjoyed enormous support from friends, fellow workers and people I did not, and still do not, know.
In all, God has been good and faithful. As we end 2017, I can say there are good reasons to live and continue fighting.
A story I took up about the cruel decision to sack a pregnant married student of the Gushiegu Midwifery School from the exams hall, led to the reversal of the decision. The student, Cecilia Awuni, was recalled to write her papers. She passed and went ahead to pass her licensing exams. She has also given birth safely.
That story has resulted in the cancellation of the policy, which denied pregnant women from being in school. The Ministry of Health and the Nursing and Midwifery Council have now said it is illegal to deny pregnant nursing students the opportunity to be in school.
One other story that did not only produce results but gave me a reason to hope in Ghana is the story of Tubare Kolah. I was in Wa as a facilitator for a media training programme when an assembly member told me about a young man who had completed Nandom Senior High School with excellent grades but could not go to school because of poverty.
When I got to the village, I realised that his was beyond the ordinary poverty. He and his mother were driven out of his father’s home when he was only three months old. His mother’s husband had died and she married her husband’s brother as customs demanded. In that second marriage, however, it was a bad omen to give birth to a boy as the first born in that marriage. Tubare had to be “pushed away”, which is actually the meaning of his name, Tubare (push away).
When I met him, he did not even have a mat to sleep on, not to talk of a mattress or a bed. He and his mother survived on the benevolence of people he helped in their farming activities. In those conditions, he struggled through senior high school, having been embarrassed a number of times for not paying his fees.
He did Science and scored 7A’s and a “B”. But as of July this year, his hopes of going to school were very faint because he and his mother could not raise any money to support him.
Tubare’s story received enormous support. At least five individuals volunteered to fully sponsor him through school while many others pledged partial sponsorship. One engineer, who has an engineering firm offered to take care of his education and offer him a place for internship and even grant him job opportunities after school.
A beggar, they often say, is not a chooser. But Tubare was spoilt for choice. He finally settled on an offer from Ashesi University. Ashesi offered him a full scholarship worth $50,000. It covered his feeding, accommodation, tuition, health, laptop computer and everything he needed to go through the school for four years. In addition, he also receives monthly stipends from Ashesi till he completes.
Some Ghanaians also donated various sums of money to support him. His house has been given a facelift. Before he left for school, he had enough to stock the house with food and other needs of her mother. And he came to Ashesi by flight.
The show of love from Ghanaians home and abroad, young and old, rich and not-so-rich, gave me hope that all is not lost. There are very good Ghanaians, who are compassionate and will share their last morsel of bread with a stranger in need.
As an anti-corruption reporter, I am often confronted with indescribably greedy deals and personalities whose wickedness is incomparable. But the Ghanaians I encountered in the Tubare story gave me a reason to hope, live and fight on.
When we get the right leadership, we will see more of such Ghanaians in our national life and together, we shall build a Ghana to be proud of.
I wish to thank all of you who supported me in one way or the other this year. I wish to specially thank the Multimedia Group for standing by me throughout the year.
I wish all my readers and followers a very happy new year in Advance. Please, find a place in your hearts to forgive me in whatever way I may have offended you this year. May God keep us together and safe as we aim to make an impact in 2018.
God bless you, and bless our Homeland Ghana.
Manasseh Azure Awuni, the Bongo Boy! / firstname.lastname@example.org