Last week marked our final days working at Kapital Radio and the end of our stay in Kumasi. It is hard to believe we will be on a plane heading back home by the end of next week- the time has really flown by. We are fortunate to have gained valuable experience in radio broadcasting and radio journalism: listening to and participating in compelling debates, meeting inspiring, intelligent and provoking people, learning about various social and human rights issues in Ghana, engaging and educating the public and spreading awareness on injustices. We have also succeeded in adjusting (not without occasional frustration) to a less structured and laissez-faire working environment. The best advice I could offer to anyone aspiring to work in Ghanaian media is to go with the flow. There have been many instances where things haven’t gone the way we planned or turned out the way we expected them to- sometimes scheduled guests would show up late (at times up to 30 minutes), while others would not show up at all (forcing me to sit in as a far less impressive panel guest than we had originally booked for one of Mufty’s shows), power failures were commonplace, phone lines were unreliable, and scheduled shows were bumped or cancelled with little to no notice because of high profile events like FIFA soccer matches, or the NPP primary elections coverage. It is important to be flexible, quick on your feet and very proactive in order to overcome these minor obstacles and make the best of your experience. We left Kumasi satisfied and we are pleased with what we have achieved. We ran three hour-long workshops for the newsroom interns on basic components of a news story, grammar and sentence structure and how to write a human rights story, we helped edit and pitch human rights-focused stories and ideas, we helped revive Mercy’s show “Up Front” that hadn’t aired for over a month before our arrival in June, and we helped research, produce, and write questions for Mufty’s show “Know Your Rights” on some critical issues in Ghana, such as homosexual rights, journalism ethics, domestic violence, disabled peoples’ rights, and legalizing abortion to name a few. Our voices will also be forever immortalized on Ghanaian airwaves as our colleagues asked us to record a number of voice clips or “vox pops” promoting Kapital Radio DJs and their shows.
We have had the great privilege of meeting some very influential and inspiring local figures who champion the cause of human rights issues on a daily basis; Dr. Charlotte Abeka, former chairperson for the United Nations; Joe K. Koramteng, Regional Guidance and Counselling Coordinator for Ghana Education Service (GES); Kwesi Kyei, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Research Officer for the Subin constituency; and Asayaw Atakora, Vice President of the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled. We have also made some truly great friends and networking contacts at Kapital who we will continue to keep in touch with even after going back to Canada.
For our last Saturday at the station, we wanted to go out with a bang- we planned two promising shows both with an impressive panel of guests. We intended on doing a full two hour special on women’s rights for “Know Your Rights,” highlighting issues of maternal health, economic empowerment and equality and girl education. For “Up Front” we intended on discussing the stigmas associated with HIV/AIDS. We were all pumped up and ready to go after two weeks of diligent planning; however, upon arriving at Kapital, we discovered that the transmitter was down and that all the day’s shows had been cancelled. Despite our disappointment and our anti-climactic final day, we went with the flow an did the next best thing- started our farewell party a few hours early and enjoyed a fantastic evening of dinner, dancing and good company.