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18.04.2006 General News

Bluntly Speaking

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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THE OTHER day, I had some pretty nice things to say about Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta, a university lecturer and also regular host of JOY FM's programme Newsfile.

I admirably described her as the enfant terrible of the media. It is unfortunate that the French term was misspelt as 'infant' instead of 'enfant'. Printer's devil.

I want to look at Mr. Kwame Sefa Kayi and one or two others today. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Kwame Sefa Kayi is one of our finest radio and TV presenters in current practice.

When GTV's programme It Takes 2 was first introduced, the pioneer presenter did a good job. What Kwame Sefa Kayi has done with the GTV programme is to vastly improve on the good work done by his predecessor.

On the It Takes 2 programme, Kwame Sefa Kayi is not just a mere presenter, but the impresario with just the right amount of showmanship to hold the attention of the viewers. His total immersion in the programme shows how much he himself enjoys presenting it. As you watch him and listen to him perform, you wish he could go on forever.

Let me recall a personal episode. A segment of the programme is known as the Charade.

He used to pronounce the word as 'charade', with the second syllable 'rade' sounding as in 'raid', the way the word 'raid' is pronounced.

Later on, he announced on air that Mr. Yaw Owusu Addo, then Director of Radio but now the acting Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), and another person from the Central or Western Region.

(I forget which) had told him that he was pronouncing the word wrongly and that the correct pronunciation was 'charade', with the second syllable coming out as in 'hard'.

Kwame Sefa Kayi started pronouncing the word as advised by Mr. Owusu Addo and the other gentleman. I thereupon wrote a letter to both the Daily Graphic and the Chronicle pointing out that Mr. Kwame Sefa Kayi had not been wrong and that the 'pre-correction' pronunciation was American, while the so-called 'correct' pronunciation was British.

The Chronicle and the Graphic Showbiz to which the Daily Graphic had sent my letter published my views. At the next opportunity, Kwame Sefa Kayi referred to my letter, describing me as "an educationist" in the process. He then went back to pronounce the word as he had been doing before the 'correction' from Mr. Owusu Addo and the other gentleman. He obviously preferred and still prefers the American pronunciation of the word.

By the way, I hope that if my Vandal mate Lawyer Africanus Owusu-Ansah of CEPS is reading this article, he will agree that I have spelt the word 'pronunciation' correctly, not so? I mean won't he?

Back to Kwame Sefa Kayi and It Takes 2. He used to be mean and hard with his demand for the correct answer. You got it absolutely right or you did not. These days, the Youngman had mellowed a bit and is prepared to overlook a few 'blemishes' in answers, In his hand It Takes 2 gets better and better all the time with the innovations, his occasional flamboyance, his jokes and sheer energy.

What of this same Kwame Sefa Kayi on his Kokorokoo morning programme on Peace FM as relayed to Hello FM in Kumasi?

Kwame Sefa Kayi brings to this radio programme the talents he displays on It Takes 2 and more.

Quite striking and highly commendable is his good breeding displayed in his unfailing courtesy towards the people he interviews.

Quite sincere and genuine and not mere form are his prefatory "Me pa wo kyew" (Please) and concluding; "Peace FM da w'ase." (Peace FM thanks you.).

Though courteous, he does grovel before the subjects he interviews no matter how high and mighty they may be. He can be persistent but he never sees himself as a prosecutor or defence counsel who thinks he must trip up a witness or the accused in order to get a particular answer.

On the occasions that I have heard him on Hello FM, I have hardly ever heard anyone call him Mr. Kayi; it is always 'Kwame' and that shows the confidence and easy affability he has managed to establish with the people.

During the recent by-elections in Tamale and the burial of the late Ya-Na, his reporters almost always referred to him as 'Chairman' or "Opanin', literally "Elder".

The people who take turns to come to the studio every morning can be tough to control at times, especially on Wednesdays when Mr. Kweku Baako Jnr, Mrs. Ama Benyiwa-Doe and Baba Jamal appear.

Mrs. Ama Benyiwa-Doe is very good at needling, and Mr. Baako, for all his thick skin and ability to marshal facts, can easily get pricked by the interjections of Mrs. Benyiwa-Doe. Sometimes, it takes the firm hand of Kwame Sefa Kayi to get things going.

You know something? Kwame brings to the studio the stabilizing influence of Opanin Agyekum, a lecturer at the University of Ghana. Kwame can also be firm in cutting off rude remarks from both his studio guests and outside callers.

In addition to English, Kwame Sefa Kayi is helped by his ability to speak Asante Twi, Akuapem Twi, Fante and Ewe. He is left to learn to speak Hausa so that he can understand the 'waa waa' proverbs of Baba Jamal. (He will understand and remember the joke).

An admirable quality of Kwame Sefa Kayi is his ability to keep his partisan political biases completely from the programme. His is a professional job and his programme is for all to express their views.

He does not scoff, he does not abuse and he does not even try to make the other person look and sound stupid while he himself creates the impression that he is all in all. Not Kwame Sefa Kayi.

Whether on It Takes 2, whether on his Kokorokoo Morning show, or whether he is 'fooling' around with Master Richard, it is all fun and serious business with Kwame Sefa Kayi. He should go far.

As I write this piece, Kweku Sakyi Addo, another of our finest journalists, is in the dog house with Ex-President J. J. Rawlings, for allegedly failing to report on alleged crimes committed against the people of Ghana by the Kufuor Government.

What I know is that the Youngman is good, very good at his job, whether as a reporter for the BBC or a presenter on "Kwaku One-on-One" on GTV or a presenter on JOY FM's Front Page.

In his reports to the BBC, Kwaku certainly strives for effect, and what makes you sit up is his startling and effective use of language. He is also a master of the dramatic gesture, as in, for example, shaking the hand of an AIDS-afflicted interviewee on GTV.

Like Kwame Sefa Kayi, Kwaku Sakyi Addo respects his interviewees but does not grovel before them.

He keeps a poker-face when interviewing people on TV, with just the merest hint of a smile playing on his countenance.

The journalism profession has been invaded by ignoramuses, political hacks, and egocentrics with exaggerated opinions of their importance, mercenaries and character assassins. Still, it is reassuring to note that there are also stars that shine. Stars like Kwame Sefa Kayi, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and many others out there too numerous to mention.