“I had a not-too-rosy childhood, but I had my fair share of great moments. I was blessed with a beautiful family who have stuck with me through thick and thin. The ride hasn’t been all smooth, but God has been faithful and gracious. Many lessons have been learnt. Some good, some bad and some ugly. All three have shaped my life and made me a better person.”

The above is an excerpt of a post on the Facebook timeline of one of my classmates at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, who turned 50 on June 5, 2022. Her name is Mrs. Audrey Dekalu, Nee Ackon.

She is the third of my GIJ mates who have celebrated their Golden Jubilee in succession this year. First, it was Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona, then Zachariah Musah Tanko followed. Now I know that although we were mates, they are my juniors in the age compartment. As if it matters in any way, hahaha!! Belated Happy Birthday mates!!!

Aww! that reminds me. The late Elvis Kwashie would have also turned 50 this year, but for death’s icy hands. RIP Le Koku.

I reproduced Audrey’s post because I can relate with it in toto.

Humble educational beginning

Growing up at Okaishie in the Central Business District, the only school that was available for nursery education was Queen Elizabeth Day Care Centre located near the Ghana School of Law, Makola.

In hindsight, I appreciate the foresight that went into the siting of the School at its location (I Wonder if it is still there though). The humane reasoning that informed its location cannot go without mention – a place where traders at the Makola market could leave their toddlers in the care of trained attendants as they go about eking a living. And there was a primary school too – Independence Avenue Primary School. Hm! Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

After day nursery, I found myself at Liberty Avenue Primary School, Adabraka, although I wished I was at Datus Complex School, Bubuashie or Radiant Way Preparatory School, where my close paddies attended. Those were the GISs of our time, so you can imagine.

My wish remained so, because as the last of ten children, there was no way my Nurse-Anesthetist, later Medical Assistant father and trader-mum could afford the fees charged by those ‘Dadaba’ schools.

Subsequently, I transferred to St Mary’s Anglican Primary School, Akoto Lante, where I remember vividly how Ms. Cobblah, Mrs. Obeng and Mr. Allotey virtually forced the habit of reading into us.

I remember those dictation moments, after we had been made to read few paragraphs of ‘The Hawk and the Hen’, ‘The Elephant and the Tsetsefly’ and the football expertise of Obiba J.K. Oh, how I dreaded those moments, whose remembrance now delights me so much. It was in those moments that the essence of reading was ingrained in me.

Onwards to Anglican Bishops’ Boys School, Kaneshie, through Kinbu Experimental Junior Secondary School, Accra High School, Extra Mural Academy, Ghana Institute of Journalism, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, to the University of Ghana, Legon.

Why I write so well

In the introductory pages of my first book – A Guide to Writing Feature Articles, using the 5Ws and H, +M/OR – I have reproduced 27 statements from readers of my articles, who were so impressed that they documented their impressions.

“Super – God bless you; well written; keep it up” – Late Elvis Kwashie (General Manager, Joy Brands – The Multimedia Group), “You write well’ – Ben Ephson (Managing Editor, The Daily Dispatch), “You’re a great writer” – Fiifi Koomson (Managing Editor – The Multimedia Group), “Very nice, you really write well”- Mrs. Jacqueline Darku-Mante (Journalist and International Relations Expert), “Wow!!!, loving the style so far, funny, witty” – Samson Lardy Anyenini (Lawyer and Journalist), “Well written article, Eric. Enjoyed reading it” – Mrs. Vicky Wireko-Andoh (Retired Public Relations Practitioner and Columnist) and “Well researched and written with good punchlines” – Edmund Kofi Yeboah (General Secretary, Ghana Journalists Association).

The above-listed individuals are writers of no mean repute; so, if they tell me I write so well, there is no gainsaying the fact that I can take it to the bank.

Really, the remark, ‘you write so well’ as it relates to me, is quite recent. Before then, ‘I enjoyed reading your essay’, ‘your script is fantastic’ and ‘this is a good script’ were said about my write-ups at Accra High School, Extra-Mural Academy and the GIJ.

At the Accra High School, our English teacher, Mrs. Kportufe, said, ‘I enjoyed reading your essay.’ At Extra-Mural Academy, our Logic teacher, whose name has escaped with time, remarked to the hearing of the entire class ‘your script is fantastic.’ At GIJ, Lawyer Ewusi Brown said, ‘this is a good script’ referring to an assignment on Press Law.

These praises, coupled with my role as the letter writer for my mum who had to communicate with my senior brothers domiciled abroad, made me take special interest in the English language – how it is written and how it is spoken. By way of self-awareness, let me confess that I write way better than I speak.

So at GIJ, I joined our school mates who felt confident enough to write articles and post on the notice board for all who cared to read. The criticisms that followed and the rejoinders, some of which evoked emotions, were fun as well. Collins Adjei Kufuor, who now lives abroad, dared to challenge me. We squared it up.

At the end of two years, in 1997, we were licensed – so to speak – to write to inform, educate and entertain our audiences. Some found themselves on radio, television, wire service and newspaper printing houses.

I found a place at Radio Gold, but the praises I received as regards my writing skills will not let me concentrate on broadcasting. At about the same time, Mr. Ben Ephson, the Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch started a weekly programme on the radio station – Ephson’s file. It was a programme that exposed the ills in society, no matter whose ox is gored.

One day, I approached Uncle Ben, as we called him, and discussed my intention to write a column. He asked if I was sure and I said yes. Big Ben made me submit four articles in advance. He edited and started publishing – Eric’s Diary, as we named the column. Feedback from my mates at GIJ, who read those articles, was encouraging.

To better my craft, I decided to read columns in other newspapers.

Prof. Kwesi Yankah (Woes of a Kwatriot – The Mirror), Henry Ofori (Carl Mutt – The Mirror), ‘Letter to Jomo’ by veteran George Sydney Abugri (Daily Graphic), Kwaku Sakyi Addo (The Chronicle), Ebo Quansah (The Chronicle), Francis Doku (Watching and Listening – Graphic Showbiz), Letter to Dora (Graphic Showbiz), Merari Alomele (The Spectator), Dornu Adjokacher (The Mirror), PaJohn Bentsifi Dadson (Bentsifi’s tattle – The Mirror), Elizabeth Ohene (Daily Graphic) Enimil Eshun (Daily Graphic), and lately, Vicky Wireko Andoh (Reality Zone) and Manasseh Azure Awuni (Manasseh’s Folder).

On GBC radio, I listened to the commentaries written and read by Affail Monney, Justice Mingle, Maxwell Yusifu, Teye Kitcher, Rayborn Bulley, Marvel Tarr and Richard Quashigah, which I learnt from, tremendously.

Indeed, I read anything I laid hands on. Any radio set that I owned was locked on Joy FM with possibility of changing to Radio Gold and Citi FM where necessary. I made it a point to use new words and phrases that I came across.

If you read, it will show

I heard this statement for the first time at GIMPA. It was made by Dr. Owoo during a communications class in first year. This lecturer was fun to be with. He cracked so much joke during lectures; yet, he advised us at the end to read our course materials. According to him, “if you read, it will show” in the examination.

I heeded his admonition in addition to God’s grace and made it to the first class list.

It did not end there. I continued with the habit of reading and picking up new vocabulary and phrases. As a result, anytime I have to write about something, I am able to do it with a certain level of ease. That is to say that because I have the store of vocabulary, it feels like lifting a 5 kilo bag of rice after practicing with a 50 kilo bag.

That is why I am even able to venture into sounding rhythmic with my sentences as I did with the statement above, “In hind sight, I appreciate the foresight that went into siting the school near the Makola market”

Ordinarily (My new found word), I would have written, ‘Now I understand why the school was built near the Makola market.’

It is very akin to the saying that you cannot give what you do not have. Reading gives you the vocabulary to write. Period!

It also broadens your knowledge, helps you relax; thus, reduces stress. Therefore, if you have issues with sleep, reading helps greatly. When you are awake, then you write.

Clearly, the secret to my brilliant writing is READING. It equips me with the wise sayings, notable quotes and anecdotes that I use. Plus, I am very aware of the happenings around me.

Why you must read my two books

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write” – Martin Luther. In recognition of this truism, in my two books, I have offered a step-by-step guide on how I started and finished writing each of the 32 articles in there, using the 5Ws and H for news writing.

What’s more, the issues discussed are diverse – social, entertainment, political and religious. The political issues, for instance, are presented in a punchy manner; yet, the one being punched does not feel punched.

It’s time to go

Anyone desirous of learning how to write will, therefore, find these books handy. Actually, they serve as a double-edged sword – Read and learn how to write.

And if it is true that “reading marketh a full man” (Francis Bacon), then who wants to be a half man? Don’t be the one. Go on, get copies of my books, read and learn how to write. To guide you to write, these are the books you need.

If you want autographed copies, please come to the launch at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, North Dzorwulu campus, 4:00 pm on Tuesday 28th June, 2022.

From Eric’s Diary: Why they say I write so well

Meyi hoo – That’s goodbye in Ewe.

Let God Lead. Follow Him directly, not through any human.

The writer works with myjoyonline.com. He is the Author of two books titled Eric’s Diary….