Former BBC Fast Track anchor Ben Dotsei Malor is no doubt one of the major reasons why many Ghanaians tuned in to the programme for many years and in this Q and A session with sports journalist and columnist Angela Asante, he tells of his journey from a remote village in the Volta Region to the very heart of the United Nations, where he currently works as Communications Adviser to the President of the UN General Assembly.
Can you recap the path of your professional career thus far?
• I attended Keta Secondary School, Mawuli School in Ho for Sixth Form, University of Ghana for first degree, University of Glasgow, Scotland for my Masters.
• I started my interest in broadcasting first and purely as a listener. In my village, during holidays from Secondary School, I would borrow my senior half-brother’s radio and try to tune in to stations, including GBC with Charlie Sam, Godwin Avenorgbo, Richard Kotei and others. (:-)This may sound strange but I never set foot in Accra until my third year in Keta Secondary School. (I hope you are laughing at this village boy 🙂 Just look what the LORD has done 🙂 And give thanks with me. Please, in all humility I just wish to let anyone reading this, finding themselves in a village somewhere that they do not have to be limited by their surroundings. For me the radio opened up for me a window on the world, even before I could see or visit my own national capital. No limits, by the Grace of Almighty God. In fact, my spoken English was pretty poor in Ketasco – where the top guys always spoke Ga. I only improved after I moved to Sixth Form in Mawuli School, where Ga was not so dominant. (I hope you’re not laughing.)
• Then I started getting international stations in my village, Ohawu – like BBC and African Numero Un – simply because at that time in the 80s GBC transmissions were so poor across the country.
• I became a regular letter writer to the BBC as I reached Legon. I enjoyed hearing the top presenter of Network Africa at the time, Hilton Fyle – a Sierra Leonean.
• It was quite magical to end up working with him and for me to step in his shoes as presenter of Network Africa.
• I joined the BBC by accident after being invited for a two-week training in 1990 and then being given a chance by Rick Wells, Neil Curry, Jean Victor Nkolo and Robin White on Network Africa and Focus on Africa. The two weeks became nine months. I returned to the University of Ghana, which had provided my scholarship to study in Glasgow. But I guess the rest is history as I ended up being properly recruited from Legon in June 1991 to join the BBC fully.
• I worked on several programmes as presenter and producer including Network Africa which I enjoyed presenting a lot, Postmark, Arts and Africa, Education Express, Fast Track – which I co-pioneered as presenter and Africa Live – which I also helped launched as the pioneer presenter. I was the Deputy Editor of Focus on Africa when I left the BBC. I also presented Outlook on a few occasions. I was blessed with many opportunities and I thank God.
How long did you serve the BBC’s Fast Track program (dates in detail)?
• I was the pioneering presenter with Jenny Horrocks, to launch Fast Track in 1992, under the mentoring, vision and guidance of wonderful people like Neil Curry and Martin Davies. I presented the programme for many years until I left the BBC in January 2003 to take up my appointment at the United Nations in New York.
What are your best memories as a presenter of Fast Track?
• Oh, they are too many to mention. Fast Track always provided another window on Africa.
• I am an optimistic person and Fast Track showed regularly the positive aspects of Africa and Africa life, especially as more and more Africans joined people like Abedi Pele, Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia, George Oppong Weah of Liberia and many others to start playing and doing exploits in Europe. I particularly enjoyed the live broadcasts from location.
• My editor and mentor, Neil Curry, always encouraged me and together with him we visited George Weah in Monaco before he became a football super-star. He had a lot of up and coming Liberians in his apartment when we visited. We also visited Abedi Pele in Marseilles when Dede and Jordan were little children. Abedi had won the BBC African Footballer of the year and so went to watch him and he was generous with his wife and sister-in-law to invite us to their home. It was brilliant. Great to see the young Ayews taking after their father today. May they excel and make all of us proud and prouder.
• One of my best memories was when my BBC editors supported me in 1994 to cover the Soccer World Cup in the USA and I rented a car in Los Angeles and travelled to San Francisco to cover Cameroon’s performance on the West Coast.
• Tunisia 1994 was great too.
• Barcelona 92 was brilliant.
• The African Cup of Nations in 1996 in South Africa was brilliant. I met a couple with their child: the man was Ghanaian and the wife South African. I asked who would win the Cup, the man smiled and said Ghana. The wife said South Africa. I asked the boy to break the tie. You may have to ask Fast Track to replay the boy’s answer. The Centennial Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, which I covered with Jenny Horrocks also brings fond memories and of course my last African Cup coverage for the BBC – both for Fast Track and Network Africa was in Mali 2002.
Why is the program ending?
• My dear sister, I don’t know ooooh. Or as they say the thing my mind think my mouth no go fit talk 🙂 I am currently working with the UN and no longer with the BBC so please this question is best directed at the management of the BBC World Service in London.
What’s next for African Sports News?
• I am dreaming up something. By God’s grace and with hope and faith some dedicated, passionate and committed people – African and non-African – should move things higher and beyond the BBC. That’s all I can say now, with hope and faith. It is possible. Thank you for indulging my answers.
Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Angela Asante, who did the interview, and Yaw Ampofo Ankrah, who facilitated it.
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