I have had a bittersweet past month, with the dawn of the retirement of a boss extraordinaire. Sweet, because it was the last month of his stay as a News Editor of the Daily Graphic. Bitter now, at his departure.
Bitter because of the tears of my heart; it does not seem to cease. I am considered a very strong person by colleagues and by the grace of God, I know I am. I tend to act with steely calmness at emergencies. I rarely weep, but when I start, I do not stop.
As I climbed up to the office and got to the desk of Nehemia Dixon Kwaku Owusu Achiaw (aka Systems, Agya Kwaku or Agyaaku), yesterday, it hit me and my tears started. All I know at the Daily Graphic now was seeded by him.
Newly employed in 2004 and a bit lost about the newsroom practice and culture, he came in from reporting at the Castle one day and sat by me. Though busy, he found the time to teach me some tricks of the trade.
"You know, you can go through back copies of the newspaper in the library for leads," he told me.
"Take a notebook and take a month's issue. Go through and list all the leads you can follow up on. You will never want for stories to follow up on," he advised.
My forte of fishing out 'new' news was birthed then.
His schedule at the castle meant he had little time to spare, but Mr Systems made sure that that little time was spent valuable with all the juniors, in pieces of advice, in his engaging smiles and his general aura of goodness and nobility around the newsroom.
When he finally assumed the position of News Editor of the Daily Graphic, we all had a great working relationship with Mr Systems. All was however not smooth sailing between us. I often say that of all the reporters under him, I was the only one to have angered him twice.
It was in circumstances I wish not to recollect here, except to say that it was a work-related miscommunication. But it made cool and gentle Mr Owusu flare up at me, wag a finger at me and admonish me to back up or be disciplined. He would ask me and others to undertake other assignments in the newsroom for him, thus delegating and building our capacities.
Sometimes, when he was alone at the News Desk without his deputies, I tended to hover around him and predict his gestures, just to step in to get things done. At those times, I felt for a boss with such dedication, who could stomach all the complaints and distractions of his detractors and bosses in the newsroom.
He never raised his voice in an argument. He, however, like the nobleman that he is, chided reporters when the need arose, by having a talk with the individual. What amazed me most about Mr Owusu was his stoic calmness in the face of pressure, when detractors made all the negative comments about him.
He would not respond, he would not confront and he would not react in negative like-manner. For the past month, I have been blessed to read a lot of things about this great man from colleagues.
Some have known him longer than I have. The things said about Mr Owusu Achiaw, have read like an inspirational manual for me for life. I really hope to be guided by these, but I am combative at heart, so I may not be successful. But because of your legacy invested in us, Mr Owusu, I will endeavour.
Some of us have wept, some have been a bit stunned by your retirement and the fact that we will miss you, to the point that words elude them. The whole company is missing you already. But as for me, my tears are still falling. We will miss you, father, mentor, counsellor, encourager, teacher and boss extraordinaire.
May your retirement bring you great fulfilment as you have worked to the best of your ability. May you enjoy every moment of deserved rest. May God give you the strength to mentor more young people and direct them.
May you make more impact in your old age (although you do not look it), than any impact you might have made in your adult life. Mr Owusu, you are gone from the newsroom, but for most of us, you remain our one and only boss.
We will be calling and we will be seeking your good counsel over and over again.
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