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When SWAG rejected me as ‘Quack Sports writer’

By Magnus Rex Danquah, the Ghanaian & “The Man You Can’t Ignore”

IMG 20210115 WA0073 - When SWAG rejected me as 'Quack Sports writer'
IN those days, to start a newspaper wasn’t a laborious task to perform and it was much easier to register and operate a sports newspaper than a pseudo-political paper.

I, thus found myself registering a number of publications, owned, managed and edited by myself, including the SPORTS COIN newspaper and magazine, the TRANSPORTATION BUSINESS NEWS, the LEISURE ARTS & MUSIC weekly, and the PUBLIC OPINION; primarily not as a business but platforms for me to articulate my views on national issues or any subject that occupied my fancy then. It also gave me the opportunity to enjoy my other fantasy as a ‘crusader’ for the marginalized in all spheres of our national life – sort of a ‘VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS’.

I was also the editor of other corporate newsletters because my agency was handling their communications like the ‘SIKKENS NEWS’ for Bamson Company Limited. Agents for Sikkens car paints.

I started the sports weekly, the ‘SPORTS COIN’ and I had a lot of problems with my then employers, the National Sports Council (NSC), from the late seventies to early eighties before I resigned to join the Ghana Food Distribution Corporation (GFDC); and from there set up my own agency, Rex-Image Associates before later converting to RICS CONSULT LIMITED. Truth be told, setting up the agency at the time that I did roughed up the small number of agencies at the time, creating some rivalries that I thought was not proper but that is how the system worked.

One of the agencies invited me to a meeting with the Board Chairman and the CEO and offered me a partnership to merge my company under their as CEO, whilst their CEO, the owner became the Board Chairman, but I never took the bait for the simple reason that I would have lost the whole essence of my setting up the agency – TO LIVE MY EVERY DREAM. For me, it was not a business enterprise but a vehicle to continue to LIVE THE MFANTSIPIM DREAM and later the GHANAIAN DREAM, where everything was possible for everybody, including an orphan who had lost both parents at tender ages.

To recall, I was also the HOST of the ‘SPORTS DIGEST’ weekly sports magazine programme for several years to when it was rested as a result of changes in general programming, the national socio-political landscaping with other constraints. The most serious conspiracy theory associated with the resting of the GBC-TV sports magazine programme was that I was using it to prepare myself for political positioning, as possibly I might have had a hint of a possible return to party politics. What lent credence to this conspiracy theory was because GBC TV was the only television network and was free, reaching all homes in the country.

Indeed, I met quite a number of Ghanaians, across the length and breadth of the country when would meet and express surprise that I never entered politics, especially as I was on TV every week; and to add ‘are you sure it wasn’t because of that that the ‘Sports Digest’ programme was cancelled?

My agency, RICS Consult Limited was also the KIT SPONSOR for the Ghana Media XI Football Team for the team to wear our branded jerseys for the number of years we sponsored the team. They played almost all their matches at the Kaneshie Sports Complex and we did that with pride and for ‘political’ reasons.

You know, I had been appearing on the ‘Sports Digest’ GBC-TV magazine programme for a while as a participant before I was made the ‘HOST’, appearing most of the times with the top sports journalists at the time, including John Baiden of the Graphic Corporation; a columnist of ‘The Mirror’ and was doing stories on sports for the Daily Graphic as well. The format was a HOST and three panelists, making a total of four (4) on the set.

On my first night as the HOST, I had gone to the studio very early to go over the issues to be discussed and in my mind’s eye, evolve how I was going to manage the entirety of the evening’s programme. I was in a corner when the panelists came and were conversing with the Producer / Director of the programme, Mr. Henry Akko when I heard one, the sports journalist, asked him, “Who was the new Host for the programme?” When he responded it was me, you can imagine all the superlatives he used to describe my inadequacies as a host, primarily because I was not a journalist. Hearing that placed some stage fright in me, against the fact that I had been participating as a panelist for some weeks to that night.

You know in those days, ‘The Mirror’ weekly was printed by Friday afternoon to make way for the printing of the ‘Daily Graphic’ later in the evening so that both papers would be on the newsstands by Saturday dawn. This senior journalist who had a column and by virtue of the fact that he had received a copy of the synopsis much earlier, chose to write on the subject of the topic for the evening’s ‘Sports Digest’ programme and I had had a copy to know his thoughts on the subject. After the signature tune of the programme was played and I had introduced the panelists, I went straight to him and asked him about the article he had written in ‘The Mirror’ and he was confused and I knew I had breached a certain protocol, except for those in the editorial, no person apart from the editorial team should see a published paper before circulation at its due time. Here I was, an outsider, I have not only seen it and read it but asked a question about the paper on air a day before sales to the public but I was happy that for all the denigration I had him in a moment of discomfiture, and for him after the show to tell me I was a good host made my night.

It was within the search for acceptance by the Ghanaian media, especially the sportswriters, who had refused me membership severally that when I saw an advert by the International Sport Press Association (AIPS) in an international magazine, I applied for membership. Naïve as I was then, they forwarded my application to the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) to contact me for the accreditation.

This was the beginning of my woes with a public rejection through a stinker of a letter written by the then General Secretary of the SWAG with all the vituperative, as if to say: “We have been waiting all this while for you and here for you to bring yourself”.

Humbled, but not humiliated, by this letter I started a new column in our award-winning Sports Coin weekly – ‘THE MAN YOU CAN’T IGNORE’ and this began my rise to notoriety, taking on the tasks of defending the defenseless, who normally face the wrath of these journalists.

I remember once the late Black Stars Captain and Coach John Eshun granted an interview to a private sports weekly, now extinct and then one of the then top executives of SWAG took Coach Eshun on to the cleaners in his sports weekly the following week. To my mind, the Editor of the weekly who sought the interview should have come out to his defence but that was not to be. When I made an attempt to defend Coach Eshun in our weekly, the Sports Coin, he took offence and virtually addressed me in an article, questioning how I could defend Coach Eshun, insulting my ‘intelligence’ above all else.

I crafted my response as an article to be printed in our weekly the following week and sent a copy to one of his staff for his attention as to what we were going to publish in the next edition. In about an hour, I received a call from the then PNDC Secretary for Youth and Sports calling for a truce to the fight, when I hadn’t even landed the blow. We are friends to date.

I also ran into an innocent fracas when I sought to defend another PNDC Secretary for Youth and Sports, when had been made the PNDC Secretary for Central Region from a personal attack by a Military Officer who was in charge of the National Sports Council then. I did an article and this infuriated the Officer, who decided to institute a legal action against me. They then tried to serve me after office hours at our offices, then at the Ghamot Company Limited building at the Graphic Road. I heard footsteps climbing the stairway so I came out to meet whoever since I was the only person left in the whole building at the time and for security reasons.

In the next edition of the weekly, I reported that the paper had been served NICODEMUSLY as when I chanced upon them, the two officers were confused and started apologizing that they were forced to serve and that wasn’t their real intention.

The real beauty of the story is that so many years after all these incidents of intimidation, humiliation and persecution, I leave it to your imagination as to who presented my AWARD at the Banquet Hall of the State House when the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG), under the Presidency of the WRITER, Kwabena Yeboah decided to honour me about 40 (forty) years after all my rejections?

Such is life!

It is not so much the stone that the builders rejected story but our PSYCHE AS A PEOPLE AND AS A NATION: why do we always feel threatened by people who at best we could take on and mentor in our fields of endeavour, when they are starters and need guidance? Why is it easy for us to condemn the beginners in our professions and callings and would not take them on as Elijah took on Elisha to teach whilst they serve than to assume a position of aggression against their talents and gifts?

This should definitely not be the BANE of this great nation, GHANA as for sure, the OLD WILL ALWAYS GIVE WAY TO THE NEW so we better embrace this fact of life and allow it to inform all our actions here on earth for this nation deserves much better than what we find ourselves witnessing now.

ONE of the greatest ironies of life took place recently after about 40 (forty) years when the AIPS – Africa and the SWAG hosted a delegation of the Organizing Committee for the 12th African Games, 2019 in Accra and I was invited to address the 3 – day Conference. After my address to an ovation I was presented with a book award – a full 360 degree with a letter to same AIPS being the beginning of my woes with the SWAG.

FUNNY THIS LIFE and why you ought to love your enemies or those who betray you for in the end they will provide the platform for your coronation.

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