I HAVE over the years watched Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, a Ghanaian journalist and the editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper (1999 to present) with admiration.
The admiration is based on one simple reason, being that he (Kweku Baako) has carved a niche for himself as one of the celebrated journalists in the country.
His passion stems from what he knows doing best and explained in what he said of himself that: “”I want to concentrate more on my media practice and build a media empire comprising a newspaper, radio and television station, whilst I continue to do research for local and international organizations.”
He has become known as ‘Mr. Document’ because he has documentary evidence and an authentic one at that for almost every issue he raises for discussion, no matter how controversial it might be. Kweku Baako claims: “My father left us a wealth of information in the form of books and articles; wealth in terms of information and experience”. He has also said: “You don’t do politics without research and intelligence. This is the reason why research is part of me.”
However, in admiring him, I am yet to convince myself if Kweku Baako can match me in the keeping of records, dossiers and information. To take him down memory lane, I personally bought him a computer with its accessories during the Kufuor administration for his good work and passion for research, and he has since been in my good books. I wonder if he remembers this gesture of mine.
Mr. Ben Ephson, Kwasi Pratt Jnr. and Kweku Baako Jnr. are three senior and experienced journalists who have made their mark in the trade of writing, just like T.D. Baffoe, Kofi Badu , Tommy Thompson and Bentill Enchil, now at the UN, and Bankole Timothy who fought for democracy in the 1960’s.
Others like Akoto Ampaw, Kwame Karikari and Adu Amankwa had also suffered arrests by the government in 1987, during the military regime of Mr. Rawlings.
Mr. Tommy Thompson was arrested in July 1983 as a result of his directorship of the FREE PRESS newspaper which was critical of the then government. Ben Ephson was arrested by police officers from the BNI on September 22, 1987, on suspicion of gathering economic intelligence.
Ben Ephson, then a freelance journalist with the BBC, suffered several arrests by the Rawlings regime, and so did Kwesi Pratt Jnr. who was even arrested 11 times by the Rawlings regime, all for their stance. At the instance of the Ghana Democratic Movement, under the leadership of myself and J.H. Mensah, in collaboration with Amnesty International, we spearheaded their early release from detention.
However, all three (Mr. Ben Ephson, Kwasi Pratt Jnr. and Kweku Baako Jnr.) used to fight for democracy with punch and venom. They have actually sacrificed a lot for the country, just as Kofi Coomson and Ebo Quansah had done a lot for Ghana’s democracy.
However, save Kweku Baako, the others, though good by all standards, seem to lose the steam and the stuff they are made off in what I term: “Fante solidarity of confederation” to the late Professor Atta Mills.
Today, Mr. Ben Ephson and Kwasi Pratt Jnr. are no more shinning as they did in the Rawlings regime. Perhaps they had not been accorded the necessary recognition for their sacrifices. The Kufuor administration tried appointing Kwesi Pratt to the Board of the Ghana Post, but it was declined.
I believe Mr. Kufuor had not done much for Kwesi Pratt and Ben Ephson in terms of recognizing their efforts in this regard. The three journalists (Ben Ephson, Kwesi Pratt and Kweku Baako) deserved ministerial appointments in the seeming all inclusive government of Kufuor regime, for the sacrifices they made.
The only query for Kwesi Pratt is that he was an anti Ashanti, even though he had a bit of his upbringing at Bantama in Kumasi and should have exhibited an Ashanti spirit. Pratt has, however, since denied the allegation that he is anti Ashanti at a CPP National delegate’s conference at the KNUST Great Hall in Kumasi.
Mr. Pratt has praised me for my contribution to democracy, when together with Professor Hagan, then CPP Presidential candidate and Mike Eghan, he came to my office in London at a time the CPP organized a fundraising in London. I offered 4,000 pounds sterling to Prof. Hagan and 500 pounds to Pratt for his personal shopping and for his immense contribution to democracy.
After his last arrest, he visited London, during which I organized a forum at Manor House N4 Hall, attended by people of all political shades, for him as Guest Speaker to brief the GDM and the Ghanaian Community on arbitrarily arrests under the Rawlings regime in Ghana. This forum was organized at the cost of 600 pounds.
Kweku Baako, who I prefer to nick name ‘Johnny Walker’ born in 1820 (laughter); for being still strong, is exceptionally good and still fighting for the growth of democracy, just like me.
Kweku Baako Jnr. is a fine journalist and has exhibited consistency in his way of thinking over the years. He is a realist, pragmatist and candid. A born CPP, the 1999 Journalist of the Year is better known for his contribution as a social commentator on radio and TV, having polled as the 69th most influential Ghanaian in 2011 by ETV.
I prefer to put Kweku Baako in the category of David Frost, formerly of BBC and now a consultant to Aljazeera, and Brown Walden also of BBC. Though the two (Frost and Walden) are both purely Conservatives, they made their mark in journalism by not favouring the government in power, just like Kweku Baako.
I am aware that Kweku Baako rejected an offer from the late President Mills to use his newspaper to back the NDC government, but he reportedly told the late President at his Coffee Shop in Accra that he (Baako) would only support the government if it did the right thing in governance.
Kweku Baako speaks fondly of the CPP, but he is a known sympathizer of the NPP, even though he says his current posture (support for NPP) is not permanent, as he does not speak for the NPP on every issue. He also claims he will never be in bed with the government of the day.
“In principle, I have been offering critical support to the NPP administration since 2001, because we (some NPP officials and myself) have been in the trenches to reject PNDC for 11 good years. We have fought this battle which has created a bond between us. I am not ashamed of this!” he said in 2008.
It is time members of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) back up and compliment the stand of Kweku Baako to continue with the fight for good governance and growth of democracy in Ghana. The time for solidarity by journalists for the government should be over with the demise of President Atta Mills.
Being the most powerful and influential journalists (Ephson, Pratt and Baako) in the country, I am convinced that these journalists are not happy with the current situation prevailing in the country, so their influence in that regard should be felt and to carry on the fight to its logical conclusion.
I recommend for the consideration of local universities to confer honorary doctorate degree on Kweku Baako for the yeoman’s job done so far in journalism for Ghana. He passes for a lecturer or professor in governance and deserves this honour and recognition. If this is asking for too much from the local universities, then I would not hesitate to lobby for a Commonwealth Award for him.
I, therefore, want to instruct that he gets his curriculum vitae (CV) ready for me to initiate this move and lobby for his award by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Well done, Kweku Baako Jnr. for adding to the beauty of democracy, which was restored in Ghana at great cost and at the peril of my life.
I salute you for having Ghana at heart. Ethiopia shall rise one day. Fight the good fight and your reward would await you.
It is time Kwesi Pratt and Ben Ephson also wake up from their slumber for the growth of our democracy in Ghana.
God bless Kweku Baako
God bless Ben Ephson and Kwesi Pratt
God bless GDM and Ashanti Community in UK.