The news of the gruesome murder of Fennec Okyere started filtering in the morning of exactly a week ago today. Friends and other people both in the entertainment industry and out of it were texting, calling, ‘Whatsapping’ to find out if it was true that the longtime manager of Kwaw Kesse has died as rumoured.
I know a lot has been said since that fateful day, including many tributes that have poured in from friends, acquaintances, showbiz icons and more for the outspoken artiste manager.
However, let me also add my voice to say a few things about the man who affected Ghanaian showbiz in his own way and manner.
My first meeting with Fennec Okyere was over a decade ago. I met him when he was the personal assistant of Mikki Osei-Berko, then a presenter at Happy FM in Accra.
Fennec, was in his late teens at the time but he was the guy who promised himself he would be a pain in your neck till to get him what he wanted.
He used to call me a lot to talk about what he thought needed to be done for Mikki to push his brand. Indeed, when Mikki had the offer to move to Kessben FM in Kumasi when that station started, it was Fennec who broke the news to me and arranged a meeting with me and Mikki to talk about the matter.
Not long after that, I met with Fennec and Mikki in Kumasi, at Fosuah Hotel inside Kessben’s Aseda House (also where the new radio station was located) on one of my work related jaunts to Kumasi and we had a lengthy chat about how Osei-Berko thought he would fit into the Kessben scheme of things and also function in Kumasi.
Fennec was optimistic his boss would make it and so was Osei-Berko himself. It may not have worked out as planned because Osei-Berko and his one man posse had to leave Kumasi and Kessben after hosting their morning show and playing some managerial role just for a little while, but Fennec and I struck up friendship that would last long.
When Mikki Osei-Berko decided to go into television production with the comedic drama series Dada Boat, Fennec was the man who would make sure it happened. He was neck deep in every aspect of the production including publicity and hence I was the target of his implementation sword.
He always had something to say about Dada Boat and how it was becoming the most popular show on TV and then hit you with the fact that you should write about it and how you are not doing that much.
If there were two things loathsome and yet loveable about Fennec Okyere they have to be his confidence and persistence.
If I thought that the demise of Dada Boat and the fact that Mikki Osei-Berko left Ghana afterwards would be the end of Fennec Okyere and I vis-à-vis the friendship we struck up earlier, I was dead wrong as other activities and events will bring us together many more times before his sad demise.
Not too long after Mikki had left, Fennec called me up that he had an idea he wanted to discuss with me as someone whose opinion he revered on issues that had to do with events and broadcasting. He said he had this television show he was developing that would change the face of entertainment in Ghana.
He called a few times after that and met me in my office then around Osu and we discussed his idea and the proposals he was working on. His frequent calls took my time, but you could never say no to Fennec because he never took no for an answer.
I cannot say how that project ended after we had discussed and I had advised him to scale it down a bit because what he had was too grandeur and ambitious.
I however got to know that he had started working with Abeiku Santana then at Adom FM in similar manner as he had worked with Mikki, even before he got to work with Kwaw Kesse.
Sometime along the way, we met again as the pioneering panelists on Joy FM’s entertainment review programme together with Pa John Dadson and Mark Okraku Mantey we partnered with host Nii Ayi Tagoe to discuss the issues that make the headline in the world of entertainments.
He never shied away from expressing his view regardless of how unpopular or controversial the comment will be. He believed that any and every view had to be expressed if it was going to add positively to improving the industry.
I remember when I had my event MPEG and had a not so encouraging attendance at the show, Fennec showed up on the show and dealt with me like he never knew me. Such was his frankness and nondiscrimination in criticizing entertainment issues.
Above everything else, Fennec was very passionate about the business side of the arts. He never believed that he or any of the people he worked with were in it only for the show, indeed it was more because of the business of it.
He was ambitious and he was the Real McCoy when it comes to making deals. It was very worth mentioning that his association with Kwaw Kesse ensured that he lifted the commercial value of the latter to the heights it got to before his demise.
About three years ago, Fennec pulled the biggest deal in radio when he instigated the movement of Abeiku Santana from Adom FM to Okay FM. He called me and said Abeiku was leaving the station. I said it was a lie.
We arranged that day and he gave me the resignation letter Abeiku’s wife had given him earlier that day. Before meeting him, I had called Adom FM to confirm and was told it wasn’t true and again when I got the letter I called to confirm and I was told again that it wasn’t true.
Based on the information given me by Fennec as well as the letter he shared with me, I did my story that Abeiku was on his way out of Adom FM and sent my story. It was after the story had gone that the people at Adom FM decided to speak – it was too late.
When he got wind of it, I had a call from Fadda Dickson wanting to know if it was true. I said it was and that was the beginning of how Abeiku Santana will end up at Okay FM.
It is very sad that Fennec ended up in the manner he did. He was full of life and one had hoped that he would be here to do the things he loved to do without leaving at such a tender age as he has. Thankfully he made a mark in our industry and it is my hope that his legacy will live on.
As we commiserate with his family and close friends, it is important to encourage the police to get to the bottom of investigating and bringing to book the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Justice must be served to the murderers of Fennec.
Fare thee well, my friend.