• All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Intellectual Casualties

O ye dead ones of conceptual suicide
The mental causalities of professionalism
Having nothing new to offer
But awaits the intellectual undertaker

You are members of the intellectual terrorism gang
Always hooked on idea-wrecking ventures
Worshipping the past of dogmatism
Yet offering no substitute for the present

You impede creative talents of progress
By resisting any doctrinal change
Adjustment to the new is impossible
So delay decisions by playing the ‘No’ game

You ritualistically engage in a dance with dead ideas
Fearful of looking new thoughts in the eye
In the brightness of day, your sight is open closed
Please! Let knowledge reign over your ignorance!

© Kofi Adu Domfeh

Friday, March 12, 2010

Playing the host – 'Farming with Trees'

First it was in Ibadan-Nigeria, and then to Nairobi-Kenya, all in 2009 but least did I expect that Kumasi-Ghana would be the next stop for the WRENmedia team in 2010, thanks to the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Lucky me, I had the privilege of being assigned the role of a co-trainer. However meeting Mike and Susie once again was more of a family reunion… and I did miss Susanna; actually, anyone who has had the opportunity of meeting, interacting or doing anything with anyone at WRENmedia will attest to the FACT that they are more than teachers, facilitators, editors and… all those professional attributes. Oh yes – Mama Susie is always concerned about the health of her trainees even as she motherly leads the ‘radiolets’ to keep their eyes on the ‘redbox’ with cues, interviews and features whilst Papa Mike ensures his ‘printlets’ complete their production schedule in time with little or no pain.

Well, I knew all these but certainly could not say same for the new course participants who came from Anglophone West Africa - Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and my very own Ghana. These Journalists on the ‘Better Science Reporting’ workshop apparently wanted to have a real experience of ‘Farming with Trees’ – which was the subject of the training. They came focusing on tree crops like Cashew, Allanblackia, Cola, Moringa, Cocoa, etc.

The Samaritan Villa Guesthouse located within the Christian Village at Santasi, Kumasi was home to the team. General impression about choice of training venue and customer service was positive though some participants had challenges with my typical local cuisine like ‘banku and okra stew’. Thank God the fried plantain and beans or ‘red red’ came to my rescue.

The Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) played the role of partners and really made the group feel the Ghanaian ‘Akwaaba’ hospitality – very proud of Teresa Peprah and all in facilitating movements and contacts with researchers. Tree crop and agroforestry specialists came in handy to enrich the journalists in all aspects of tree-crop farming and provided other information to improve their understanding of science. The three-night science safari to the Bobiri Forest Reserve and Butterfly Sanctuary was intriguing, fun and educative – Evans was at hand to take the group on the forest trail. Created in 1939 when it was still unexploited primary forest, the tropical forest reserve – covering an area of 54.6sq.Km – is one of the most beautiful reserves in the West African sub-region with over 400 species of butterflies and 100 bird species.
Moments with the trees were simply awesome – truly nature should not be compromised for any so-called modern development. And for this reason, campaigners like the Rainforest Friends Ghana and the Trees for Life must be supported to advance advocacy for tree planting and preservation of forests.

Now, the team later returned to the Samaritan Villa much refreshed to complete assignments on time… and the production team had put up their best for a good job (greetings to Aaron).

What next? After shopping strolls at the Kumasi Cultural Center and the city’s central business district, it was party time… and the Clarke House hosted the family on a rainy Tuesday – a blessed night it was – good fun, lovely gifts and soothing testimonies! Time to say goodbye and my story should have ended here, but no…

The final day trip to the Blue Skies fruit processing plant and the pineapple farms of Prudent Exports Limited was a reflection of the safari to Bobiri Forest – farms and trees should co-exist for mutual benefits. Now after a good lunch with fresh pineapple juice, and a drive through pineapple plantations, it dawn on me that the time to let go had arrived.
Parting ways has always been mixed – and the Ghana experience was no exception! As Susie and Mike were zoomed to the Kotoka International Airport to catch their flight back to the UK, thoughts of admiration filled my heart, appreciating the enormous task of creating a production team of African journalists to work with scientists, researchers and communities - all within a short period of ten days.

Indeed, working with people with diverse cultural, philosophical and emotional attachments can be very challenging. Personally I was angered by certain characters, and so did some of my talk or action not go down well with other team members.

Playing host to the Kumasi ‘Better Science Reporting’ workshop has opened my thoughts to the intricacies of event management and creative methodologies in knowledge (skill) impartation. But most importantly, I have become much conscious about the need to keep my calm when opinions and emotional outbursts of people do not conform to my personal ideals - respect and love for fellow (wo)man as well as nature is as important as reporting science.

May the WRENmedia family of African journalists interested in reporting science live forever!


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