Monday, December 3, 2007


JHR holds regional workshops for reporters every month in the different regions of Ghana. This month’s two-day summit is held in Koforidia, a city known for it’s beautiful flowers. In fact, I’m asked to bring back some flowers to the SKYY newsroom upon my return. I am eager to attend the workshops, both to visit the city and to meet Nick Fobih, a JHR colleague in with the last wave, whom I have yet to encounter. Nick had previously been in Ghana with JHR, and has been asked back for a second time. His writings on the JHR website are excellent and I look forward to exchanging ideas. Also attending are my friends Jessie and Indica, making the decision to attend a very easy one.

After a few hours in a Ford to Accra and a few more heading north, I reach Koforidia, and it isn’t the lush garden city I had expected. Sure, it’s pretty, but not the epic centre of flora that I had expected.

The workshop is held at a brand new and extremely fancy hotel. The chairs are plush leather, the conference table is long, narrow and shiny. The sound system is booming. The microphones give those who wield them a sense of authority. The stage is set for a very successful meeting of the minds. Approximately 20 journalists from the area show up for the workshop. The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, TV Africa, Ghana News Service, Peace FM and other media houses are present.

Nick and Indica have organized the event, and will be leading discussions on corruption, rights-based approaches to journalism and many other subjects. I attend as a simple production assistant and end up as master of the mic, quickly passing the baton to those who want it, take it away from those who abuse it, and harass people who won’t take it on.

The days’ discussions are fruitful and the networking opportunities are appreciated. The evenings are spent wandering the picturesque streets of town and eating and drinking in the hotel restaurant.

Nick turns out to be a really nice guy. He’s a Ghanaian living in Canada working on his PhD at Queen’s University in Kingston. His father is a government official here in Ghana. Nick has a great handle on the information and it shows. This knowledge, when imparted by a Ghanaian expert, has great impact on Ghanaian journalists.

Jessie and Joseph go to a small village nearby after the last day of the workshop, and Indica and I decide to stay in Koforidia before I head back to Accra. A bit of exhaustion has set in, after an extended period of hard work and traveling. My girlfriend arrives from Canada just after the workshop, and I need to be at the airport to pick her up very soon. Indica and I take it easy and relax, taking a stroll in the city and crashing early before heading out.

Our stroll takes us down a small dirt road, which looks a bit like someone’s driveway. It narrows until all that’s left is a small foot path that wanders through a small community. We cross a small stream with a tiny bridge and we stumble upon a carpenter’s shop. There four or five burly young men greet us with smiles and curiosity. They ask if we’re lost, and we say no, we’re just wandering. They laugh and we continue on, past some a few houses, saying hello to a few families conversing with kids who were very happy to make our acquaintance. We come across a small school and decide to take a look.

Snapping a few pictures gets a little attention from a local man, and we go over to him and make friends. We continue on the path to its end and then turn back, revisiting all the people we had just met.

Through taking a walk in the community we get a sense of the real beauty of Koforidia. Sure, the flowers are nice, but the warm, friendly people and the sense of community that we experience are truly beautiful. There’s something about going down the road less traveled that can show you the truth of a place. When you decide to look a little further down a road than perhaps you might do otherwise, you can sometimes see more than you thought possible.

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