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FEATURE: On Joy FM’s Francis Abban

It is important to celebrate outstanding men. It is important to celebrate outstanding men while they’re still young. That way, they’re encouraged in their gifts, and other young men are inspired.

Francis Abban is still south of 30, and has only been with Multimedia since 2012, but a silent determination has already seen him achieve much. On The Pulse, his news analysis programme which airs on Joynews weekdays, for instance, he’s sat with (and made uncomfortable with piercing questions) such newsmakers as Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, former first lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia, British High Commissioner Jon Benjamin, Dr Edward Mahama, Ivor Greenstreet, Professor Kwesi Yankah, Sports Minister Nii Lante Vanderpuye among others.

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Francis Abban, presenting The Pulse on the JoyNews Channel

Such people should intimidate you, because such people are powerful. But in the studios (or wherever he assumes the role of interviewer), Francis Abban is powerful too, because his towering physique (he brings a remarkable 6.1 ft/198 lbs into view) is not the only thing that has the propensity to daunt, or at least invoke nerviness. And so when on June 20, he inquired of Roads Minister Inusah Fuseini, about when certain roads would be done, and a specific answer was not forthcoming, his resilience to get it remained apparent, as he repeated with focus, “ What about Avenor…Avenor, Alhaji, Avenor…”, and then “how soon…how soon”, till honourable surrendered a time-frame –more likely groped for in the confusion of being cornered than much else: “when you wait one, two, three months and you don’t see action, then you can all me”.

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There’s gravity in Francis’ gaze when he is listening to people at the end of his questions.

In a recent conversation with NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia, his eyes told you –because of how attentively they stared at his face –that they scrutinized rigorously every syllable that left General Mosquito’s lips.

At the same time, there’s a way he can, within a flash, stimulate a lighter side of your disposition. When, during the July 8 interview with General Mosquito, he brought up music, and asked that the NDC General Secretary sing two lines from his favourite Bob Marley song, the usually serious politician is suddenly flustered, so that for those two minutes, it is Asiedu Nketia the teenager you see. That quality in an interviewer to seamlessly juggle between divergent moods, and with perfect questioning, hypnotize the interviewee enough to come along with him, can first of all be attributed as talent, and then constant practice.

Every young Ghanaian journalist will (with childish enthusiasm) point at a Larry King or Komla Dumor as career idols…very few are true apprentices of their ways. Now I’m not saying Mr. Abban is Larry King good yet, but with such consistency of character, you know he’s on the right path.

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Mr. Abban is hardly Larry King good yet, but with such consistency of character, he certainly is on the right path.

It is not for nothing that in 2010, he was adjudged Best English Language Student of his Diploma class for instance –for he is articulate in a way that is admirable, and in his head are a hundred ready phrases for every personality and situation.

Today, he presents the Midday News on Accra-based Joy FM, The Pulse late afternoons on Joynews, as well as BBC Two Way; a partnership between Joy FM and the international broadcaster to project what major issues are discussed during the week –a programme he has hosted since 2013.

Francis Abban also presents the Midday News on Joy FM

Francis Abban also presents the Midday News on Joy FM

But he’s also co-hosted the AM Show, and then the Super Morning Show. Let me repeat that: between August 2013 and March 2014, he hosted perhaps, the most important radio show in the country –the same show which has also seen such a-list alumni as the great Komla Dumor, Tommy Annan-Forson, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and Kweku Sintim Misa (KSM).

Because the Super Morning Show has seen a line-up of some of Ghana’s finest broadcasters, it has, in the twenty years or so that it has existed, become the model for all morning shows in this town.

In 2014, critic Francis Doku observed:

The Super Morning Show on Joy FM would be a very good case study for students of journalism and communication. Over almost [sic] two decades of being in existence, it has been a huge part of the growth of the radio industry and its development in the capital.

The show has broached many subjects that have gone to become “The Issues” on which several commentaries have risen.”

And so, you will understand that only journalists of a certain brilliance are engaged to host it. For Francis to have been named in that list is a foretelling of renowned peaks.

Greatness doesn’t cause Francis panic –it is his goal –for he has constantly held that he wants to be nothing less than world-class. Therefore, he would do his knowledge, and put in the time –more than 36 hours straight covering elections, and several other 20-hour days. Such ethic of relentless hard work is what brings the rewards –what sets passion apart from daily chore.

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The fundamental requirement of all journalism (perhaps the most important, too) is the quality of observation. And the duties of he who is called to record the stories of our existence might be overlooked as we are more likely to focus in the news rather than the bearer.  Yet, without him, our deeds are forgotten –and who are we, if our deeds are forgotten and our stories lost?

What society does not recognize the place of he who sacrifices himself to carry our stories forward?

Still, the journalist, the custodian of our truths is not recognized enough. But that does not necessarily perturb him, because his real reward is that which comes from his own inner depths –it is what nurtured his desire in the first place.

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Francis Abban will go places, because he is in the company of a rare crop who, with commendable noiselessness, have bared to us some of our most urgent realities; whether it is that of the peasant tomato seller at Makola who nurses a bold faith in spite of our leaders’ clumsiness –or the very many layers of our leaders’ “assurances”.

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Francis Abban will go places, because he is in the company of a rare crop

It is important to celebrate outstanding men. It is important to celebrate outstanding men while their passions are still too youthful to be corrupted. That way, they’re confident in their calling, and are mentors to their peers.

 

–Gabriel Myers Hansen is editor of enewsgh.com. Follow him @myershansen on Twitter.

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