With dint of hard work Nigerian journalists are making inroads in Ghana media space.
The name Samuel Darlington Omokhipe may not ring a bell, but his pseudonym, “smilebaba” certainly does. The name transcends the media and entertainment landscape in Accra and the entire Ghana. This enterprising Nigerian media chieftain has etched his footprints in Ghana. He is the Chief Executive of S24 Radio station, S24 Television station, Ghana Nigeria Carnival, Smile Foundation and Smilebaba Africa. In between his busy schedule steering the affairs of his companies, Darlington also corresponds for Kenny 104.1 Radio station, based in Lagos, Nigeria. His odyssey in Ghana can aptly be described as a mishmash of sadness and joy.
For him, corresponding for a Nigerian media outlet was quite strategic. It avails him the opportunity to launder the image of Nigerian in Ghana, where Nigerians are viewed in very bad light.
Omokhipe’s journey as a journalist cum entertainer began as a student at the Lagos State University (LASU) more than two decades ago. He worked part-time as a studio hand at Ray Power Radio, where he was mentored by the likes of the late Steve Kadiri, Kenny Ogungbe, T1 and a host of flourishing broadcast journalists then. He worked behind the scene, assisting his bosses in their tasks.
“I was a student, the only way to keep myself busy back then, was to go to Ray Power Studios to help with productions by giving CDs. And of course learning the craft at that time,” he enthused.
“Being a presenter in Ghana, representing Nigeria in Ghana, playing Nigerian songs, making Nigerian songs go- gaga. We have done that for the likes of Whiz Kid, Burna Boy and the rest of them. It makes me happy,” he explained.
“Smilebaba” as he is fondly called by his teeming admirers described as difficult his early days in the country. “When I first came to Ghana, I knew nobody. I was going from studio-to-studio doing back-ups for upcoming artistes. Everybody then wanted me to do back-up for them. First, because there was a talent and two, I knew how to use it,” he declared.
He recalled a particular incident, when he was victimized because of his nationality. But he used the period of adversity as a springboard to success and started his television show.
“And I think I took a very right step at that time. So I had to build my own studio, my content, everything. The television started paying me. I even forgot radio and started making money from television. It became a springboard to bigger success,” he affirmed.
Oluwakayode Iposu works in Ghana for the Inside Watch Africa Magazine and some other online media outlets in Nigeria. Before relocating to Ghana, he had a stint in broadcast in Nigeria, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire. For 18 years, the very versatile and multi-talented media personality has plied his trade in Ghana.
Iposu was lucky to break into mainstream Ghanaian media industry from the beginning. It was a daunting challenge at the onset, but he was able to make an in-road. He ascribed the feat to his resilience and indomitable attitude. He believes he can achieve anything in even the most difficult and unfavorable environment. This has continued to count for his advantage in the country, where the interest of the people overrides other factors in employing people.
“However, the challenge though was how to convince the respective media houses about my competence and capability. So largely, when you are working, while it might be easier for you to penetrate you must be above par. There must be something unique about you. They must be convinced that you are the right person for the job,” he added.
He has in his resume a list of Ghanaian-owned media organizations, where he previously worked. For instance, he has been the Director of Programmes with two FM stations in Accra and Managing Editor for Business Magazine. The wealth of experience gave him leverage when he began to report for Nigeria, he asserted.
“Because I started working for Ghanaian media outlets, it was easier for me to penetrate. By the time I was working for Nigerian institutions, I didn’t have any challenge,” he admitted.
For instance, he recalled his experience during the funeral of the late president, Prof. Evans John Attah-Mills, where because of his previous working relationships with Ghanaian journalists he didn’t encounter problems while covering it, whereas his other foreign colleagues had an uphill task getting access to the venue.
Iposu explained that Nigerians generally suffer infamy wherever they go. Ghana was not an isolated case. Thus the onus was on them to be above board in their conduct and showcase talent in their work.
Iposu says his niche in the media has opened several other opportunities for him to explore his talents saying, “Notwithstanding, I think I have achieved a lot generally. Jumping from pillar to post as a result of that apart from journalism, I am also into Communications and Events Planning.”
Joseph Ojumo, another Nigerian journalist in Ghana, works for The Difference, a publication in Nigeria. He has been on the job for almost a decade. His account of his media practice demonstrates tenacity and hard work.
“When I started, it took a great deal of tolerance and hard work to survive. There were times I went for assignments, Ghanaian journalists would walk me out. They would tell me I wasn’t invited and I should leave. It was very embarrassing, but I persisted. Anytime there was an assignment I would show up. After sometime they let me be,” he disclosed.
Ojumo explained that the more acquainted he became with his Ghanaian counterparts, they realized he was an honest and hardworking Nigerian. Hence today, he could freely work without fear of molestation from his hosts.