The Readers Hub is highly pleased to bring to you another insightful and thrilling encounter from our Social Convo session as we engage one of our ardent readers with vast and demonstrable experience in both the field of academia and the inky fraternity.
Our guest for tonight’s session on Social Convo-Mr. Malik Daabu recently joined the Ghana Maritime Authority as the head of Public Relations. Until his new role at the Ghana Maritime Authority, he was the editor of the online department of Joy Fm. He also served as Joy FM’s in-house political analyst and was also moved to head the investigative desk following the resignation of Manasseh Azure Awuni from the Multimedia group.
With the help of the Moderator- Haadi Bachang, our guest will take us through his life’s journey thus far, the motivators, the drives, strengths and weaknesses, and possibly the secret of his enviable achievements; the challenges, notwithstanding.
Ladies and Gentlemen, sit still and enjoy this most informative, insightful and thrilling encounter with The Readers Hu (Social Convo) session.
Haadi: Tonight, we bring you yet another great personality who has risen through the ranks from a humble beginning to becoming an enviable asset to mother Ghana. His achievements may not be tangible for many of us to see but it is said by Pericles that “what you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven in the lives of others.”
In the wisdom of Plato “there are three classes of men: lovers of wisdom, lovers of honour and lovers of gain”. So, join me in this exiting exciting journey as we interact with our guest to find out where he belongs and his motivations.
Ladies and gentlemen, our guest for tonight is Mr. Malik Daabu. Please Mr. Malik, you are welcome to the Readers Hub Social Convo!
Mr. Malik Daabu: Thank you my brother. Pleased to be here.
Haadi: A lot of us on this hub have heard of Malik Daabu on the Super Morning Show of Joy FM and enjoyed your apt political analysis over the years. To put the records right about your personality by yourself, who is Mr. Malik Daabu?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Strangely I just pondered over your question and find it quite a difficult one. Who am I? I heard there is a modern, more acceptable variant of this question – ‘whooom am I’ – or something to that effect. But on a serious note, I would simply say I’m a Kantosi (a large dispersed ethnic group) and a native of Kpaliworgu in the Wa East District of the Upper West Region and if I may gloat, the most peaceful and fertile land with the highest capita of PhD holders – even if it hasn’t reflected in our level of development.
I was born in Sandema, in the Upper East Region. My mum was my Dad’s fourth wife. Now you know I was born into a large family with brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews always swarming around the mud house – too many mouths than the family could afford to feed. But as our people say, “man’s mouth is too short to eat grass” so we managed to survive. I’m my mum’s first born. Seven others followed me (the old man must have been very potent! Hahahaha).
Haadi: Kindly take us through your educational journey, and social life, highlighting on the key milestones you accomplishedand your sources of inspiration and support.
Mr. Malik Daabu: I always say I went to school accidentally. My parents after more than a century of leaving their ancestral home in the Upper West and settling amongst the Builsas and elsewhere, decided to go back home in the ‘80s. There was no school in this new home. In fact, I’m told when my father and elders from Sandema rediscovered their home, an ancient capital (which is a hub for archaeological excavation for both local and foreign researchers), only a small group of people numbering a few hundreds, living in clustered mud houses and ravaged by onchocerciasis (many of the adults suffered from river blindness) occupied the land.
The village was called AbuduYiri (those from Upper West will know this). Only the village chief farmer (Kuobu Naa) had a bicycle – the most graphic illustration of the distance between civilisation and our people. A school was not one of the things they brought from Sandema even though many of the boys and girls had tasted education back at Sandema, Fumbisi or Siniensi. One breezy morning, my friends and I ran on the dusty road and wilting grasses (dry season was setting in), making screeching noises in the village to meet an uncle who had visited Kpaliworgu from Sandema. He was one of the earliest educated Kantosis (Teacher Amidu). He gathered us (few boys) on a log under a shea tree in front of my father’s house and gave us our first lesson as students. He taught us a song – ‘bye, bye, black sheep, have you any wood? Yes sa, massa, two by food…..’ In answering your question, I just googled and found that the correct lyrics of the song are ‘Baa, baa black sheep. Hahaha. This was how ignorant we were at that level because we have no idea of the words we were pronouncing. He repeated this meeting with us the next day and over the course of his stay. Even though his visit was brief we enjoyed it and teacher Amidu must have felt obligated to hand us the greatest keys to a meaningful and impactful life – education.
So, on his way back to Sandema, he stopped over at Wa and registered the school. Subsequently the village people themselves erected sheds and bought a few sheets of plywood which served as chalkboards. From primary one to three, we sat on pebbles under shea trees. Everyone cleared the sand in front of them and drew marks in them. If my handwriting is bad, you have your answer. I’m, therefore, a beneficiary of school under trees. I think I love to talk about the embryonic stages of my education. You have to stop me!
I wrote my BECE at WASEC in 1994. Before the result came the old man had buckled under pressure from his children and returned to Sandema. That is how I came to attend the Sandema Secondary School – a day school at the time. It was new, too. We were the second batch – 1995 to 1997. Many of the troublemakers on this page – Umaru Sanda, Manasseh Azure, Hayi Moomen – were in early primary.
I proceeded to Tumu Training College – 1998 to 2001. I taught at Fumbisi and Sandema for three years, before applying to the Ghana Institute of Journalism in 2004 to pursue a BA in Communication Studies which set off my journalism career. I got into Multimedia’s Myjoyonline in 2008 while in my final year at GIJ. In 2010, just after my national service, I took steps to pursue a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) at the law faculty, University of Ghana. I wrote the entrance exam twice, passed twice, failed the interview twice.
Out of frustration, I applied for the University of London LLB (External Programmes). Unfortunately, I failed my Labour Law, having passed more difficult courses (senior Hammer will bear me out) like Land Law, Criminal Law, Law of Trusts, Law of Torts, Commercial Law, Common Reasoning and Institutions, Law of Contract, Public Law, and Constitutional Law and Ghana Legal Systems (taught by the current Chief Justice) at the Ghana School of Law.I transferred to Mountcrest and completed the LLB.
Social life! What do I even do? I’m not a very social person. I try to be fun in public. If you find me and a couple of colleagues, you may find our conversations lovely but that is learned. If I could, I would spend all my time cocooned somewhere.
You also asked about key milestones, I don’t know if I have anything to show for that. I’ve been lucky to finish top of my class – some of the time – for which I’m grateful to Allah Subahaanahuu Wata-aalaa.
What is my source of inspiration? I think generally, I am self-motivated. If you give me a job to clean the toilet, I will do it kabayekagahebanye (in a krabewhe manner). I mean I’ll do it with the excellence that my abilities may permit. It may not matter how much you pay me. I particularly hungered for knowledge growing up. As for why, I don’t know. I just enjoyed being a ‘knower’ in every situation. That is what motivates me. So, I’m inspired by knowledgeable people, the better if they are lawyers. I admire and adore orators. I love well-written material. So, when I read judgments, it is the language that makes me happy.
Haadi: Tell us about some of your childhood fond memories
Mr. Malik Daabu:My childhood memories are dominated by deprivation, lack, and abuse but these were not stark then as they may seem today. Our lives were governed by simple things – we woke up at 5am, walked to the farm (barefoot); returned home around 8am and straight to school; closed at 2pm, went back to the farm; closed at 18:30 or 19:00 (depending on when darkness falls and birds and rodents went away); got home around 20:00 and headed straight to Makaranta (Arabic school); closed at 10pm and the next thing is to sleep. Sometimes we went to other people’s farms to pluck groundnuts. Hard work was rewarded. If you were fast enough to pluck 10 bowls full, you take the 11th one home. This reward motivated us to do more tirelessly.
When the harmattan sets in, after dawn prayers, we made fire to keep warm. While keeping warm, we roast some groundnuts and that may be breakfast for the day. That was life – pretty simple. No complications. As I said. I loved school. It was a sanctuary for me. I could dominate in that environment. Occasionally I got beaten for daring to answer questions in my seniors’ class. But that was a small price to pay compared to the gratification that came with being able to answer questions above my level.
There was very little competition for material possession. There were no grand ambitions to, or contemplation of becoming a lawyer, doctor, engineer or any of those fanciful thoughts. You lived by day. I particularly looked forward to new yam (worpaane). I loved yam. But even more importantly, it signaled the end of hunger. I know people like Abdul Hayi Moomen (cannot identify with this. Lol).
Haadi: Why journalism and what is the motivation?
Journalism! Quite frankly, journalism, like many things in my life came accidentally. The idea was first sowed in my mind by a great friend and roommate of mine in Kanton House Room 3 at TUTCO – Duut Alex – who currently teaches in his hometown of Nakpanduri. Senior Haadi, this is a room you would have loved to be in. Right from my first year, this room was always occupied by, and the centre for, great guys who had wonderful, intellectually stimulating debates – Muftaw Fassasi, Mohammed B Salia, Osman Nankpa (now PulimaKuoru); Justin Nunwie, Chancellor, Alphonse Naab and others.
My generations of Kanton House Room 3 greats were Isaac Kunate, Abdalla, and others who every evening ganged up against someone for fun. I was kind of a prosecutor, framing people and hanging concocted narratives around them. It was just fun. But it was during one of those episodes that a frighteningly intelligent Duut Alex with acute speech defect, walked over to my bed, shook my hands and said, “my boss, please try and study journalism.”
He repeated this plea when we completed school and were parting ways at Navrongo. We took a Bolga-bound bus from Tumu and when we got to Navrongo which was the end of the road for me, he got out of the bus, shook my hand and said to me, “my boss, remember what I told you the other time, you will be a good journalist.” Three years later, specifically on December 20, 2003, I accidentally bumped into Ali Tahiru (Mankind), another Tutco mate who had started studying at GIJ. That revived Duut’s admonition. With his help, I obtained the application forms and applied to GIJ.
Again, with his help, I got admission. I owe a debt of gratitude to Mankind because even though he was pursuing a diploma, he insisted that I should apply for a degree which is how I studied for a BA at GIJ. Thank you Mankind. He is currently the PRO of NHIS at Gwollu. So, to answer your question, I didn’t particularly have any motivation. It just happened. And it happens to be best thing that happened to my life.
Haadi: From your years of experience in journalism practice, what has been
- The most exciting encounter in the journey?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Seriously speaking I think we can equate journalism to cooking, when you are in the middle of it, you don’t really feel the thrill. Of course, sometimes when your work leads to someone or a group getting help they otherwise would not have gotten, that fills you with some satisfaction. Occasionally you confront someone in position of authority and hold them accountable to the people that too, can be gratifying. For instance, once I sparred with the head of the national road Safety Commission when the commission promoted and actively supported what in my view, was a perverse contract designed to fleece the people but disguised as a solution to the problem of road crashes – the tow levy. With research I made nonsense of her argument. It earned me a call from Board members and the CEO of Multimedia.
- The most life-threatening aspect of your career?
Mr. Malik Daabu:For the most part I haven’t really faced many life-threatening situations, largely because of the nature of my beat and by beat I mean the sectors or areas I largely covered. I suffered a lot of abuses, yes but not real threats. If I had stayed long enough on the investigations desk, I may have encountered these scenarios. But I had scary moments. One scary moment was when I was investigating Menzgold.
I went to their offices frequently feigning interest and actually bought some of their gold derivatives. On two occasions I was identified by their security officials as Malik Daabu. I didn’t give my real name in all my transactions with them. A colleague fronted. On both occasions I had to talk my way out of trouble and keep my cover intact. I eventually received a couple of unserious threats and abuses when the story broke.
Haadi: What would you do differently if given the opportunity?
Mr. Malik Daabu: When I look at improbability of my journey, despite its imperfections, I think it would amount to ingratitude if I said I would have changed anything. Whom am I to wish I could change Allah’s plans for me?
Haadi: In your career history, you left Multimedia Group Ltd to join the Ghana Maritime Authority. What informed that decision?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Once more this was totally unplanned. Leaving frontline journalism and going into corporate practice was always a possibility even if remote. I saw myself leaving the media after law school and going to practice. But in March 2018, my History teacher at SANSEC was appointed as Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority.
Given the bad press the authority endured immediately prior to his appointment, he thought it necessary to seek help so he reached out to me. I was plagued by uncertainty so I dillydallied for a year.
By March 2019 it had become absolutely necessary to move so I did. I had no issue at all with Multimedia. Even today, if I choose I can walk right back into the organization. I’m enjoying the opportunity to do something new and to go on the sea and see the wonderful job being done by Ghanaians to ensure ships continue to cart goods – food, medicines, building material, subsea cables etc- and deliver them timely and in their right quantities into the country.
Haadi: What are the major pitfalls and challenges you faced in life; how did you cross them orwhy you couldn’t cross them?
Mr. Malik Daabu: I honestly don’t k now how to answer this one. One thing I avoided as a journalist was anything that would take my voice away from me. I don’t know if you get what I mean. I avoided favours that would gag me and make it impossible to freely express my beliefs. I thought it was essential to my very being that I was able to speak up about things I believed in regardless of who was offended by what I said as long as my comments were not accentuated by malice or ill-will. And I think it helped.
Haadi: Briefly, may you please share with Readers, your most valuable experiences, lessons and values in life?
Mr. Malik Daabu: My philosophy in life is summed up in a simple analogy. If you have ever observed an electrician work, you would notice that he always looks for the power cable first and tucks it away safely. The rest of the cables he bends, cuts, peels, sometimes with his bare hands. I believe that in life everybody should try to make themselves a livewire wherever they are such that nobody wants to touch them because there are consequences in touching them anyhow.
My dad used to tell me that if you are involved in communal weeding, let not your output be determined by the rate of work of the others. Competence, diligence, honesty, integrity and hard work are dear to me because I believe, as one Nigerian once put it, they have commercial or monetary value.
And they are like pregnancy, they cannot hide. Senior Haadi, you have to remember that I joined Myjoyonline, an online news portal. Even in Multimedia very little respect was shown to the journalists at online. But before I left Multimedia, I was doing radio, television, online and involved in management decisions. Not many even remember that my core duty was online journalism, in Ghana terms, an obscure place for any journalist.
Haadi: Who is your career development coach/mentor and how did he/she influence your life?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Forgive me if this sounds like I am conceited but I haven’t really had anyone in journalism I would say I looked up to. I think I just chartered my own path. I admired Kwaku Sakyi-Addo intensely, primarily because of the quality of his writing, the simplicity of his questions, and the depth of his research.
If I were still in journalism, I probably would aspire to be like Mehdi Hasan. He hosts Head to Head and Upfront on Al Jazeera television. He is terrifyingly intelligent and fierce in his questions. Of course, I know Ghanaians won’t, can’t stand his kind of interviews but it appeals to me greatly.
Haadi: Sir, what is your advice for colleague journalists and anyone who will want to go into journalism?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Read, follow the news, be honest and fair and always ask whether what you are saying or writing is true, fair and balanced. You need to read because if you are to excel, you need to be able to express yourself whether orally or in writing in the language of broadcast or print.
Follow the news because it keeps you informed. One of my pains in journalism is ignorance on the part of journalists, sometimes on matters that are notoriously public. In my own newsroom, I heard people say ‘Bawku in the Upper West region’. Specialize but by all means have a working knowledge of every field.
When I hosted Kwasi Nyantekyi, my Asempa FM colleagues – probably under the misguided notion that I was incapable of doing a good job on sports – stormed the control room ostensibly to guide me with questions. After the show, they nearly carried me shoulder high. Honesty is a sine qua non in journalism because your work is publicly available for everyone to assess. If your views are skewed or tainted, people will see through it. If your mouth is full and so you can’t talk, people will see it.
No one will put much value on what you say if you cannot be trusted. I am not talking mistrust cooked and concocted by persons motivated by partisan considerations however they disguise it.Why is fairness important?Unfortunately, some journalists in Ghana have evolved a culture where they feel entitled to scandalize especially public officials, sometimes without any basis, and lower the bar of scrutiny when allegations emerge about others.
My point is that everyone has a constitutional right to not have their reputation unduly tarnished. So, in order to avoid defamation suits – which will dent the image of your media house – or unjustifiably maligning people and causing them undue pain, try and be fair. Separate facts from opinion, evidence from suspicion, proof frombeliefs.
Haadi: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Get called to the Bar and be involved whether through the media or some other forum in the national discourse. I care too much about Ghana it would kill me if I were to just ignore all that is going on and concern myself with my family. Sometimes I wish I could forget about the country and just concentrate on my family. But it is proving difficult. So, I hope to through some means still have a voice in the national discourse and the direction of our nation.
QUESTIONS TIME WITH OUR READERS FROM (THE READERS HUB-GH)
Mr. Nassam:I miss his political analysis on joy. Would he ever go back to mainstream journalism?
Mr. Malik Daabu: As the accidents happen in my life, I can’t say ever. I loved the opportunity to contribute to the national discourse. And I am humbled that critical minds like Mr. Nassam found value in what we did. Thank you Sir!
1.I would like to ask if there’s a value in starting life underprivileged and working one’s way up. Which quality or value of life did you derive from the humble origin?
- How has deprivation shaped your choices of job? How are you able to calibrate your desire to make wealth to help those back home?
Mr. Malik Daabu: This is a double barrel question fired from a Nabulo man.To answer the first part, I ‘m not sure I can say in all honesty I found value in any particular way of life. All that I knew was what happened around me.I knew nothing else so I made of it what it was. Just lived it.
On the second part, certainly if you find me passionate about poverty and waste in our society; it is because I know how little some people have. And if you see me passionate about education; it is because I know what it has done for me and yet I know too well that not too many from my kind of background have been as lucky.
Mr. Carl Grant: What would be his advice on financial concerns of young people trying to launch careers into the media space?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Thanks a lot Mr. Carl Grant. I thoroughly enjoy your Health session too. Thatsaid, I think great opportunities exists in the media space. Admittedly, salaries are low but it all depends on the value one brings. In many media houses, your value determines your numeration. If you are a Manessah, the company would like to keep you by all means. And as I said, if you work with integrity like Abdul Haayi Moomen, gigs will come and you will be fine
Stephen Zoure: would you venture into politics some day; Wa East or Builsa North?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Accidents, if there happen, I shall take them. Currently I don’t have a vote in Builsa North so constitutionally, I am barred.
Dachaga Oswald: Great session; Readers hub is privileged to have you all here.Which do you prefer, your time on the front desk or now in the back ground?
Mr. Malik Daabu: Thanks a lot for the question. I think they both have their advantages. Frontline is better in many ways. You can influence opinion and maybe policy.
Haadi: What do you do at your leisure time please
Mr. Malik Daabu: Think, read, write, binge, watch football, and the news
Haadi: As a member of the readers’ hub, what do you make of this page and which book has been influential in your life that you will recommend for hub members to read?
Mr. Malik Daabu:I make a confession many before me have made, I was skeptical about the project. I’m on a million platforms and they are all drab, banal discussions and forwarded junk. So, it is refreshing that at least there is one page where there is sanity.
I’ve expressed to you in private my gratitude and appreciation for the work you and all the others put in to make this possible. Thank you, to all of you. And oh, “Going to Town”; the writings of PAV Ansah’ is one book that I read and felt as inadequate both as someone who loves to write and as a citizen.
The man evinced so much courage, so much knowledge, so much love for his country that one wonders whether all the brave men in this town are dead. He took on the mighty without malice, just love for his country and revulsion at the shabby treatment of the business of the state. He rejected juicy offers to shut up. Who will today?
Haadi: Kindly give us your concluding remarks, Sir
Mr. Malik Daabu: My parting words. I have read here the stories of great men and women and have been inspired by them. I hope mine inspires someone, too. If it falls below the lofty standards set here by so many, I apologize. Thank you for reading. I leave you with my analogy of the electrician – let everyone make themselves in their chosen field the power cable and be untouchable. All it takes is a willingness to go the extra mile. I have seen very ordinary people do great things just by doing more. May we do that wherever we are!
Haadi: Our brother, friend and senior colleague has reflected the words of Epicurus that says “Be moderate in order to taste the joy of life in abundance” wehave drunk from his spring of wisdom and fully satisfied that there are critical take home lessons.
Our dear Chinua Achebe has made us understood that “those who had their palm kernel cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble” to which Mr. Malik Daabu has affirmed.
So, all should join me in expressing our heartfelt gratitude to our guest and we shall knock on his door when duty calls. My name isHaadi Bachang, your moderator tonight and our guest has been Mr. Malik Daabu.
Until we meet again for another session of Social Convo, I wish you all a sound sleep.
NB: Please don’t forget to share after reading for others to also benefit.
Hub Editor: Bassing .A.M.A.Kamal.