Tonight on Social Convo, we engage one of the CREME DE LA CREME of the INK FRATERNITY on the roads travelled, experiences gathered and success tit-bits in line with service to a people and a motherland. A thrilling encounter awaits!
Drawing inspirations from the wisdom of the late Kofi Annan captured briefly in his electrifying voice, saying;
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family.”
I bring you sterling lessons from another great personality of the platform in whose life we shall appreciate the true manifestation of the above statement.
A man who has been through the rudiments from the darkest shadow to the most exciting moment in life.
Our great personality for tonight is Umaru Sanda Amadu of Citi Fm/Citi Tv
Haadi: You are welcome, Sir
Umaru Sanda: Good evening sir, and thanks to everyone for having me. I feel like a celebrity already
Haadi: U are big! We hear the name Umaru Sanda almost everyday on either Citi fm or citi tv, who is the personality behind that name?
Umaru Sanda: Well, he’s not any extraordinary person. He’s just an under privileged boy who has become somewhat, a privileged young man. I’m the last born of 7 (although we could have been more had others not died) And I’m the unfortunate, in that although you hear me all the time, my parents and siblings don’t because they don’t have the privilege of the Queen’s language
Haadi: Why journalism and what is the motivation?
Umaru Sanda: Honestly, journalism wasn’t a dream profession. Growing up, I didn’t know what journalism was. But I loved listening to the radio. I always had my radio set with me in the bush as I herd cattle. I never imagined I could actually be in a radio set one day. I always thought humans sat in there and talked. Lol.
I had wanted to be a pilot cos I loved to watch airplanes fly over our village. But when I was told I needed mathematics to be a pilot, I fled 🤣
Umaru Sanda: After SSS, I still wasn’t sure what I was gonna do. I opened a grocery shop and a movie centre using my brother’s tv and a generator. One day, an SSS friend came over and told me to go to the Ghana Institute of Journalism because he noticed I love radio. That’s how I came to GIJ…
Haadi: Interesting! U herd cattle?
Umaru Sanda: Yes. My dad was a herdsman and all his children, both girls and boys were herdsmen (that’s why he didn’t send them to school). As the last one, I was lucky I begged that I should be allowed to go and with the intervention of my grandfather, I went to succeeded in going to school. Even that, when I close from school, I go straight home to take the cattle out till evening and on weekends and vacations, I was out all day as a full time herdsman with a radio set.
Haadi: What is the link between your educational background and your skills in cattle heading, if may ask?
Umaru Sanda: No link whatsoever. The two were parallel. I go to school, do my school work and I was brilliant, and became a class perfect and later, School Prefect.
But when I return home, I’m a nobody but a school boy who everyone expects to say GOOD AFTERNOON, remove his uniform and head out with the cattle. No one asked what I learnt because no one knew what I learned and no one helped with homework or cared because they don’t know. For them, my going to school was a luxury which I needed to make up for by working hard.
Haadi: Touchy! In your career history, you left TV3 to join Citi Fm. What informed that decision?
Umaru Sanda: Well, I love radio news. I feel it’s fun and behind the scenes. I didn’t like the tv publicity and I feared I could not fit in because as a poor boy, tv would make me a star and in don’t have a car or money to buy clothes for stars. So I left tv3 to Citi. 10 years on, I’ve found myself doing tv news here at Citi. I must say though, that I was not an employee at Tv3.
Haadi: Revealing! Hosting one of the most widely listened program (eyewitness news) in Ghana,
(a) what do you do unique to set you apart from the others?
(b) what can you say have been achieved from the program since its inception?
Umaru Sanda: Uniqueness? Well, I took over from a host who had more experience and was forceful in his questioning. I chose to be different. I adopted an approach that was light but witty making interviewees who aren’t prepared feel foolish. People call it mischief. I call it free style.
Achievements? I don’t know. I guess, anytime a duty bearer thinks twice about an irresponsible act, chances are that they were thinking, what would Sanda do to me when I do this.
Haadi: Hahaha! I must say u have been good at holding duty bearers accountable on your program.
Kudos to you and keep it up!
In the insightful book of Manasseh Azure titled “Voice of Conscience” in which he sort to satirize Political and Social actors on their ills and to prick our Conscience to listen to our inner-selves. To what extent would you say the media today has woken up to this call and not in bed with such actors?
Umaru Sanda: Thank you, ‘Sah’. Maybe I have no choice cos my salary depends on it😊
Haadi: U are just good at what u do, ‘Sah’ (laughs)
Umaru Sanda: Well, Manasseh was my SRC President and we’re brothers although we don’t agree sometimes… I know the type of media society he wants to see. I won’t say we have it yet. And I wouldn’t say all journalists have the conscience. But it’s a work in progress…
Haadi: With you and others we believe the media will surely get there.
From your _about ten_ years of experience in professional practice as a journalist, what has been
(a) the most exciting encounter in the journey?
(b) the most life threatening aspect and instant of the career?
Umaru Sanda: Ameen!
Most exciting… I don’t know. I guess, every day, I close with some excitement. Every now and then, some excitement gets into my head. Like, when a powerful official calls and sounds all humble and asking for my opinion before doing something, I remember my journey and say Alhamdulillah. And when I hear stories of life hassle, it scares me about our society….
Life threatening… No one has physically attacked me in this job. I may be caught in the crossfire like happened on many occasions including the Sogakope experience which I’m sure you may have seen. But as a journalist, I expect trouble all the time and I hope I don’t get it
Haadi: We don’t pray for the bad to happen to any journalist for doing his work. May God be with you.
You served as the Accra Correspondent for a Turkish based News Agency from 2014 to 2016 and winning the WASH media award from a Scandinavian Country like Sweden in 2014, what would you say is the true defining position of the Ghanaian media on the International media landscape?
Umaru Sanda: Ameen! I have received several verbal abuses especially on social media though. Sad part is that it’s coming from the poor ordinary people we are doing this for
I think compared to the continent, we have a better story. But you see, that is to compare to mediocrity which is pointless. Generally, our media is highly regarded although there are others like Kenya who may be a little ahead.
We have the glory but if the latest rankings are anything to go by, then it’s not all uhuru
Haadi: Our media still need to do more, although we appreciate you guys a lot.
Umaru Sanda: Surely!
Haadi: For two consecutive years you have won the award on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reporting, from United Nations (UN) and Ghana Journalist Association respectively, what would you say is the true achievements of Ghana these SDGs?
Umaru Sanda: The only achievements of the SDGs, is that they serve as a measure for judging our country and government every 15 years. We saw how woefully we performed with the MDGs and from how things are going, we go chop last with SDGs by 2030.
I love Goal 6 because it touches on Water and Sanitation. As a village boy, I have seen those difficulties both there and in the cities and our campaign has been abysmal. That’s why I’m part of the Media Coalition Against Open Defecation with the hope that we see an end to what I’ve practiced for more than half of my life
Haadi: We go chop last? Can the media help curb we chopping last? 2030 is still about 10 years away. We won’t count the Corona period though (laughs)
Umaru Sanda: We say we will make Accra the Cleanest city in Africa by 2020. The man who said it lives at Nima….
We can push and we really are pushing. But we can only do so much!
Haadi: Maazi Okoro, the Nima boy? Hahaha
Umaru Sanda: His neighbour. Hahaha
Haadi: Mr Sanda, before we take questions from READERS
Sir, what does your selection in 2018 by the US Embassy in Accra as an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Fellow under the Edward R. Murrow programme mean to the youth in respect of empowerment?
Umaru Sanda Citi Fm: Hmm. I have so many youth in my inbox and office asking for connections to work here or there. And I tell them one thing. My mum and dad knew no educated man to connect their son to school or employment. All what I’ve achieved, I have by determination and the will of Allah.
I never applied for that IVLP. I was my somewhere when the embassy called to offer me a 3 week fun trip to the US at their own expense. I didn’t lobby and I don’t know anyone who connected me.
So say that if even me, with my background, I could get this far, how dare you, with all the opportunities fail? Determination is my driver, and my brakes are faulty. That should drive the youth.
Haadi: Woww! Very inspiring!
Some questions from READERS now…
Bro Hassan: I will like him to talk on who the Fulani people are a bit. What is the kind of life they live, especially the herdsmen? I will also like him to talk on the kind of treatment from the cattle owners.
Haadi: I don’t know if u have some connections with Fulani
Umaru Sanda: The Fulani is a human being. Just like you. We have our own culture, language, music, dance etc. We are spread across West and central Africa with an estimated population of 50 million. We are the Massai of West Africa and we herd cattle for glory, not money.
There are educated ones, like former CAF President Hayatou, 5 of Nigeria’s Presidents including Buhari and Gambian President, as well as a few other Presidents in the Sub region.
In Ghana, however, Fulanis rarely go to school and their children don’t. We live in bushes and take care of cattle belonging to doctors, politicians and journalists. We are despised and discriminated against and it’s painful. I have a full article that I can share if you want.
I am a Fulani. Both parents are and I speak Fulfulde (the Fulani language) fluently. And I’m as proud to be a Fulani as you are of your ethnic group
Haadi: There’s a question on ur article thou
Mr Zakaria Mahama: My question to Umar Sanda…What provoked his write up on “Ethnic or Tribal segregation”? I couldn’t hold back my tears after reading it.
Umaru Sanda: Well, I am a victim of ethnic discrimination. But others who are uneducated suffer it more. I have lived with it all my life. Anytime you hear Fulani in the media, the next phrase is armed robbers.
As a Journalist, I had a privileged platform so I told my story with the hope that people will learn and stop. Ignorance is a disease
Haadi: Certainly so!
Samad Danaa: From your epistle sometime in the past, when the fulani tribe came under great bashing for certain offences in Ghana and skirmishes at Agogo in particular, you stood by your people and cited examples of meaningful contributions by your people to the economy of Ghana. Do you honestly feel that your tribe is being persecuted and some allegations and facts are simply attempts at persecution and not born out of genuine concerns by Ghanaians?
Umaru Sanda: I have herded cattle before. When our cattle destroy people’s crops, my dad asked the owner to cost the damage so we pay. It’s evil to destroy someone’s source of livelihood. But when people commit crimes, deal with them as individuals. Not the whole ethnic group.
When Atta Ayi was arrested for notoriety in robbery, no one said Ga Armed Robber. So why say Fulani Armed Robber.
As we speak, the National Coordinator of our COVID-19 Case Management is a doctor at Korle Bu called Ali Samba. He is also the Administrator of Korle Bu. He is a full fledged Fulani. No one gives him because he’s a Fulani. They treat him as an individual.
We celebrate Samira Bawumia but never add that she is Fulani. So why tag us with the negative and when you say genuine concerns by Ghanaians, you’re perpetrating the same thing. Aren’t I a Ghanaian?
Haadi: Hahaha! It’s so sad about the Ghanaian Fulani
Salima Katiha-kye: How do you combine your family life with your job? What are your fears as a Journalist?
Umar Sanda: Well, family needs your full time. Media needs your full time too. It’s your ability to balance the two that makes you human. I try.
My fears… that we are forced to go back to the soldiers era because the politicians are failing us.
Dr. Addul-Samad Siddique: What is Mr. Sanda’s unique identity and principle as someone from humble beginning ? I appreciate him sir!
Umar Sanda: I don’t ever want it to be said of me that I’m rude and arrogant. It’s my biggest concern because my background should humble me.
I don’t mind being called too known though. I think too known just means too knowledgeable and that’s sweet. (laughs)
Wahidu Saaka: I want to know how he is seen and treated at work since his people are been tagged with that bad name.
Umaru Sanda: You’ll be surprised to know that people call me Fulani or Fulani boy just to elicit laughter or scorn. This happens in my office and among media colleagues. But I have a tough skin now. I don’t mind. I should start calling people Dagomba, Ashanti, Nzema, etc., instead of their names and see
Joseph Wereh: What is your view on those who argue that Journalism isn’t a profession? That, it’s more of a practice or learning on the job than acquiring knowledge from school.
What will be your own assessment and difference, between you as a trained Journalist from the classroom and people who were not trained?
Umaru Sanda: Journalism is my profession and I paid hard Cedis to learn it although I had passion.
There are others who haven’t gone to school to learn it but they are “trained” on the job. So that’s learning too.
There are others who are on the airwaves just because they have a good voice or wax lyrical and that is where our problem is.
That’s why I am a member of the GJA because I want to belong to a group of professionals that stand out.
Haadi: Does that mean one can be on radio or TV without being a member of GJA? Who qualifies to be a member of GJA?
Umaru Sanda: GJA is an association. You can join if you’re a journalist and you pay dues and abide by the Code of Ethics. Not everyone wants to be a member and it’s not compulsory.
The qualifications are set out. If you’re a trained Journalist, you can join from school. I was president of the students’ chapter in school and I’ve been a member since.
If you’re not an trained journalist, you need 3 to 5 years practical experience
Haadi: Thank you
Alhaji Hafiz: It is evident from your story and that of Manasseh, and a lot others, that to make it from the under privileged of society, you have to be exceptional, what can we do as individuals (not government) to change this and offer hope to the average poor person?
Umaru Sanda: Let’s fight for a better society. A society where you are not privileged cos of who you know or you are but what you are made of. Primarily, let’s educate our people because it’s education that levels us all. It’s education that makes the charcoal seller’s child become president
Bassing: It is clear you have gone through a lot of challenges in life, yet able to navigate your way through by dint of hardwork. What advice if any, will you give to anyone going through same and wish to get to the top?
Umar Sanda: Tell them to look at me and my likes. 15 years ago by this time, I would have been listening to the sounds of crickets as I lie in a pitch black mud house with thatch roof. If you had told me at that time, that I would one day be sitting under an electric bulb in the heart of Accra and interacting with intellectuals who want to hear my story and take inspiration from me, I’d just get up and go sleep outside where I can count the stars because I’d conclude that you’re mad.
Isaac Asenso: It’s clear that the white supremacists have diabolic intent and agendas for Africa. To them, we (Africans) should all be dead for them to take over our resources.
These are no longer rumours, but yet our selfish leaders for their personal gains allow the whites to manipulate us and oppress the black race. What is the media doing to conscientize and emancipate the coming generation to overcome that?
Umaru Sanda: I don’t think we should have “other” people. There is no white or black. We’re human. We are independent. We rule ourselves. Let’s stop blaming others. Let’s prove our worth now. Nkrumah showed us the way. Let’s follow.
Let me remind you that whites are part of us now. One ruled us for 20 years and he’s still the most admired politician alive. He is white. But he is black. It’s the mind that matters. Not the body colour.
Alhassan Duani Sumaila: Please, Mr. Sanda, Media works, Journalism to be precise, is considered not to be that good paying. Will you advise young graduates to move in for it?
Umaru Sanda: Yes. I was advised by David Amanor of the BBC not to do Journalism if I wanted money. So I knew I was doomed to poverty. Today, Alhamdulillah, I’m not a pauper and although I’m not rich, I’m not poor. I am paid well and I know it’s because I’ve built my worth. Build your worth and you’ll get the wealth!
Haadi: Great! The questions are so many that we can take all..
Readers should kindly bear with us as time is far spent and our guest need to rest after a stressful week.
Oswald Dachaga: I grew up playing football with your tribes men in a village I grew up (where the only social amenity was a borehole) while my Dad thought as a Teacher in a near-by community. he was Mumuni and so lovely; that was in the mid 90s . I might not have heard enough then, but there was very little that separated us in the community except that I went to school the following morning and he headed to the bush with his cattle;
1. Do you think this seeming hostility against your Kings men is self inflected(with some genuinely getting into so much social vices) or it is exaggerated by the same media that you belong to and to what extent are you using your career to change the narrative?
2. What is your greatest hubby and what do you do at your leisure time? , do you also like to play football as my childhood friend Mumuni did? (laugh)
I get disappointed when I tune into eye witness news and it isn’t the voice of Umaru Sanda ready to drill an “unprepared politician”
Umaru Sanda: Hahahah. Thank you for loving Eyewitness News.
The hostility… I have said already that let’s live in harmony. Chances are that, the boy you referred to. His dad didn’t own those cattle. But he toils for them. No pay. Nothing! If he breaks a rule, let him face it alone. I have met Fulani people who have never seen cattle in their lives before because they live in cities. Would it be fair to tag them?
My hobby… I love swimming and listening to reggae music (Lucky Dube). I can’t kick a football to save my life and I don’t watch or follow it but I’m living life happily. (laugh)
Lawyer Hammer: Is it fair to say that most journalists in Ghana are more of guard dogs than watch dogs? They pander to the whims of the strong and mighty.
Umaru Sanda: It’ll not be fair because you haven’t done an analysis. But you see, you get the journalists your society deserves. Whatever a journalist does, good or bad, he didn’t come from the womb with it. He learnt it here.
About pandering to whims, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Many journalists don’t get good Pay so if you offer them money, you have them. Man must eat. Not all are willing to sacrifice
Lawyer Hammer: I read somewhere that you can’t get white chalk out of a coal bag. I’m impressed with your response
Haadi: Oswald Dachaga is challenging u to a swimming competition post COVID-19…(laugh)
Umaru Sanda: Please, I don’t plan to rescue a drowning man so postpone…Hahaha
Haadi: It’s really being an interesting session with u, Mr Umaru, however, time won’t let us take the numerous questions in my inbox. We may have to take you another time to complete this interesting Convo…Kindly give us your concluding remarks, if any.
Umaru Sanda: Aaaaw. I thank you and I appreciate your eyeballs. Thank you all for engaging and remember to mentor the children in your hood. They may need it more than money.
Also, let determination be your driver in a vehicle with faulty brakes.
God bless you all and thanks a lot for the opportunity to share my thoughts.
And here is the article. Sorry it’s a little long..
Haadi: We are READERS. But before u go…
Abdul Hayi Moomen: Please, many Journalists resign from journalism to go into more lucrative sectors and professions. Do you have plans to retire as a Journalist, or will you also switch profession at some point?
Umaru Sanda: I think I’m a carrier journalist. I may likely move to higher grounds in journalism. If I get money, I’ll study law but I may not practice. I may just be a Journalist for sometime… unless he has a job for me that will pay plenty. That one, I will resign and come take it up.
I can’t come and kee myself….Hahaha
Haadi: It’s really being amazing with you, Mr Umaru. Once a cattle herdsman has gotten this far, the charcoal seller’s son will also wear a white shirt soon…(laugh)
We can’t thank you enough.
Danaa: “let determination be your driver in a vehicle with faulty brakes. “
By the grace of Allah, we would enter the vehicle and get to know how far determination would take us soon on Readers Hub.
Haadi: On behalf of READERS, we thank you so much for making time out of your busy schedule to share your inspirational and determined story with us. Until we meet on another session, we say God bless you in all endeavors. Thank you so much! Good night all!
Umaru Sanda: On behalf of my fingers, I thank you too for being a great moderator. Peace!