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About Kwabena Yeboah and Prez. Kufuor

By Enimil Ashon & James Harry Obeng


In the early 1980s, Kwabena Yeboah, an “over-enthusiastic” sports journalist, had a friend. His name was Mr Kufuor, then chairman of the Board of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.


Today, Kwabena Yeboah, one of Ghana’s mature authorities on sports, in general and football in particular, has a friend. His name is His Excellency Mr John Agyekum. Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana.


In the run up to the 2000 elections, Candidate Kufuor’s opponents had accused him of being incapable of managing anything; among others, they cited what they termed as his “failed years as chairman of Kotoko. Just before the election, Kufuor granted an interview to Kwaku Sakyi Addo on radio. The host pointedly put it to him that he was perceived to have failed as Kotoko Chairman. In his defence, Candidate Kufuor replied: “Ask Kwabena Yeboah, the sports journalist.”


When Kufuor became President, many were those who felt that Kwabena had shown enough competence to hold the position of Minister of Sports. But that was not to be. A certain Mallam Issah was appointed. Did that show that Kufuor didn’t rate Kwabena? On the contrary. In this interview with the Spectator this week, Kwabena Yeboah revealed: “I was approached for the position of Deputy Minister of Sports. And you know who approached me? The Minister himself – Mallam Issah.”


Kwabena does not remember everything that transpired between the two of them but he remembers the Minister’s words:  “Kufuor is a very good man” (and he repeated with emphasis) “very good man. He says you are competent, so I should tell you that he is going to appoint you as Deputy Minister of Sports, so that any time I travel, you can do the work well.”


Against the background that many were those who were prevailing on Kwabena Yeboah at that time to “get involved”, the popular TV Sportscaster declined the offer. Why? He replies: “I felt, and I still feel, I should keep away from hard core politics. I remember I discussed the matter with colleagues like Kwaku Sakyi Addo”


President Kufuor must have determined that the post go to a journalist, for several weeks after Kwabena turned down the offer, another prominent sportswriter, Mr Joe Aggrey, was appointed to the position.


How close was Kwabena to Kufuor? He says, “very close. When he was Kotoko chairman, there was not a single day I didn’t go to his office or house.”


So how come Kwabena does not lose an opportunity to come down heavily on the Kufuor government for lapses in sports administration? In his criticism of the regime, he is merciless, sparing no words.

As recently as this week, Kwabena was on one of the FM stations, describing the government’s handling of the athletes for the Beijing Olympics as “hypocritical”. He was referring to the Government’s promise to the athletes to the effect that those who bring back gold would be rewarded with US$20,000. On the radio programme, Kwabena sees very little wisdom in this offer when the same sports administrators could not offer even US$5,000 to them to train.


That is vintage Kwabena Yeboah. He learned from a very early journalistic age that one does not have to be an enemy to be criticized; nor must one be a friend to be praised.


As a sportscaster and commentator, Kwabena Yeboah loves the sound of words. The expression for which he is famed is “Oluwaaa….Wunderbar…” Where did he pick these expressions? Contrary to what many people had thought, the first word is rather spelled, “Hploa”, an English word, meaning, “something exciting”. 




September 17, 2008 - Posted by | News

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