Many Ghanaians have travelled overseas in the budding years of development, to get an education. Following the climax of their educational journey, many returned with a few managing to gain employment. Nana Adjoa Ackom-Mensah was one of those few. Working with the U.N in Geneva and later in the former Yugoslavia. These days Ms.Ackom-Mensah is back in Ghana and facing all the challenges and adventures of being a “returnee”. Nan’Adj as she is fondly called, usually juxtaposes the Ghanaian and European societies in hearty conversations hosted at her Apartmento Hotel Abode. On the heels of her upcoming talk show “I DON’T GET! DO YOU?”, Nan’Adj sat with a reporter and the following conversation ensued
1Q: WHAT WAS THE TRANSITION LIKE WHEN YOU GOT BACK TO GHANA? WHERE WERE YOU PRIOR TO THAT?
A: Now that is a question and a half if you ask me because truth be told, I am STILL transitioning!!
Because I came from working with the United Nations stationed in Geneva – Switzerland most of my adult life and peacekeeping in the Former Yugoslavia – I must say it was like coming to a screeching halt after a “go-go-go” kind of atmosphere (if you get my drift). I left the motherland at 17 years of age after Form 5 GCE “O” Levels at Wesley Girls’ High School (Cape Coast) and a year at the Institute of Languages (Accra) studying French. I did my “A” Levels at the Pre-University College in Dublin, Ireland and a Medical Secretarial Diploma in London, UK.
After working a couple of years with Charter Consolidated an affiliate of DeBeers as an Administrative Secretary, I joined the United Nations in Geneva at age 23 as an Administrative Secretary for 10 years and finally took on peacekeeping in the Former Yugoslavia in Zagreb, Croatia where I was a Civil Affairs Officer, a Public Information’s Officer and later an Executive Secretary to the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Special Envoy to the United Nations Mission in Pristina, Kosovo (UNMIK).
2Q: WHAT WAS YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION AT THE UNITED NATIONS?
2A: In Geneva it was mainly administrative on a day to day basis, arranging travel and meetings, preparing documents for the United Nations General Assembly, taking minutes of both in-house and external meetings; Liaising with the other international UN bodies around the world etc.
3Q: WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO COME HOME & WHAT WERE YOUR FEARS?
3A: When it finally dawned on me that we were all 6 siblings abroad and only my 82 year old mother here, I decided to come home after reading Law as a Mature Student in the University of East London in the UK & Utrecht University in Holland to be able to protect me & mine from injustice etc. if ever. And boy am I glad I did because I got back just in time to save our family losing a precious piece of property in the Airport Residential Area i.e. Crown Apartamento Hotel, now Apartamento Hotel to an imposter who used it to climb the Ghanaian social ladder!!
4Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS U DON’T GET ABOUT OUR SOCIETY?
4A: All my days!! How much time have we got? Hmmm….. now I’d say for time-sake that I really don’t get the hopping on seats system of queuing in banks; the roads not being CAR-WORTHY; the torch light wagging police barriers at night; the gospel singing instead of educating the children and people of this land after the news on both Radio &TV; the kakamimi spiritual guidance on both Radio & TV; the Locally Acquired Foreign Accents (LAFA); the total disrespect for our flag; the illiteracy and semi-literates in prominent positions etc. etc. Seriously, I could go on and on and on.
5Q: WHY THE DECISION TO START A TALK SHOW?
5A: I realized that my time with friends & family discussing issues was a laugh and a half sometimes with me taking the discussion to another level by pointing out the ridiculousness of some of our habits in this country through comedy really and I noticed that it would be a great idea if I could reach a wider audience through hosting a show perhaps.
6Q: WHO WOULD YOU BE SPEAKING TO IN YOUR FIRST SEASON?
6A: I am hoping to get a couple of Awarding Winning gurus in the Hospitality Industry to talk to us about how they made it in this soooo-not-customer-service friendly part of the universe.
7Q: WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE GHANAIAN SOCIEITY?
7A: Aha!!! Now my favourite is just driving up to a shop tooting my horn and getting the owner or his agent to come to my vehicle to request what I need and it being brought to me without me ever having to leave my seat unless I so wish……..Haaaa, now you try that in the West and you will be given a ticket for being parked in the wrong space or something and worst still you would be there for days and no one – I repeat NO ONE would ever acknowledge you let alone ask what you need!!!
8Q: WHY SHOULD PEOPLE WATCH YOU AND YOUR GUESTS TALK ABOUT ISSUES?
8A: Because the show is really one-of-a-kind unlike the other talk shows and I also believe our screens are screaming for a family programme albeit a talk show where the whole family can sit and watch and engage in discussions over a programme that touched on issues with light humour and yet without YELLING never once uses KO-KO-KO, KA-KA-KA & “landing” to get their views across. And most of all anyone young or old, educated or illiterate can engage and break down issues if they get what I don’t get on any given episode really. So I hope you’ll get your family and friends to watch my panel and I for a good hearty discussion and a good laugh too sometimes. After all it was one of my favourite comedians of all times who said and I quote “A DAY WITHOUT LAUGHTER IS A DAY WASTED!”