It’s taken me a few years to gather the strength to write this.
I met the late Fennec Okyere around 2004. He was the Production Manager for Media Gold Productions, producers of the hit TV series; ‘Dada Boat” and I was a Managing Partner in Charge of Marketing & Media Relations.
About 4 years earlier, Mikki Osei-Berko had conceived the idea of “Dada Boat” together with Collins Agyemang Sarpong (Black Cobra). Mikki and I used to work together at Radio Gold and he pitched the concept and invited me to join. I left for college in England and returned late 2004 to work full-time with Media Gold Productions.
Fennec was just an SSS graduate who was trying to get into TransAfrica College. I took an instant liking to him because of his immense work ethic. This young boy would organize production like a veteran; scout for locations, organize casting, organize shooting, and sit at the editing bench with the editor all night trying to get things sorted.
After editing and approval, he will then drop the copy at the Preview Room of the various TV stations for the Series to be aired. Sometimes he could sleep in the office for days. I always used to wonder where Mikki found him.
I remember he had a diary which practically had the telephone number of everyone who mattered in this country including that of Ex-President Rawlings if I remember correctly.
He was also very affable, witty and humble. We would do lunch together and sometimes I’d give him a ride home. Once a while, we would drive to the Korle-Gonno beach to hang out a bit on our way home from work.
I kept telling him, he was destined for greatness.
I used to drop him off in front of a house at Tesano where he lived but one day, he told me; “Nana Yaw, I really want you to see where I live”. We entered the compound of this fine house and apparently, he lived in a wooden structure behind the house. We entered the structure and there was a carpenter’s work bench and a few belongings nestled in there. At night, he’d just put a mattress on the bench and sleep.
I was shocked!
In 2005, I left Media Gold to pursue other interests. I was home one day and Fennec showed up to discuss an entertainment magazine called “PLAY” that he wanted to start with Mantse Aryeequaye, formerly of Metro TV and now of “Chale Wote” fame.
He needed funding and a prospective investor had asked for a comprehensive business plan so he needed my assistance. His exact words were; “Boss, you know, I can’t pay you…” I cut in and asked him not to worry. Somewhere in my heart and mind, I knew he was destined for greatness and I was prepared to play my small part.
One day he showed up all excited and said he had been assigned to work on the construction of the “Dome” for the UNCTAD Conference. Fennec practically lived on the construction site and worked his socks off!
Mr. Agyepong of the Jospong Group of Companies was so impressed that he gave him a full-time job as Production Manager and asked him to go to Mechanical Lloyd and pick a brand new Ford Ranger Pick-Up! He brought the car over and we were all excited about it.
Fennec was very intelligent and full of innovative ideas but he had a problem documenting them so if his bosses needed any serious document or proposal done, he’d just bring them to me.
I wasn’t surprised when he started managing Kwaw Kese and they were winning awards all over. He had ambitions of starting a TV show and going into production. He even converted his living room into a mini studio and one day he told me he was starting a “waakye” business. He saw the confusion on my face and said; “Nana Yaw, you know I have seen too much poverty in my life and the thought of poverty scares me soo much”. I only nodded.
About 6 months after he got married, he called one morning whilst I was on my way to work. I mentioned that I was going to get married and his exact words were; “Joe, when you marry that’s when you need to pray, because that’s when forces come at you.” He told me his marriage hadn’t been easy at all. I didn’t prod further.
He invited me over to check out his new house on the Spintex Road and I was blown away! Completely blown away by the mansion!
Some months later, he passed through my office and told me to come with him to check out some lands he had acquired around the Sakumono Golf course. He wanted to sell a plot to me at a very knock down price though he told me others were laying claim to the land but it was all under control.
A few weeks before he was murdered, he called around 5pm to ask if I was still at work and that he was hungry and wanted us to go get something to eat. He picked me from the office and though I suggested we buy something from a restaurant he said we should just buy sardine and that he’d get his houseboy to fix some gari, fry some eggs and grind some pepper. After eating we spoke about a range of issues. He also mentioned a plot of land close to his house he could help me buy if I was interested.
That’s actually the last time I ate gari and that was also the last time I saw him!
On the 13th of March, 2014, I was on my way to work and my phone started ringing. All the calls were about Fennec! My heart sank! When I got to work, colleagues wouldn’t stop asking about him.
In the morning, I was standing in front of my office when the police ambulance came to pass with his body. Up till now, I still haven’t been able to cry. I couldn’t attend the funeral because I didn’t know whether I was grieving or angry. I just didn’t have the desire to go.
It still hurts to lose him after I watched him rise from sleeping in a wooden shack behind someone’s house to owning a mansion in about 7 years through hard work, sheer dedication and an unyielding desire to succeed.
I still can’t wrap my head around why someone would brutally murder such a young man and the fact that nothing has come out of the police investigation even makes it more painful.
My personal experiences indicate that the Ghana Police Service cannot really be bothered or are largely inept when it comes to conducting serious investigations. In 2014, thieves attempted to lay wait in my house around 7pm but fortunately, I had travelled out of town. Luckily, some neighbours saw the thieves scaling my wall and raised an alarm.
The robbers managed to escape amidst the firing of warning shots but they left a bag behind. The bag contained knives, cudgels with nails, masks, gloves and a mobile phone. I got a police report, applied for a print out of the call records from the network provider and sent it back to the Police Station but nothing came out of it. The Police simply couldn’t be bothered to investigate!
In Fennec’s case, pictures from the crime scene indicate that a wealth of evidence was left behind but it’s inconceivable that they have practically been rendered useless.
To help in crime prevention and identification, it’s important for the government to introduce a national biometric identification system for all Ghanaians and residents. The biometric ID system should be compulsory and be the only source of acceptable identification. The system can then be integrated with all relevant identifications in Ghana i.e Driver’s license, Voter’s ID, Health Insurance, Passports etc.
Therefore biometrics will play a dual role of authenticating an individual’s identity and also identify the person behind a biometric residue typically by scanning the national database.
Advanced countries are adding retinal identification, DNA, voice, and face recognition systems amongst others to finger print identification and Ghana cannot afford to lag behind for too long.
“Continue sleeping in peace, my dear friend, sleep well and may justice be done.”
Nana Yaw Kesse is a brands enthusiast who specializes in explaining marketing concepts using illustrations from Ghana’s Corporate and socio-political environment. He’s the former Head of Marketing & Communications at Capital Bank.