The Columns

Speak

— by on April 1st, 2015

Kojo Yankson, a broadcast journalist, author and the host of the “Super Morning Show” on Joy 99.7 FM of Ghana, was on the Washington and Lee University campus last week as a presenter at the Media Ethics Institute.

During his visit, he was a guest on Professor Larry Boetsch’s WLUR radio show, “Radio IE,” and spent time with several journalism classes. On his return to Ghana, he wrote about his experiences for his radio station’s website. What struck him in particular was W&L’s speaking tradition, and the related story of a W&L student in 1913 greeting visitors to the campus, which led to the sizable gift that built Doremus gym.

He noted, “For the six days I was there, I must have walked past no less than a thousand people. Not one of them went past without saying hello. Not one. Even those on their phones found the time to give me a nod and a smile. None of them were being paid to do this. It’s just their tradition.”

For Kojo, it was a stark contrast to his encounter with a store clerk in his homeland. “My friends, I know the lessons here do not need to be spelt out to you. Wherever you are, whatever you do, whomever you meet, please place a value on them, and treat them with respect.”

He concludes, “I recommend for Ghana, the Speaking Tradition. What we’ll gain with it, I don’t know, but I do know what we’re losing without it.”