Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hunting for sources

When you don’t have emails and fixed schedules to work with, the only way to get interviews is to physically find the interviewees.

That’s what my colleague Kwabena Ampratwum had to do to get two interviews for his radio documentary on the conflict between local farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the Agogo district.

At 10 a.m. we left for Agogo, a farming town located two hours east of Kumasi. Ampratwum had scheduled a meeting with the Agogo Chief’s secretary, Mr. Joseph Nti who would arrange our interview with the chief himself. But when we arrived at the chief’s palace, we were told that Mr. Nti had gone to Kumasi for a meeting. We were out of luck.

Ampratwum then called the Agogo Chief of Police, to confirm our meeting with him later that afternoon. He was reluctant to give an interview without first getting authorization from the Chief of Police in Kumasi, Mr. Muhammad Tenko. We were told to call again in 30 minutes.

After half-an-hour, Ampratwum called again, only to be told that Mr. Tenko had refused to give the authorization. The Agogo Chief of Police was not allowed to give an interview that day. Our trip to Agogo had been in vain. We boarded a tro-tro and headed back to Kumasi.

En route to Kumasi, Ampratwum called Mr. Nti once again and discovered that he was passing time at the Kumasi Zoo while waiting for his meeting. We hopped into a taxi as soon as we arrived in Kumasi and headed for the zoo.

After explaining the purpose of our meeting to Mr. Nti, he explained that he was also the Registrar of Traditional Lands for the Agogo district and was therefore in the capacity to comment on the issue. Plus, he had some time to kill before his next meeting. Bingo.

Mr. Nti’s assistant quickly found us a wooden bench and we located ourselves under a tree for some shade. Although the zoo was surrounded by 10-foot walls, there was still a lot of noise coming from the busy Kejetia market outside. Ampratwum had to put on his ear plugs to filter out the noise so he can hear Mr. Nti.

Luv FM Journalist Kwabena Ampratwum interviewing the Agogo Chief's Secretary, Joseph Nti at the Kumasi Zoo

When we were done interviewing Mr. Nti, Ampratwum takes another shot at getting authorization from Mr. Tenko. He lucks out; Mr. Tenko was willing to compromises – no interview with the Agogo Chief of Police, but Mr. Tenko himself was willing to talk.

We jumped back into a taxi and headed for the Kumasi Central Police Station for another impromptu interview.

It took us 15 minutes to get the information we needed and by the time we were done, it was past 4 o’clock. It was time to head back to the office and work on the story.

It took us an entire work day, a two-hour trip to Agogo and back to Kumasi, plus a visit to the Kumasi Zoo. In the end, we got the two interviews we were after, even though it wasn’t with the two people we originally intended.

No comments: