My Friend Ajax Bukana

Louis 1

Ajax Bukana and Louis Armstrong in Ghana, 1956.  

His name was Ajax Bukana, a great Nigerian comedian, who naturalised as Ghanaian during Kwame Nrumah’s era. When I was young, my father, J.N.K Savage, who was then a journalist at Guinea Press, now The Ghanaian Times, told me much about some of his colleagues, including Ajax Bukana, Kofi Badu and Willie Donkor.

I grew up to see Mr. Willie Donkor, as the editor of ‘Weekly Spectator,’ Mr. Kofi Badu, as the Managing Director of The Daily Graphic and Ajax Bukana, as my neighbour at Dansoman Estates, near Gbegbesee-Agege, when I was living with my mother. Ajax Bukana, whose real name was James Kehinde Ajayi, was appointed Ghana’s state comedian by Kwame Nkrumah. Ajax entertained many head of states and personalities from all walks of life, including the African-America musician, Louis Armstrong (Satchmo) at the State House.

Apart from his experience as a comedian, Mr. Bukana was a talented musician who played Octobass with famous musicians, including Bobby Benson in Nigeria, before settling in Ghana. In the early eighties, I had the opportunity to visit Ajax’ family in Lagos, Nigeria, with his elder son Kwamena Ajayi Ajax. Mr. Bukana married a Sierra Leonean from the Scott family, who eventually also became a Ghanaian citizen.

In 1985, while working in Freetown, I took the opportunity to visit Ajax wife’s brother, Mr. Scott, who was then the Principal-Director of Immigration in Freetown. I remember among all the head of states after Kwame Nkrumah, Mr. Bukana was very close to Ex-president John Jerry Rawlings. On many occasion his friend (Rawlings) advised him to retire, but Ajax’ strength, despite his ripe age wouldn’t allow him to retire.

Finally, Mr. Bukana retired and Rawlings presented to him a beautiful stool. The proud Mr.Bukana quickly called me to his house to see his gift from Rawlings. Many times we easily forget people that put happiness in our lives, but that shouldn’t be. I was very glad to watch a program recently in Ghana about Bob Cole, also a comedian and musician.

After a short illness on February 28, 2006, Mr. Bukana died at his residence at Agege, a suburb of Accra at the age of 89. His wife also deceased couple of years ago.

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J.N.K. Savage:Tracing The Works Of A Great Journalist Behind Computer Age

SAV 6Journalist/Documentary film Producer and Director Justin N.K. Savage and wife Nancy-Elizabeth Savage (Nancy-Elizabeth Hudson) You looking at my mother and father.

Justin Nobleman Kodwo Savage was a professional journalist, documentary film producer and director, born at Cape Coast, in the central region of Ghana in 1932. While in active service, he passed away on January 29, 1976.

At Guinea Press, now ‘The Ghanaian Times’ during the Kwame Nkrumah era, Mr. Savage travelled extensively across the globe, whenever the president leaves the country to participate in world affairs.

At home, Ghanaians were able to receive first-hand information from Mr. Savage, over Nkrumah’s trip overseas, appearing in ‘The Evening News,’ newspaper dominated by party news, CPP, and adulation of Nkrumah.

At Guinea Press, Justin Savage had the opportunity to make further studies in journalism in London, England, but Nkrumah’s interest in communism took him off Ghana soil to many Eastern European countries including Poland, Czechoslovakia etc, and Russia.

In the sixties, the president of the then Czechoslovakia invited African journalists to his country. Justin Savage heads the African journalists from Ghana, but the Ghanaians presence stole the show, because of the native Kente cloth they put on. Kente exposes the rich tradition and culture of Ghana.

Justin Savage filed his press cuts and combined all his publications which appeared in the newspapers as a magazine, naming it “A Mixture Of Periodicals.” These publications later after his death, became my favourite book, assisting me to gain more writing skills when my interest increased to be a writer.

Darkness fell on Ghana when Nkrumah was overthrown-ed on February 24, 1966, in a coup organized by CIA and local collaborators. Chaos and curfews followed amidst jubilation and sadness. Mr. Savage served Guinea press a year more and he resigned.

He followed a course in technology at the Kumasi Science and Technology, where he studied film production. After his course, he entered into Ghana Broadcasting Corporation as ‘Advisor on film for television.’

He excelled in his profession and had promotions. It wasn’t long when Friedrich Ebert Foundation (West German Television Team) established a television project attached to the Broadcasting House in Ghana.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is a German political foundation named after Friedrich Ebert, Germany’s first democratically elected president. Headquartered in Bonn and Berlin, the foundation contributes to social democracy by means of:

Political education in order to reinforce its fundamental values, research and scientific analysis of central policy areas, various forms of public dialogue in order to pave the way for it, scholarship programs for students and Ph.D. candidates, development cooperation aimed at global justice and building bridges of international cooperation for worldwide democracy.

For efficient service and to be familiar with new developments in television production, Mr. Savage was at West German for an intensive course. He returned to the Broadcasting House and was appointed ‘Documentary Film Producer and Director.

At the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, he made a number of documentary films, especially during the exhibition of Ghana and other African products at both the first and second ‘Ghana International Trade Fair,’ in Accra.

Kodwo, the name his co-workers loved to call him, did a number of documentary films, including ‘Ghana At A Glance, Cocoa In Ghana, Backyard Industries and ‘Furnace in a Village’, produced in 1972. I had the opportunity to play a role in ‘Backyard Industries.’

I grew up to see some of his friends such as Mr. Kofi Badu, the Managing Director of Daily Graphic and Mr. Willie Donkor, the Editor of Weekly Spectator, still in the media. In the early nineties, January, I contacted one of my father’s friends called Mr. Ebo Biney, at the Broadcasting House, requesting if he could telecast one of my father’s film on January 29, for remembrance. It came as a shock to me when I learned that all my father’s films got burnt, following a fire which engulfed Ghana Broadcasting Corporation some time ago.

Since then I have been working very hard to see if I can find any of my father’s work online, despite far behind computer age or advanced modern technology. Like winning a lotto, I discovered two. The first is at the website of Len Pole, a Museum Consultant: “Advisor on a film for television, ‘Furnace in a Village’, produced by Kodwo Savage, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, 1972.” – http://www.lenpole.com/I contacted the museum consultant after the discovery of my father’s work on his website. I was delighted when he told a few years ago ‘Furnace in a village’ was shown at Cannes Film Festival.

Then I had a new break through  when I discovered another work at: Selected Bibliography in Communication – jstor by Graham B. Kerr, under the topic- All African governments are committed to development and most wish to …Journalism Quarterly [forthcoming]. ….. SAVAGEJ.N.K. “Ghana Jugend begeistert.- . “Ghana inspires youth.”

The selected Bibliography in Communication is a book published by the Canadian Association of African Studies. Justin Savage writes:

“We must bridge the gap between leaders and masses, between government and people . . No government tells the people everything, but every government must reach the people so as to tell them what they should be told” – Julius Nyerere

Continue reading: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/483601.pdf?

The search for my father’s work isn’t yet over. As time goes on when I discover something new, I will keep on updating this article. I hope readers will enjoy reading it and if any reader has any suggestion to improve it, you are always welcome.

The incredible story of this great writer neglected when he was a child is now available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Writer-Died-Joel-Savage-ebook/dp/B013L54A7O

Introducing The Writer Died By Joel Savage

NORA 3By Nuala E. Moran

 

About The Writer Died by Joel Savage

Kumbe finds himself in a hostile environment, as a victim of divorce and neglect. An environment he witnesses the suffering and hustling his mother goes through to feed him. He was unhappy because his father was neglecting his family, spending his fortune on other women. He sees his adolescence as a struggle to win the support of his father. At school, he was among the best students. This gives him inspiration to fight to educate himself. In a confused society, Kumbe spends a better part of his life visiting the library, reading and studying.

Despite daily horrendous life he passes through, Kumbe excels to be an outstanding journalist and writer, attached to the president of his native country, Ghana, with enormous enthusiasm and optimism. However, in his lifetime as a famous journalist, his fame gives him nothing but hatred, jealousy and blackmail from an empire of deceitful enemies. He stands strong and firm, destined to fight the cruel charismatic power of those forces haunting him. But they are stronger than him.

Despite his wife’s moral and material support, Kumbe surrenders and dies mysteriously. Who and what killed him? “The Writer Died” is a truly remarkable book of hard life experience of child neglect, an indispensable and inspiring book for anyone that may find himself in a similar situation. The writer tries to define, measure, classify, and understand what child neglect is like in Africa.

About the Author of The Writer Died, Joel Savage.

Joel Savage is an author and freelance journalist, who enjoys the challenges of creativity and adventure. His work is considered to be pure genre of creative nonfiction of human touch, with appeal to a broad general audience.

He was born in the central region of Ghana, Cape Coast, on January 19, 1957 and studied at Ebenezer Secondary School and Accra High School. He later studied at Ghana Institute of Journalism. He wrote feature articles for the Daily Graphic, the Ghanaian Times, and the Weekly Spectator in Accra for a certain period.

Joel lives in Antwerp, Belgium, with his wife and three children, where he writes for Diplomatic Aspects Newspaper.

Where to buy The Writer Died by Joel Savage.

Visit Joel Savage’s Author Page on oAuthor to find all links for locations of this and other works by Joel Savage.