Regardless of where you were born, what challenges you faced growing up, or what pain you’ve had to struggle through, I know that not only are all your dreams valid, but also everything you want is within reach.
Ignatius annors’ story
Tell us about yourself. Who are you?
Thank you for the opportunity to join this conversation. I’m Ignatius Annor, a black gay TV journalist. I am a universal citizen, who believes in humanity. I love my life with every twist, turn, and bump in the road I’ve experienced. Every joy, victory, and fall. I was born and raised in Accra, Ghana in 1988. I had my primary and secondary school and my first degree in Ghana. In 2011, I got my first dream job at Metro TV in Labone, Accra as a TV anchor, producer, and reporter, after interning with two radio stations [Top Radio & Radio Gold]. In September 2015, I moved to the UK to further my education, earning a Master of Arts degree in international journalism at Swansea University. After the master’s program, I returned to Ghana. None of the media entities I wanted to work with will hire me, even after meeting the powers that be at that time. I could feel why as speculations about my sexuality became news.
It was a challenging time for me. I literally had no money in my account, and occasionally my wonderful mother was such immense support. In August 2017, I got a job to join Africanews, the very first Pan-African TV channel then in Pointe Noire, the commercial and second-largest city of the Republic of Congo. I lived and worked there for three years before the company moved to France to join its parent company, Euronews. I left Lyon, France in August 2021 to immigrate permanently to the United States. I’ve said it all so sweet and beautiful, but it has come with its ups and downs as I navigate various countries and continents.
So, why journalism?
Ooh, that’s a good question. I had my secondary education at Anlo High School in southern Ghana between 2003 and 2006. When I finished, I came back to Accra, consumed with television broadcast journalism. It was what kept me alive. It was how I kept sane coming back from school without having anything to do and just having to wait for my results. It filled my mind when I woke up in the morning and literally became the air that I breathe. It was my hope and life. I remember the days when I woke up in the morning and the first thing I did was switch on the TV to watch 7GMT. That was my favorite morning newscast on TV at the time with Nana Aba Anamoah and Roland Walker. And any time I would watch them, I’m like, this is exactly where I want to be. I remember sending all sorts of newspapers to the toilet in the family house I grew up in to read as if I was reading on the TV. I tortured my mother’s mirror with all sorts of reading, hosting, and interviewing skills. My cousins would mimic and make fun of me. So, It was just a passion that consumed me, and nothing else mattered. And I knew I had to get into the business of doing it. When something fills my mind and consumes my being and my soul, then I know I have to get to the business of doing that because that’s what God is asking me to do. So, I remember going through that phase without a role model to show me the way. There was nobody in my family or friends who had done journalism. After watching 7GMT on TV3, in the afternoon, I would sit down in my father’s cheap chair and listen to my favorite ”drivetime” show on Top Radio 103.1 FM called Top City Jam with DJ Willie.
One afternoon, as I sat in that chair and was listening to the evening batch of the announcement at 4:00 P.M, I heard an announcement that Top radio in association with an institution was offering an ICM UK course on scholarships to brilliant but needy students and one of the courses was journalism. I’ll share that story when that’s necessary. But, I remember going before my knees and saying, God, if this is your will for me, then let it be.
They wanted whoever would want to be a part of the program to call in live on the air to answer a few current affairs questions. When you get a certain mark, you will automatically be enrolled into the program. I remember calling the station to propose that those interested should report to the company premises to take the quiz instead of via the phone. Here’s why. Then, my mom gave me a daily feeding fee of 3 Ghana cedis, and I knew that would not be enough to stand on a phone call waiting to be connected live on the air.
I requested to speak to the editor-in-chief. When the editor got on the phone, I introduced myself. I said to him “I have a better idea than having us call to answer those questions via phone. Why don’t you allow all of us to come to the network and take the test there?” He kept quiet for a while and said, “You know what, young man, that’s a better idea. We’re going to change the announcement so that you guys will come in and we’ll take the test. When you come in, let me know you were the guy who gave me the idea”. To cut a long story short, I got over 80% of that current affairs quiz. I then went to the school and studied radio, TV presentation, and newspaper/radio reporting etc. Later after the course, I interned at that same radio station for almost a year before going on to do another internship with Radio Gold, another Accra-based radio station.
What a story, thank you so much for sharing that. It’s inspiring. What is the most difficult coverage or interview you ever had in your career?
You know what Perez; I don’t have one. Right now, I freelance for the VOA. And so freelancing means I’m having to use my personal email to reach out to people to join me for interviews to write articles. So, I remember saying to myself, oh, God, what a privilege it is that for the first time in my professional life, I am not having to use an established media email or domain. The fact that 90% of the time experts in whatever topic I am dealing with, respond and share their time with me virtually, is such a privilege. I’m so grateful. I’m the kind of person that goes for what I truly want and get it. If I want to interview somebody, you will come to me. Of course, some people will tell you, Yes and before you know they say No. Sometimes, you have to go back and get somebody else, and those are part of the challenges of the job. Yeah, I’ve had a few people turn me down here and there, but, I’m so stubborn that whatever I want I get.
So, as a journalist, do you think we are well represented as a community in the media? I’m talking about the LGBTQ community from a global standpoint.
There’s still a lot more to do. Globally, there is not only the desire, but you have objectivity and stories about queer people. So, I would say that globally it’s more encouraging than it is in Africa. Globally, when you read stories about queer people, you see the humanness and objectivity in the story. You do not see the vitriol, the subtle invalidation of the existence of a human being. You are able to appreciate the truth of the story of an LGBTQI person to make informed decisions on your own. Of course, not all LGBTQI stories are covered around the world, but from where we’ve come from and where we are, it’s encouraging to be able to go on Netflix, Apple TV+ or whatever streaming platform there are lately and be able to see people who look like me, and share the same story as me. That’s something to celebrate. That’s a lot of progress.
Years ago, it was impossible. Have we made progress? Yes, we have. Do we still have some work to do? Yes, we do. But that’s what the human experience is about – learning, realizing that, oh, I did this wrong today, I could do better tomorrow because God and life would always give you the opportunity to right the wrongs. So, there’s still a lot more to do, but there’s still a lot more work that has be done. From where I sit, I can’t complain. I’m grateful that we’re seeing our stories reflected in mainstream global media spaces.
What keeps you out of bed to do what you do?
Ooh, Perez. That’s a very beautiful question. Well, first of all, I believe in the power of God. I’m not talking about religion. My faith in God, my dreams, my hope for a better tomorrow, and my desire to use my life’s story and journey to encourage queer people keeps me going. Regardless of where you were born, what challenges you faced growing up, or what pain you’ve had to struggle through, I know that not only are all your dreams valid, everything you want is within reach. It is possible. It’s possible to achieve your heart’s desires. I am fueled by hope. It’s my faith in God, my hope, and my dream those are the things that keep me out of bed. It is using my platform, my journey, and my life to serve not only as an inspiration to people, particularly queer people in Africa but to let them know that it’s possible.
Wow! I’m full. Thank you for your time, Ignatius. It was lovely having you.