Speech comes easily to many than tears would in normal life but on the night when the MTN heroes of Change were called onto the hall of fame tears spoke louder any more than words would in a spirited speech.
For years, the men and women who turned sacrifice from a virtue into a deed; gave up their lives so others can live were left broken in profound tears of gold at Season Four of the Heroes of Change.
“I was ‘a nobody’. People looked down on me,” Emmanuel Aferi Annobel said in tears, with his weary hands lifted in zest as he was crowned the winner of the Health category with a 30,000 cedis prize money.
Founder of the mental health NGO in Kaneshie, Annobil found the grace to turn the shame of many mentally unstable men and women on Accra’s busy streets into honour.
Serwaa Quaynor, winner of the Education Category was no less emotional.
“Autism has won. We will no longer be locked in the rooms anymore. We will never give up,” she said in a rallying cry of hope to children born with autism.
With her hands lifted and with broken sobs the Autism trainer sought to give power to her many children held captive by a painful culture of stigmatization.
Rev Sanatu Nantogma, understood what empowerment was in her teens, and for over 40 years she dedicated her life and every fibre of her being to empower young women mostly from the Northern Region.
They would have ended up on the streets, in the markets, with pans on their heads, breaking their backs to carry loads heavier than they ever will in life.
And with the raining season due, they would have slept outside in the rain and exposed to all manner of ailments vices, and sexual exploitation. If they are lucky, they will enjoy a ¢0.50 tax rebate and continue their lives in misery.
Each one of them had touched the lives of many in a way only a few people would.
Naomi Esi Arku Amoah, Linat Osman Kundaribuo, Ayisha Fuseini, Dr Quincy Attipoe, Dr Dzifa Dey, Rev Prince Oduro Williams, Josephine Agbo Nettey were part of the finalist including the three who picked the category awards.
For their great achievements and significant acts of kindness they each received 10,000 cedis with citations and hampers from the telecom giants. But who will settle for least when there is a bigger honour, a 100,000 cedis prize money, a citation and a trophy for the overall winner?
They waited. They watched and hoped for glory as organisers crafted a well-woven programme to keep them relaxed and excite the audience.
Ceci Twum dazzled the crowd with her powerful voice and a presence too palpable to miss.
Kuame Eugene, Adoma served a delectable medley of great Ghanaian songs that got the audience singing and dancing along.
If size mattered Eugene would have no chance at all. But skill and talent were precious and Kuame showed all that in abundance.
One after the other, he sang his hit songs and melted the crowd away with his soothing voice and when he decided to go down memory lane with Amakye Dede he did not get it wrong either.
If Angela made Kuame Eugene miss a heartbeat, Angelina, perhaps did the opposite to highlife legend AB Crentsil. The 75-year-old man may have lost his speed but never skill and stage craft. Even without a bicycle, AB enjoyed paddling his legs in the air as he lay on his seat singing the songs that got generations agog.
With his ‘dondo’, trapped under his armpit, the legend beat it hard with the rhythm in mind never mind the chipping away in energy levels of the ageing hero.
As the musicians sang the ten nominees still waited, deep in thought about what a 100,000 cedis will do to the seeds they have sown and the sacrifices they have made to help the underprivileged.
But the MC, Kwame Sefa Kayi who will never go wrong on the mic, kept the suspense going and the nominees even more anxious.
The glamorous wife of the Vice President Samira Bawumia who was the special guest of honour for the event lauded the gallant nominees for their sacrifices and public spiritedness.
She was humbled by the communal values exhibited by the ten and challenged all Ghanaians to be each other’s keeper.
There were five special awards to five special personalities, two of whom are with The Multimedia Group. Seth Kwame Boateng of Joy FM held the country spellbound with his documentary Next to Die. He highlighted the plight of many mothers who gave birth at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital only for their children to die because of congestion.
His story got the first lady on board and together with the Multimedia Group, a new mother and child facility has been built in ten months for the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.
Joseph Opoko Gakpo, a Broadcast journalist also with Joy FM, a man too small for his intelligence, was also awarded for his story which changed the lives of a whole community in the Volta Region.
A community that had no light now boasts of solar panels giving the community members light and a better life. Okyeame Kwame, a hiplife artiste, Yvonne Nelson and Yvonne Okoro, two actresses all changed lives with their campaigns champions by their foundations.
The time came for the MTN Hero of change 2018 to be named. Instead, the Chairman General decided to call Chukwu, an artist who was to act as the biblical John the Baptist to announce the winner of the event.
Chukwu is a gifted talent. On four different placards turned upside down and with the winner of the 2018 edition firmly imprinted on his mind, he set out to draw the eventual winner. Many thought it was going to be a long, drawn pain and emotional torture especially to the nominees but within minutes there were shouts from a section of the audience.
The four different placards with artworks on them began to tell a story and gave an idea who the eventual was. And when Chukwu finally pieced the entire artwork together it was clear who the winner and Kwame, the Chairman General, announced Naomi Esi Arku Amoah as the winner of the 2018 Heroes of Change event.
She rose, so did the nominees close to her, sank her head on the shoulders of one of them and held back tears as if it was a requirement for the trophy. A strong woman she is.
With the Royal Seed Home, where lack is an incentive, Naomi has catered for over 100 abandoned street children some of whom have dire health problems.
Her interventions have brought about generational changes, a ray of sunshine to many lives which would have been wasted on our busy streets.
“Thank God for this special present,” she said with a heart of gratitude.
“We thank the whole of Ghana,” she added and challenged all Ghanaians to use their skills and talent to make lives better for all.
“Ask yourself what can I do to help Ghana; You have a talent, use yours to change lives,” she concluded.