This week on Naya’s Column, we had our first ever car interview with broadcaster extraordinaire, Israel Laryea. He is a journalist/news editor/anchor at multimedia group limited and has been stringing for CNN and BBC for the past six years.

Born on October 7, 1974 to Mr. James Laryea and Mrs. Constance Laryea in the town of Osu, young Israel’s dream was to be a pilot and this passion was ignited by listening to tales on aeroplane services from his diplomat uncle.

“For most of my upbringing I shuffled between Osu and Labone,” he said.“Growing up in Osu, kuku hill to be precise, I was in charge of cooking for the entire household and I was only ten years of age. My mum would send me to the market to get foodstuffs and the thing about me was that I always looked out for quality and quantity which I still do by the way. From the market, I’d move to the fishermen at the Osu beach to buy some fresh fish then head straight home. My specialty was porridge without lumps and another was preparing banku without lumps but my peanut butter soup was superb. I was just a regular boy growing up; I went through all the hustle and bustle but most people think life was all rosy (dadabee). Though my father was against my playing with the boys in the neighborhood, I was seen with them almost all the time. I would get a lot of beatings from him but that wasn’t enough to deter me from playing hide-and-seek which was popularly known as ‘pampanaa’, we also played the famous ‘chaskele’, ‘police and thief’, ‘alikoto’, ‘piloloo’, swinging from tree to tree, gutter race and all other games good enough to get your clothes soiled. We also used to go to the local cinema called ‘USSR’ or ‘U’ for short, which was only 20 meters away from my house to watch our favorite action movies.”

From Osu, Israel and his family of six moved to Labone into a chamber-and-hall apartment and that was where the real hustle began. He is an ‘odehye’ of Okuapeman school, where he had his GCE ‘O’ level certificate and later had his sixth form education at Accra Academy.

In his words, “life in Okuapeman School was interesting. For the first time I had to leave my family and be somewhere on my own. The environment was completely different and somehow I managed to adjust to it. The first few years was quite difficult for me because I focused so much on ‘dodging’ the seniors and their strange ways of bullying but thereafter, I got into the groove and just went with the flow. I had to go all the way to the well outside the main entrance to get some water and I always made sure to avoid the seniors’ dormitories. That kind of lifestyle was quite difficult because it was impacting negatively on my education but once I got settled in and knew my way around, I couldn’t be bothered by the seniors hence made ample time to learn my books. I did quite well at Okuapeman School and one of my biggest achievements was getting the ‘Opoku Acheampong shield’, which was awarded to overall best students. From there I went to Accra Academy for my sixth form education. I was back in Accra and was commuting between Labone and Odorkor every day. At Accra Academy we attended a lot of classes and sometimes getting money to attend these classes became a major problem; those were indeed tough times for me. From Accra Academy, my grades weren’t good enough; looking at somebody who came out of his ‘O’ levels with distinction, the grades were poor. So I had to re-write my papers and later decided to pursue a professional course.”

‘Izzy’, as he is affectionately addressed by his friends and colleagues, started a chartered accountancy course but abandoned it later along the line. From there, he joined the Mobile water company as an accounts clerk but ended up doing almost everything from taking charge of the accounts/record books, distribution and marketing, maintenance, running regular errands for his boss and supervising the workers. In addition to his educational background, he also pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree programme at the Green Hill College in GIMPA.

After realizing his desire for television broadcasting, Izzy applied to work with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation but unfortunately could not meet their requirements but regardless of this setback, he kept pressing on. Soon, the much awaited opportunity to realize his dream came when an announcement was made that Tv3 was in search of production assistant. He auditioned for the position and sailed through successfully. After several auditions later, he was given a position as a news anchor because of his great voice and persona and was picked together with Gideon Aryeequaye. He officially started working as an anchor on March 1, 1999.

“I remember that day like it was yesterday. I had butterflies in my stomach and I felt so much pressure building up inside me. I let out a scream after the bulletin to let out all the tension.” he later left Tv3 to join multimedia group limited.

The late Komla Dumor who was then the programs director for joy fm offered Israel a part-time job and later his position was regularized. Tv3 later wanted him back and he agreed back to read the news only but after being with Tv3 again for a while, he finally went back to multimedia.

“It would take a lot for me to be poached from multimedia Group Limited. I must be very convinced on what this new company has to offer; it’s not all about the money but the longevity, vision and contribution of that company to the society, but most importantly I must be sure that they are serious about what they do but of course if CNN or BBC should come in, I’ll go for it.”

Israel Laryea is married to the very beautiful and supportive Louisa Laryea and together they have 3 adorable children.

He moderated the vice-presidential and presidential debate in 2008 between the late professor John Evans Atta Mills and the current presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo and did an amazing job.

On a typical weekend, Israel would rather spend some quality time at home with the family than hang out with friends and he loves the color blue.

“To the young ones out there, be diligent in all you do. Always make it a point to do things which will set you apart from everyone else; do things that would speak for you. You can’t be perfect, no one is, but try your best to let diligence be seen in all you do.”

It was long ride with Israel Laryea but every word spoken and all the time spent was worth it.

Unfortunately, the whole conversation could not be transcribed so kindly click on the audio below to enjoy the full interview.






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