To be born an African especially Ghanaian gives you alibies to fail in life! Being born into a poor family automatically bestows on you 7 extreme reasons why you should be exonerated from criticisms when you accept defeat in life.. The reasons escalate from extreme to hyper extreme when you are physically challenged.
Many motivational speakers say no one has any justifiable reason to be a failure but I bet to differ. Some of these speeches can even motivate mosquitoes to see themselves as Olympic weight lifters.
I knew as a Ghanaian with high electricity tariffs, high standard of living, scarcity of jobs, unsupportive family members and witches and wizards on my heels, I have every reason to be a failure until I met this friend of mine at the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa. His reasons are the very reasons why I believe failures must be justified especially when they are Africans!
1) Dad went blind in his early teens. A genius born to an illiterate mother on the auriferous land of Huni Valley (near Tarkwa). His overdose of passion for knowledge, schooling and leadership was evident at his tender age – prior to his going blind. As a poor blind teenager in a village (in the late 60s), he could still clearly see his vision for life; the bright future he always believed he had. The greatness in him could not be imprisoned by shackles of life in the order of biblical Job. He still decided to school!
2) He attended Akropong School for the Blind and studied to become a craft instructor (a blind specialist in basketry). Becoming the President of the Blind Teachers Association, he embarked on fierce advocacies that led to the resolution to allow the blind to further their education at the Abetifi Training College – an achievement that opened a door for many of his kind to advance their education.
3) He studied at home, wrote and passed entrance examination to University of Cape Coast. At UCC, he won the Dean’s Award for academic excellence twice. He attained a Bachelor’s degree, taught in the secondary school for a while. Then he pursued his Master’s degree in UCC and became the first blind man to attain an MPhil in Special Education from UCC.
4) With his MPhil, he said “I will go back home; to Huni-Valley, teach at the basic school -where he started schooling and inspire the (village) children to soar high” – such humility. He has mentored and ‘lectured’ distance students at home, and helped many to pass so many courses at the tertiary level. In 2011, he won the National Best Teacher Award for JHS category and many great feats.
5) I had special advantages (academically) over all my mates due to his fortunate sad condition. For instance when I was in Class 4, he would dictate his letters (usually laden with MPhil grammar) and I would write. Through this I learnt several hundreds of words and expressions more than any classmate and this is the biggest reason I could score a 100 in Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) synonyms, antonyms, idioms and the likes as a littIe boy. In fact, I must confess that it is no wonder I could read the Class 6 reading book back in Class 2 first term (when my colleagues were struggling with “Ama is at the clinic. Her finger is bleeding-laughs). He taught me to be humble, yet bold and long-suffering.
6) Each time I get depressed (which unfortunately happens often), I recap the Ampong story, I see him in my mind, I hear his words of counsel in my ears, then my spirit rejuvenates. Indeed, success and greatness are not just a potential but a choice that is always possible to make. Some call him Prof, some call him Honourable, some call him Master, your Excellency, Chairman and so on. I am privileged to call him by none of these but a special name – Dad.
A GENIUS I KNOW AND THE HERO I SING is my blind dad, Mr Joseph Kwaku Ampong!
He is the greatest inspiration I know – I need not more. He is my father and my hero-a legend my country rarely mention. My father taught me with his exemplary life that challenges being physical deformities, monetary issues, superstitions, education, unemployment, geographic location and lack of accommodation are but temporal illusions. Humans in their lazy states always want to blame other people for their inactions. We must always look at the positive side of bad situations and stop blaming God! We fail to live as gods on earth the very moment we see our challenges as permanent impossibilities.
Now, do you agree with me that we have every reason to be failures in life as Africans?