In a country where many despair; many more grumble over an increasing cost of living, with others choosing to form an Unemployed Youth Association, Elder Michael Agyekum Addo CEO of the KAMA Group of companies says Ghana is a Glorious Home All Nations Admire (GHANA).
In a typical case of what one’s eyes chooses to see, Elder Agyekum a philanthropist, an entrepreneur par excellence, a motivational speaker, says each Ghanaian largely becomes what he or she sees.
Speaking to a spirited Osu ICGC Restoration Temple congregation, Sunday, Dr Agyekum said if you see misery, pain, suffering- and there are enough stimuli to see such distressing attributes- poverty will be yours and in double portion forever. But if you see hope, opportunities even in the darkest moments of life and seek the face of God at all times, then riches, fame will be yours in abundance.
He was neither cursing nor blessing the congregation. He just planted a seed of motivation, challenging the congregation and Ghanaians at large to use their imaginative minds in a changing world to achieve the greatest unimaginable feats.
Speaking on the principles of how to make money, Dr Agyekum masterfully played the role of a preacher man, a chef; turned the pulpit into a kitchen; cooked and preached at the same time and fed the congregation not only with the wisdom of making money but with food and drinks to satisfy their hunger and thirst.
He epitomized the true essence of practical Christianity, one of the major philosophies of the ICGC.
It was a breathtaking encounter with a man who was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was a man who has seen poverty in its crudest form; a man abandoned and humiliated many times; insulted and discriminated several times and reminded time and again how he, a man from Suhyen in the Eastern Region was not cut out for greatness.
He was two years when his parents divorced. He stayed with his mother who felt sick when he was seven years old. That sickness marked the turning point of his life. All his mother’s savings and investments from her petty trading business was dissipated in a desperate attempt to cure his mother’s ailment but all to no avail. He had a passion for education and took over his mother’s petty trading to fund his education, his mother’s recovery and two of his siblings. He travelled several kilometers to the next village to sell his mothers wares. He became quite adept at that but he was brilliant too. He got admission into Ghana National College and with the help of a philanthropist his admission fee was paid. That philanthropist however did not make any provision for school fees for the subsequent terms as well as his upkeep while at school.
Dr Agyekom narrated how he had only a piece of cloth strapped around his neck, not like a child ready for school, but one ready to be told mythical ananse stories by the fire side.
He said his eyes for hours were fixed on the other kids who came to school with their ‘chop boxes’ filled with provisions and the best of clothes. He had nothing, not even a pair of sandals.
He was taken for a [Kaya nuu]- head porter by one of the students who demanded to know why he was still around on campus, when his colleague head porters were long gone.
Then he explained with a poverty-induced-humility that he was no head porter but a student; a poor student who came not with a chop box filled with provisions but with his ten fingers, a piece of cloth and brain ready to learn.
The student who was supposed to be the Scripture Union president took him up into the dormitory with the promise of helping him but he had other plans.
In the dorm, he gathered all students and invited little Agyekum Addo into the middle and introduced him as the record-setting- boy to have come to a boarding house with his ten fingers a piece of cloth around his neck. The SU president, as if possessed by a spirit, called for a collective hoot at little Agyekum. The hooting came loud and thunderous.
“Through the hooting, a miracle came,” Dr Agyekum narrated. According to him, one of the students who recognised him as the boy from another village who sold groceries came to his rescue. He allowed him to perch on his bed and shared his shirts, shorts, provisions with him but only for a while.
After one semester, it was evident he could not survive under such an arrangement so he went back to the philanthropist who got him the admission.
That philanthropist, whose name Dr Agyekum did not mention, wondered why Agyekum’s father failed to pay the school fees of his son even though he (philanthropist) had provided him with a job. That philanthropist promised to pay in advance, five years of little Agyekum’s school fees. He was to make that money available the following week. Agyekum Addo was relieved, knowing his suffering had come to an end but no he received another shocking blow. It was 21st February 1966. Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president had been overthrown in a bloody coup. He was not the only casualty. The philanthropist was one of several others arrested during the coup. He was put into prison and died the following day. That was a blow capable of extinguishing every fire of hope in anybody but not little Agyekum Addo.
The man died but Dr Agyakum said his dream lived; his faith remained unshakable. He had a dream of becoming a pharmacist and he was resolute even in the face of the long formidable odds.
For the entire years Little Agyekum was on campus, he never paid his school fees. He could not; he turned a beggar not only of food but begged to be allowed to write one exam after another; complete one semester after another until he finished. His arrears had piled up. On completion he worked as a pupil teacher to pay off his debt. He was faithful to the reluctant head teacher who grumbled many times; who scowled many times but was still magnanimous enough to allow him write his exams. Fate smiled upon him as he passed his exam and got admission into the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
Agyekum Addo was the only product from Ghana National that made the grade for Pharmacy course at UST and that too was another crime for which he was emotionally tortured. For a lecturer at UST, Pharmacy was a course meant only for the elite schools, students with rich backgrounds not the ones from Suhyen. That lecturer did not just scorn little Agyekum but did his best to fail him and for the first time in the history of UST at the time, results that had been posted on the school’s notice board had to be taken off because according to the lecturer he had made a mistake in his award of grades. When the revised results was later published, Agyakum Addo had failed when he actually passed.
Dr Agyekum said with a pissed off lecturer on his neck, he completed the UST with a second class. On his day of graduation, another lecturer told him even with a second class he should go out to the world and prove a point.
After a taking the congregation through a long journey of his painful life experiences, Dr Agyakum Addo turned to the congregation and asked if any of them had suffered similar fate.
If you haven’t then you have no reason to fail; if you have, I am living testimony that no matter the situation in life; no matter the struggle you can still make it.
Dr Agyakum said the poor boy who slept in mud house in Suhyen which had its roof ripped after every rain has now turned into a rich man and has built a mansion at exactly the same spot where the mud house was sited.
He has other mansions in Accra, in Kumasi and scattered across the country. His businesses cut across pharmaceuticals, microfinance, real estates, clinics, hospitality, education. He has employed thousands.
He brought with him to the Restoration Temple some of the men, women, who through his mentorship, guidance are making wonderful things in the country and challenged the congregation to take a step. That it did not matter where they came from or the challenges they were going through. All that mattered was to have a better attitude, be hardworking, honest and not be shy about doing that which is considered.
And could there be a better demonstration than frying kelewele in jacket and tie whilst preaching on the pulpit of Osu ICGC?
Head pastor of the Restoration Temple Rev Ashford Smith challenged all those who are part of the Unemployed Youth Association to send their resignation letter and start dreaming; start hoping; start working and ask for God’s guidance at all times and see if the same God who came through for Dr Agyakum Addo will not come through them.
The Restoration Choir serenaded the congregation with great tunes that got everybody singing along. The ban on drumming and noise making was in vogue but even without the complement of the drums and other musical instruments the choir still touched the lives of the saints that gathered.
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