“We are grossly handicapped and if we must leapfrog to development, our leaders must be taught not only politics, but all other spheres of life”- H.E J.A.Kufuor
This quote from the former president has greatly influenced my thought and outlook on life as an aspiring leader, who seeks to be a part of the next crop of transformational leaders.
Becoming a Kufuor Scholar, I was expectant of activities that will build me in that direction. I had a lot on my mind as our Toyota Coaster bus journeyed the long distance from Accra to Bantama, a small town sandwiched between Attebubu and Kwame Danso, in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
That was my second time going beyond Kumasi; the first being a trip to Sunyani last year. The almost eight-hour drive to Bantama was an education. Many towns and villages dotted the road and their environmental outlook were not too different from that of my native town. As we drove through the popular Mampong Scarp, I was struck by the beauty of the forest through which the road meandered around the mountain northward, toward the flattop. A lot kept running through my mind as I wondered how our final destination would look like.
The two weeks spent in the Brong-Ahafo Region was full of exciting and thought-provoking experiences. My thoughts were centred on the essence of my identity as a Ghanaian and more so, African for that matter.
I will like to share some of the moments I experienced over the two-week period.
Foremost, I had the opportunity to visit and interact with people in four different communities around Bantama. The first being Yeji, a town located at the upper eastern part of the Brong-Ahafo Region, through which the Volta River passes.
A journey northward across the Volta River at Yeji, will take you to the Northern Region and the opposite direction will take you to the Volta region.
I interacted with a gentleman named, Ornamental, who works as a shop attendant at a FAN Milk wholesale distribution outlet. According to him, the shop has a lot of registered vendors, but as a result of weather conditions, most of these vendors failed to show up.
He shared some of the daily challenges they faced and I had to think on my feet to help provide solutions to some of such challenges. From the challenges, I realised that there is a lot our leaders need to do for us as a nation.
We continued on our journey, visiting other villages such as Guruma, Kajadji, Boanyo and Kwame Danso which is the District capital of the Sene West District.
At Gurama, a small village with no school, no Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compound and unfortunately not connected to the national grid, I was challenged to step up my contribution towards making lives better in our country. Memories of conversations with the people especially one with Salifu, a native of Guruma who could not explicitly share the educational plan he has for his children, shook me to core.
Now more than ever, I am challenged to accept the fact that I have a responsibility to Ghana; work needs to be done.
Frequent interactions with workers from the African Plantation for Sustainable Development (APSD) were also great moments during the camp. APSD is into the plantation of Eucalyptus acacia, a fast growing tree species.
The main aim of APSD is to produce electricity using the trees planted. As an engineering student, interactions with workers from the company were really insightful. Also, the way the managers related with the workers gave me a feel of life in the corporate world.
Furthermore, Lecture sessions with different facilitators taught me a lot. I especially enjoyed knowing that there is no limit to capacity building; and the value of being open to learning new things.
Lectures on Confidence, emotional intelligence, Personal branding amongst others have really given me a lot of experience as a thriving future leader. The rule of traditional notes-taking and full participation in the various sessions also ensured that I fully benefited from the various lectures.
In addition, movie shows which were occasionally organised also proved to be very vital in our training process. All the movies and short video clips had their own unique morals and leadership qualities to be learnt.
I enjoyed watching INVICTUS, a movie based on the leadership of one of Africa’s greatest leaders, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. After watching the movie, I realized that Africa has great potentials in leadership and as such it is high time we stopped preaching the virtues and achievements of the likes of J.F. Kennedy and the other western Presidents.
We should proudly throw more light on African leaders like Nelson Mandela who had a character well built for leadership.
Nelson Mandela had the character of a leader through and through; even at points when the odds were against him, he knew that he is the master of his fate, the captain of his soul and therefore forged on to gain independence for his country.
Other movies like Flight and the Phoenix flight which were centred on the importance of character in leadership and teamwork respectively also came with a lot of highlights that were worth being practiced as a leader.
Ted clips moments also did it for me. Watching people of my age share unique experiences of making the lives of the people around them better, I came to the realisation which echoed Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s famous saying, indeed, young people, regardless their age, can be the agents of positive revolution.
In all, a two-week stay away from my locality has really proven to be worth the struggle. Having an opportunity to live with people from different cultural, religious and educational backgrounds taught me a lot.
This camp exposed me to the other side of life, here in our nation and more than ever, I am highly motivated to put a step further in my quest to be a part of the next crop of transformational leaders. The sharpest minds indeed need the finest advice.
Joshua Opey K.
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
BSC. Biomedical Engineering
I came to the camp with a readiness and willingness to learn, and also unlearn certain things. I was willing to try out new things and also deal with whatever challenges I may encounter. I must admit that I was a bit nervous about meeting new people, but I refused to let it get the best of me.
Evidently, this whole experience has been an eye-opener for me. I have been challenged and inspired by all the speakers we were privileged.
I am especially enlightened and inspired by the words of Dr. Samuel K. Pipim, with these being my favourite, “Africa must think” and “valuing what you have in your hands, no matter the form it takes.”
One of the most remarkable things he spoke about was living the life of excellence through Love.
Our time with Dr. Michael Agyekum enabled me to erase some negative perceptions I had about entrepreneurship. I was open to learn all that I could; and I was not disappointed when we were taught about the capabilities of the left and right sides of the brain.
He admonished us to develop the right side of our brain, to increase our creativity and innovation, as this will enable us to be part of the entrepreneurial revolution taking over the 21st century.
The journey to Atebubu was quite long and rough for me, but totally worth it. The town we were to live in looked different from what I was used to, but I was ready to explore.
We had so many activities, and I enjoyed them all. A highpoint for me was learning how to manage my emotional intelligence and how to boost my confidence.
Furthermore, we had a number of group presentations which helped me to exhibit some of the things we were taught; such as creativity and public speaking.
Another event that really excited me was our trip to Yeji. It was a whole new experience for me. From interacting with new people and the privileged ability of also being of service to them.
Finally, we went to the Volta Lake where we took a canoe ride on the water. I took a lot of pictures with my colleagues, this by far surpassed my imagination. It was a very lovely day and a memorable experience.
University of Ghana, Legon
BA Information Studies and Russian
I had a very thrilling experience at the 2018 KSP Summer camp and it is worth mentioning that the chairman, CEO, staff and all stakeholders of the JAK foundation deserve a huge pat on the back.
At the camp, we were put in groups of two or three to convene activities every day.
Leaders for the day had to be the first to rise up, assist in meal preparation and relay information to other scholars. This experience taught me management and leadership.
We were taken through several lecture sessions, exercises and personality assessment tests. We were also coached to discover our true personalities, maximise our strengths and effectively manipulate our weaknesses.
We touched on effective public speaking, confidence and assertiveness, manners and etiquette, safety, avoiding psychological bias, CV writing, personal branding, and the rudiments of good leadership amongst many other essential lessons.
We had poster sessions to brainstorm on some critical national issues.
In addition, we had the vision board session where we put our aspirations in pictorial form on boards. After going through this session, I have become even more determined with focus to press towards my goals, because it will be difficult to forget what I put on the board.
We had the marshmallow challenge that reformed my thoughts on teamwork.
Furthermore, the many educative videos we watched threw more light on the lectures we had. These movies mostly depicted the leadership styles and lifestyles of some legendary characters. The one that thrilled me most was titled “Invictus”. It went a lot way to put into perspective the style of leadership that was adopted by Nelson Mandela.
We visited the African Plantation for Sustainable Development (APSD) where we educated on how they planted some species of eucalyptus tree, that would be used to generate electricity in the next few years. I have since then, been challenged to also come up with my own initiatives to solve some of the problems in our society.
We embarked on community service to connect with people in Bantama, Yeji, Guruma, Boanyo, Atebubu and Kwame Danso, and find out some of the difficulties that Ghanaians in these places were facing in their daily lives.
I was deeply shocked at some of the stories I heard, and each time I reflect on them, it gives me an extra urge to aim for excellence, in order to make a significant and positive change in the history and lives of Ghanaians.
The group embarked on an excursion to Lake Volta. Aside using the moment to reflect on the beauty of nature, we also had an amazing time bonding with one another, and now I feel we have been able to build a strong family that will stand the test of time, against all odds.
In summary, the camp was an exciting one and it gave us unforgettable memories; memories that will linger on and challenge us to make our nation a better place for our generation and posterity.
KSP…We are indeed, the sharpest minds!
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
BSC. Telecommunication Engineering