Never in my life have I thought so short of a fortnight, and so long for it again after its “death”. I was indeed far away from home, maybe the farthest I have ever been alone. But I experienced an unforgettable moment in my life where I realized a transformation of head, heart, and hands. What am I referring to here? The just ended camp for members of the Kufuor Scholars Class of 2024.
We spent a substantial portion of the holidays including the new year in the camp. But it was all worth it. It was a great experience travelling all the way to the middle belt of the country where we had the chance to experiment with our leadership skills, see that part of the country, do charity work and exchange ideas. We were on a regular sleep and wake schedule. On daily basis, three of us took turns to lead the rest of the group. We did at least 40 minutes of reading each day. All these experiences taught us about the need for consistency and deliberate building of good habit.
Then we had real on the field experiences when we held interactive sessions with the student leadership of Adu Gyamfi Senior High School at Jamasi in the Sekyere East District, and did data collection for the Mampong Municipal Assembly. We visited some of the villages to do charity works too, all of which gave us good experiences. These opened my mind to the numerous problems of under development that residents in rural Ghana face every day. Then we had the opportunity to visit the famous Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, where we learnt a lot about mother nature. It was also an inspiring opportunity to meet former Minister for Power and current Member of Parliament for Pru East Dr. Kwabena Donkor, who mentored and inspired us when he spent the whole day with us whilst on a visit to the Accra Town Island.
It was again highly inspiring coming into personal contact with US based Ghanaian author, speaker, and theologian Dr. Samuel Koranteng – Pipim, who spent virtually the whole of 1st January 2022 with us, inspiring and mentoring us. It is one thing hearing that the youth can make a difference and another thing realizing that I am the youth being referred to as the one who is expected to rise up and make a difference. Dr. Pipim made me realize that it is time for Africans to annul our marriage to mediocrity and reach for higher heights. As he always says, ‘why be chicken when you can be an eagle?’
The sessions with Kufuor Scholars Program coordinator Dr. Pascal Brenya stirred our minds to think outside the box and go where there’s no path. He encouraged us to be intentional about who we keep in our social circles. I learned that we need to invest time and energy in doing extra – curriculum activities beyond academic work and take up activities like volunteering whilst in school. And I also got to know more about myself as a person, with the help of MBTI and BOSI DNA personality tests we took.
Watching the movie ‘Flight’ as a group at the camp reminded me about the values of character and integrity. The movie features a pilot who was celebrated for saving the lives of over one hundred people when his plane crash landed. But he was later imprisoned after it was discovered he was intoxicated with alcohol and used drugs before the flight. I learnt there was the need for us as young people to build character. When I speak of heart, I speak of character. A character worth emulating, the character of a true leader. Integrity echoed in my ears too. Integrity is what we do when the curtains are closed and the lights are out and no one is watching. These are things we need to take seriously as young people. As Anne Frank famously said, “All children must look after their own upbringing. Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
Other skills like hard work, morality, gratitude, and vision were hammered. We were also made to see the need to take soft skills like personal introduction, professionalism, presentation skills, and courtesy seriously. We had a session with Barrister Irene on being a lady or a gentleman, and it made me realize how respect is a very crucial part of human society.
Parting ways with other scholars was hard because the networking and bonding had made us all family. Time and proximity makes friendships but vision finds family. We were a good mix of high achievers cut across the length and breadth of the country. People with great potential, vision and drive with whom I had a privilege to share meals, sessions, movies, conversations and most importantly learn from. How can I forget ‘Kushindonuso’, meaning ‘How are you?’ in Gonja? This I learnt from my fellow scholar Sanda Moro Sumani.
In two weeks, I had unlearned many of my lifelong poisons, habits and mindsets. It is said that small minds discuss people, average minds, discuss events and great minds discuss ideas. This was very evident during the camp. Even the smallest of conversations were centered on very great ideas, and that confirmed my thoughts that every conversation can be a seed for a great idea. With the labour of love of the John. A. Kufuor Foundation and the wealth of experience I received from the leadership camp, I chose not to be mediocre but to be a change maker that will influence Ghana, Africa and the world at large. As Mark Victor Hansen once said, “A focused mind is one of the strongest forces on earth.” I will continue to keep a focused mind and do great for my nation Ghana and the world at large. So, help me God.
By Salome Odei