The Brilliant but Needy

The people of the Upper West, even though they are among the brightest in Ghana, are the poorest in the same country. In the Upper West Region, seven-out-of-every-ten people live below the poverty line. The people naturally are intelligent, they however hardly make ends meet. Does this imply that the educational system is not sufficient to meet the needs of the people? I cannot say, but it glaring that there is a problem. The educated people are chiefly employed by the government, and only a few have their own businesses running.
In Wa, which is the regional capital, most people are gainfully employed, or are at least engaged in petty trading. The problem here is that; everybody does the same work; everybody trades in the same thing. For example, the number of drinking spots in “small Wa” is alarming. You can literally find 5 drinking bars within a 50 metre square area. The trend for those who “have money” is to put up a filling station, and so just like drinking bars, there are a lot of filling stations coming up. The economic patterns of the people are therefore niched and skewed in the same direction. 

In our pursuit of businesses, the people of the Upper West Region are not identifying the many prevalent and very widespread problems of the region. Consequently, they are not designing entrepreneurial concepts to solve these problems that are very pervasive and destructive. It is apparent that we are generally not entrepreneurial, but entrepreneurship is the way forward. The few who are, are not thinking right in their business endeavors.

The story is not so different in the district capitals even though employment rates are much lower there. The villages are where you can find the gruesome picture. The people depend on peasant farming alone. There, the only people employed by the government are the 2-5 teachers in the village school. Trade is low, there’s almost zero technical and vocational skill, literacy is “down there”, commercial farming is absent. 

But let this not blind you, from these villages come medical doctors, engineers, professors, etc. Our people have the mental capacity to explore and understand information and literature. However, we are poor economically. We depend on grants and other forms of assistance from NGOs and philanthropists. Sad!!!
If you thought that at the end of this write-up I would provide a roadmap to improving the situation, then I’m sorry. I do not have that blueprint. However, I recommend that in our few entrepreneurial practices we should endeavor to solve problems rather than create more. For example, people can pursue social enterprises in agriculture that will produce food crop and livestock, train others to do same, employ people, and boost trade. This is in contrast with the drinking spot pandemic which doesn’t look at the big picture, but just makes a few coins at the expense of another man’s health. Secondly, let us be innovative; let us bring ideas different from the ones already common.

Cheers,

CRYSPIN KAVAARPUO   

We can only dream as far as we know. 

How dare you! That you dream about something that you’re ignorant of. Who are you, that you’ll dream about what you have not seen, heard, felt, touched, or leant? Bottom line, you can never dream about something that you do not know.

Literally you can dream about seemingly unimaginable things. You can dream about a tree with butterflies as its leaves. You can dream about a monkey with a snake’s head. These are strange, but truth is, you have seen a tree before, and you have seen butterflies too. You have seen a monkey before, and a snake too. So you know exactly what you’re dreaming about. We can only dream as far as we know. 

Figuratively this assertion is even truer. It’s like asking my little nephews in Kogle if they want to be Astronauts. Truth is they’ve never heard of space, let alone know that people go there. How then would they dream of being an Astronaut? It’s like asking my illiterate grandmother if she thought I could be the next Isaac Newton. She’s never heard of Newton, neither does she know what great he did. Therefore she can’t imagine me being him. We can never dream about something that we know nothing about. 

In order to dream we must first know. In order to know we must first learn. Therefore, in order to dream, we must learn.

We can be genius; we can be creative; but we can only apply these talents to what we already know. Leonardo Da Vinci saw the bird fly so he asked, why can’t we make man fly? And there, the conception of the aeroplane commenced. If he never saw the bird fly, is there a garranttee that he could think of making man fly? Your guess is as good as mine.

Does it then mean that if the mirror was never invented, we would never see ourselves in our dreams? Quite likely.

Again, we can only dream as far as we know.

But beware that these are only the thoughts of a young and inexperienced fellow. They have not been tested and proven correct.

Cheers!!

Cryspin Kavaarpuo

A letter without an address 

Hello Prosper, 

It has been a while. We miss you.

You traveled a distance without measure. To a location without direction, a place with no address. 

I tried retrieving your voice messages, that you’d usually leave me when I failed to answer your call. But Vodafone had deleted them, so I can’t hear your voice again. I tried inhaling from your clothes so I could smell you, but mama had already had the girls wash them. So I can’t ever “hear” your smell again. You didn’t enjoy taking pictures so we only have a few of your photographs, which are not even recent.

Lest I forget, Happy birthday to you Baba. Today you’d  have been 2 years older, but sorry your age will never change. Nobody will ever know you older than 61.I wish you perfect peace anyway, eternal rest. 

Today I wish that you and I will sit and have drinks. So that I would tell you my plans, and you advise me. Baba, if there is a way, you send word to us. We need counsel. Mama is lonely and sick, she misses her friend from childhood. Chene and Baper are busy and far away, and Saa is often confused. Bunuche was here, but he didn’t stay long. Baper and Bunuchema fought hard but sadly the new man sought to leave.

Baba all is not gloomy, we’re fine. We’re strong as you thought and expect us to be. We’re working, hard and smart, like you did yourself. We’re learning everything that our hands can find. We’re helping our neighbors in the ways that we possibly can: an ideal you cherished. We’re dreaming big; we’re hopeful; we’re positive. Our family is growing, we’re having new people. 

Promise to you; we will build our family. 

If this ever gets to you, note that your family misses you dearly. If it doesn’t get to you, we’d use it as a tool to remembering your invaluable life, on this special day. Even in your absence, the lessons that we learn from you are enormous. Your hardwork, your attitude to problems, your method of teaching us are guiding principles in our lives today. Your arrogance and pomposity are inherent in us, and I personally am proud of it. For all we are, and all we’ll ever be, we owe it to you and mama.

Cheers Prosper. God grant you Eternal Rest and Perfect Peace. 

Where did I learn to be afraid? 

As a child I was blank but brave. I was weak but workaholic. I was destructive but creative. I don’t know about you, but this was me. I could pour away the milk, just so I could use the tin to create my first convertible sports car. Great!!! 
As a child my first words were wrongfully mentioned, yet I spoke them. Today I cannot pitch my ideas to the right people because I’m afraid they’d judge me. As a child my legs weren’t strong yet I stood to walk. Today I say my resources are inadequate so I must wait until I have enough. As a child my first alphabet couldn’t be recognized, yet I wrote it. Today I feel I don’t know enough and so I can’t write my own books. As a child my first song was a mess but I sung it. Now I’m afraid of failing so I can’t start a small business.  

Where did I learn to be afraid? 

I ask this because when I was a child, I wasn’t afraid of failure; of making mistakes; of trying!  Where then did I learn this self-killing art- fear? 

If you thought that at the end of this write-up I’ll give you a response, then sorry. Because honestly I know not the right answer. I just know that at the other side of fear is freedom. If I can abandon my fears then I’ll be a free man. I’ll be free to invent; free to compete; free to try. My fears keep my abilities in a shell. Once I am afraid my ideas can never be hatched, my dreams can never manifest, my concepts can never be concrete. 

Today I want to face my fears and defeat them. I want to be brave again, courageous, forward-looking. I want to accept that success is more than just a possibility. I want to believe again that I am able, I’m strong, I’m genius! I want to speak again, invent again, fight again. Just like old times. 

I will face my fears, fight them, and defeat them. 

Still, where did I learn to be afraid? 

By Cryspin Kavaarpuo. 

Young people; ambition and confusion. 

​I would like to start this with a short story. This is a story told me and my colleagues while we were in St Francis Xavier Minor Seminary,  by Rev. Fr. Benjamin Maatuokuu. When he was young, at the priestly ordination of the late Cardinal Peter Dery, he saw the clergy of priests, dressed in white robe. They were majestic, they walked like Angels. Father immediately fell in love with the priests and made up his mind he wanted to become one of them. A few years later when father went to secondary school in Tamale, he attended the independence day parade. There he saw the army of soldiers. They appeared brave and strong. They were confident and stood upright like Ghana belonged to them. Father thought to himself, these men can do what so ever they want without any fear. There, Father Maatuokuu fell in love with the army and immediately decided he wanted to be a soldier. 

I’ll end the story here. 

This story might be a bit funny, but it is the story of many young people. Ours is a state of ambition and confusion. We want to achieve everything, so we can’t be focused on the one and most important thing. If we had the chance, we’d be the pilot, the chartered accountant, agribusiness executive, the medical doctor. Truth, not many of us can achieve this in a single lifetime. 

Friends, let us not be scared, this is the time to both be ambitious and confused. A wise man said that if your dreams don’t scare you then you’re not ambitious enough. However, do not make yourself comfortable. At every point in time, we must try to learn as much and as quickly as possible. Now is the time to meet the right people, and ask all the necessary questions. This is the only way we escape our state of confusion. 

It is surprising how we narrow our goals when we learn more. When we learn new things; when we meet new people; when we visit new places; we get to know ourselves deeper, and also know what we truly love. 

Just like Fr. Benjamin in the beginning, we’re ambitious. No doubt!  But we’re also often confused. If we want to be free, then we  must learn as much and as quickly as possible. 

Cheers 

Cryspin Kavaarpuo