Feature Article of Monday, 30 April 2012
Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure
By Manasseh Azure Awuni
Today I have a story to share with you. It is someone’s story about how he chose his wife, and I think you should hear it. Our wise elders say if you want to know what is ahead, ask those coming.
There are times those coming may be outright failures, but that is the importance of fools. The wise learn from the mistakes of fools and avoid the flawed steps that might have led them into such unpalatable situations. So all lessons are worth learning – good or bad.
When I hear stories of people who have defied the odds of deprivation and scaled the tall and thorny walls of impossibilities to reach their destinations, I get inspired. Such people are the true motivational speakers.
I have come to realise that being a motivational speaker is very easy. What is difficult is living a motivational life. So when I hear a motivational speaker talk, I try to go beyond their words to examine their lives, just how far they have come.
Serwaa, last Sunday I listened to Dr Michael Agyekum Addo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kama Group of Companies on Farida Khailann’s Let’s Celebrate programme on Radio XYZ.
I have encountered Dr Agyekum Addo briefly when his book, “The Seven Principles of Success and Wealth Creation – the Experience of an Accomplished Entrepreneur” was ready for publication. He was looking for an editor and someone called me. I’m sure he was very disappointed when he saw me. And he wasn’t alone.
Not long ago, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo of the University of Ghana’s School of Communication Studies introduced me to Prof. Henrietta Joy Abena Nyarko Mensah-Bonsu of the Faculty of Law and UN Special Representative (Rule of Law) for Liberia. She said, “Meet Manasseh...”
“Azure Awuni?” Prof. Mensah-Bonsu asked.
“Do you know him already?” Prof. Gadzekpo asked.
“No, but I read him a lot. He has such a strong pen. But I didn’t expect to meet a boy. I thought he was old.”
And I’m sure Dr Agyekum Addo did not expect a boy to edit his book. So though Mr Richard Addo, the one who introduced me to the Kama boss, said Dr Agyekum Addo was impressed with my works which I had presented, they never got back to me as promised. I later read the about the launch of the book online. I will soon grow and my readers will stop getting disappointed when they see the “asrewa” bird behind the by-lines.
Though I know Dr Agyekum Addo in person, I tried in vain to fit the man in suit and tie into the character of that humbling story. What I realised after the programme was that no one has the excuse to be a failure. At least not with the abundant grace of God to guide us through what our mortal strengths can’t achieve. What inspired me about the entrepreneur’s life was not the height he had attained, but the depth of hopelessness from which he rose to prominence.
He went to the secondary school without a chop box, let alone provisions. Gari was a luxurious commodity which he had to beg. The story was like a fiction, but having tasted such a life myself, I had no reason to doubt any aspect of it. He really proved that hard work and determination are too strong for any tempest of failure.
Well, he did not discount the hand of Fabrice Muamba’s God in his success. And the good news is that God’s grace is there for all of us.
In the course of the interview, I learnt the new definition of hard work. According to Dr Agyekum Addo, who has employed more than 300 workers, “Hard work is not what you do from 8am to 5pm but what you do before 8am and after 5pm.” Serwaa, I think this message is for you. Your lust for leisure is worrisome.
Another thing which thrilled me about the interview were his strong principles. I was surprised when he said he was 62 years. He appears younger. He then told the host “I don’t do some of the things you would do.” He was particular about his eating habits and his adherence to biblical principles would not allow him to “womanize,” drink and do other things that throw many successful off balance before they celebrate their 50th birthdays.
When he launched a passionate onslaught on people who bleach and went ahead to condemn those wearing artificial nails and hairs, I felt like hearing my words from another person’s mouth. Not even Farida’s confession that she herself was wearing artificial hair would stop him. He said we should appreciate how God made us and don’t try to be like others. I didn’t know some of these hair products you ladies are so infatuated with come with health hazards such as cancer. I hope you still remember my letter to you about your make up?
Serwaa, what really touched me most about that interview, and for which reason I’m writing this letter is when the conversation shifted to his family. As usual, the issue of a woman being behind every successful man came up.
Well, I have my own reservations about that statement. That is not always the case. It is also true that behind most failed men are women. Mike Tyson once said that women inspire us men to dream big, and after that they prevent us from achieving those dream. That is perfectly true in many circumstances.
It is not true that behind every successful man is a woman. It isn’t just any woman. I was happy when Dr Agyekum Addo interposed midway through the hosts’ question, adding the adjective “good” to the woman. Behind every successful man is not just a woman but a good woman, a supportive woman. A woman who inspires, motivates, encourages and stands behind her husband in the violent storms of life. A woman who loves a man for who he is and not one who lusts after what he has.
Dr Agyekum Addo said his wife was someone he had known in his secondary school days. They were actually mates, who went their own ways after school. But when he was about to get married, he went to look for her and married her? What was this woman’s special quality?
“She was the one who used to give me gari back in the secondary school… Now I change her car every four years," he said. The woman in question has her own business, a printing press that is doing so well.
His advice for young ladies? "Never look down on anybody because you don't know their future. Even though I had nothing and came from a poor home, she didn’t despise me. Anybody can be a Mr Right depending on how you treat them."
Serwaa, if you have not paid attention to any part of this letter, just read the above paragraph again. I’ll be satisfied if you keep that piece of advice alone.
Recently, someone posted a question on my facebook wall: “Ghana Police and Ghanaian girls, who like money?” I don’t know whether you’ve come across the saying that if money was on trees, ladies would marry monkeys. It’s amazing the extent to which you ladies will go just because of money.
Serwaa, not long ago, our relationship nearly ended just because I asked you to stop riding in that man’s car. I saw nothing wrong with accepting a lift, but when the handshake was extending beyond your elbow I had to be alarmed. And your answer was that if I bought you a car, you would stop riding in other men’s cars. Well, I think you ought to learn from Dr Michael Agyekum Addo’s advice.
Ladies are often quick to say that when men get wealthy, they dump women who toiled with them. But there are ladies whose are fiancés toil to sponsor them to go to school, and when they earn a degree or diploma, they dump them for guys of higher qualifications. It is not all guys who do that and it is not all ladies who do that. It depends on the personalities. A guy who will cheat on you when he gets rich will still cheat or dump you when he’s can “pesewaless”.
Money matters, but it is of very little significance when one considers the ingredients of a happy marriage. While I will not advice any lady to date a young man who is lazy and feels comfortable courting poverty, it is often wise to look at the future of the person. If he is hard working and shows signs of success, forget about what you’ll get today.
Marriage is not an event. It is a never-ending process. And besides, you and I are going to live the rest of our lives in the future. So let’s look ahead and grow together. Who knows, you’ll be dating a greater, and wealthier version Dr Agyekum Addo.
I want you to love me for who I am. It is on this pure and unadulterated love that we should build our marriage and the gates of divorce shall not prevail against it.
Writer’s email: email@example.com
Letter to My Future Wife is a weekly column published in the Weekend Finder on Saturday.