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Opinions of Thursday, 3 March 2016

Columnist: Allan Kwaku Buah

Abraham 'Agu' Attah: A case for talent dev't in Ghana

Agu, a lead character in Netflix's "Beasts of No Nation" film, is currently enjoying rare global prominence as a 15 year old Ghanaian boy. Abraham Attah has been well described in some articles as, "The 15 year old, who was assisting his mother by selling on the street with no acting background, shot to fame after getting a role in 'Beasts of No Nation'..." Yours truly as the self-acclaimed King of Ghanaian Teenagers, has kept slobbering over Abraham Attah, a great mentor.

Interestingly, Agu has fulfilled my prophesy on Twitter some time ago in mid-2015, where I prayed for Ghana and Africa to have another "Justin Bieber" (metaphor intended). And Abraham Attah is now living my clear-cut dream to the max.

If you have never watched "Beasts of No Nation," then you are free to remain sceptical about the worldwide praises showered on Agu, for his formidable role in that movie. He recently presented an award at the 88th Annual Academy Awards, hosted by Chris Rock, which took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. He has also won a couple of international awards, winning the latest one at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Abraham Attah, who wore a pair of black velvet Toms with a crisp black tuxedo on the red carpet at the Oscar's in Los Angeles, secured a social contract with "Toms" to donote 10k Toms shoes to needy children in Ghana. No wonder editor, stated that, "...[Abraham Attah] has been to places that his generation to come may only dream of."

Unfortunately, two naughty journalists, namely Jay Foley and Lexis Bill, mocked Abraham Attah for a misrelated construction in his speech at the Oscar's. I need not react to their sheer absurdity because I may end up denting their hard-earned reputation. However, Agu is still trending on popular social media platforms in Ghana like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A chunk of social media enthusiasts in Ghana are commending him for reaching dizzy heights in the film industry. And our own president, John Dramani Mahama, had this to say on his official Twitter account, "Congrats [Abraham Attah]. Such a positive positioning of the Ghana Brand. We can do with many more Abraham Attah's. 'Beasts of No Nation'." Abraham Attah, Africa's foremost child celebrity, got catapulted to global fame for his atypical talent though he was a street vendor with little education and zero movie experience.

That is why I personally want to lead the charge for the development of talents in Ghana. You have minimal idea of my huge struggles as a purely refined talent in the writing fraternity. Ghanaian households and the society at large suppress budding talents, all in the name of sacrosanct schooling. There are very few institutions in Ghana which groom pure talents for enterprising initiatives.

We have gleefully overlooked the glaring fact that, "When we have adequately developed our talents, skills and potentials and resources to solve other people's problems, we can then place a price tag on them. That is the beginning of wealth creation" (Asare-Bediako and Asare-Bediako, 2007). Gosh, why should Ghanaian parents kill the talented spirit of their child just to pursue their preferred profession?

Moreover, I have always insisted that we can solve 80% of youth unemployment if our system empowers our youths to discover, develop and utilise their talents, gifts, skills or potentials. After all, Ghanaian creative arts can become a billion dollar sector if it is advanced by leaps and bounds.

Yes, Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics revealed that Nollywood alone was worth $3.3 billion in 2014. Analysts have even predicted that the estimated value of Nigeria's music industry would reach a staggering $1 billion in subsequent years. And in 2013, Hollywood, creative industries and other related areas added $504 billion to US GDP. I believe that Ghanaian creative arts can follow suit if this sector becomes a topmost national priority. Indeed, the story of Agu is a case for talent development in Ghana.