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Opinions of Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Columnist: Damoah, Nana A.

Book Excerpt from "I speak of Ghana"

I SPEAK OF GHANA: Brown Leaves Fall, Green
Leaves Fall Too

The youth.

youth of Africa. The youth of this world. Are we harnessing the potential of
the youth enough? Are the young ones… giving off their best to the continent,
the nation, the universe that is giving us so much? Why do we think we can only
contribute something after age forty? Are we not causing wealth loss to our

A group of
political friends who had achieved high office comparatively early in life were
discussing their careers. Someone asked whether they had ever expected to be
where they were then. They all said, “No”, with the exception of Winston
Churchill, who was then home secretary at the age of thirty-five. “Yes,” he
said. “Napoleon won Austerlitz at my age.” The Battle of Austerlitz, also known
as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories,
effectively destroying the Third Coalition (made up of Britain, Russian and Austria)
against the French Empire. It was a victory obtained after nearly nine hours of
difficult fighting. The battle is often regarded as a tactical masterpiece.

I recently finished
reading Alexander - Sands of Ammon,
the second book in a trilogy written about the famous King Alexander the Great,
King of Macedon, conqueror of Greece and Egypt and Persia and founder of
Alexandria. All the achievements of Alexander were packed into a compact thirty
three years, living from 356 to 323 BC.

William Pitt, the
Younger, became Prime Minister of Britain in 1783 at the age of twenty-four. He
served a total of 20 years over two terms, before his death at the age of
forty-seven, same age as the incoming President of USA, Barack Obama.

Coming home to
Ghana, former President John Agyekum Kufuor was a deputy foreign affairs
minister at the age of thirty-one.

Two events in the
second half of the year 2008, stand out in my mind with respect to young
persons in high places. On the 5th of November, 2008, the United
States of America elected the first African-American president, Barack Obama.
He was forty-seven years. He is not the youngest to be elected to that office
though. John F. Kennedy had that honour. On the 3rd of November
2008, the new Managing Director of Barclays Bank Ghana, Benjamin T. Dabrah,
assumed office. He was thirty-seven years, the youngest ever in the
establishment in Ghana. I am proud to say that Benjamin is a fellow Katangee
(alumnus of University hall,
KNUST, Ghana) and a former member of the Literary wing of the University
Christian fellowship, where we shared the stage on a number of occasions.

Looking around
today, I see a lot of young people who act as if they have all the time in the
world, and older persons who think this attitude is alright. It is unfortunate
that there are young citizens who still believe life begins at forty and that life
before forty is non-scoring, and older citizens who still insist that unless
you are old, you have nothing to offer, equating age with wisdom. During the
NPP Presidential primaries in Ghana, did you not hear the debate about people
being too young to stand for president? Young men and women are causing wealth
loss to their generation because they are sitting on inert ideas, bottled-up
potential energy and scratching the ground when they should be gliding the
skies and perambulating with the stars. These people are so disillusioned they
live life without any urgency.

Johann Wolfgang
Goethe asserted that the destiny of any nation, at any given time, depends on
the opinion of its young men and women under twenty-five. I agree with him in toto.
What then is the destiny of our
nation, of our continent, of our world? Do you hear the opinion of Ghanaian
young men and women under twenty-five? I don’t hear it often. But, we must hear
them, and consistently.

One of my favourite
verses in the Bible, one that has always challenged me to do more is, 1 Timothy
chapter four verse twelve:

Let no one despise your youth, but become
an example of the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith,
in purity.

Another version
states: do not let any one look down upon
you because you are young.

Don’t under-rate
the scope of your influence in your youth. Don’t think you have all the time to
make a difference in this world. Recognize that both brown and green leaves
fall to the ground.

Sir Winston
Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill,died at the age of
forty-six. Bill
Clinton’s dad, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., died at the age of twenty-eight.
In his autobiography, My Life, the
former president of the United States of America intimated that he felt he
could have the same short lifespan as his dad and so time was not on his side
to achieve what he wanted to in life. In the acclaimed biography of Winston
Churchill, the venerable former Prime Minister of Britain, Churchill, author Roy
Jenkins expressed the same concern of

On 17 December,
2008, a day before I launched my first book Excursions
in my Mind at the British Council Hall in Accra, Ghana, a close friend told
me he could not be at the function because of the death of his brother-in-law,
a young man who completed University of Ghana just that year. I was touched by
the obituary of a thirty-three year old young doctor in the Daily Graphic newspaper
sometime in October 2008. Brown leaves
fall, green leaves fall too. Don’t wait till you have grey hair before you
believe people will take you seriously because scientifically, grey hair is a
sign of old age and not necessarily of wisdom.

cause wealth loss to your generation! Life is too short to be little. You have
an impact to make on your generation and the time to start was yesterday.

In whatever
capacity you find yourself, you can make a difference, because:

is not the depth of your intellect
the breadth of your experience
is the extent of your yielding
the strength of your passion

is not the eloquence of your speech
the sweetness of your tongue
is the purity of your heart
the love for the Lord

is not the qualified that He calls
is the called that He qualifies
you would be available, willing and obedient
will be you the Lord will use

Allow me, in
conclusion, to quote Bruce Barton: “Nothing splendid has ever been achieved
except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to

Postscript: I SPEAK OF GHANA was published in September 2013 as an ebook, and is
available via Kindle (Amazon) and It is due for launch as paperback
in November 2013.

Nana A