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Mon, Aug

Kofi Amoah Amigosten

 

All in one school - Kofi Amoah Amigosten

 


Ghanaian philanthropist, Kofi Amoah Amigosten, well known on Facebook for his ‘Ride With Amigos’ outreach; a kind of one-man charitable crusade that seeks to soothe the pain of the largely rural poor, needy and forgotten people he comes into contact with in whatever way he can, raise awareness of their conditions and expose some of the social issues and dangers he comes across was recently named the proud winner of SDLG's Africa's Most Reliable Personality.

Kofi Amigosten (K.A) has been involved with helping others for close to three decades and he recently spoke with myghanalinks.com reporter, Simon Aikins (S.A) on his award and his motivations for pursuing the well-being of the less privileged in society.

The award began with a public nomination on the construction equipment manufacturer's Europe - Middle East - Africa (EMEA) Facebook page in September, 2015. Mr. Amoah came up tops after competing rigorously with other equally good personalities like Dr. Raphael James (Nigeria), Maria Maliki (Zimbabwe), Brenda Shuma (Tanzania) and Sara Sarina (Ethiopia).

Below are excerpts from the interview:

S.A: On behalf of myghanalinks.com and your many adoring fans, I congratulate you on your award.

K.A: Thank you.

S.A: Who is Kofi Amigosten?

K.A: I'm a social worker.

S.A: Can you elaborate on that? I mean an individual social worker or social worker with one of the state agencies?

K.A: I am state trained but worked for the state from 1990 to 1997 at The Boys' Remand Home in Accra after which I decided to do more for the less fortunate on my own since the state agencies will only frustrate your efforts working within.

S.A: Why were you awarded?

K.A: I was awarded for social good.

S.A: What is the award about?

K.A: The award is about finding people from the nooks and crannies of Africa who make life better for the less privileged.

S.A: How were you selected?

K.A: I was selected through public nomination on Facebook.

S.A: Did you compete with others?

K.A: I competed rigorously with equally good nominees on the continent. I pulled 53% of the votes.

S.A: Why do you think your friends nominated you?

K.A: They follow my work and I get so much feedback.

S.A: How did you feel when you were selected as the winner?

K.A: I felt great and thought the recognition will lead to greater things.

S.A: What drives or motivates you to embark upon social good?

K.A: It is just a way of life. With my social work background, it adds more to what I do.

S.A: Do you get financial support for your philanthropic work?

K.A: Friends on social media support it in any way they deem fit.

S.A: Do you intend getting any support from the government?

K.A: I hope to but for now I use my resources. I think the state agencies are not proactive. You approach them and they do not show interest in collaboration. It looks like they feel my activities are exposing their inactions. I have been to the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection and to the Director of Social Welfare twice and the National Road Safety Commission six times. They promised to call back but none has since May, 2015.

S.A: Have you petitioned the Minister?

K.A: I decided not to. They have records to show I was there and the Minister after two months asked the regional Social Welfare office to call for a meeting which till now has not happened.

S.A: Do you have any idea as to why some people put up a lukewarm attitude towards social work?

K.A: In Ghana, people talk too much and a small percentage will get involved before talking. Social work suffers in Ghana. The official state agencies are almost dead.

S.A: Do you sometimes feel like giving up due to the frustrations that hinder your work?

K.A: No one asked me to do it. I do it because it is a way of life. So frustrations need not affect me.

S.A: Do have any plans of recruiting people to help with your work?

K.A: Currently, I travel on my motorcycle across the country and sometimes travel with friends. I will be arranging to get volunteers to support some of the future school projects I have in mind.

S.A: Wow... motorbike? Why a motorbike?

K.A: I have a strong passion for motorbikes and it is the best tool for social researches across Ghana. I have been riding various bikes since 1986.

S.A: I have seen some of your video clips, don’t you get scared being on a motorbike alone in places that you’ve never being to before?

K.A: In November of last year, I went through the Fulani ambush between Kwahu and Agogo. At a village called Ataa no Ataa, I was made aware of how dangerous the road is. However, I am aware what I do is at the peril of my life. It is about courage and faith. My bike itself is 20years and I guess I need a replacement.

S.A: What incident has touched you thus far into the New Year on your trips?

K.A: So many.... Every day I see a new shocker. My new video 'All in one school is the greatest shocker.

S.A: You are a known actor and a movie pundit aside your social work. Have you abandoned that career?

K.A: I still do commercials to support my projects.

S.A: What are your plans going forward with regards to your social work?

K.A: I intend extending educational support to many schools across Ghana. I am providing reading and teaching materials in addition to clothing and food to rural and urban poor communities.

S.A: Any word for potential volunteers, sponsors and the government agencies?

K.A: Ghana’s development depends on all of us, our actions and inactions affect the nation's progress. The state should encourage private participation to the fullest in national development. People should get involved in nation building and not expect a party in power to solely do it. We all have a role to play devoid of parties that we belong to. We have one Ghana!

S.A: It's been nice talking to you. Thank you for the audience granted me. We wish you well in all your endeavors.

K.A: Blessings!

 

Mr. Kofi Amoah is a proud product of Bishop Herman College. He is an actor and does TV commercials aside his social work.

Marricke K. Gane


In light of his active Social Media activity and forthcoming book launch scheduled for 13th November, 2015 at the Botsio Hall of Ghana's famous Alisa Hotel at 5:30pm, Immortal Boa-Ansah engaged the highly esteemed author - Marricke Kofi Gane formerly Charles Kofi Fekpe who has 10 published books to his credit in a brief interview to learn more about him and hopefully afford his audience an opportunity to get to know him just a tad bit better before the Book Launch.

In this interview, MKG gives a brief insight into his childhood, the motivators that push him daily, his customized solution to some of the problems in the land and what he hopes to achieve with his new book, titled - The Marricke Gane Chronicle (Our Ghanaian Solution)

Unfortunately, we couldn't touch on the book as much as we wanted for fear of taking some of the thunder out of the launch but he has promised that time permitting he will respond to any comments or questions that are left for him in the comments section of this publication.

Who is Marricke Kofi Gane?

Marricke Kofi Gane was originally born Charles Kofi Fekpe. The third of four children; a son of Ghana, a husband to one and father of three. Marricke is a Chartered certified Accountant, an International Development expert and a published author. He is considered by many as one of Ghana's new generation of critical thinkers, a hater of mediocrity and challenger of all status quo. But above all, a passionate patriot of Ghana.

Can you give us a brief insight into what it was like growing up as Charles Kofi Fekpe?

We were quite a close knit family but I was luckiest among them for 2 reasons: I spent a part of my childhood with my father, a building technologist travelling quite a bit through West Africa so it gave me a great insight into varied cultures and interactions very early. Then I spent some time with my grandparents so I didn’t miss so much on a very rural orientation between the sea and lagoons of Keta and of course firsthand encounters and stories by my grandfather about the days of Nkrumah's rule. My dad was very heavy on education so under his regime there was no space for fooling around.

In a nutshell, I was blessed to have had quite a rounded childhood. As a teenager (well, actually, the youngest at the time), I went into Keta Secondary School, straight from Nigeria and I remember very clearly how I used to be laughed at because of my then strong Naija accent. Ketasco was my Alma matter as it was for my father too. I remember not doing too well in sixth form and in order to "give me a new perspective on life" my father took me to his hometown in the Hohoe area and forced me to live on the farm with his extended family for about 2 weeks. The results were transformational - blistered hands sore muscles and a divine respect but also a candid hatred for peasant farming.

At the end of the visit he spoke these priceless words - "that is what you will be doing for the rest of your life if you make bad choices about your education 3 more times. Subsequently, I made the requisite grades and was offered the opportunity to study Chemistry at the University of Ghana, Legon.
At that juncture I realized I had been studying as a science student to please my fear of disappointing my father. The decision divided my family almost, but that and my farming experience motivated me to go on to complete my ACCA qualification in 3 record years... The rest after that, has been a life dedicated to discipline, continuous learning and taking life very seriously.

Quite an interesting experience. You have 10 published books to your name. Most can barely compile a 2,000 word essay. How did it all start? How did you discover that you could write?

My mother and father got us to read a lot as children so the seed was sown as a child. But it all actually happened in my adult years. I had been a high scorer in my professional life until one annual review session at which my then director mentioned in his annual assessment that the only weakness he felt about me was that "I tend to be too flowery with my emails" - first I was very displeased about his comments but in my line of work you are taught very early to always see things in 360 degrees so I went off asking questions on what possibilities such a comment could have. Just around the same time, my pastor Rev Dr James Nanjo asked me if I have ever considered writing - his question was somewhat the answer to my ponderings. The rest they say is history.

Charles Kofi Fekpe to Marricke Kofi Gane. How did the transition take place and what influenced it?

I can certainly tell you it took a lot of patience. It took me 11 years of waiting until I assessed it was the right time to gain likely approval from my father before proposing it and am glad I got his and my mother's blessing for it. Why? For many reasons, largely spiritual and a redefining of destiny is all I can say.

What inspires you to write?

The desire to see many (especially Ghanaians and largely Africans) benefit from every area of life by not being afraid to ask the deep questions of themselves, by not being afraid to question the long held beliefs and by not being afraid to challenge the status quo - whether it has to do with religion, society or politics. I am desirous to see a new age Ghanaian or African that is critically curious of himself and his or her environment and yet also creative enough to dare find his own solutions.

What in your view has contributed to the present national and continental problems with our people which your works have sought to address?

There is a myriad of problems facing Ghana and Africa, some of these I have very well dealt with in my book, "Is This Why Africa Is?" For me however, at the center of it all is a "MENTAL" problem. To sum it up, as a people we have never really mastered or embraced "How To THINK" instead we have for generations preoccupied ourselves with "What To Think". The latter forces us to live in a world others have created for us and the former, would have shaped us to create our own world.

Now let's talk about your new book, Mr. Gane. The Marricke Gane Chronicles: it addresses, technology, corruption, Power and energy, finance, education and politics. What does this book seek to achieve?

The book seeks to change the status quo from the complaining and irritation to looking and offering solutions. I am hoping it also dispels the wrong notion that we need an entire nation to draw up a development plan - no, we need thinkers. The book is a gift of hope to the Ghanaian people - to believe that real pragmatic solutions tailored to Ghana exist. Finally and most important of all - it is a spark of mental revolution - to strive to be our own solutions just as we have been creators of our own problems.

Most people believe that one of the biggest problem with Ghanaians today is that we do not like to read. Do you find that as a challenge to this book achieving its purpose?

Well, that assertion has been made but has anyone been able to prove it? If Ghanaians don’t read at all, the newspaper industries would have collapsed by now, don’t you agree? In any case, I have tried to make the book as adaptable as possible by (1) designing it in a magazine format and (2) summarizing a lot of the inputs into quick-digesting infographics. I am confident that will help make it both appealing and easy to read. Let’s not forget that the majority of Ghana's population are the brooding breed of increasingly restless youth who want to see change happen. They haven’t arrived at that level by being mentally dormant.

You are once reported to have said and I paraphrase, - I believe on a lighter note that, if you had the power to set up a university, you would one that will for the first 10 years run 3 programs; Time Mismanagement, Customer Mis-Care and Practical Corruption for Politicians. That is both humorous and serious at the same time. Let's deal with the seriousness before we do the humor. We all agree that these are real problems confronting Ghana. It’s been 4 years since you made that remark. Since then, people have written extensively, you included, on the way forward. Have things changed or are they getting worse?

I remember that sarcastic post. Well, things have gotten worse only because WE haven't changed. Situations and problems have no means of creating or solving themselves, we do. But sadly, it seems to be attaining a certain level of "acceptable normalcy" - and that’s where the real danger is - the danger that motivation for correction becomes swallowed up in the normality of society's acceptance. Which in itself is a result of our inability to seek for solutions as soon as they are needed.

Do tell us about your latest work and what inspired it?

My latest work is quite diverse. On the one hand, I have always asked questions about why things are the way they are in Ghana – I hardly got answers. Then you also hear many Ghanaians who are so called experts make comments like “The institutional systems are the cause of Ghana’s problems” and others even say “What Ghana needs is a strong fiscal discipline” and so on. BUT nobody has ever said “HOW (not "even") exactly it can be done”. That is the journey I embarked on almost 9 months ago and this book is one filled with pragmatic creative solutions – solutions that have not just been picked off the shelf – but tailored to Ghana’s specific dispensation. It’s a book that actually says, “This is the way to move us from mediocrity to being great and strong” – I believe it is a book that I pray redirects our focus from nagging and asking questions about our problems to finding critical and creative solutions.

... so why now and why do you believe this new book will work?

I could have written this book 3 or 4 years ago, but it won’t be the same. It is here NOW because there is now the general sense in Ghana of despondency and people genuinely looking for answers, - I am offering some. The absence of these answers will simply dry up the last bit of hope left in us, and when that happens, violent upheavals may not be far off.

With regards to whether it will work or not, of the 1000 free copies to be distributed even if one person reads something out of it and it rekindles his or her hope, this book would have served its purpose. Just one.

When is the launch date and where will the launch be?

The Book will be launched on 13th November 2015 at the Botsio Hall of Alisa Hotel from 5:30pm sharp.

What should attendees expect from this launch?

I can guarantee they will leave the launch with hopes rekindled and a greater expectation of themselves regarding Ghana moving forward. A revolution of the mind.

You are quoted as saying that after the launch, some people will begin to unfriend you, your words, “gidigidi”. Why?

Well, the truth is and albeit sadly, that some folks have become so used to the business of “analyzing Ghanaian problems” but without providing critically examined, yet creative solutions. Hopefully, I am about to take them out of business.

How is this work different from your previous ones and why is now the ideal time to release it?

This book is different because unlike others I have written, it focuses on Ghana and it covers in great detail, problems concerning our development that are very personally dear to me. I must say it is the book till date I have written with the most passion. And am sure you will see why, when you attend the Launch. It is the right time because Ghana is at the crossroads and this is my contribution to her finding the right path to turn.

Prior to the interview, we sampled the views of a few people who have in one way or the other had an encounter with you either through your work or personally. We share some with you. Tell us how these makes you feel.

“He is a deep thinker, problem solver and an agent of change” - Danny, Ghana

“He is straightforward. He always advice’s you to use whatever God has given you” - Ankobiah, Ghana

“Thanks to his book, “Ask And You Shall Marry”, I feel more grounded in the choices I make. I have known Mr. Gane from London. He is an extremely intelligent man who has a heart for the youth” - Adel, Ghana

“His book, Doing Business With God, was very revelatory for me as I came to understand how principles play a very important role in a man's life” - Nana, Russia

“With the little interaction I have had with him, Mr. Gane come across as a man who is straightforward and very simple in his approach to issues” - Dotse, Ghana

“His books are life transforming”- Miss. Akinyi, Kenya

What can I say? I feel I have come thus far with the help of a lot of people - family and non-family. It is in order, that I also use what I am endowed with – my mind, my experiences and spiritual insights to give to others. Yes, I believe in the youth, I believe they hold the key to Ghana’s future greatness. Whoever doesn’t see that, has no business running this country.


Most of the people we spoke to feel you are straightforward. Are you?

Let’s just say I don’t like my time and resources being wasted so I don’t believe in wasting those of others.

Has that trait helped you in anyway on your life journey?

It’s helped me reach my goals fast. That trait, I believe is a reflection of two deeper passions not naked to the eyes – (i) I hate mediocrity with a passion and (ii) I abhor lack of creativity as a plague.


Your final words to your many followers across the globe.

Thank you for believing in me. Your hopes give me great strength, and your companionships, are a great support – We are all in this together – we do it For God and For Country.

Mr Marricke Gane, thanks for your time and best wishes with the launch and the book.

 

 

By Immortal Boa-Ansah