Friends, many thanks once again for enjoying my series, “Scaling the Walls of Life”, which was evident through your phone calls, “likes” and comments. And I thank God for using me to touch some lives. I was able to solve some difficult issues of some of our brothers and sisters through counseling. They contacted me for help after reading my series.
In part 1, I stated that ideas are the key ingredients one needs to be successful and that to get ideas, one has to do a lot of dreaming. There is a strong correlation between ideas and knowledge, and I wish to state here that you need to acquire knowledge in your search for ideas.
Not only that, knowledge is a kind of compass that will lead you in your life’s journey, without it we are doomed. Little wonder the Bible says in Hosea 4:6 that my people perish or are destroyed for lack of knowledge. A friend who lives in Liberia told me that the Ebola disease was excessively prevalent in the rural areas of the country where the illiteracy rate is high.
We acquire knowledge through reading and that is one of the deep secrets of the world. One of the ways Whites made sure Blacks did not develop was to make reading illegal during the Slave Trade; slaves who got near books were mercilessly beaten, and some people believe that is why Blacks don’t read. Most of the world’s great achievers are avid readers. I’m told the secret behind the successes of the Late Komla Dumor was reading.
I mentioned earlier in part one of this work that I would like to give much practical examples using my life stories; the following story of mine which you may be familiar with will help me drive home my point on the need to read.
Many years ago, in the 70’s, I got the opportunity to get acquainted with the family of the Late Dr. Efua Theodora Sutherland one of Africa’s finest playwrights through my father who was her driver. During school vacations, I went to her house to help in cleaning, and weeding; and did other house chores for her household. I recall Madam Efua Sutherland once told me to take advantage of the well-stocked library in her house and read as many books as possible.
To satisfy her, I’ll pick up a book and pretend to be reading. In few days, I’ll send it back to the library and pick another book, and the deception continued till my cup was full. One day, the Late Dr. Efua Sutherland told me to give a summary of a book she saw me reading the previous week, and I was found wanting – there was an uncomfortable silence, and I observed that she was disturbed and considerably puzzled.
Since then, fearing that I would be asked to summarise the books I’ve read, and also to make her happy, I became serious and read many books from her library, mostly the African Writers Series. Many months later, I was given an assignment by one of her daughters to write an essay. The topic was “A typical football match”. The instruction given me was that I should write the role I played in the match, whether as a child gone to watch the game with my father, a player, a referee, etc. but I shouldn’t use the first person-pronoun “I”
I was in Secondary School form two then, and I discussed the topic with some friends in my neighbourhood who were many years my seniors in school. They told me it is not possibly to write about the role I played in a football match without using “I”.
On a second thought, I recollected the writing styles of the authors whose books I had read, and completed the assignment. When the work was submitted, the daughter of Dr. Sutherland told me that I’ve done very well, and that she and her siblings were not able to do the same assignment when they were at my level. All her siblings got first class at the university.
I was very much encouraged by this revelation, given that I was a son of a poor driver and they were from an affluent home and were more exposed than me. When the lady who gave me the assignment became a Minister of State many years later, I told myself that I can do more. As if to tell me: Kofi, tweaa, you are not my co-equal, catch me if you can, she became a university professor. The Lady I am referring to is Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy.
Through the intervention of the Sutherlands I have been addicted to reading and I can’t sleep at night till I have read for at least an hour. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the help of this wonderful family; it was an inestimable privilege associating with them, and I keep thanking Sister Esi whenever I meet her. To the glory of God not only was I the National Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Association of Writers for a decade, and have been the General Secretary for three years, I have 13 published works to my credit, five of these are being used by the Ghana Library Board, and one by the Ministry of Education in Ghana; and two have found their way in the libraries of the University of Illinois, Columbia University, and the Yale University in the United States of America. I also have hundreds of published articles to my credit.
I believe I haven’t achieved a quarter of my potential; it is my fervent desire to win some major local and international literary awards before I leave this world. Hehehehe, that is a toothsome desire, isn’t it?
I’m optimistic that this could be achieved through serious reading; I have been reading at least a book (an average of 250 pages) every week aside other supplementary reading. I don’t want to weary you with my long story and encomiums, but want to tell you that through reading, more gold has been mined in the brains of men than in the earth, let’s, therefore, not see reading as a tawdry chore but as a way of life that can help unearth the gold in us. And I must reasonably reiterate that to achieve this, three things are needed: reading, and reading, and reading.
Anthony Obeng Afrane