For the past few weeks, I have spent my mornings at work on a staircase leading to the office space.

I see lots of children play around, read their books and explore the mangoes in the location.

Looking at the energy these guys put in to get the mangoes and realizing I am not a lover of mango and haven’t taken mango in the last 15 years, I only smile and say, this is the time for mangoes, let them enjoy.

I have also used this time to critically ponder over my life and asked some very pertinent questions about my life, academics, and career. The fundamental among all these thoughts are: Am I indeed making the best out of my career? Am I wasting lots of time on less important stuff? Am I progressing in my career? Am I making an impact in my line of work? Am I content with my career? Isn’t it time to make a move and take a bold decision? Looking at my ambitions, am I on the right path?

In the last two years, I have had friends, relatives and colleagues ask me some very fundamental questions as well. Even though I admit most are asked out of good faith, I know there are a few questions that are rhetorical and just for the fun but I continue to ponder over them peacefully. Let me share a few ones with you.

“When are you starting your PhD? When are you joining mainstream politics for those who know I am very interested in the politics and development of our country?  When will you join the “table of men” probably due to the fact I enjoy being the best man at weddings”. Colleagues and other mentors who are ardent readers of my writings and follow my blog continue to ask, “when are you publishing your first book?”, And for some mischievous reasons some friends, fellow disappointed seminarians, a few priests, and some “mothers” and “uncles” from church,  always ask when I am going back to the seminary. Anytime, this question comes up, a dear colleague at work will smile and say, “these young Catholic men are never sure of their vocation and are always praying for discernment”…

Well, I probably haven’t been able to put a definite date to all of these, and not even sure if I can or even willing to pursue all these paths. Reflecting on them soberly, I continue to ask myself, if the time is right to make such a move. Admitting clearly, all the paths above are areas I have once desired or still desire. I sometimes think I need a little time to “grow” or probably achieve a height before making the move.

I am not sure my story is entirely different from many young Africans in their twenties and probably early thirties. We are confronted with lots of questions daily. Life continues to give us a reason to ask whether we are on the right path or not. For many of you, you may probably be thinking of when and how to get that academic degree you have always yearned for. Asking whether the time is right to marry or not? Thinking to offer yourself for that leadership position? Thinking of proposing or accepting that gent/ lady for a relationship? Asking whether it is time to switch your career? Asking whether your search for job offers are not enough. Asking when to do so many things. The obvious thing here is about the TIMING, is it the right time?Am I ready to take this bold decision now? What will happen if I try and fail? Will I get the support of family and colleagues to support me in this path?

Around the year, 2010 or 2011, my mother took myself and my siblings, I guess it was only my younger brother since my elder siblings were not around to visit our late maternal grandfather.  We had gone on weekends or vacations in Drobo where my Dad worked then. We went on a visit to my village, Atuna, a very sacred land, in the Jaman South Municipality, Bono Region of Ghana. The village is actually a walking distance of a border town on Ivory Coast. I have been told of how my parents, uncles and aunties sometimes walked to neighbouring Ivorian communities for events. Probably, someday, we should go on an exploration to this holy city but let’s get the roads Minister and government to fix the road first.

Let’s get back to the main story, Well, I am not sure I had seen him prior to that visit in my adult life but I have heard lots of stories about him. I have been told how a disciplinarian he was, how tall he was, life at the barracks when he was in the army and then I was told how he seriously stammers but will always make his point even if it takes him an hour to construct a sentence. Of course, it’s obvious why stammering runs in the family. On getting to his house, my mum called him, “Paapayaa- ba,” to wit, “Daddy, we are here” in a very typical bono language. Well, until that day, I didn’t know she could speak the very typical bono.

It took the oldman about 15 seconds to respond clearly though I could hear him stammering and responding from the room. Finally the response came. And in about a minute, I saw a walking stick out of his room first and then an old, tall, fragile man came out.  What I noticed first was his broad smile and the mustache around his upper lip (Once a soldier, always a soldier).  He sat down and had a chat with us. It was quite difficult hearing him due to his old age and probably because he seriously stammers and spoke the very typical bono not the adulterated ones we speak these days. Along the chat, he switched from my mother and focused on us (grandchildren). The first question he asked was, “monim me” to wit, “Do you know me?” we responded, “aane” meaning “yes, we know you”. He smiled and said, “monnim me naemom me din na mate” to wit, “you don’t really know me, you have only been told about me”. Well, the oldman was right, if I had met him somewhere alone, I probably may not have identified him as my grandfather. I guess this will be same with most of my cousins. He asked about school and he was delighted to know I was in the University then. It was time for advice and I guess that was why he requested to see his grandchildren. He went back to his room and brought a picture of a tall young man in a uniform. He asked us to examine the picture critically and tell who that person was. After our fruitless guess, he told us that was him some 50 years ago in the army. I was awed and amazed. How can such a healthy-looking soldier now look this old, fragile and even unable to walk properly unless with the aid of a walking stick? He noticed the surprise on our faces and with his broad smile, beautiful moustache and stammering uttered these words to us; “When I was your age, I was a very healthy soldier and could do anything I wished but look at me now, very old and unable to do so many things. Please make very good use of your youthful age. That is the stage to live your best and accomplish greatness”. He looked at us more closely and with his broad smile continued, “I have no cocoa farm that you can inherit from me but I was a disciplinarian and trained your mother well. I know you have been trained well too. I was very smart in school and know you will have a portion of my brain in your genes.  If you take your studies seriously, you will surely achieve greater heights. Never be interested in quick money, work hard and God himself will bless your efforts”…Wow, such wisdom!!!…. I am sure my cousins who might have visited him before his demise were told the same story. We left later in the day only to return to the holy city in August 2014 for his funeral (May his gentle soul continue to rest in perfect peace). Sadly, I didn’t take a picture with him but I guess he had this message not just for his grandchildren but for all of us, especially the Youth. My maternal grandfather, “Nana JC” as we affectionately called him has these words for us all, “Make the best out of your youthful years”.

Fellow Youth, this is the time to make the best out of our youthful years.The time to take that academic degree you have so wished for is now. The time to start that side business you have always thought of is now. This is surely the time to give that young man/ woman a chance to start a journey of love. This is surely the time to pursue that career you have always wished for. This is surely the time to dare to challenge the world. This is the time to start telling your story. This is the time to take up that leadership position you had always wanted. This is surely the time to switch career if you have had enough at work. And hey, this is surely the time to be conscious of your spiritual and moral uprightness. Surely the time to take your Christian journey seriously. This is surely the time to write that exams you have always postponed. This is surely the time to visit the friend, mentor or relative you haven’t seen in a while. This is the time to forgive others. This is surely the time to make peace with yourself. This is surely the time to forgive yourself of past mistakes.  This is surely the time to start your political adventure. This is surely the time to love.This is surely the time to apologize for your mistakes. This is the time to get your priorities right.This is the time to learn that skill, time to focus about your mental health, time to learn to respect divergent opinions, time to come out of your insecurities and explore… This is surely the time to live your dream. Well, this is the time to start sharing your thought in writing with the world. And this is surely the time to flee from that abusive relationship and live your best.

When you see pictures of 80-year-olds celebrating 50 years in marriage, know that, they probably made a bold decision just when they were your age to marry so, you can also make the move. When you attend the silver jubilee of priests and religious, know that they were either ordained or took their first vow around your age now. When you read about the works of seasoned academics, politicians, journalists, diplomats, medical practitioners, lawyers, traders, farmers, social workers etc. know that they started their career just at this time of your life….

For the politically minded persons who want to take charge of the political future of their country yet unsure due to age, remember President Kufour first appointment as deputy minister for foreign affairs was when he was 31 years in 1969. Note Chairman Rawlings took charge of the country at age 32 and quite recently, the likes of very amazing young politicians like Hon. Samuel OkudzetoAblakwa who became a deputy minister at age 28/29.  The vociferous Sammy Gyamfi who took over the communication bureau of the NDC when he was less than 30 years. SammiAwuku, Hon. Samuel Abu Jinapor, Hon. Felix KwakyeFosu among many others who have demonstrated competence in the political field at a relatively younger age. These personalities have paved the way….. Never allow yourself to be intimidated due to your age. Get in, shine and help us make Ghana and Africa better.

Start the journey and you will be amazed how beautiful it will turn out to be. And when the going gets tough, soberly reflect on this song, “It will be hard we know and the road will be muddy and rough yet we will get there, Heaven knows where we are going, we know we will”. Not sure I got the lyrics right though….

A former classmate and a very good friend of mine who is a catholic priest from the diocese of Techiman in my last recollection at the grotto shared with me a topic called SEASONS. He indicated that, there are four stages/ seasons in life i.e. Morning, afternoon, evening and resting stage. The second stage which is the afternoon stage is the execution stage which spans from 26 to 59years largely. That is the stage you need to give to the world, walk in the fullness of your purpose, implement your ideas and make an impact in your society and the lives of people you encounter. We will talk about the other stages some other time but know that,this is surely the time for EXECUTION fellow youth.

In conclusion, as you contemplate to make the bold decision,remember, you are never too old to live your dreams and Everyday provides a perfect opportunity to make things right. For us Christians who believe in the omnipotence of God, remember to align yourself with God’s plan and divinity as a good friend of mine will always say, “Heaven indeed has the perfect plan”.

Cheers to Greatness…

Let’s begin the journey to greatness with love

Let Passion, Hard work, Determination (PHD) be our guide.

And hey, 10 years from now, you would have made ten years of progress or will have 10 years of excuses of why you never made the move. The choice is yours…Let’s make the move.

Vincent Ohene-Ntow

YALI Dream

A Better Ghana

A Brighter Africa

 

Facebook; Kwame Ohene-Ntow

Email: vincentntow12@gmail.com

Personal Blog; mirrorofafrica.blogspot.com

The writer is a Development Practitioner and a Local Government Enthusiast. He holds a Master’s degree in Development Policy and Planning from KNUST and a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Ghana Business School. He is an Alumnus of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI, RLC).