Finding Ghanaians who can write is challenging. You would think that someone who has completed high school and, often times, college, could complete coherent essays on simple topics.
Well, you’d be wrong.
Friends who employ Ghanaians all confirm that this essential skill is lacking despite years of schooling. One company I know does not trust their Ghanaian employees with writing simple emails because of a) incorrect punctuation, b) incoherent structure, and c) over-use of the informal tone. I’ve interviewed people to help me with this blog. Let’s just say I’ve found imperfect solutions.
In an English-speaking world, Ghanaians start off at a disadvantage because English is basically a second language. Ghanaians’ start with their local language, e.g. Twi, Ga, Ewe, Hausa. Only when children arrive at primary school do they begin learning English. Considering the literacy rate in Ghana is 78.3% and 65.3% for men and women over 15 years, respectively, you can understand how unlikely that Ghanaian parents would be reading to their children. Not only is English not reinforced in most homes, but many children never complete their studies because their families cannot afford senior high school.
Nonetheless, the world doesn’t really care what your reasons for not being able to communicate effectively. If you can’t communicate, your job opportunities will be limited to those that don’t require that skill set.
Thus, I’m a bit in awe that my caddie(!) named Prosper is good at explaining things, e.g. how I’m not swinging properly. I often ask him to explain his thoughts on Ghana while we walk around the course. A couple of weeks ago I asked him to write a short piece on himself. Here is the essay:
Dwose Prosper is my name. I was born on the 7th [of] January 1994 and I am 20 years of age. I come from Peki Ozaki in the Volta Region but I stay at La in the Greater Accra Region. I am fair in complexion and 4 feet tall, short in stature. I have dark coloured hair, round medium face with small brown eyes. My favorite food is banku with stew or soup. I can eat banku almost every day.
I completed my junior high school education in the year 2009 at Base Workshop Junior High School at Burma Camp in Accra. I came out with “flying colors” and got admission into one of the best senior high schools int he nation — Kpando Senior High School, located in the Volta Region. It was one of my dream school[s]. My father, Mr. John Duose, was a security man for the Ghana Water Company Ltd. and my mother, Mrs. Sarah Agfago, was a trader. They broke up when I was in JHS(2). I have two sisters and 2 other step brothers and three other step sisters.
I was very happy when I got the admission into the secondary school but since I was with my mum there was no money to go to school at that year, so I decided to help myself. I then went to a friend and he told me of a friend who told him of a caddy job close to my place. So I went to the golf course and they accepted me to caddy there. I caddied there for a year and I saved some little money to go to school. My dad also assist[ed] me with a little. I was very happy.
So it was now time for me to go back to school. It was a very bright Saturday [my mum] saw me preparing for my final transition to higher education: The next day, she prayed with me and wished me the best of luck in my academic climb. Did I forget to tell you she was very charismatic? In fact, my mum was very prayerful and even more than a pastor. She is an elder at our church, Power House Prayer Cathedral. So on Monday morning the journey from Accra to Kpando was four hours drive. So we got to Kpando where the school was located, around one thirty in the afternoon. My father saw to all the formalities that were required of a first year student.
After a couple of days, we all settled down for serious academic work. I was coping well with studies and I had no reason to behave that anything could go wrong; all things is going to be fine. My course of study was visual arts with graphic design, general knowledge in arts (GKA), and ceramics as my elective subjects, which I believed was relevant to my future ambitions and aspirations in order of becoming a big time graphic designer as well as a professor in graphic design.
After my first year, things became difficult and very tough because I was to be sacked from school because of school fees. It was a hell for me. So I have to come home to caddy for three months and then go back to school, in doing that am far left behind in terms of academic studies. It wasn’t easy but with determination I was able to go through for 4 years and come out with some good grades.
I never give up because I have not hit the target I want to hit in life. I always encourage myself with the Bible and also the sayings of some philosopher example: “Life is a raw material, we are artisans. We can scuplt our existence into something beautiful or debase it into ugliness. It is in our hands.” by Cathy Better and one from Anthony Robbins which says, “More than anything else, I believe it is our decisions, not condition of our lives that determines our destiny.”
And because of this I always encourage myself saying I can do it. In conclusion to my short life story, I always say to myself that I will never give up in life. Because I know with determination and hard working, I will get to the top and say to myself “I have made it.” So never give up in life no matter how tough the problem is your rather find solutions to the problem. Remember they always say “small steps add up to cover a greater distance. So never throw in the towel — hold onto it.”