ISSUE 147 (2013) a, b, c, d, e, f, SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO AFRICA'S NUMERO UNO BUSINESS GURU,
DR. MIKE ADENUGA, JNR, GCON AT 60
It is not every time that ovation pays tribute to individuals. Here, we play our own special kind of music which celebrates Africa and Africans, but in many cases, we allow the events, the pictures and the people themselves tell the story.
But when you find someone remarkable, a hard-working risk-taker, a towering symbol of enterprise, an undisputed game changer, someone who is passionate about African economic independence, someone whose business philosophy is based on touching and affecting as many lives as possible, then it is necessary to do a re-think, press the pause button, change the music and pay homage-and that is what we are doing on this occasion for a great son of Africa-Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr. as he turns 60!
Who is Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr? Not very many people would be competent or confident enough to answer that question because Adenuga is a complex puzzle, difficult to understand and mysterious. Simply put, an enigma, a spirit and modern day Houdini who has perfected the art of escaping from people!
Apart from his close family members, the only competent person who can deconstruct his life is none other than his age-long Secretary, the Sierra Leonean fondly called Aunty Nora. Aunty Nora has been handling his affairs-business and private, for decades. Therefore, many of the so-called intimate tidbits you read about him are tales woven in the realm of conjecture.
Trust me, his life may seem boring, but that is far from the truth. He has witnessed so many twists and turns. And in actual fact, his life has been as action-packed as a Chinese film. Just read on.
Born on March 29, 1953, in Ibadan to Chief Michael Agbolade Adenuga, a teacher from Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State and Chief (Mrs.) Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga, Dr. Michael Adenuga is the youngest of his parent’s children.
In African culture, when a baby is born, his names are thoroughly thought through. They are very significant because names are said to guide the child and even have a great impact on the child’s life. And this is very true in the case of Adenuga.
At birth, his official name was Michael. He was given the same name as his father despite not being the first child. We gathered that unlike his siblings who were all named by their grandfather, he was named by his father. That was providence in action and sure sign that he was a child of destiny.
For those who don’t know, his name Michael means No one is like God and Adenuga has realised this from way back. In an interview he granted Newswatch magazine, he revealed that God has played a key role in his life. Dr. Adenuga boldly attributes his success to hard work, God’s blessing and luck.
He revealed how he grew up in a very strict, disciplined and God-fearing home. It is no surprise therefore that today, he never leaves home without his chaplet, and even at public functions, he is seen meditating and whispering prayers.
Dr. Mike Adenuga grew up in Ibadan, but his first few years were spent in Lagos with his aunt when his parents had to travel to the United Kingdom for studies. He attended famous Ibadan Grammar School-and his classmates all remember him for his numerous adventures.
Despite not coming from a poor home, his parents ingrained in him the value of humility, sacrifice and back-breaking hard work. Key to his upbringing was the business acumen of his mother. She was a Seamstress and Trader, who traded in any and everything.
Each time she had a new venture, the children had to participate. Adenuga at a point in time sold animal feed, by products from the corn meal used for making ogi (Pap).Unknown to her, the student she was nurturing was a very fast learner and in actual fact she was about to unleash a raging mogul on the world.
Dr Mike Adenuga is not your run-of-the-mill overnight wealthy individaul. He was rich long before he became known to the public, long before his now famous brand Globacom. In actual fact he has been gradually laying his building of success, one brick at a time.
When Henry Longfellow wrote “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companion slept were toiling upward in the night”. He was in deed referring to Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr.
Adenuga has proven time and time again that he has the drive, ideas and tenacity to turn challenges into opportunities. As a student in the United States of America, (He studied Business Administration at North Western Oklahoma State University (NWOSU) and later got an MBA from Pace University, New York), he worked at various times as cab driver, waiter and security man.
After his studies, he had saved up some money of his own, he added this with some contribution from his mother and dabbled into to trading-buying commodities from America and selling in Nigeria.
By the age of 22, he was on a roll. Like his role model, mentor and mother, whom he loves to bits, Adenuga had become a full-time trader. He sold everything from Tomato puree, sawmill equipment, electronics, automobiles, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and later military hard ware.
That was not all, he also delved into textiles. In that famous interview in Newswatch (this reporter has been hoping to also interview him one day), Adenuga revealed how he entered the textiles trade.
“I went on a trip to New York and when I was coming back, I missed my flight, being on British Airways, so I had to fly Swiss Air and I sat next to the owner of one of the biggest lace manufacturing factories in Austria. So, we were talking and he got me interested in importing laces, and all sorts of things”.
Unlike many rich men, as his success grew, the more humble the African Business Icon became.
Talking about his humility, before you shake his baby-soft hands, Adenuga usually greets you with a bow. It is not because he is not confident; it is just the way he was brought up. To give everyone their due respect.
This unassuming attitude endeared him to many older men. Many who have now become his inner circle of friends and have helped to shape his life.
Now blessed with some financial freedom, he was constantly looking for new terrains to conquer and greater challengers to surmount and it came in form of a rare pronouncement in 1990 by the then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida through a Petroleum Act that granted oil exploration and exploitation licences to Nigerians.
Adenuga was one of the lucky few. He was young and ambitious, and saw the bigger picture. While others were still contemplating what to do, Adenuga has begun to put machinery in motion.
But as usual, he first had to confer with his mother. She was very skeptical. She was scared that this was a turf he knew little about and that the capital required was huge. For the second time, (the first being when he went to study abroad instead of the University of Ibadan), he defied his sweet mother.
It was not a happy moment for him but as someone who knows the cardinal rule of business: the bigger the risk, the sweeter the victory, his mind was made up.
So he set to work on OPL 113. He engaged only Nigerian oil experts, hired a $5million oil rig, and nine months later, on Christmas eve of 1991, his oil well, Bella 1 located offshore in Ondo State struck oil!
It was an emotional and historic moment as his company Consolidated Oil became the first indigenous oil producing company in Nigeria.
His excitement that day knew know bounds and one of the very first people he called to break the good news was of course his mother “Maami, we have found oil” he reportedly screamed in excitement with tears of joy rolling down the corners of his eyes.
That adventure has made him through and through an oil baron because his company, Conoil Producing Limited is the largest indigenous oil production company in Nigeria.. While Conoil Plc which was previously government-owned National Oil and Chemical Marketing (NOLCHEM) Plc is one of the largest petroleum marketing companies in Nigeria.
Adenuga was now in the real big league, and stories began to make the rounds about the source of his wealth and that was probably why he decided to do the Newswatch interview to put his wealth into perspective and stop the warped rumours.
The next great business achievement was not single-handedly establishing two banks: Devcom Merchant and Equitoral Trust Bank (Now Sterling Bank), it was the arrival of Globacom.
Globacom is another evidence of Adenuga’s never-say-die spirit. He showed with Globacom that failure is not final but only an avenue to show your inner strength and strong will.
Richard DeVos, the American millionaire and owner of Orlando Magic basketball team said about success “The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe it is possible
This point was supported by Orison Swett Marden, Author and Founder of the Success Magazine, who said “Great Men have found no royal road to their triumph. It is always the old route by way of industry and perseverance” Globacom is a symbol of Adenuga’s perseverance and his entrepreneurial acumen.
His venture into the telecoms industry was tortuous. In 2001, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) announced that Nigeria was ready to auction Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) licences and called for bids.
At the end of the process, four companies including Adenuga’s Communications Investment Limited (CIL) were declared winners. Immediately, everyone had to pay the mandatory $20 (Twenty Million dollars) fees and then pay the $265 (Two Hundred and sixty-five million US Dollars) licence fee in 14 days.
While Adenuga was in the process of effecting payment, his technical team discovered a problem. He had been allocated a licence that was in dispute. He was now in a dilemma, should he pay such a huge amount on a venture that was a subject of litigation or withdraw.
He decided to make payment but with a condition. The government later announced that CIL had failed to meet the deadline-and his licence was revoked.
Mike Jituboh, Globacom’s Executive Director Special Projects who led the CIL team to the 3-day GSM Auctions on January 17, 2001 at the Nicon Hilton Hotel Abuja recollected the painful incident as published by Technology Times Nigeria.
Jituboh revealed, “A day after winning one of the three GSM licences, a CIL team led by Dr. Adenuga headed for Paris for negotiations with BNP Paribas. After several days of protracted negotiations, agreements were reached on the terms and conditions for a loan facility of $265 million for paying the balance of the GSM licence. The deadline for making payments was 5pm of 9th February 2001 and on that fateful day all was set for a transfer by swift instruction when word came in from our colleagues in Lagos that the frequency allocated to CIL was the same frequency that had been allocated to and being used by Motophone. The later was in court to challenge the government’s withdrawal of the frequency.”
According to the Globacom Director, the CIL team faced a debacle that needed quick and decisive action in the light of the fact that its assigned frequency spectrum was under litigation from Motophone owned by the Chagouris and the dilemma of meeting the strict deadline for the provisional licence assigned by NCC, the telecoms regulator that auctioned the spectrum.
“With its assigned frequency under litigation and the deadline for payment approaching, we had to decide whether or not to pay the huge sum of $265 million and hope that Motophone’s litigation would not end up ensnaring both the money and our ambitious plan, of establishing one of the biggest and best telecommunications network in the world. With no time left to resolve the matter with the government before making payment, we decided to make payment with the condition that the money should be released after the government gives CIL an indemnity to cover the possibility of Motophone winning its suit and retaining the litigious frequency”.
“Consequently payment of $265 million was made by BNP Paribas before the deadline hour on 9th February 2001 directly to the designated account at JP Morgan, New York, along with the aforementioned condition.”
“As most Nigerian will recall, the government rejected the condition that was placed on the payment and cancelled the CIL licence. The government refused all entreaties and the funds were ultimately returned to BNP Paribas! That explanation puts paid to the story that made the rounds at that time that Adenuga could not raise the required funds.
Elder brother, Otunba Ademola Adenuga had this say about that setback “Mike lost $20 million, but he never lost hope. He never gave up hope. He kept hope alive; that is one thing about my brother: he is an eternal optimist. Something kept propelling him not to give up on the matter.”
And like the dogged fighter that he is, Dr. Adenuga took that upper cut firmly on the chin, brushed it aside and went on. That was on February 9, 2001.
In August 2002, the government again decided to auction another licence, this was by all ramifications a bigger pie: The Second National Operator (SNO). The licence entitles the winner to operate a GSM and fixed wireless service as well as have international gateway access.
The NCC had pegged the reserved price for the SNO licence at 200 million US dollars, Omnitel Nigeria Ltd, AFZI (Telecommunications) Ltd, Renic Investment Ltd and Globacom were short-listed and were to pay the mandatory reserved price of $20 million. Only Globacom met the deadline-and it later paid the remaining $180 million and thus, Adenuga’s Globacom was born.
Through Globacom, Dr. Adenuga is propagating his philosophies of life to the African continent. Glo has taught us to "glo" with pride, it has encouraged us to rule our world. Now, it is propelling us to believe that opportunities for success on earth are UNLIMITED. Interestingly, it is said that the Billionaire sometimes personally voices some of the Glo commercials, a testimony of his commitment to the cause.
Apart from spreading these messages of hope, Glo which aims to become one of the world’s leading telecommunications network has been spreading smiles and good fortune.
In Nigeria for example, Globacom is described as the company that democratized the telecoms sector through its per second billing concept in addition to its other innovative and value-added services.
Globacom which now operates in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire is making giant strides. It is affecting lives positively, giving more people the opportunity to connect, employing and creating jobs for thousands.
In 2008, this reporter was at the launch of Globacom services in Cotonou, Benin Republic. And witnessed first-hand the magical effect of Glo. The vibe in the city that day was gripping.
Before the official event, I decided to feel the town and was awe-struck by the scenes.
At the main Glo retail outlet, in the heart of the city, the queue was as long as the eye could see. You would think that people were waiting to enter a football stadium. That is the type of effect Glo has had on Africa. It is a people-centered network.
Another major achievement of the company is the 9,800 km Glo-1 submarine cable. Glo-1 is the first successful submarine cable from the United Kingdom to Nigeria, and Globacom is the first individual African company to embark on such a project.
Glo-1 is helping to provide high speed internet services, faster, more reliable and cheaper telecom services for the public.
Despite his exploits in business, The Guru as some call him is still a subject of heavy rumours by doubting Thomases who say he is fronting for some imaginary people.
I am sure he mogul with a combustive temper, would explode in the face of any who dares say such a thing in his presence because those who know, reveal that Adenuga never enters into a partnership. He is a one man riot squad.
He likes to be the main man, the conductor of the orchestra, and has his own peculiar set of rules .In all the business ventures he is involved in, he reports to no one except God Almighty.
He is a workaholic. He has very little interests outside of his work. He is the sort of billionaire who is married to his work. Like Rupert Murdoch, another work fanatic said, Adenuga believes that “working is not a means to an end, it’s the end. It’s one man’s war..”
Adenuga has his own time and terms of doing things. When he sets appointments he can cancel without any prior notice.
He is a typical Taurean; Tough as nails, aggressive, patient and very reliable. It is because of his zodiac sign that some call him The Bull. He has the insignia of the bull everywhere around him. His personal crest has a bull. This is easily recognizable on all his personal correspondences and envelopes. The door to his office has a bull inscribed on it.
When you arrive his corporate Headquarters in Nigeria, aptly named Mike Adenuga Towers, you are welcome by a golden bull, the type you find on the famous Wall Street. His Conoil Plc. Headquarters in Marina, Lagos Island is called the Bull Plaza. Even his new mansion on Banana Island has golden bull statues dotted everywhere.
His bullish nature is not by pictures or carvings, he lives and exhibits it in real life. Just like an ill-prepared matador gets ripped off, Adenuga, the raging bull, usually crushes those who underestimate him or take him for granted. You cross him at your own peril.
However, he can be a great conversationalist and decent listener. He can sometimes appear aloof, but he usually shows his prowess with sharp and crisp questions. Always seeking for bare facts, he has zero tolerance for time wasters. Those who work for him know better than be sloppy when Chairman gives you an assignment.
To his employees, he can be at times cold, impatient and all business. Yet among them there is a sense of excitement and opportunity about working for him.
He tends to hire people who are grateful for the chance. Those who are bright and ambitious-and that is why he personally interviews his workers. The effect of a one-on-one with this great man is usually inspirational. Oftentimes, you go home when employed with a feeling that you are getting more from life because of him than you would have without him.
Adenuga cherishes loyalty –and he pays handsomely for hard-working and loyal staff. But of course, when you step out of line, he is very brutal. Sacking people on the spot!
He is without flamboyance or personal exaggeration. He has no social aspirations, and is hardly seen at parties and events-it is no longer a big deal to notice that he does not attend even major events hosted by his company.
However, like every human, he too lets his guards down at times when he is with his own people mostly friends from way back. He reportedly has a great sense of humour. When he is in these moods, he has an infectious, ebullient laughter.
To his children, he is their dear doting dad. He loves them but has tried to teach them like he was taught by his mother that there is no substitute for hard work. Mrs. Bella Disu, his second daughter, told Ovation in an exclusive interview that her father is very caring but firm.
When they were younger, he encouraged them to play the piano, the family used to have Carols at home at Christmas. It used to be fun, and the best piano players got good gifts.
Bella revealed that her dad always wants the best for his children. “He has always said that he would never stand in our way if we are following the right path…he dotes on us so much more than other regular fathers would”. she revealed
Adenuga showed how loving a father he is when Bella got married. Till date, it has been the best organized and classiest wedding ever held in Nigeria.
The 3-day extravaganza was filled with glamour and grandeur. Mrs. Uche Majekodunmi, owner of Newton and David, a leading events company in Nigeria said “ I was astounded and challenged by ideas that Bella Adenuga brought up. She has class, style and elegance. I have been in this business for decades and can confirm to you that the wedding will be by many miles the best ever held in Nigeria ”.
One cannot but agree with Mrs. Majekodunmi, in my many years of chronicling celebrities and celebrity events, I have never seen so many bottles of Amande De Brignac, Cristal and Dom Perignon Champagnes at one party. It was top notch in every ramification.
Bella told me that for her wedding, money was not an issue. “Every single thing I asked for, he ensured that I got". That is the depth of his fatherly love. It was obvious that he was joyous throughout that ceremony.
Before that wedding, an occasion that Dr. Adenuga went all out publicly was in 2005, but this time instead of joy he was enveloped in grief. It was the burial of his sweet mother, Chief (Mrs.) Oyindamola Adenuga, she was given a first-rate and befitting burial.
From the wake, burial ceremonies to the casket, no cost was spared. In fact, it was at that occasion that Evangelist Ebenezer Obey came out of his well-publicized retirement.
He was compelled by the persuasive power of Adenuga The Great to perform as a mark of honour to his mother. Evangelist Obey who at that time has stopped playing at social functions had no choice. After that performance in the Adenuga's homestead, Ijebu, Ogun State, South West Nigeria, Baba Obey, the famous musician, returned to the social circuit big time.
Dr. Adenuga, the one and only Pillar of Football in Africa has not always been taciturn and careful about his security. But his days as free-walking individual ended in December 1982, when a band of robbers stormed his home on Talabi Street, Ikeja, Lagos-stole his valuables and drove away his new Mercedes Benz car.
For some inexplicable reason, despite the fact that he did not pose any threat to the robbers, nor offer any resistance, on their way out, one of the robbers fired a shot at him.
The bullet cut through his legs, gravely injuring him and inflicting severe damage. Once he survived that attack, after many months of recuperation in London, UK, his rules of engagement with the world changed. He saw the experience as God’s way of giving him a second chance, an opportunity to affect the world. He then became paranoid about his security.
Long before people starting sending parcels and letters laced with ricin and anthrax, Adenuga had barred his office from receiving any letter or parcel that he was not expecting. All such packages are returned untouched.
To further increase the myth around him. You cannot call Adenuga, he calls you if needs you and if you call him back the very next second that number would be switched off. Only very few people can boast of having his direct contact. His staff know better than to call him.
Adenuga is one of Africa’s most open-hearted and silent philanthropists. He is extremely generous. he gives without fanfare. His philanthropy budget is immense-and it touches so many lives.
His official donations are now channeled through the Mike Adenuga Foundation but because he is media shy the foundation’s work is usually kept under wraps.
There is no mistake about his enormous propensity to give. And some of those who benefit from his large heart are people who have done him favours. He never forgets people who have been good to him.
A good example is his affinity for former President General Ibrahim Babangida. IBB’s government gave him the oil licence that gave him a major break and he has remained grateful despite the fact that the General has long left power.
The former President revealed that Adenuga has been a reliable friend and a rare breed.
According to IBB “When I left office, a few of my friends honestly stood by me and I remain eternally grateful to them. Mike is one of them. Another man who doesn’t want his name mentioned any time I speak on this issue is one of them. What I like about them is this: they appreciate whatever little effort you did for them and so, they don’t abandon you. Some people will tell you, ‘ah, when I was in the office, a lot of people used to come to me, now I left office, you don’t find anybody.’ This is the Nigerian factor for you. But these characters remain close and I honestly remain grateful.”
This reporter was in the Presidential Villa a few days after Globacom secured its licence. I was with Chris Mammah, the then Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President when Adenuga walked in.
His was on a whistle stop visit to say hello. He disclosed that he was just calling to thank everybody and was on his way to see Vice President Atiku Abubakar and thank him for the Glo licence. It is said that Atiku was helpful when he put in a bid for the SNO licence.To show his appreciation, when Globacom Headquaters was completed, it was Atiku that Adenuga invited to open the lovely edifice and share in the moment of glory.
So when the same Atiku had his travails at the Presidency, others quickly abandoned him but not Adenuga. Like a trust-worthy friend that he is, Adenuga stood firmly by Atiku and this really angered Atiku’s arch-enemy at the time, President Olusegun Obasanjo.
His closeness to Atiku was allegedly the main reason his house was raided in June 2009. Armed men in the dead of the night came with generators and electric saws and cut through his gates to effect his arrest. The supposed charges by EFCC were later revealed to be concocted; it was a smoke screen designed by President Obasanjo to teach Adenuga a lesson.
Indeed, that was a very trying period for Adenuga, he was harassed and traumatised so badly that he went on self-exile in Ghana and later in London but his relationship with Atiku never waned.And that is why many of those who are close to him love him, Adenuga is one friend you can trust.
People may not know this, Dr. Adenuga was a friend of the famous journalist, Dele Giwa. Their friendship evolved in the United States of America. Giwa was also a taxi driver in the US, and helped Adenuga, the struggling student Adenuga, learn the ropes of the business at that time.
It was this bond of friendship that made him invest in Dele Giwa’s dream project, Newswatch. In fact, it was as a Director of Newswatch that the name Mike Adenuga first entered the media and later national consciousness.
Adenuga, who like Napoleon, the famous General, believes that impossible does not exist, is a perfectionist par excellence. He has showed us all that hard work pays; that our continent is not all about war, disease and famine, that we have brilliant and savvy businessmen who can ride the tide, compete with people from other parts of the globe and emerge as Champions.
You may never find his name on any Forbes Rich list but without any shadow of doubt, Adenuga is at the top echelon of the auhentic list. A comedian analysed the scenario this way: “the world’s Richest man in today, Carlos Slim, owns less than 50 per cent of his telecommunications companies, Adenuga owns 100 percent of Globacom, if we add his investments in oil & gas, properties and other sources, it is certain that he is worth a huge fortune”. Little wonder the Rich list has been controversial for years.
But that is how Adenuga loves it. He will never give out his financial data or details. He likes to keep us all guessing and debating, while he is smiling to the bank!
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of America, said “I like to see a man proud of the place he lives and I like to see him live so that his place would be proud of him". We Africans are indeed proud of this giant of a man. We are proud of his success story, we are proud of his go-getting spirit, we are proud of his contributions to humanity and above all, we salute his courage.
It is for these accomplishments that Ovation has decided to celebrate Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr, GCON and wish him a wonderful 60th birthday.
TOP BUSINESSMAN ROLAND AGAMBIRE LAUNCHES HOPE CITY AFRICA'S MOST AMBITIOUS ICT PARK, IN ACCRA, GHANA
And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
'Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big
These lyrics of the popular Country music classic by Ryan Shuppe & The Rubberland encapsulates the vision and thought-process that propels top Ghanaian businessman, Roland Agambire, Chairman of Agams Group.
Mr. Agambire who is one of Africa’s fast-rising entrepreneurs and the CEO of wave-making rlg Communications has a big dream project. The project, called Home Office People Environment (HOPE) City is today, Africa’s most ambitious ICT park.
Located in Dukunna, in the outskirts of Accra, the capital of Ghana, HOPE City is without doubt a source of pride for all Ghanaians and indeed all of Africa because of its sheer scale. The inspiration for the six towers are the cone-shaped earth-centric native housing style prevalent in Northern Ghana, and its entire concept will reflect the best of global design and artistry that will make the facility an absolute pleasure for all.
For Agambire, HOPE City is not a mere dream, it is a dream that was fuelled by his passion for impacting society, and that is why all machinery are in place to effectively fund the project which will have a 75-storey tower that will enter the record books as the highest building in Africa!
Those who know Roland Agambire reveal that this young man who has risen from zero to hero is a man who works his talk. He is a man who keeps his word. He is someone who dares to thread where others dread and knows his onions when it comes to dreaming big and starting small. Everyone points to how in just a few years, he has built his flagship company, rlg Commnunications, from relative obscurity to popularity. And are therefore certain, that Hope City will be a phenomenal success story.
rlg Communications which is engaged in the production of communications equipment such as mobile handsets, electronic notebooks, tablets, laptops, LCD TV monitors and other accessories is presently one of Ghana’s most recognisable brands-and indeed one of its most admired companies.
It is the success of rlg that has endeared him to many and they know that based on his antecedents which have shown that hard work, determination and focus are embedded in his DNA, HOPE City will not be a pipe dream. It is sure to be a reality.
Interestingly, Roland as he likes to be called, does not see himself as a local champion. He has his sights set on the rest of Africa and indeed the whole world. It is this global vision that is propelling him to a greater heights, he stated in an interview.
With HOPE City, Roland Agambire wants to show that Africa is not all about gloom and doom. That we have capable people, forward-looking savvy entrepreneurs who are not only able to do good things but can achieve great feats.
The 'technopolis' will be an iconic development, a landmark of excellence that was designed by Italian Architects headed by Paolo Brescia of OBR. HOPE City will be the new architectural marvel of Africa, a shining light that will help executives and aspiring techies embark on their next invention, make it their next ICT business destination and enable them move to the next level.
HOPE City was masterfully created in terms of design and detail using the best of global artistry to showcase an atmosphere of absolute delight for inhabitants and visitors alike.
The City, a $10billion project (30% already raised by Agams Group) will have sky-crapper buildings: Three towers will have 42-storey, two towers will have 60-storeys and one tower will have an amazing 75-storey!
Apart from an IT University, this ICT hub would have residences, classy stores, offices and recreational facilities. The towers would be linked by a lovely system of bridges at varying heights.
For Mr. Agambire, HOPE city is a collective dream. A symbol of a growing Africa, a new lifestyle, a new community sharing the same values in ICT-and a world class ambience that evokes a sense of pride, delights the senses and promotes joie de vivre.
The public presentation of the HOPE CITY project was marked with a big bang. It was a 3-event package (The Sod-cutting,The Dinner and The HOPE CITY Concert featuring Chris Brown) and it really shook the whole of Ghana to its very foundations.
The day was bright and beautiful, the sun was smiling gleefully as guests from far and near including Ghana's President, H.E. John Dramani Mahama gathered on site to witness the public presentation and official launch of HOPE City.
Proceedings began with a session of inspirational prayers by Ms. Joyce Aryee, Executive Director, Light & Salt Ministries.
In his welcome address, an elated Chief Host and the project's Dreamer in-Chief, Mr. Roland Agambire stated that the occasion was historic.
Reading proudly from his Uhuru, rlg's latest tablet, he said "We have assembled here to make another history, history of giving birth to a new city in the continent; a vertical city in which the continent's ICT brains will converge, a vertical city where lives are to be built and the tallest city in Africa where the entire future of our noble country and continent will be fashioned.
Quoting from Ghana's First President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who said "...the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and it is a noble and glorious challenge-a challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve...." And Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who said "Without challenges, success and excellence won't exist, especially when such a success is meant for the homeland".
Mr. Agambire declared "For me, these words inspire me. It is a time to create history and a time to contribute one's quota to the development of the continent"
In addition, he said that his passion to embark on this ambitious dream was driven by the sense of patriotism, compassion and the love of mankind exhibited by these great men.
Furthermore, he stated "Today, this is my contribution; creating HOPE City that will accommodate over 50,000 people, who will work and live in this architectural haven. The City will have facilities for accommodation, offices, sports as well as spacious demarcated areas for lifestyle, education and creativity. But most importantly, when completed, it will have equipment and facilities for the design, fabrication and assembling of a number of innovative products including ICT hardware and software.
"HOPE CITY's vision is to create positive energy. HOPE City will make people smile the whole day and provide them with the willingness to face challenges with high morale and resolve. We cannot just stop and sit idle without achievement. HOPE City brings optimism about a new day and a new dream.
He then stated confidently " I am convinced that HOPE CITY will afford us the platform to bridge the gap with the rest of the international industrial community. Adding that "It is my dream to see HOPE City export technology across the globe.
Mr. Agambire also spoke about the exploits of his flagship company, rlg Communications, especially its ground-breaking partnership with software giants, Microsoft. "...In September last year, rlg, an indigenous African company and brand sealed a crucial partnership with the largest software and programme developer, Microsoft Corporation. That deal was described by influential Forbes Magazine as "Partnership of the future". What we sought to achieve with that historic partnership was to use the vehicle of Microsoft to export made-in-Ghana and made-in-Africa technologies to the rest of the world"
"What we are witnessing today is ample testimony of our resolve to operate at the world-class level of excellence. With HOPE City we are seeking to collaborate with Microsoft to create economic opportunities for 300 million youths in Africa between the ages of 15-24. The initiative is planned to actively engage Africa's economic development to improve its global competitiveness while equipping the benefitting youth with relevant start-up skills to enable them drive sustainable growth.
Furthermore, he spoke about the partnership that his company had established with the Governments of Osun and Akwa Ibom States in Nigeria. He said this synergy would fast-track ICT growth on the continent. As a sign of their confidence in Mr. Agambire and his team, Governors of the two states were present at the occasion.
With a smile on his face, Mr. Agambire stated "I am happy and proud to say that rlg continues to lift high the flag of Ghana on the international stage"
He used the opportunity to appeal to the President to extend the same tax holidays often offered to foreign investors to the HOPE City project, stating that it will help sustain its drive and desire to create employment and build requisite infrastructure for national development.
Showing his utmost commitment to mother Ghana, Mr. Agambire said that Ghanaian pride has been missing in the critical telecoms sector of the economy, declaring that Rlg was ready to make a case for the creation of an indigenous telecoms operator in the voice and data industry.
Rounding off powerfully, he said "I wish to welcome you all to ground zero of Hope City, the ground on which the City which will house the best Ghana and Africa would offer in ICT and economic transformation will stand"
Throughout his speech, it was obvious that Agambire is passionate about this project and his enthusiasm was infectious. He spoke with conviction and confidence like a man who has the Can-Do spirit that people say has helped him grow his businesses.
Also speaking at the occasion, Ali Faramawy, Microsoft's Vice President, Middle East/Africa said that his organization was happy to partner with rlg on the HOPE City project. He stated that Microsoft is constantly working on how information technology can enable Africa have a better story.
He said Microsoft is interested in issues that relate to the role information technology is used in improving the industrial climate, the role of information technology in driving innovation and the role of information technology in increasing and improving organisational capability in government and private sectors.
In addition, he stated that anything that has do with skills development and IT access form part of his company’s core involvement on the continent and that Microsoft is ready to partner with organizations on these core areas of focus.
In his speech Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, stated that he was in Ghana to applaud the HOPE City initiative because of rlg’s fruitful partnership with Osun State.
He revealed that rlg is now training 20,000 youths on how to maintain, repair, assemble, manufacture and market current digital equipment, and therefore, HOPE CITY will definitely impact positively on the ICT growth of Africa.
Governor Godswill Akpabio in his remarks noted that HOPE CITY was an ambitious dream that will transform the information technology industry and the economy of Ghana in particular and Africa in general. He called on all well meaning Africans to support this dream project.
Describing the City as a bold and commendable attempt to increase ICT penetration in Africa, Governor Akpabio promised that Akwa-Ibom was already in talks with the initiators of the project to form a formidable synergy that will benefit indigenes of the state.
In his address, Ghana’s President John Mahama commended rlg for embarking on this gargantuan HOPE City project, noting that the initiative was a major intervention that will definitely transform the lives of Africans.
According to President Mahama, the world today is driven by knowledge and every idea which pushes the boundaries of impossibility. In his words “Wealth and economic growth is no longer dependent on natural resources but the power of knowledge and ideas and that is why the advanced nations are investing heavily in the service and knowledge economy.
He noted that his government is delighted that an indigenous Ghanaian company, rlg is the pivot of this initiative and promised government support to ensure its success. The President further said that HOPE City was in line with the government's promise to pave the way for the private sector to lead the transformation of the country from a lower middle-income one to a fully fledged middle-income country.
President Mahama urged other investors to look in the direction of Ghana for similar investments promising tax exemptions and other friendly policies. He also encouraged Ghanaian companies to emulate rlg by exporting their expertise, products and services to other countries especially bigger markets like Nigeria.
The speeches over, there was an exciting performance by Sherifa Gunu after which Mr. President, Mr. Agambire and other special guests were invited to perform the official launch.
To show the world that it was a tech-savvy company par excellence, Mr. President was handed a remote controlled device and as soon as he clicked, the whole atmosphere erupted with fanfare, jollity and applause-signalling the beginning of the HOPE City dream which is expected to become a reality by 2016.
After the frenetic morning event, it was time for guests to relax and recharge at a highly entertaining dinner hosted inside the State House Banquet Hall, Accra.
From the entrance to the hall, the event managers, Charterhouse, raised the bar in terms of lighting and decor. Guests who were greeted with cocktails and canapés, were ushered through a lovely well lit walkway into the venue.
Inside, the lighting scheme was cool and cosy, and the decor was understated yet classy with soft jazzy tunes wafting from the P.A system. The ambience was captivating. This provided a very convivial setting and the right backdrop for a night to remember!
Guests which included Mr. Agambire and his wife, Miriam, Governors Godswill Akpabio and Rauf Aregbesola were titillated with first-rate comedy performance by Gordons, Klint Da Drunk and Akpororo.
The triumvirate and co-Master of Ceremonies, Funny Face, all put everyone in stitches with their elevated jokes and good humour.
That was not all, guests also savoured a three course meal and some musical performances too. The evening's top star was none other than velvety-voiced, Efya.
THE PULSATING HOPE
Whenever Chris Brown hits any City, there is always a buzz -and people usually talk. In Ghana, the story in town was "did he or did he not?". If you are wondering what the bone of contention was, it was the fact that Ghanaians wanted to know if he performed or underperformed!
Well, the fact that he got thunderous cheers, and even came back on stage specially to interact with fans for a few unrehearsed performances (even ensuring that the audience sang along to his old songs) was enough evidence that he thoroughly enjoyed himself just like the fanatic audience did. The verdict in Ghana? Chris Brown delivered big time-and like they say, he's really got swag!
The HOPE City Concert which was held at the massive pitch of the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra was the crescendo of the project's launch. It was an opportunity for more people to key into the HOPE City vision and also enjoy a rollicking evening with the American super star singer and some of Ghana's A-list artistes. And the organisers really went all out to make the event thrilling and turbo-charged.
With popular Radio Presenter, Nathaniel Kwabena Anokye Adisi, fondly called Bola Ray as compere, the concert which was held on the eve of Ghana's independence anniversary was as exciting as it was fun-filled.
The evening began with a lively performance by one of Ghana's hottest rappers, D black. His dexterity and flow was applauded. Later, members of his exciting crew, EL and Joey B joined him on stage and together, they wowed the audience.
The show took a cultural and very African twist when Sherifa Gunu hit centre stage. With her colourful dancers and highly percussive-music, she gave a good account of herself and infused local flavour to the package.
Soon, it was the turn of the star of the night-Chris Brown. His introduction with the usual pyrotechnics and captivating lighting was met with deafening cheers from the excited audience. Like the star that he is, he began slowly and gradually worked the audience into a frenzy.
Backed by a DJ who was so dexterous on the wheel of steel, and a team of energetic dancers, Chris Brown was worth every second of the hype. His duet with Nigerian star, Wizkid where they both sampled Ghana's worldwide dance routine, Azonto, was an enjoyable icing on the cake!
By the time Chris Brown eventually took a bow, it was well past midnight but many were still waiting to enjoy the other super acts on the bill. These were, the raves of the moment, R2Bees and the top-notch balladier, Efya.
Efya, who has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, titillated the audience with her cool, breezy, heart-warming songs. Her maturity was quite obvious especially the way she synchronized with her dancers. It was a delight to watch! And of course, R2Bees brought the roof down with all their popular numbers.
In all, the HOPE City Concert was one great night of undiluted fun. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the 56th independence anniversary of Ghana and mark the arrival of the remarkable HOPE City, which is sure to put Ghana on the world map!
AS SHE TURNS 61, OVATION REVEALS EXCLUSIVE PICTURES OF LADY CHERRY IGBINEDION'S SUPERB, 60TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONIN AT THE DORCHESTER HOTEL, PARK LANE, LONDON
Everyone knows that Lady Cherry, the Matriarch of the House of Igbinedion is such an extra-special woman. And her 60th birthday in 2012 was an opportunity for all to say Thank You to this remarkable and indefatigable lady.
Though she is married to the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, CON, accomplished businessman and one of the continent's most recognisable personalities, Lady Cherry cherishes her privacy-but on this occasion she had no choice but be the cynosure of all eyes.
But as usual, the celebration had to be done her way. The birthday dinner was a black-tie affair, it was regal and tasteful. The guest list was water-tight and made up of only close family and friends of many years-and that included this reporter and Ovation!
The celebrant, a stickler for perfection, honesty and hard work, a passionate educationist and above all, a committed Christian began the day with prayers and praises at the Igbinedion's London Mansion in the highbrow, Hampstead Gardens Suburbs.
That over, everyone was getting ready for the party when in his usual manner, the Esama, the loving and romantic husband sprung a huge surprise, showing all young men how to appreciate a dutiful wife and loving mother.
He had arranged for his long-time friends to visit and wish the celebrant well. One of those who came was first-class royal, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade. On arrival, the Ooni who had another close family friend of the Igbinedion on his entourage, Otunba Adekunle Ojora and wife, Erelu Ojualape was received with a bouquet of flowers after which he was presented with Kolanuts which is very symbolic in African Tradition.
Breaking the Kolanut as Culture demands, he showered royal blessings on the elated Lady Cherry. Unknown the her, the day was just taking shape.
After a few drinks and elevated discourse, Chief Igbinedion informed His Imperial Majesty that there was a birthday gift he had sitting outside, and craved the indulgence of His Majesty to help him present it.
SUPER TALENTED GHANAIAN ACTRESS YVONNE NELSON SPEAKS EXCLUSIVELY ABOUT HER FAVOURITE THINGS, CAREER AND CHARITY
TSvelte actress Yvonne Nelson is a bubbly character. She is fun and full of cheer. In this interview, she spoke candidly about love, her career and favourite things
If you were an animal, which one would you be and why
I’ve never thought of that before but maybe a puppie.
Tell us about yourself
Yvonne Nelson. Born in Accra, raised by a single mother. I had my secondary education at Aggrey Memorial School. I then went onto Central University College where I did my degree in Human Resource Management. I contested in the Miss Ghana pageant when I was nineteen years old. I was amongst the finalist, the perfect 5. Unfortunately I fumbled on the last question; I would have won. In actual fact everyone tipped me to win the converted crown.
But I guess it was good that I didn’t win Miss Ghana, may if I did, I would not be here acting right now. It was right after Miss Ghana that I received a call from Farmhouse Productions, the producers behind the Ghana hit TV series ‘The Things We Do for Love. Award-winning Director, Ivan Quashigah called me and we had a talk about a series called ‘Fortune Island’. He wanted me to come on board. I started to shoot for that series but unfortunately it never came on TV until after I had starred in a couple of movies.
Who discovered your acting talent
I was actually discovered by Abdul Salam Mumuni. He saw me and felt I could fit into a particular role as ‘Princess Tyra’. So that’s how it all started. and since then, it’s been fun, it’s been a real learning experience for me. I can’t see myself doing any other thing apart from acting, right now.
I love what I do. I also love the fact that people appreciate what I do. I want to say a big thank to all my fans. I’ve been through a lot in the industry and I mean most of my fans have been there and supported me and stood by me from Day one. So I want to say thanks for all the support and love.
On Miss Ghana, do you remember the question you did not properly answer
They asked me if I were a judge what question would I ask the contestants, or something like that?
How would you answer that question now seeing as you ‘fumbled’, I’m using your own words
I gave a good answer but yes I did fumble. I remember I talked about the G8 summit or something like that. I think I said that I would ask the contestants about the essence of the G8 summit blah, blah, blah... [Laughs]
What different jobs have you had in your life so far
Different jobs? I have always been an actor. I’ll tell you what I went through when I was in the University. I started acting at level 100 till I graduated and focused fully on acting. I’ve been doing this thing for a little while. I’ve always combined acting and schooling. Sometimes lectures would start at 7am and sometimes I’m called to come on set but I’m in class so I’d keep lying to the Production Manager. You know, I would keep saying ‘Oh I’m on my way’, ‘I’m stuck in traffic’ and I’m there sitting in the classroom. It was difficult and challenging. Sometimes I get home say 12 midnight and then I have to get up very early to set off for morning lecturers then back to set phew!.
However, presently asides being an actor. I am also employed as a General Manager for a production house called Media GH. I produce movies for the company. I still work with my own production company called ‘YN’ whilst I produce simultaneously for Media GH.
Tell us about Yvonne Nelson Glaucoma foundation and why glaucoma
I established the YN Foundation in 2010 and I started it because my grandmother had glaucoma when I was a little girl. She is passed now but I saw the suffering she went through with that eye disease. It has no signs or symptoms, it’s also known as the ‘silent blinding disease’. You might have glaucoma in you and you don’t know neither can you tell till it pops up. It’s really good to know if someone has had it in your family as it’s usually hereditary. If any of your family members have had it then there is a chance you may get it. My grandmother had it and at those times people were ignorant about it and she ended up going blind. You know when you are getting old people don’t think too much of it when one goes blind. Many people would think it comes with age naturally. So my grandmother had it without anyone thinking it was a disease. For me I’ve been tested, I know my status and so has my mother, we know it’s in our family and we are ready. Spreading information about the disease is what we want to do with the foundation.
So I recorded a song, and shot a video towards the glaucoma campaign. Many stars from music, film and sports in Ghana were involved. People like Majid Michel, Yvonne Okoro, John Dumelo, Sakordie, Irene Logan Bola Ray, Sammy Kuffour, Joshua Clottey and Nana Ama Anamoah. They all came out to support me and I really appreciate that. The only thing we were all trying to do was to create awareness on the disease and help to educate. I am not a doctor or a medical expert neither do I own a hospital but this for me is a critical assignment especially when I learnt that Ghana is amongst the top three countries in the world with the highest cases in glaucoma.
How has support been generally apart from these stars
Hmmmm, it has been tough, everybody does not seem to appreciate that this a charitable venture. I am trying to do a noble cause, a cause that benefits society yet some people still demand for payment for services they should be offering for free. For example in the media, the only station that has fully supported me has been GTV. Honestly, we need a lot of money. Presently, we have people registered with our foundation whom we cater for. We buy them eye drops and other things, after diagnoses. Support has been slow but we will still be striving towards our goal.
I always tell people that charity is still a business
Yes, I agree
Are you religious
Very, I come from a very religious background. I am a Christian and do go to church, I’m a Methodist.
Tell us briefly about Your fashion shop
It is called ‘YN’ fashion store in Dansoman and was opened in early 2012; it was actually inspired by my fans. My fans would say, ‘Oh Yvonne, we like what you are wearing, where did you get that from. So I thought, why don’t I put something together for those who love my style and want to wear it.
So now you go shopping for 10 rather than shopping for just 1, is it about getting 10 of any item you like, right
Yes, at my place you can actually get a good range of international and European high street brands like Zara, H& M . etc.
What of your YN Hair line
I started ‘YN’ Hair at the same time with ‘YN’ Production but the hair line is in the back burner at the moment due to the fact that I’m currently a brand ambassador for BI0-16. The product is hair related and do not want any conflict of interest issues.
I didn’t know that BIO-16 also markets hair extensions
The sell hair applications like relaxers, but I’m on their billboards and everything. People can get confused.
I actually think it is complementary. You can’t relax weave-on extensions or wigs!
Well, it is all hair-related so when my contract is over then maybe I can concentrate on ‘YN’ hairline. But I’m still producing hair and customers are still purchasing from my hair line. We still distribute to stores in Accra but I cannot openly promote the brand.
What is your Favourite comedy
I love anything that features African American Actor Martin Lawrence. I especially love his series called ‘Martin’, I can watch it from season 1 all the way through.
Favourite Girl Flick
Favourite Action movie
‘Con Air’ featuring Nicholas Cage. it is an old movie
I don’t have one
Any general favourite movie that you can watch timelessly...you know those ones where you even know the script
‘Titanic’, ‘Coming to America’ and the ‘Sound of Music
How many awards have you won
I’ve won a few awards, each one of them I consider significant. To be acknowledged for your talent is something great. It is an achievement. Last year's Ghana Movie Awards for ‘Best Picture’ which was won by ‘Single & married’, a film I produced, it really did feel very gratifying. I was like ...’Oh my gosh’ because that was the biggest award of that night and a credible recognition in the Ghana Film industry. I was really proud of myself as a Producer. My other awards include: Favourite Actress – Ghana – ( Cannes films), Best Actress in GH – City People Magazine, Best Actress in Africa - African Entertainment Awards – Malaysia, Face of Ghana Movies- New York, Best International Actress in Abuja, Best DOP (director of Photography) – Single & Married – Ghana Movie Awards – 2012, Best Music – Single & Married – Ghana Movie Awards – 2012 and Best Actress – Joy FM Night with the Stars.
Have you ever done any stage production
I haven’t [Yvonne smiles and stammers a little] ...I’m thinking about theatre work. I’m kind of shy though but I will do it soon! James Gardener, a fellow actor is actually planning a production very soon so I may be a part of it at the National Theatre in Accra, Ghana.
What is the ideal female historical role you would like to play ...and why
It would have to be a Ghanaian maybe Yaa Asantewaa . She’s Ghanaian, a warrior and heroine. She’s iconic and I think I can really play her well.
How has the industry fared in terms of standards and is the sex for roles era over
I think the situation where people take advantage of women is still there! But do you know why it has persisted? Well some people want it so bad, they don’t let it happen naturally.
For me, I’ll just speak for myself; I never went for any audition or anything like that. Acting just chose me....They just discovered me like that. I don’t know, I really can’t speak for them. I do know that it goes on and that in the industry a lot of producers take advantage of the younger ones. I am a Producer now and I am not taking advantage of anyone. I don’t have to bribe you to do something, if I think you have talent in any area of film then I’ll put my faith in you to do a good job.
Having Beauty Sleep or burning the candle at both ends
I would love my beauty sleep but right now I work throughout so I’m burning the candle at both ends, but its cool since you have to make money and eat.
John Dumelo commented on Vobolo on you having the best legs, he also said "Yvonne’s lips are very soft” and that you are the sexist Ghanaian female celebrity. Have you heard of Vobolo
Yes I think I have...but oh my gosh on John, whoop whoop! John is like one of my closest colleagues in the industry. We joke around a lot; he is Fante so we can gel on that side. Whenever we shoot and we are on set there is always chemistry. I love him, I think he is an amazing actor.
I read somewhere that your best friends are fellow Ghanaian actors, Nadia Buari and Majid Michel.
No that’s not true...I don’t have a best friend in the industry, everyone is my colleague and I love working with all of my fellow actors. I can hang out with any of them more so John Dumelo.
What do you want to say to critics about your weight loss and speculations?
I don’t know...now on instagram any photo that I post I get reactions like, ‘Yvonne you are losing weight, we love the other you, and this is not you anymore’ ‘Yvonne stop losing weight. I was not really big anyway. I wasn’t like a size 16 or any size like that; I was a size 10/12. Right now I’m a UK 8 from a UK 10. But because I am tall any little weight I lose it shows, but this time around though I actually deliberately lost weight for a new movie. I am the Producer as well and I play the role of a professional model so I actually had to work on myself a little bit to fit the character and role. The new film is called ‘The House of Gold’. It has some interesting Nigerians and Ghanaian actors in it. Majid Michel and Kofi Adjorlolo were involved.
Please clear up this whole bleaching gossip
Oh I don’t know how it all begun. I don’t want to use the wrong words or insult any body but come on....you cannot compare a picture that someone took for example in the 1980’s and a picture that the same person would take today. In the first place, Cameras have advanced, they are better now and there is something called filter, there is good lighting now. For example the cameras that we use are superb and really cool and you just can’t compare my old movies to my new ones. Most of the pictures I post on instagram have been filtered so I try to edit my photos and sometimes the lights can make me look different, what do you think? Certainly, I can confirm that I am not bleaching full stop.
Well looking at you, I see one complexion all over, we did the shoot at Aknac Hotel at East Legon and you looked great. Very slim with an hour glass shape. I know your stylist and fashionista cousin, Jason Boateng in the UK and you resemble each other. Anyway, what do you really think of your fans and public perception of you
I think the ones who can differentiate what we do on TV and know that it is just acting and my work. They just see me as ‘Yvonne Nelson’, I don’t think a lot of people know who I truly am and you can’t really know unless you are close to me.
What is the first thing you do in the morning
Usually when I wake up in the morning I pick up my iphone and go on instagram, then I brush my teeth, get into my car and drive to the gym five times a week. I also take an aerobics class as it really helps me with my day and focus.
What do you do for past time; play any board games (chess), Sports, computer games...what books are you currently reading
I sleep, I love to sleep and watch TV. I have too many scripts to read so I’m not a book worm.
Favourite city to party
Favourite city to shop (Your obsession with LV Bags, how many did you say you own again, as I’m jealous?
Dubai. I have 12 handbags, travelling bags, some belts and sunglasses. LV is not really my favourite I actually love Chanel. Some are gifts and some I bought for myself.
Favourite City to enjoy the beach
Favourite City For Relaxation
Monte Carlo, I actually wanted to say Dubai but you can’t really do alot of things in Dubai, you can’t even kiss anyone in public in Dubai (laughs).
Best male kisser you have acted with
So far John Dumelo [Laughs]
You and John Dumelo need to get a room! [YN laughs out loud]
Ghanaian Men versus Nigerian Men
I’m going to stay in the middle; I just have to tell you that there is no real preference really. Ghanaian and Nigerian men are all the same, I love them both. The Nigerian men are straight forward and risk takers, whereas Ghanaian men are more laid back.
So ...who’s the lucky man then or are you the lucky lady rather
I was in a relationship but I’m single now. I’m not really looking or searching but I do believe in love though. I’m just taking things slow, taking things easy. I haven’t seen anybody this year.
Do you believe in the law of attraction
I do believe in it, yes.
Tell us about your real relationship with Davido
Davido is a friend of mine; I hardly hear from him these days, I guess he is busy. He is an amazing, amazing talent and produces his own music. He’s young and really doing well for himself.
What of Nyanya
Nyanya is a special friend of mine, we are good. I also hardly hear from him. He is also an amazing talent and I love his music., that’s about it.
And Wiz kid
I have never met wizkid [Laughs]. I am like his biggest fan as well, I love his music, I think he is doing some amazing things for Nigeria and Africa as a whole. He is a great guy and I play his music in my car all the time.
Is there anyone else that you are linked to, have I left anyone else out?
I don’t know [We both laugh]
Has success changed you
I still do the same things like I use to, I still buy food on the street, and I buy roasted plantain and Ghanaian dish ‘Waakye’. I’m just an easy-going, happy girl. When I was in University whilst acting, I didn’t see it like l’m Yvonne Nelson so I can’t go sit in the class with everyone else and learn. I would say nothing has really changed too much for me. However,I am more careful and I don’t go out, you wouldn’t really see me in a club. The night life I don’t do.
But I saw you at Rockstone’s office in Accra getting down to some sounds at a celebrity album launch I think.
That was a special occasion but I don’t go to night clubs, I don’t do parties at all and I don’t drink.
What is your interpretation of a diva
People get being a diva twisted all the time. It is supposed to be somebody who wants everything they ask for to be done for them. Someone with alot of attitude, I don’t know about that, I am not in that category.
Well I can tell you actually, that in my old Oxford Dictionary, a DIVA is; A great woman opera singer; prima donna. Italian from Latin=Goddess).
Have you ever been called a DIVA
Hmmm, well a few times
Are you in love.....
I used to be of course as I said but not anymore. He broke my heart. Let’s just say he hurt me real bad. He was a good guy, actually a great guy that‘s all I can say.
My perfect dream is.....
My perfect dream is to be in a movie with Leonardo Di Carprio, whoop, whoop
Your message to the readers of Ovation International and all your fans around the world?
I want to say a big thank you to Ovation International and all my fans in Ghana, and in Nigeria where my fan base is really, really huge. There’s also South Africa, Kenya and Ivory Coast. I want to say a big thank you to the continent of Africa, I’m African and so proud of it. Thank you to my followers on twitter, instgram, cinemagram and kick. I love you all.
THE EXCITING WEDDING OF SHANNISE SINTIM AND EDMUND ASARE IN HOUSTON, TEXAS, USA
Houston, the city founded in 1836 by brothers Augustus and John Allen which is now world renowned for its oil, port and ethnic diversity was the perfect setting for beautiful Shannise Renee Sintim and handsome Edmund Yaw Asare to take their years of friendship, affection and love to the next level by getting married.
If you are wondering why the couple whose parents are originally from Ghana chose Houston, Texas, USA to celebrate their happiest day yet, well, we were told that having celebrated their engagement in Accra, Ghana, where Edmund's parents, Colonel & Mrs. Edmund Asare were present, the main event had to shift to Houston because that is where the bride’s father, the simple and easy-going Quincy Sintim-Aboagye, a thoroughbred oilman, holds court and has lived for years.
That weekend in March 2013, all the major hotels in the highbrow Houston North were booked, as guests poured from all over the world, Ghana, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Germany and all corners of the United States of America. The turn-out was very impressive-an indication of the clout, goodwill and respect that both families have garnered over the years.
Apart from the engagement, there was a bridal shower held at the Sintim’s beautiful home-it was a lively occasion that was enjoyed by all.
But the major festivities began on March 15th, 2013, with a to rehearsal dinner inside the Hilton Hotel, Greenspoint, Houston North. It was a very casual event for guests who had just arrived, to relax, refresh and get ready for the memorable weekend that was to unfold.
On the big day, the bride was up early. She was bright and beautiful-and after popular make-up artiste, Segun Gele had worked his magic, she was shimmering like a million stars.
That morning as she stepped out in her figure-hugging gown, she looked every inch like a Princess. And co-incidentally, the vintage Rolls Royce Phantom that was waiting to ferry her to church that morning was also called Princess.
The venue for the nuptials, Northwoods Presbyterian Church was wearing a refreshing look with lovely décor and fresh flowers that day. This décor arrangement was co-ordinated by Mrs. Shirley Sintim, the mother of the bride.
By the time Shannise arrived, the hall was filled with so many family members and friends, but the one person she was eagerly looking forward to seeing her Prince Charming, Edmund. He was there waiting, wearing his trademark lovely smile. The congregation was welcomed by The Rev. Dr. Paul Nazarian.
The resplendent bride sashayed into the church hall, arm in arm with her dear dad, as they walked gingerly towards the front of the church, the processional hymn was unique. it was done in form of a live trumpet performance!
As soon as Mr. Quincy Sintim handed over his daughter, Shannise to the Officiating Minister with a short word of prayer, the day's proceeding began.
There were solos, praises and prayers before the couple lit the unity candle.
The scripture from the occasion was taken from 1Cor:13 and the highest point of the occasion was when the couple rings, tied the knot and were officially declared husband and wife. A rousing applause erupted from the congregation as soon as they said "I do".
With the lively church ceremony over, the couple and their families, now in a good cheer poured into the friendly Houston sun for a set of photo sessions before everyone headed to the superb Houston Ballrooms on Bammel North
Houston Road for the reception.
The reception was conceptualized for guests to dine, wine, dance and celebrate-and we can confirm that these were offered in good measure.
In addition, everyone was to let go and have fun and that was reason that the event had no top table, there were no hang ups, everyone came prepared to party-and they did.
The reception began with cocktails and canapes, but when all was set, it rolled off formally with prayers which was delivered by Mrs. Grace Frimpong. Then the couple was invited into the turbo-charged arena. Guests were on their feet as the couple danced to the lyrics of Braket Yori Yori dished out by the day's Disc Jockey, DJ Kojo
Reception was very fluid, guests savoured continental and correct Ghanaian dishes and had loads to drink. One item that was in abundance throughout the celebration was good quality vintage wine. The parting gifts were miniature bottles filled with Moscato. It was later we found out why? The bride's dad, a man of fine taste is a wine connoisseur par excellence!
What could be described as the most exciting part of the ceremony was when friends and family were invited to speak about the couple. Guests were in stitches as groom's friend Reinford Forson revealed their secrets as young kids and were moved as bride's sibling Luther and Meka Sintim poured endearing encomiums on her. Luther even ended his speech with a blow-out performance of "Queen to Be" one of the soundtracks from Coming to America and it was met with applause. The groom's brother, Archie showered him with good wishes too.
Other speakers were: Jay Stafford, who met the bride on an ice cream queue and was taken aback by her comportment. Sisters, Jessica, Belinda and Jennifer Bondzie and Ruth Aboagye who flew in from the UK payed tribute to the couple with a medley of love songs: Dangerously in Love by Beyonce, My Kind of Love by Emelie Sanda and Everything by Mary J Blige.
The bride's dad, Quincy Sintim wished the couple well, he said he was happy that his daughter has found a good man as husband. He went on to thank many of those who came especially, Mrs. Faith Odulu, whose contribution was immense in putting shine and glamour to the occasion and helping to make it a world affair. The jollity continued till late in the night were guests danced and had loads of fun.
The next day, was an all white affair as guests turned out for a thanksgiving service at the Northwoods Presbyterian Church. The day was also St. Patrick's Day-and Houston like all other parts of America, UK and Ireland was emblazoned in green. The church was no exception, many in the congregation were in green perhaps in readiness for the huge parade and picnics that were scheduled that afternoon.
Songs, lively hymns and an inspiring sermon were the highlights of the spirit-lifting service, then it was time for another reception at the Houston's Ballrooms. Again, it was an afternoon to remember as the Sintim and Asare families put all machinery in motion to give their guests a memorable and wonderful reception.
Thank you so much.
How did the journey begin for you and Shanice
I met Shannise briefly in 2009 at a social gathering in Ghana. I was in Ghana and Shannise came for that event. I met her briefly through a friend for about five minutes. And then I had to leave. I was at the occasion for roughly ten minutes. And then in 2011...
Two years later
Yes, two years later.
There was no subsequent communication after those five minutes
No, there wasn't. Two years later, I came to Texas and when I was coming, I recalled that the lady I had met at that gathering lived in Texas. And so I called her because the friend through whom I had met her had her details. I hit her up and she got to me and we started hanging out. I was only here for three weeks and then returned to Ghana. Then she came in December 2011 and we had some interactions. Both families met. Within those three weeks here in Texas, we got along pretty well and we both informed our parents and by March 2012, we had our engagement.
What struck you about her in those initial five minutes
The way she carried herself and her calmness were simply remarkable. And then during my three week stay here I realised that her comportment wasn't just because she was at a social gathering that day. It is something she has. Her caring attitude and her ability to manage things effectively were exceptional.
Her dad was out of town at the time I was here; she invited me over to their home and the way she went about her house duties caught my attention.
You were noticing a wife material in her
One of your friends told me that you told him that she was different
(Laughs) Yes, that is the difference I was talking about. She did her things in a certain way which was quite different from the other people I had met. That took me a little aback and I was like, "Hmmm, Ok, we'll take it on from here."
Let's rewind to your growing up. Tell us a bit about yourself and your growing up days
I grew up in a middle class family. My dad was a Lieutenant Colonel - he's retired. My mum, Mrs. Ruth Asare, was one of the managers back at State House Incorporation. I went through the same basic educational system, from Primary through tertiary, from Christ the King to the University of Ghana. I grew up like any normal kid.
What were those ingredients that have helped you become the man that you are today
My aggressive nature, my ambition and my go-getter attitude have spurred me on through life. It hasn't been the smoothest of parts but I think those are the qualities most people see in me, including my dad-in-law who was pretty comfortable with me in just ten minutes of meeting me for the first time. We had several meetings after that which weren't about Shanice but on a business level. We attended meetings together and he knew that this guy he was with was just different.
What was your first meeting with Mr. Quincy Sintim like
When I met Mr. Quincy, he was very relaxed. He has my kind of attitude - very cool and calm - and so we just clicked. He wasn't like, "Hey, you're coming to take my daughter, who are you and what do you do?" Far from it. He was quite warm and welcoming. He asked, "What brings you here?" And I told him Shannise wanted me to meet him and he was like, "Okay, you guys have a good time, we are stepping out. You guys take care."
And he left you with his daughter
What about her mum
It was pretty much the same thing. I kind of think that because her dad was cool, calm and able to manage the situation, so he took hold of her mum and had her follow him and then that was it.
How did you break the news to your parents
You know, I am from the era where you strictly follow traditional dictates. I went through my elder sister, Yvonne, and revealed my intentions to her. She said she would take me to our parents. In the family, I'm the most secretive person. I don't really let my plans out until they are fully hatched. So she took me to our parents and intimated them then they called Shannise's parents and we had a little gathering afterwards, what we call 'the knocking.'
What did you actually tell them; how did you describe Shannise to your mum
Actually, I did not give specific details. I asked if they could recollect me going to Texas some time prior and they responded in the affirmative. So I told them that I met someone on that trip and that I was convinced she was the one for me. I told them I was going to bring her around so they could meet her. I told my mum that Shannise is a lady who is very composed, calm and that she fits in very well with my idea of wife.
What are you doing now
Right now, I am studying for my Masters in International Business Finance and I am also on board to go for Petroleum Engineering.
What was yesterday like for you
It was glamorous; it was simply amazing. You were there; and we saw the setting, the people. I think I am an entertainer because I really entertained everybody. My brother-in-law, simply amazing, we just gave everybody a good show. It was really beautiful - beyond my imagination - because I knew nothing about the. Setting of the ceremony. It was beautiful.
Unfortunately, your parents couldn't come down for the wedding, you must have wished they could
I wished they were but they couldn't because of circumstances beyond their control. They were represented by my big brother and other close family and friends. There were aunts and uncles there too.
What key lessons have you taken from all the events held to commemorate this union as you commence this journey as a married couple. I am sure you must have received some advice from friends and family
First key lesson I got is the ability to communicate effectively with your partner. Then comes the patience and understanding. Those are the three key lessons I really grasped and will take home with me. The rest I will learn down the journey.
So you do reckon that it is a journey
So where are you going to for your honeymoon
We want to surprise people and we'll have the paparazzi come over and take pictures with us. We have quite a few places - Bora Bora, Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic. We are yet to select the exact destinations we'll be visiting.
But you really have to go and chill after all these
Oh yea, we need that break, we really do.
Describe Shannise in one sentence
Half human, half amazing!
How was the wedding for you; how did you feel
The wedding was one of the most beautiful days of my life. Just seeing everyone so happy and enjoying themselves. Seeing family I hadn't seen in a while - I had a marvellous time.
In the course of all the events put together to formalise this union, a lot of things were said about the institution of marriage, what key lessons did you pick from all that was said as you begin this journey with Edmund
My father always says in his language that marriage means long journey. I have taken that advice, that marriage is going to be a long journey and it is going to be about hard work, and I have family and friends that will be there to support us.
I spoke with your siblings and they had some interesting things to say about you. You tell us, what values did you grow up with that would help you along the way
Growing up, I'm not gonna lie, I was a very troublesome child. I had a lot of energy and I was very hyper and talkative. My parents have always allowed me to express myself. They always taught me to speak up, to speak my mind but to also be tactful and respectful when doing that. I grew up with freedom to express myself. I grew up with a strong sense of faith. My parents always taught me to put God first in all I did and to put family second. We are very family-oriented.
Tell us about the meeting with Edmund. He told me that he met you at a social function and in five minutes you left an indelible impression on his heart. Did anything strike you about him that day
He's very cute and he seemed different from those men that I had met. He wanted to engage in a conversation. It didn't seem like he wanted to go out on a date or some cheap talk. There wasn't anything like that. We added each other up on facebook and we got to talk about life, our philosophies, just different things like that. He came to visit me and I went to visit him and we did trips back and forth between Texas and Ghana and that's how we got to know each other better.
He came here for three weeks and you both hung out a lot, what was that experience like for you
We ate a lot. Edmund was just shocked because we always say everything is always bigger in Texas and so I took him to all the big restaurants in Texas. He was simply mesmerised by the food. He ate ribs that were bigger than his entire face. He was shocked but we had a wonderful experience. We went to the amusement park and went on sightseeing trips. He ate a lot; he wanted to try Texas food, so he likes it here. He likes that everything is bigger in Texas.
How would you describe Edmund
Edmund is very reserved when you don't know him well but once he opens his shell, then he becomes very extroverted. Edmund is very kind and considerate. He's always thinking of others. He's very helpful and he's very loving.
What of his parents, what was your meeting with them like and what impressions did they have on you
They are a very loving family, closely knit, much like my own family. He sticks mainly with his nuclear family. That's something we all have in common. We have large families but we are closer to our nuclear families. We make sure we stick together and do everything together. He's more about being around his family than his friends. I have that in common with him.
What has your dad told you as you start this journey
My dad loves him. He's a miniature version of my dad. He said that Edmund reminded him a lot of himself when he was that age, so he liked him. They have a lot in common. I always tell Edmund that he's a younger version of my father. The things they say, they finish each other's sentences and they think the same way.
Probably when you were growing up, your mother used to say she wished you
would get married to someone like your dad
I always used to say, "Daddy, I want to marry someone just like you." When I was younger, I thought I could marry my daddy. I always told him, "Daddy I love you, when I grow up I want to marry someone just like you."
So God has answered your prayer
Yes, he did.
So how many kids are you hoping to have
Have you guys discussed it
Yeah, he thinks two kids would be reasonable. He doesn't want a lot of kids. And I think since we are starting later in life than my parents did, I think two would be just fine.
Will you be living here or in Ghana
I am not quite sure yet but I feel like I want to raise my kids when they are young in Ghana and then when they are old, I bring them here. You know the way kids are here. I am afraid that if they start here, they won't have those core cultural values instilled in them. I know I was born here but when I was growing up, times were different. So, it was easier for my parents to raise me here then. My parents always say that they feel it is harder to be a child in America than to be a kid in Ghana because some of the things a child gets exposed to here, you will never see in Ghana. So I feel since being a child is harder here, I would prefer to have mine grow up in Ghana and then come here maybe for middle school or high school. Even if you have good Ghanaian parents who raise you well here, it would still be very difficult because the kids go to school. They spend most of their time in school and you never know what they get exposed to in school and you never know what will happen.
Your final words
I had a beautiful wedding and I am excited.
You must be very happy and relieved by the success of your daughter's wedding
Yea, that's true.
How have the past few days been for you
They have been very hectic but that is expected because it is a joyous occasion for every father. You raise your kids with the expectation that they would end very well - like go to school, get good grades, graduate, get a great job, find a good husband who has his head straight, get married, have a wonderful wedding and married life afterwards. That is the expectation of every good father for his daughter. My daughter is on the right track and I'm happy that my efforts and resources were not wasted.
Tell us more about Shannise growing up, what kind of lady is she
Shannise is a very aggressive young lady like a horse always rearing to go but I had to hold her back, slow her down a little, in a positive way. She's quite aggressive - a go-getter. She got that from her mother. Her mother can handle just about anything you throw at her. Shannise was also very good in school. Being Presbyterians and very disciplined, we train our kids to be responsible children and adults. She's very aggressive but, in a positive way.
Madam just interjected that Shannise got that from you
Well, yeah, among all the kids, she looks most like me. She does most of her things just like I would. She doesn't take "no" for an answer. She doesn't back down easily. When she has her back to the wall, she fights back. She's got her First Degree and her Masters Degree already. We raised her well and her husband is lucky because he's getting married to a disciplined woman. If a person gets married to someone who lacks discipline, such a marriage can't go well.
One of Edmund's friend told me that though they had previously spoken on phone, what struck him was Shannise's homely, caring and warm attitude which are rare qualities you find in today's ladies. The friend in fact admitted that he was in fact already envious of his own friend
(Laughs)My wife and I, we drive our kids hard. Getting a good child starts from when the child is very young. From when they were much younger, we knew how we wanted them to turn out in life. Given the surrounding challenges and distractions, we were very strict on them. They didn't watch TV from Mondays through Thursdays because they had to study and even if they did, it was always strictly news time so that they can be abreast of current affairs. We bought programmes they watched for them either for TV or computer - that was regulated so they didn't watch bad stuff on the internet. All our kids were brought up like this. They went through school easily and the evidence is there today. It is the discipline we instilled in them that has moulded them into what they are today.
They are also quite in tune with the culture
Yeah, they are. My home is Africa and the culture is in the house. I am not going to stray from that because I am quite aware of the consequences of doing that. Different races raise their children differently. In some races, your kid can talk back at you when you're scolding him but Africa is not like that and that is ingrained in our psyche. So the moment you start criss-crossing those cultures, then you have a problem - the children get confused. In a home, the children can tell you their piece of mind and then they go to another African home and they get frowned on. In other races or cultures, you find general and uniformly accepted standards of upbringing. So an African parent for example needs to be conscious of their African origins. Your children must be able to behave African in African settings, otherwise they will not be accepted and it gets confusing for them. But some of our people come here and want to be like other cultures and try to raise their children after other cultural patterns and the children inevitably start behaving like other cultures, then they have problems when they meet their contemporaries from their own original cultural backgrounds. This is why I tried as much as possible to get my children in touch with Africa. When they were younger, my wife and I would work hard and save money so we could take them back to Africa so they could see for themselves why they we were trying to bring them up as authentic Africans. They make friends in Africa and see how these friends behave so that when they get back here, they are able to see why we would have them do certain things. That helped them quite a bit.
What was your first meeting with Edmund like. How was that encounter
I was quite surprised. My daughter went to Ghana. That was where she met Edmund who was also in the university. She came to me but didn't come clean because they know how strict I am. My wife and I have been involved in a programme called "Support An Orphanage" in Ghana since 1997. We do that Easters, Christmases and on our birthdays. We celebrate our birthdays with the kids - about 300 of them now. We've seen these kids grow. Some of them have gone into the university with help from us and all that. I think it was her birthday and we were having dinner with the kids. My daughter invited her friends over to offer a helping hand in serving the kids. And so I noticed that one of them was profusely sweating and nervous. So I said, "Young man, relax." I also found that he was very respectful like you expect from a decent African child from a decent home. So my wife called Shannise and asked, "This friend of yours, how much of a friend is he to you?" And she goes, "Oh, he's just a friend." My wife then asks why he was excessively nervous. Then she comes clean about having an extra friendship with him. So we started talking to him and that made him relax. We also discovered that he's well raised and also found out about his parents. His father is a retired military Colonel and they are true Presbyterians. His mother is strict. So we saw where his humility came from. He subsequently introduced us to his parents. They came around and we found that we had so much in common. Edmund is very respectful and a great guy. I was like, "This is what my daughter wants and this is what I would expect." So we hit it off. I have one son and Edmund became like a second son to me. He'd come over to our place in Ghana and relax. He was always ready to help with anything we did and I felt that was a good thing. From the very first day, he always wanted to engage us in conversations so we could advice him.
They must have picked some wisdom about marriage Your daughter must have picked some lessons from your own marriage to her mum; but what things have you sat her down to tell her personally about marriage as she begins this journey that you have enjoyed for over 30 years
I have told her to relax. All what the children grew up to see was their mother and myself living together and doing things as if all was rosy. But I told them that whenever their mum and I were having issues, that wasn't for them to know. We kept that from them. I tell them that when I met their mother, she was already grown. I had my life and she had hers. We took cognisance of our differences and we let them complement each other and not divide us. I always tell them to pray that God would pick right partners for them. There's a joke I always share with them that when God made man, he took out one of the man's ribs and made him a woman. So I tell my son to start looking for the one who has his rib and my daughters, the men who gave them their ribs (Laughs).
I tell them to take their time and pray and that God would choose the right partners for them. Sometimes, they get very anxious but I tell them to relax and pray and live decent lives and the right person will emerge. That's how I have trained them. No need to rush into anything. Just go through life with ease. Life is very simple; it is us humans who have made it difficult. Take your life day by day and make sure that you live each day to the fullest - to your satisfaction. I let them know that it wasn't all rosy between their mother and I but that we handled the difficult times well.
I noticed that a lot of close friends and relatives were around to celebrate with you. What words do you have for them
You know, in Africa, they say it takes a village to raise a child. Most of them are part of her life and that's why they have flown all the way here. Shannise is a true African child and while young, she was always about Ghana. My brother-in-law was cracking a joke. When Shannise was little, we made breakfast for her and I had my local food - some kenke, fish and all that. When we set the food before her, she looked at hers and looked at mine and said, "Daddy, I want your food." And so she took my food and gave me hers and I was like, "This girl has got to be kidding me." She wasn't! She ate all my food and I had to eat hers. I had to beckon to my brother-in-law in amazement to come see what had just happened. So he always jokes about that. She has always been a true African child; always wanting to go to Ghana. There's something about Africa that attracts her. That's very much unlike her other siblings who only come with us when we journey home - they are not as eager to go home. She is always eager to go and that's why she chose a summer programme in Ghana.
She actually did tell me that she would love to have her kids grow up in Ghana before bringing them over here
I had to let them see why we instilled so much discipline in them because in this society we're in, when you discipline your children the way we do in Ghana, they might term it child abuse. It is not abuse. Love is a two way street. There is the buttery love and then discipline borne out of love - if you don't combine the two, you will spoil your kids. You can't also use discipline all the time without showering them with care and affection in equal measure. You have to balance both so they know when a parent can be friendly and when a parent has to be a parent. That is what she has seen and so understands the importance of our culture being ingrained in her own kids. She would have her kids grow in Ghana because maybe, as she's just starting out in life, her finances may not permit her to do what we did with them growing up. You can't just throw the kids in Africa and leave them to grow on their own; you have to be there with them.
That means she has set her mind on going to Africa
She wants to go (laughs). Hopefully, Africa will be better. She has got two options. She can either stay in Africa and raise her kids there or she can do what we did with them, be here and be African. Of course, you don't need to go to Africa to achieve that, just set the standards at home. Even here, you will find caucasians who are well disciplined. It's not an African thing; it's something that God ordained in humans. Yes, with civilization, some of those core traditional values have been eroded. You and I grew up at a time when if you did wrong in class, your teacher got a cane and spanked you. Now they would tell you that it is against the law. Meanwhile the spanking helped to mould us into the responsible adults we are today.
Did the celebration go as planned
Yes, it was well planned. Most of the Ghanaians in Houston would probably be angry now because they would feel that we left them out but that's not the case. The hall we were able to get could only accommodate a specific number of people. And what we intended doing was to tailor the event strictly to the people who saw her grow and participated one way or the other in her growth. There were other people who felt that because they know us, they should have come: but there was limitation as to how many people the hall could take. So we had to trim the guest list down to those who were part of her life as she grew. I know there are people who will not be very happy about not been invited. Normally kids having a wedding would pick and choose who they want to come. It is their event after all, so they picked their guests while we also looked at those who were instrumental in her growth like those uncles and aunts that came from all over.
On a lighter side, I noticed that we had a lot of wine around at the party, you must be a wine connoisseur
(Laughs) Yes. When I was young, I could drink anything. I have been through that stage but at a certain point in your life, you start to tone it down. So many years ago, I started toning down on the drinking, refining my life and seeing the health benefits in everything I do. I have cognac and all kinds of exotic wines but I don't take those all the time. My daughter actually told me that red wine is good for me, for food and all that. Over the years, I have travelled around and tasted some good wines and collected some of them. For the wedding, we decided on something African. The wine was from South Africa and it was symbolic. It was an African setting and our kids had turned out as successfully as we had hoped for and so I felt like let's take this home and get something from Africa. I like wine. I like to relax. They say wine gets better with age. The older I get, the better I like wine (laughs).
On a final note, what is your wish for the couple
I want them to grow together, have kids, get blessed by God just as God has blessed me. I pray for them everyday. I hope for them to love and discipline their kids so that their kids can also grow into responsible adults like their parents. And then, I always counsel them not to deprive themselves by selling themselves short in life. We will always be there to support them by providing for them.
Who did she take that from, you or her dad
The father (laughs).
I thought it'd be from you
(Laughs) Shannise can talk your ears to death and she won't stop. That's why I think she is in the right profession - the law profession. She's always talking. She is always saying something. This is why I say, if you don't hear from Shannise, better look for her, because it could mean she is either sick or something is wrong with her. She is a very lively person.
When I spoke to her, she expressed her desire to have her kids grow in Ghana before bringing them to the US because of the culture. That must have been your influence. I noticed that she has a lot of the Ghanaian culture in her
I would say Shannise was born with that because ever