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An Interview with Ghana’s Sensational and Inspirational Shoe Maker: Mr. Tonyi Senayah

 

Tonyi Senayah , CEO of Horseman Shoes
Tonyi Senayah , CEO of Horseman Shoes

Mr. Tonyi Senayah of Horseman Shoes, I prefer to call him by his title name Emperor Senayah, is Ghana’s current leading shoemaker. His vision for his work shows wherever he goes and his alertness for success is unique in all sense. I remember my first encounter with him in a group interview where he was the interviewee, I asked him if I decide to wear the local slippers popularly known as “taawoto” instead of his shoes, what can he do to convince me to wear his shoes? His answer impressed me so much. He told me

“Amoafowaa, I won’t force you to like my product, I’ll look at your interest and make something similar with a flair, something that will interest you without me having to convince you”.

I realised there and then that he would go far. A vision like his is not breakable. For a sociology graduate to get to this level by understudying a local shoemaker.  He was gracious enough to give me the opportunity on this day; December 2, 2014. Please enjoy this young man with many huge visions.

 

Amoafowaa:

Mr. Tonyi Senayah, you are the known shoemaker of Ghana. In a world where shoemakers are known to carry little boxes and a sticks, how did you manage to take your shoemaking skills from that point to this grand point?

 

Tonyi:

It is often said that there are no new ideas and I agree.  How you turn the existing but little ideas makes the difference. Yes, it is true that we live in a society where little vocations are looked down upon but it takes the innovation and the foresight of someone to see the bigger picture. I think I did not despise the little ideas in shoemaking and I turned the existing ideas into a grand one. That is why I am here today.

 

Amoafowaa:

What motivated you to take the path you took?

 

Mr. Senayah:

Horseman was inspired by two things, the desire to create a fulfilling employment for the young people with the skills in shoemaking, I also noticed that there were young shoemakers who had mastery skills but they were confined to their little corner shops. So the idea was to identify and bring them together so we make commercial and economic impact with the skills and talents they had.

The second inspiration was that I wanted us as Ghanaians  to move away from the patronage of second hand shoes. I believe we deserve something new and different for ourselves rather than the pre-owned stuffs imported from Europe so we have to create something by us and for us.

 

Amoafowaa:

How do you see entrepreneurial prospects in Ghana?

 

Mr. Senayah:

Being entrepreneurial is finding solutions to challenges and here in Ghana, we have so many challenges, but if you are entrepreneurial you see prospects in all these challenges. We have a lot of foreigners coming into Ghana not because it’s a great tourist destination but because they have seen there are opportunities abound here. So I will say there are prospects, but we have to open our eyes to it.

 

Amoafowaa:

Do you think the elders in society and politicians are doing well to motivate the youth to be entrepreneurs?

 

Tonyi:

(Laughs) Interesting, recently I’m trying to shy away from answering political questions because they normally land me into trouble, when one compares what ought to be done and the potential there is to what has been done, then one can say enough has not been done to motivate youth in entrepreneurship. I also believe that a lot of inspiration must come from within an individual, because the individual-will supersedes all the others.

 

Amoafowaa:

Now many see education as the politician’s draft, do see it as such?

 

Tonyi:

It is always going to be so once there is no national policy on education; everyone will come with his vision. I think it has high time we came up with a national policy on education and thus, regardless of who’s in government at any time we will all know the path we are charting.

 

Amoafowaa:

What is your take on the ebola canker?

 

Tonyi:

It’s increasingly becoming alarming because now we have more than 7000 deaths. The worrying bit is that, some of us show little concern because it is believed to be far off or in other countries but unfortunately we are all lumped together as West Africans by the Western media and thus we are all affected by the stigmatization. By and large I think Ghana has been proactive but I am a bit disappointed that the Africans have not risen to the occasion to provide a lasting solution and are blaming the west, at the same time depending on them making it a tool for pity.

 

Amoafowaa:

Who can earn Emperor’s respect?

 

Tonyi:

One, honest people, forward thinking, or positive people, hard working people.

 

Amoafowaa:

Please if you say “honest people”, do you mean people who blurt things out as they are? So a man sees you in a shirt and says: Hey, you look so horrible in that thing, please toss it into the garbage can, would that person earn your respect?

 

Tonyi:

Well, as much as I respect honest people, I would like for them to be somewhat polite, but I don’t mind blunt people, many people have called me blunt for calling a spade a spade but I’m working on it. So yes, I believe in respecting the uniqueness of every individual.

 

Amoafowaa:

Now to sports, which teams do you support both home and abroad and why?

 

Tonyi:

Locally, I support Accra Hearts of Oak, as to why I don’t know. I grew up supporting Hearts of Oak and it was not a family influence because my father was not a Hearts supporter. He supported Kumasi Corners Stone.
 And AC Milan is my foreign club because of George Weah. When I was growing up, He was playing for AC Milan. I was so amazed that a black rose to that level in international football and so I fell in love with AC Milan.
Actually, I want to be the CEO of Hearts of Oak one day and own shares in AC Milan.

 

 

Amoafowaa:

Wow! Such grand dreams! Now my next question; are local football teams well packaged?

 

Tonyi:

No.

 

Amoafowaa:

Why?

 

Tonyi:

They are not attractive, they are not because they are not well packaged and well managed that is why many support foreign teams.

 

Amoafowaa:

If you say they are not well managed, let me take a cue from your answer of wanting to be the CEO of Accra Hearts of Oak and ask; what would you have done differently if you were currently the CEO of Hearts?

 

Tonyi:

I believe Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko are the biggest teams with many fans, so I would have packaged it well to attract investors and sponsorships.

 

 

Amoafowaa:

Now to entertainment; what types of songs do you listen to?

 

Tonyi:

Basically I’m a Hi-life person but then I also appreciate music from all genres, once the song is good, I’ll listen to it. I listen to Hi-life because of the messages they carry. They talk about everyday life and the experiences one can identify with. I grew up relating to them and grew to love them for their morals.

 

Amoafowaa:

Who are your favourite artists both locally and foreign?

 

Tonyi:

Locally Abrante Amakye Dede

Foreign… none in particular one, I go with the flow, once it is nice, I’ll listen and enjoy it.

 

Amoafowaa:

Now let’s talk about dancing, would you prefer agbadza or azonto?

 

Tonyi:

Azonto

 

Amoafowaa:

Let’s talk women, I know you are a family man, what is your take on feminism?

 

Tonyi:

My basic understanding of feminism is the movement advocating for equal opportunities for women. I support it even though I will not tag myself a feminist. My only problem might be that sometimes the campaign seems like “we” against “them”.

 

Amoafowaa:

The Bible says spare the rod and spoil the child, children’s rights activists say, do not beat children, what is your take on this?

 

Tonyi:

Normally I have to compare this to how we were brought up, I received some spanking from my father which made me the better person that I am today and they never harmed me. If we don’t discipline them, how do we treat the children? By buying them ice cream, pampering them always even when they are in the wrong? I am not saying we should beat to hurt them, just a little discipline helps strengthen their morals. I believe there should be a balance in everything though..

 

Amoafowaa

If you are given a life to live as Christ in His last day, would you have done anything differently?

 

Tonyi:

(Laughs) I’m not sure I’d have allowed myself to be killed, never! But if it was written and I knew I was going to be killed, I’d have allowed it, but if it was written and I didn’t know about it, I wouldn’t have allowed it.

 

Amoafowaa:

If you were the president of Ghana today, what would you do to impact the lives of citizens?

 

Tonyi:

I think that every sane Ghanaian has an idea of how Ghana is to be run. I would look at three broad areas to tackle,

1. Power

2. Sanitation

3. Corruption.

If I were the president today, I’d have dedicated all my time and resources in solving this. So I’ve come to learn that if you’re focused, you achieve more than having little time for everything and in the end achieving nothing.

 

Amoafowaa:

You were awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award in 2011, you were invited by President Obama to the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership programme which is his contribution to the Young African Leaders’ initiative, you’ve been hosted on all the important platforms in Ghana and many others elsewhere, the president of Ghana loves your brand and proudly wears them, the news of your success have travelled far and wide and all these merits emanated from your understudying a local Lapaz shoemaker. How does that make you feel?

 

Tonyi:

I think that with all these, it tells you that no matter where you start and how humble you are, someone is watching. Never despise humble beginnings, it’s often not the biggest of ideas but it is how we turn the little ideas around. One has to be passionate and focused and money should never be the motivation. Money should just be the consequence or the end product.

 

Amoafowaa:

Now, to the hopeless villager in some remote village who might be able to see this thanks to someone’s internet access, and to the internet fiend who knows not what to do with his or her life, to the youth whose family have branded him the black sheep; what will be your advice?

 

Tonyi:

People have the right to write you off but nothing is so worse than writing yourself off. So people should have the right beliefs in themselves and those writing you off should be your point of motivation. You just have to prove them wrong.

 

Amoafowaa:

Thank you so much Mr. Tonyi Senayah. I am so grateful for your time but before I leave you please tell us something about Horseman shoes.

 

Tonyi:

We pay great attention to details and it tells in our clean finishing. We invest time to come up with designs and make shoes that are comfortable and quality. We have international standards and not Ghanaian standards so Horseman competes with international standards. We are here in Ghana to give quality and make Ghanaians, Africans and the whole world proud.

Fresh from the stables of Horseman. You first saw this here on amoafowaa.com
Fresh from the stables of Horseman. You first saw this here on amoafowaa.com

 

Fresh shoes from Horseman on amoafowaa.com
Fresh shoes from Horseman on amoafowaa.com

(So you know, this is the first time you’re seeing this. Mr. Senayah was gracious enough to give me pictures of his newest creation)

Amoafowaa:

Thank you Tonyi.

 

Tonyi: You’re welcome.

 

 

At the end of my interview with this gem, his inspiration for me came in this form:

I thought there were only cobblers

I thought whites were the only makers

I thought of only my thoughts

Until I met the Emperor’s thoughts

Visions as huge as mountains

Achievements as tall as the sky

Age has fallen, it can never lie

Because the Emperor has conquered

Many old minds

A maker after just being a watcher

An employer after being a determiner

A teacher after just a thought

Whose sun brightens more in this field?

Here, I’ve learnt:

To stop the whining and do the do,

To stop the talking and act the action

Here, I’ve learnt:

The existing littles, when twisted are grand

He is a windmill of change

A thought full of hard  work

And has a life which throws a challenge

That’s the young teacher of the old

Mr. Tonyi Senayah

(At this point, I’ll have to ask what you’re doing to brighten your corner. Ask yourself and start in your own small way.)

Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia (c) 2014

 

 

 

 

 

By amoafowaa

Just a simple Ghanaian trying to find the best in our society. I may be fun, I may be interesting, I may be funny, I may even be foolish or intelligent, but it is all based on the mood in which you find yourself. I believe our minds make us who we are. Know that, pain, no matter its 'unbearability', is transient. Unburden or delight yourself for a while in my writings please. And all corrections, advice and opinions are welcome. Know that you are the king, queen or royal on this blog. :)

19 replies on “An Interview with Ghana’s Sensational and Inspirational Shoe Maker: Mr. Tonyi Senayah”

Thank you so much, I’ve enjoyed everything I read about Mr Senaya. I pray for his dream to become the leading shoemaker in Africa.
Big congratulations to him

Liked by 1 person

If this is a current picture of Tonyi Senayah, he has to Congratulated No End, indeed! To have done so well, at this young age! Blessings. May More Youth take inspiration from him and follow him. Thanks for presenting his story. Love and Regards. 🙂

Liked by 1 person

Really? Helena then Mr.Tonyi is now on world market now, that’s a true African soul for you. blessings Mr.Tonyi. He is really blessed…

Liked by 1 person

Hahahaha for sure,we are all in support Mum C,he is a great asset to this country Ghana…I need one of his shoes hahahaha…I know it may sound funny..

Liked by 1 person

What a vision!He is an inspiration to the youth and I love all the answers to his questions. All is true about his answers,especially when you asked of the political people helping. Hmmm the answer he gave was excellent…great work Mum C.

Like

Yes, he is an inspiration, a change maker and knows what he is about. And about his political answer please watch out for him in future because he whispered he’d want to be Ghana’s president one day.

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