Meet Ato Ulzen Appiah, the Mighty African Who Shuns Speaking and Acts to Motivate

Mr. Ato Ulzen Appiah is the director of the GhanaThink Foundation (An NGO based in Ghana and the USA) which organises Barcamps. The goal is to help Ghanaians learn about the issues that affect them, generate ideas for development, network and partner with others who have similar interests and help them improve or start businesses and projects. I prefer to call him the Mighty African. He is an inspiration to the youth today. His outfit, Ghana Think,  also organizes Junior Camps in Ghana to inculcate into the youth of today a sense of entrepreneurial skills, teach them to fit into the world of the internet in Ghana and helps everyone who is willing to choose a career path. He is really brightening the corner where he is. We are going to know more about this gem today.

 

ATO ULZEN APPIAH
ATO ULZEN APPIAH


Amoafowaa:

So greetings to you Mighty African Ato, if I am to write a thesis about your life and I need a material to analyse, what will be your summarised version of the story of your life?

Ato:

I have experienced a lot of world class and varied things, and I am trying to forge building excellence that is comfortable and valuable for people in my cultural neighbourhood; my people. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always done what’s in the best interest of my people. I love Ghana more than many things.

 

Amoafowaa:

Now to your career path, did you always dream of being an inspirer?

 

Ato
I didn’t realise my career path was inspirer. 🙂 I have always had Kwame Nkrumah as my biggest inspiration. So I’ve always dreamed of driving people to act for the common good and to do better for themselves. I believe I am a manager and (social) entrepreneur currently, so I am not necessarily toeing a political line like Nkrumah did. I want to inspire like Nkrumah did, but in an apolitical way. A bit like what my current role model Patrick Awuah does.

 

ATO ULZEN APPIAH amoafowaa.com
ATO ULZEN APPIAH
amoafowaa.com

Amoafowaa:

I see. What inspired Barcamp Ghana?

Ato:

Wanting to connect young people in Ghana and mobilize them for Ghana’s good inspired Barcamp Ghana. The first event in December 2008 was organized to connect young Ghanaians abroad and at home. There was the belief that excellent young Ghanaians existed, and we had to prove this to ourselves and everybody. Barcamp Ghana is gathering that and increasing the critical mass of patriotic, passionate, proactive, positive, progressive and productive people from Ghana. This inspires Ghana in building a network of young change makers, doers and entrepreneurs.

Amoafowaa:

What do think of the potentials of Ghana in the education of liberation from thoughts of being employed?

Ato:

We were colonized. We’ve been used to masters. We’ve become used to being yes-men. We hardly take initiatives. The potential is there but the culture is hard.
Ghanaians like to copy what works. So entrepreneurs must succeed, in the right ways, and with the best qualities, this will liberate people from being employed. There can’t be a shortage of success stories that are ubiquitous and visible.

Amoafowaa:

If you have the power to dish out three wishes for your country as a patriotic citizen, what are the three wishes you’ll dish out and why?

Ato:

All major roads linking all cities, towns and villages will be in excellent condition forever.
Fast, reliable internet will be ubiquitous and affordable.
Ghanaians will be that proud of Ghana that people will buy flags and fly them in their cars, houses, everywhere.

Amoafowaa:

Wow! That is true patriotism. Now many people think those who organize these inspirational programmes just want attention and nothing more because their impacts are not manifested in the lives of the supposed inspired, what is your take on this?

Ato:

Those people care about themselves, are selfish and not concerned about the general well-being of the nation.

If they want impact manifested in other lives, they should get up and do it and not ask for attention. Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those doing it.
We need doers, not complainers.

Amoafowaa:

Now let’s move on to your random thoughts. There are so many Non-Governmental Organisations in Ghana, especially here in the north, but illiteracy reigns, hunger prevails, domestic violence is on the rise as many women are at the receiving ends of punches. What are your thoughts on this matter?

Ato:

These NGOs are addressing small issues, and doing their part. Many of them are not empowering the people. They provide, but hardly provide tools and resources to allow the beneficiaries to be independent and self-sufficient.

Mindset and cultural changes are needed. People must be helped to create wealth and not just have their poverty alleviated. Women must be empowered to be breadwinners so they are not downtrodden.

Amoafowaa:

Women are crying for equality, some overdo it by claiming superiority yet they need men to vacate their seats and give them preferences, they need men to fix their tyres, they need men as their knight and shining armours (most of them), what is your take on this?

Ato:

I think the operating word here is equity, that’s what we can achieve. Both sexes just need to respect each other for their strengths and weaknesses and allow everyone to thrive.
Amoafowaa:

Autocratic parenting, laissez faire parenting, Transactional parenting, Participative parenting, I know you are a family man, which would you use and recommend to parents being a long time motivator?

Ato:

Participative.

Amoafowaa:

I always need to ask this from all the people I interview: Who wins the respect of Ato Ulzen Appiah?

Ato:

People who truly care about other people and want to see them thrive and be excellent.

Amoafowaa:

Now let’s talk religion, as a motivator yourself, do you think religion is helping inspire Ghanaians at the moment?

Ato:

I don’t think religion is inspiring Ghanaians. It’s not a primary focus. There is more focus on helping people prosper. Unfortunately, the masses aren’t prospering anyway.

Amoafowaa:

Now to sports, what are your favourite teams? Local and international and why?

Ato:

Manchester United and San Antonio Spurs. I love winning. I hate losing. These two teams signify very good teams that work together and don’t care much about individual credit but end product.

Accra Hearts of Oak plays like it sometimes, but with not as much winning lately.

Amoafowaa:

And which team can’t you stand in the whole world? I know I’m trying to look for football enemies for you but I’d be glad if you answer this question.

Ato:
Well, rivals of those teams? Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Los Angeles Lakers, Asante Kotoko?

ATO ULZEN APPIAH
ATO ULZEN APPIAH

Amoafowaa:

What is the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done on earth?

Ato:
You’ll be very lucky for me to tell you, This is not the time or place, sorry.

Amoafowaa:

Lol. I understand so won’t push it. Now to entertainment. What form of entertainment in Ghana relaxes you and why?

Ato:

I believe I am too blessed to be stressed. So when I am getting frustrated, I laugh. It ensures I am always relaxed.

I love love love listening to Kizomba and Zouk music. Guaranteed to relax me. Sadly, it’s not really Ghanaian. Listening to good highlife like Otoolege can do the same too.

Amoafowaa:

If we’re talking songs, who is your favourite artist in Ghana and why?

Ato:

It was Obrafour and even though he doesn’t make a lot of music, it’s still him.
Why? He made a song about Kwame Nkrumah, he made a song about discipline, he helped popularize something that combined what Ghanaians loved from elsewhere and who we were. He made Ghana look cool.

I listen to a lot of Ghanaian music but I enjoy Ghanaian R&B more. Currently, I want Akwaboah’s album. A huge fan of Kwabena Kwabena, Afriyie, Mugeez, Becca, etc.

Amoafowaa:

Who is your favourite artist abroad, I know you’ve travelled far and wide so I’m open for any answer?

Ato:

Well, Kizomba and Zouk music are my favorite genres now. Some of my favorite artistes with this are Kaysha, Perola, Bruna, etc.

Amoafowaa:

AIDS is a slow killer, ebola is a terror, it seems the terror is overpowering the slow killer. What is your take on this?

Ato:

Ebola is a terror because of the modes of transmission. AIDS has spread much further and stayed though while the jury is not yet out on Ebola. Prevention is better than cure, for both the terror and the slow killer.

Amoafowaa:

Now to Ghana, if you are to grade His Excellency President Mahama in terms of the understated, how will you grade him in percentage and why?

Ato:

1. Peace
70%. Ghanaians are generally peaceful. He’s not done much to disturb that.

2. Health
50%. NHIS is not working as well as it should but it has brought more people healthcare at affordable costs.

3. Education
40%. More infrastructure is coming in but the levels of literacy and numeracy are not really improving. Basic education is very key.

4. Electricity and gas
10%. Our electricity crisis has never been this bad.

5. Jobs
20%. I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to create jobs. The government must lay the infrastructure, foundation, and support more companies to create jobs. They aren’t doing that.

6. Corruption
20%. I don’t see any better fight against corruption.

7. Promises
I don’t really listen to election promises so I can’t answer this question well.
Did the NDC even make any promises? They spent their time lambasting what the NPP promised.
23% cos I don’t know what other percentage to give.
Amoafowaa:

Dancing: Azonto, Adowa, Agbadza, which catches your fancy?

 

Ato:
Azonto 🙂
New school 😉

Amoafowaa:

New school trends. If you’re to say sorry to someone you’ve offended, who will that be and what would you say?

Ato:

I’ve offended many people, can’t pick one. I’d say I’d take the blame for offending them and that I need them to be happy for me to remain happy.

Amoafowaa:

Now, to the hopeless in society, the helpless who is contemplating suicide, and the black sheep of the society, what will be your advice?

Ato:

They should learn stories of people in their situation who came out of those situations.

Amoafowaa:

Any last words to inspire all?

Ato:

The destiny of a nation at any given time depends on the opinions of its young men and women.
Your opinion of yourself, community and nation affects how well each does.
Do something to make that opinion better.

The best way to predict the future is to create it.
We can brighten our corners and shape our parts of the globe.

Less talk, more action. Let’s get started and make things happen.

 

 

Amoafowaa:

Thank you very much for your time Mighty African.

Ato:

Thank you very much for helping us all learn more about myself 🙂

Amoafowaa:

It’s a pleasure.

 

His inspiration came in this form:

 

THE MIGHTY OAK

Who will see gold and be broke?

Isn’t conscience for the corrupt a joke?

His need to help the world transcends all

He stumbles for inspiration and won’t hesitate to fall

He is the mighty oak who works than talk

The great legs which never stand but walk

Like the human battalion for the good of all

Even in dust he will stand tall

Working and pulling minds to work hard

For liberation, sufficiency and brightness, even the bad

Africa would have sped in development

If it gets a dozen of your likes in adornment

This seer prays

That your vision stays

And your work pays

And shines even after the end of your days

Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia (c) 2014

17 thoughts on “Meet Ato Ulzen Appiah, the Mighty African Who Shuns Speaking and Acts to Motivate

  1. I loved this article. Learning a bit about Ghana but also realizing how so much of what concerns you or makes you laugh and love in your culture is also the same for me. I love it when you realize the world is much, much smaller than you thought and your heart beats much like everyone else’s.

    Like

  2. I am back to read Cecilia. I’ve been away. I’ve missed your words. The mighty oak who works than talk, the great legs that walk but never stand. We all need people to look up to for inspiration. This is our next teacher, our hope for the future. Many blessings Cecilia

    Like

  3. Good work but i was expecting to hear how he started out, his challenges and how he overpowered them, and what exactly he is up to currently. Listening to people’s stories stirs up the ‘i can also make it’ spirit in me.

    Liked by 1 person

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