Today, our guest post is Mr. Edward Sena Dey, the elder brother of Kafui Dey of the “Who Wants to be Rich Project” fame. I personally call him the happy god because he is seen always with a smile on his face. He is an amazing spokesperson with a very huge heart. As to how I know, find out for yourself in his interview.
AMOAFOWAA: You’re welcome to amoafowaa.com. Please tell us about yourself
MR. DEY: I was born on Thursday 19th March, 1970 at the Clinique Hubert in Dakar Senegal, and spent the remaining seventeen years of my life in between Ouagadougou, Abidjan,Beijing, Accra, London and Algiers. My childhood involved a lot of travelling around, so I learnt never to get too comfortable. My most memorable trip was between Beijing and Hongkong by train, 38 hours, but it was an awesome experience. I have three younger brothers.
AMOAFOWAA: The first thing I’d like to ask is, have you ever cried?
MR. DEY: I have more than my fair share of frustrations, issues and fears, just like any one else. I just let things roll off my back, and do not allow any situation to get to me. I do cry, but it’s not very often, and I am not a bawler. Tears flow freely when I experience hurt, deep pain or sadness. The day I lost my mum, I excused my self, after the news had been confirmed, went to a corner of the hospital, and had a really good cry. The toughest times are in the mornings, when I have to get up to take care of my dad…he is a very powerful reminder that she is no more, and sometimes, as I take care of him, the tears flow freely…but it is cathartic, and I tend to feel a lot better afterwards. I have learnt about inner strength and the ability to suffer pain and adversity with dignity, from my dad. He was a former career diplomat, and so taught me all about nuance, and couching language in such a way that you can get even the crudest of messages across with style and panache. He suffers from multiple conditions, and is gravelly ill, as I speak, but I derive my strength and comfort from him, in the knowledge that all that I may be enduring, cannot be any worse than what he has had to go through, losing his wife of forty five years, and often in immense physical pain, but never ever complaining. I remember the day I got back from putting her into the morgue, and had to deal with family and friends at home. A childhood friend remarked that he was amazed at the calm I exhibited, and I was actually even consoling people and cracking jokes. I am the eldest of four boys, and my younger brothers subconsciously lean onto me for strength and comfort, so I have had to step up. Hence my always having a smile…a lot of the times you see me with a broad smile, I have probably done my share of crying, and I am not afraid to admit it.
AMOAFOWAA: What do you do now as a vocation?
MR. DEY: I worked in the hospitality industry for fifteen years, working in various hotels, in various capacities, at the Front Office, Sales and Marketing and Guest Relations. I have had to put my life quite literally on hold, to look after my father, as he needs round the clock care. I looked after him for a year after my mum’s death before acquiring the services of a carer to help out. But I haven’t totally relinquished my responsibilities, because when he (the carer ) closes from work to go home, I still have to look after him. Sometimes he wakes up, suffering from insomnia, and I end up having to stay up the whole night, and getting him to have his bath and get dressed before the carer reports for work in the morning. It is gruelling, physically and emotionally, but he is my dad, and he took care of us when we were young, put us up in good schools, got us to travel the world, and taught us about etiquette, so, if he isn’t doing so well physically, it is a no-brainer as to what I have to do for him. I have learnt a lot about the aged, tolerance, patience and unconditional love. It has cost me a lot in various spheres of my life, but I will willingly do it again in a heartbeat. I also mcee for corporate and social events, and can translate documents from French into English.
AMOAFOWAA: What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done?
MR. DEY: Wow, the naughtiest thing I have done was probably getting hot and heavy with the girlfriend in an area very close to the public….anyone could have walked in on us, but it was a he adrenalin rush!
AMOAFOWAA: Lol. “Send a girl child to school” was a very popular song in the late 90’s. Do you think we have achieved that as Africans?
MR. DEY: I don’t think so. A lot of people in our social set-up still give preference to educating boys over girls. I find that very sad, because, when you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation, because the skills she acquires, coupled with her ability to multitask, make her a very valuable asset indeed. Society has to desist from that school of thought, and give girls equally the same opportunities, as they would boys. Girls have a lot to offer…I even wished I had a sister, but it is a bit late for that now. So, in that respect, Africans have failed abysmally, and the abduction of the girls by Boko Haram, aptly demonstrates that old schools of thought, die hard.
AMOAFOWAA: There is a clause in the GES code of conduct which states that if girls get pregnant, they should be asked to leave the school, after birth, they should be given transfer letters to any school of their choices but if they abort their pregnancies, they should be rusticated without any letters of recommendation. What is your take on this matter.
MR. DEY: This is a deep-rooted problem. First of all, sex education isn’t taught in schools, so, most girls do not really know what is going on with their bodies, much more, getting pregnant . I went to a Catholic boys school in London, and you know the Catholic Church’s take on contraception? Try telling 11 to 18 year olds about abstinence, when their hormones are raging all over the place. It won’t work. Most girls do not choose to get pregnant. It happens, more often than not, out of ignorance, and every case is unique. Sex education needs to be taught in a healthy manner, but, unfortunately, it’s taboo for most. Most girls, as a result, have to find out about the facts of life, the hard way. When school authorities are faced with either of these situations, they need to look long and hard into the matter before arriving at a decision, because, in most cases, the end result is life-altering. Instead of judging the girl for getting pregnant, or for termination, they must be taught the various modes of contraception, as well as be knowledgeable about their bodies. Once they are fully aware of these things, these two scenarios will reduce to the barest minimum. There must be a wholistic approach to teenage pregnancy, as it is a huge problem.
AMOAFOWAA: Are women right groups overdoing the “Women Emancipation” thing?MR. DEY: It is a double-edged sword. I am for womens’ lib, but I draw the line where the very same women advocating for their emancipation, want to be treated with kid gloves, as and when it suits them. It is all about balance, and making the playing field as level as possible.
AMOAFOWAA: In your candid opinion, can Ghana and for that matter Africa, be a reading community?
MR. DEY: Yes. But unfortunately, with the advent of the internet, and the emergence of video game systems, children are reading a lot less, and playing more. Ghana, and in the broader sense, Africa, can become a reading community. It is all about parents exerting more control over their kids, as opposed to leaving them to their own devices. A lot of parents, especially those who grew up with very little, tend to overcompensate, and end up destroying their children in the process, instead of nurturing them. My brother Kafui’s kids are only allowed on weekends, on condition that they have done their chores and homework. Reading does wonders for your grammar and diction, and, in not reading, you do yourself a great disservice.
AMOAFOWAA: Who did you grow up reading from?
MR. DEY: My father was a liberal arts major, who did English, French and Music for A Levels, before proceeding to the University of Ghana to study French. We have always had books at home. My dad is a lover of dictionaries, so we have them all over the house. From the ages of 5 to 10, I could read, write and speak Mandarin fluently, so my dad got me an English-Chinese-Chinese-English Oxford Dictionary. He also had the complete bilingual works of Shakespeare, and got us the World Book, which comprises an encyclopaedia, double volume dictionary, an atlas, a four volume medical ailments pack, as well as a double volume on the British Isles. So my brothers and I learnt to do research early. We lived in Beijing from 1975-1980. The first two years, Kafui and I, went to Chinese primary school, not as foreign students, but as one of them, complete with green fatigues, red star and all. Then one day, we came home, and I told my dad that Mao Tse-Tung, the then Chinese leader, was God. It was indoctrination that we were regurgitating. My dad pulled us out of school. Our next door neighbor, Christine Wade, was a special needs teacher who set up a school called the Little English School. It was like going to prep school in England. We read Aesops’ Fables, Rudyard Kipling and what have you. People tell me I speak very well, but then again, so do my brothers, and this was the genesis of all that. I grew up learning French first, then Ewe, and then English. Mrs. Wade left for Moscow a year before we returned. So we were at home for a year. My dad put us through vocabulary drills. We could read whatever we wanted, but we had to produce ten words for him each day, that we could use in sentences. Upon return to Ghana, most schools were scared to take us because they felt we had been home too long. But Under Christine Wade’s tutelage, coupled with my dad’s vocabulary drills, we were a tough act to follow. He enrolled us at the Osu Childrens’ Library, as well as British Council. When I do my morning devotion, I read my Bible verse in English and in French. It is to keep my French from going dormant. So, as you can see, I am from a family of readers.
AMOAFOWAA: Impressive. Now to the next question, if you were the Minister of Education today, what are the plans you would put in place to ensure the growth of the sector?
MR. DEY: I would look into the remuneration of teachers and lecturers, make more funding available to the sector, and make more research grants available for them to pursue their studies and be at par with their counterparts worldwide. A country’s most valuable asset is its human resource, and it goes without saying, that it is absolutely vital that it is equipped with the requisite skills and tools.
AMOAFOWAA: Why am I praying for you to be in that position? Oh, because I loved the sound of that. Mr. Dey, is politics a necessary evil?
MR. DEY: I normally do not delve into politics here in Ghana because we are a deeply polarized nation, and even the smartest of people make decisions and think along political lines. I attended a funeral at the weekend for the late wife of the National Security Adviser, Mr. Francis Poku. The NPP bigwigs, I realized, arrived AFTER President Mahama, which is a faux-pas. Some of my friends were telling me that because it was a private function, they were not abliged to observe protocol. Private function or not, the President is still the most powerful man in the land, and must be accorded the due respect wherever he goes. Politics, when thoroughly understood, is healthy. It is important to have politics. The opposition help to keep the party in power, on its toes. Politicians must start thinking in the interest of the nation, instead of looking out for their selfish, parochial interests. I don’t do much Ghanaian politics, because, when you tune in to the morning shows on tv and radio, the mudslinging, the vitriolic statements and the insults, leave a very bitter taste in my mouth. So, I do three stations, Starr FM, Atlantis and BBC. The rest I don’t bother with.
AMOAFOWAA: What is your impression of the Mahama?
MR. DEY: I think His Excellency the President is a fundamentally decent man, who wants to do the right thing. But I don’t know about some of those around him. Being at the top, can be very lonely, and he cannot be on top of everything. He has had to deal with a lot of rot and corruption, which unfortunately, has been the way of life, for generations and governments, past and present. He well and truly has his work cut out for him, with the energy crisis, the water situation, and what have you.
AMOAFOWAA: Sorry I still have to do politics, I really need to get into your thoughts so forgive me. Did Kufuor do better?
MR. DEY: I really don’t like to compare administrations. I am not much of a political animal, but the Kufuor administration has had its highs and lows, as has the current Mahama government. All I wish for them to do, is to see the big picture and take decisions in the interest of Ghana.
AMOAFOWAA: Who, to you, is the most disappointing politician in Ghana today?
MR. DEY: There are quite a few of them. I saw General Mosquito in a ladies’ coat in Germany. That in itself is a no-no. Before you travel, you must check out the weather forecast for the duration of your stay at your destination. A quick call to the embassy in Bonn, could have sorted this out. Even if he didn’t have a coat, he could have communicated his size, for one to be made available for him on arrival. Sadly, most of our politicians do not think out of the box, and the Germans must be having a good laugh at our expense. I would rather have sat in the comfort of the heated official vehicle than end up in that predicament. Fortunately, he is a small man. If he were my size, it would have been very embarrassing indeed. As a top government official, you must behave like airline crew…have a bag packed and be ready to roll, when given orders to do so.
AMOAFOWAA: Do you believe Anita De-Soso’s claim that witchcraft reigns in Ghana’s finances?
MR. DEY: That is a load of hogwash. I don’t buy such ignorant, misplaced blanket statements . Mismanagement is the bane of our woes, not witchcraft or sorcery.
AMOAFOWAA: Do you think the price increase of products and salaries tally?
MR. DEY: No, they don’t. Most Ghanaians work on earth, and get paid in the skies. How the authorities arrived at the ludicrous sum of 7 cedis being the daily minimum wage, is beyond me. A half decent lunch costs three to four times that amount. Ghanaians are “magicians”, and I don’t mean so in the witchcraft sense. People can make 500 cedis a month, spend thrice as much, and still have some left in the bank. Accra is one of the most expensive cities on earth, and how most survive, baffles me. God does well and truly love us.
AMOAFOWAA: Truly God loves us. If I mention any of these names: Obinim, Prophet 1 and the others, would you say they are role models and why?
MR. DEY: They are role models because thy have a huge sphere of influence, and what they say and do, positive or otherwise, affect a lot of people.
AMOAFOWAA: Is Christianity still “appetizing” even with its current trends?
MR. DEY: I guess it depends on the mindset of the people involved, their values, belief systems, backgrounds and mindsets.
AMOAFOWAA: Sex and music videos in Ghana, is it denting the essence of decorum?MR. DEY: Yes, because there is no censorship per se. People produce whatever tickles their fancy, and get away with it. It’s the same with the print media. Some of the newspapers you see in the news stands, are porn, pure and simple. In the West, they are tucked out of sight, and out of the reach of minors.
AMOAFOWAA: Who is your best artist in the entertainment industry today?
MR. DEY: It is probably Shatta Wale, in spite of the controversy swirling around him. He should concentrate on his music, and talk less.
AMOAFOWAA: Please tell us some recipes for staying happy.
MR. DEY: Be as honest and as upfront as possible. If anything troubles you, and talking about it makes you sleep better at night, then, by all means say it. Don’t take life too seriously, and don’t be bothered by what people say about you. They talk about you because they want to be like you. Do a random act of kindness to a total stranger. I boarded a bus today, and a woman had trouble getting on, as her hands were full. I took her stuff from her, and waited till she was inside, and gave it back to her. She was very surprised. Give freely, especially to those who need more than you do. Endeavour to take part in community service. It is very fulfilling. Engage in moderate exercise. The mind and body need to be in sync with one another, and that is the best way to do it. Surround yourself with positive-minded individuals.
AMOAFOWAA: Your advice to Ghanaians who have decided not to vote during the 2016 ballot
MR. DEY: Your vote is your power. Forget about who may or may not be in office. Your vote is your voice, and in not doing so, you get yourself disenfranchised, and are thus disconnected from the decision-making process.
AMOAFOWAA: How is it like having a famous brother like Kafui Dey?
MR. DEY: My brother is my brother, pure and simple. The same guy I grew up with. Fame has not changed him. It is flattering for people to mistake me for him, but I make them understand that I am not him. Sometimes I have to pull out a photo of us together to make my point.
AMOAFOWAA: Is there a sort of envy sometimes?
MR. DEY: No, none whatsoever. My brothers are three supremely talented individuals, so I support them in any way I can. When they have events, I go to them, and give them my take on them afterwards.
AMOAFOWAA: Your advice to the audience of amoafowaa.com
MR. DEY: Always treat people with respect. Stay humble. Never ever get ahead of yourself. Be polite. If I don’t know you, I refer to you as Sir or Ma’am. It doesn’t take anything away from you, and people love it when they are made to feel relevant. Like my late mum always said “Everyone has their role to play on earth”. Never belittle anyone, as you never know tomorrow. The people you meet on the way up, are the very ones you meet on the way back down. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice. It is gratis, and people will remember you for your kindness long after you are gone.
AMOAFOWAA: Thank you very much for your time on amoafowaa.com
MR. DEY: You’re welcome.
END OF INTERVIEW
His interview came in this form:
WHEN KINDNESS IS AN HONOUR
When the grounds of your face
Is the playground of smiles
Goodness becomes your determining pace
And you can go many miles
He eats kindness
And sleeps kindness
Doped in pious sainthood
Winning over realms of anger
Arresting talks of sins
Reasoning in forgiveness
Down to earth as the son of the earth
Sees it all
Enough to fall
Nevertheless, he does endure
Airing advice to uproot same stumps on other roads
Day in and out
Every vein of his smiles
You need to emulate Edward Sena Dey
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © 2015