Our guest post, Reuben Griffiths Bekoe, is a determined soul with a heart of gold. He is a cyclist who is cycling to raise funds for the Ghana Cleft Foundation. He describes himself as a jealous romantic who loves passionately. I say he is a young enterprising young man who might do deeds which the Guinness Book of Records might gladly chase to capture. Let’s relax and enjoy a tour on his mind.
AMOAFOWAA: You are welcome to Amoafowaa.com
REUBEN: Thank you for the opportunity
AMOAFOWAA: If I may ask, why cycling?
REUBEN: I am bike-sexual
AMOAFOWAA: (Laughing outloud) Why not bike-prostitute?
REUBEN: I just chose bicycle because in our culture, though people use bicycles to commute, it’s not our thing to just ride for a longer distance. If you’re riding and wearing a jersey they think you’re doing cycling or racing but racing and touring are two different things.
AMOAFOWAA: So you are on a mission now, when did you start?
REUBEN: I started on the 10th of August from Takoradi to Tamale but in between I’ve been sleeping and having programmes as well. For me, I’m a cyclist. I never had a bicycle so I just learnt I didn’t even train for this I just got on a bicycle and started paddling
AMOAFOWAA: Ok so you started riding when you were age?
REUBEN: I think twelve but since then I never really sat on a bicycle for a very long time
AMOAFOWAA: Until now?
REUBEN: Yes, revisiting my passion yet again
AMOAFOWAA: Tell me a little about Reuben
REUBEN: Reuben is a 21year old high school graduate not the normal kind of boy
AMOAFOWAA: I’m interested in that too, the “not normal” thing
REUBEN: I think differently and I just don’t swim I swim to meet the waves. I know you know what I mean. I am the first of three boys</em
AMOAFOWAA: What was growing up like?
REUBEN: Very very challenging not the normal childhood
AMOAFOWAA: What is the normal childhood?
REUBEN: Having parents around, playing, having friends, those kinds of things but I never had that.
AMOAFOWAA: How come you never had that?
REUBEN: My parents separated, not for divorce but my mother was transferred to Kumasi when I was in class 2 so I lived with my dad who was a land surveyor. He would wake up around 6am, go to work and return around 8pm because he was the metropolitan surveyor for the Sekondi Takoradi Assembly. So we didn’t have mother around to take care of us but during vacations she came around. Was the good times but I lost them while in class 4 and 5 simultaneously.
AMOAFOWAA: Sorry to hear that but how did you lose them?
REUBEN: They died within a year. I don’t know, it just happened that was the will of the Lord so to say. When I was in class 4, my father died then a year later, perhaps because of heartbreak my mother followed. That has been my life but it helped shape me to think wide.
AMOAFOWAA: So who took over taking care of you.
REUBEN: Let me say those who loved us.
AMOAFOWAA: Senior High School graduate huh?
AMOAFOWAA: Which school?
REUBEN: Shamar Senior High School
AMOAFOWAA: When did you complete?
REUBEN: Two years ago, that’s in 2013
AMOAFOWAA: And why are we still not seeing any continuation?
REUBEN: Ok well after school I just wanted to do the cycling across Ghana and raise funds for the foundation and in between I cycled with Latitude ICS UK for 3 months in Cape Coast. So this has been my plan, volunteering to give back to society from what I learnt. Afterwards, I have 1 year to volunteer in the UK and finance so if I get to volunteer in the UK I’ll earn a weekly allowance throughout the year, I think that will be enough to finance my tertiary education if I save. After 1 year in the UK, school continues.
AMOAFOWAA: So this volunteerism thing is also for money?
REUBEN: No it’s not for money but for myself but this cycling is for the Cleft Foundation.
AMOAFOWAA: Why did you choose the Cleft Foundation?
REUBEN: Well initially I chose The Ghana Amputee Team and The Cleft Foundation but since I’m not a well-known brand, the Amputee Team didn’t want anything to do with me but the Cleft Foundation, because of what they are doing which I think is amazing; operating on children free of charge and running on people’s donations it’s worthy to support them
AMOAFOWAA: Yes that’s true, they are doing so well. So apart from continuing your education after going to the UK and all that, any special ambitions?
REUBEN: Being a father and a husband.
AMOAFOWAA: Most men have that ambition but any other?
REUBEN: I just want to be a father and a husband
AMOAFOWAA: Can you be a house husband and watch your wife go to work while you take care of the children?
REUBEN: Yes, exactly
REUBEN: Yes. I said this a year ago and I’ll continue saying it, I’ve written about it too.
REUBEN: I just want to be that father that will attend PTA meeting and watch my children grow just love my wife and be there for them. I don’t want children that will be like I need to be religious to be morally upright. I want to be a father who will raise responsible children.
AMOAFOWAA: I’m looking at you very well because this is the first time I’ve seen a man like that. Anyways, do you have any role models in cycling?
REUBEN: Though there are many cyclist, I’ve never wanted to be like anyone. I look up to Reuben.
AMOAFOWAA: No world class cyclist as a model, nothing?
REUBEN: No. I’m my own role model
AMOAFOWAA: You know some people do things for their passions, I write poetry when problems call, at every need, every heartache, every wish, every dream I put it all in my poems, that’s my passion. What is your passion for cycling Reuben?
REUBEN: There’s much freedom on the road. You enjoy nature and you learn the stories of people as you ride unlike being in a car. You might want to capture something but before you realize you pass by and cycling to me relates to life. Sometimes I’ll be cycling but I wouldn’t know how close I am to my destination and such is life; you might be struggling and yet wouldn’t know how close you are to your victory at other times you see forms of hills but as you get closer you realize they aren’t. Cycling relates to life and the freedom on the road keeps me going.
AMOAFOWAA: Wow! There’s freedom on the road that is true but aren’t there dangers?
REUBEN: There are. Getting dehydrated with no water in sight, cycling in Ghana is very risky you can’t risk it if you don’t want to because there are no cycling paths, drivers being so abusive they refuse to share the road with us and people don’t understand the culture of cycling but some people are generous enough to offer you water or food on the road. These are some of the challenges. Even some police personnel don’t really understand their work, to even give you a place to lodge overnight is challenging.
AMOAFOWAA: So if you meet such police personnel what do you do?
REUBEN: I explain as much as I can before they give me a place to mount my tent. For instance at Nkwanta, the police weren’t willing to give me a place so I had to perch with a friend for that night.
AMOAFOWAA: What do you do when it’s raining?
REUBEN: I look for shelter but if there’s none, I ride in the rain.
AMOAFOWAA: I heard you rode with Wanlov Kuborlor
REUBEN: I just twittered at him and he responded so we did some few rides together but before that I wasn’t even following him I only twittered at him “Would you mind doing some few kilometers with me?”, I had sent so many messages to people but got no attention. At the time I sent him the message, I was on my way to the Volta Region so I just twittered that I was at his junction but he wasn’t coming so I took off then 5minutes later he twittered back and asked where I was and I told him I was at the mall then he rode to the place.
AMOAFOWAA: Wow! I hear he’s cool like that
REUBEN: Yes he is.
AMOAFOWAA: Wow. What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done? No lies please.
REUBEN: Adding digits to my school fees.
AMOAFOWAA: Seriously? What did you use that extra money for?
REUBEN: I got myself a new phone.
AMOAFOWAA: What is the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
REUBEN: Purple Hibiscus. I just love the way Ntiamoah wrote the book. How the characters played their parts and how it relates to my life. I read it over and over again without getting bored.
AMOAFOWAA: Do you love politics?
REUBEN: I do enjoy politics but not much into it now
AMOAFOWAA: So who is your favourite politician?
REUBEN: I don’t have any because I don’t think I can trust anyone now
AMOAFOWAA: None at all?
REUBEN: None at all. I will trust a politician only when we have national plans or policies that stipulates the types and number of projects to be done in a term. Without this, I don’t think we’re making a headway in development. So the nation must tell them what to do and not the other way round. That will help them gain my trust.
AMOAFOWAA: Wow! So they then compete to convince us on how they can help. Cool thought. Do you think politicians who have come and gone and still are are not doing those things?
REUBEN: I don’t think so.
AMOAFOWAA: Is the Ghanaian living well?
REUBEN: From what I’ve seen, the answer to that question is no.
AMOAFOWAA: Some have really nice cars and are living large
REUBEN: It doesn’t matter
AMOAFOWAA: Why not?
REUBEN: If you have a car and you can’t afford to pay utility bills you’re not living well. One out of ten people can afford a three course meal and two can afford a three daily meal.
AMOAFOWAA: So who do you blame for this?
REUBEN: I blame us
REUBEN: We don’t reach out for more; we go like we’re okay with the little we have. Nobody applauds the postman for delivering letters neither the baker for baking bread so why do you have to applaud a politician for providing basic amenities like pipes, electricity, schools etc. That’s their duty but if they do something beside what the citizens expect, that’s when we can applaud them. If we keep praising them they don’t do more
AMOAFOWAA: So you think Ghanaians praise politicians too much?
AMOAFOWAA: Which kind of “politricks” disgusts you most in recent times?
REUBEN: This Eastern Corridor thing and the no schools under trees. I believed it until I rode from the Volta Region to the Northern Region and realised there’s nothing like eastern corridor, they haven’t invested in the project yet you have people talking about it. You hear people talk about no schools under trees yet such schools still exist. Bad roads, students having to carry chairs to school, no potable water yet politicians tell us stories. I don’t think development is about building big shopping malls and airports but tending to the basic needs of the people, we’re not developing in my view.
AMOAFOWAA: What do you want to see in the political arena of Ghana? What do think can bring change?
REUBEN: When we are honest with ourselves and when we vote on policies not politics.
AMOAFOWAA: Let’s get social. Do you have a girlfriend?
REUBEN: No but it gives me some space to understand myself
AMOAFOWAA: Have you ever been in a relationship?
REUBEN: Yes but I think I was too young then to understand exactly what relationships really meant
AMOAFOWAA: But now you want to be a house husband?
REUBEN: Yes. I didn’t really break up with my girlfriend but she travelled to the US and that was it but at times I miss boasting about having a girlfriend and telling friends how beautiful she is yet it’s all good because I’m enjoying some freedom
AMOAFOWAA: You’re still very young so it’s not a problem. You’ll have so many of them to even choose from
AMOAFOWAA: But have you thought about the complicated things that come with being a house husband? Doing all the chores, how do you think you’ll feel when your friends see you?
REUBEN: It depends on who I call a friend because a friend is someone who understands you and accepts you just as you are. The woman I settle down with must accept there should be a balance in executing the house chores and settling utility bills. I don’t want to be an authoritative husband. I want an independent woman, one who has her opinions. Guys are afraid of independent women so if you are with one, you gain a lot of respect. So we’ll run a democratic home.
AMOAFOWAA: What do you look out for in a woman?
REUBEN: An educated woman, one who can keep a home, someone who is beautiful but inside out and someone who can talk well and looks presentable.
AMOAFOWAA: Lets do entertainment. Any celebrity crushes?
AMOAFOWAA: Who’s your favourite singer in Ghana?
REUBEN: Singer: Kwabena Kwabena and musician Amakye Dede
AMOAFOWAA: What’s the difference between a singer and a musician?
REUBEN: A musician to me is someone who is a show man and a singer; one who is vocally and lyrically good.
REUBEN: I love Wanlov’s song “I am a human” too
AMOAFOWAA: What do you do when you’re not cycling?
REUBEN: I just listen to music or get engaged on social media though I don’t have a social life as I said earlier, no personal friends, all my friends are on social media. I think it’s time I make friends, one of the reasons I cycle. It’s difficult though trying to live a normal life so sometimes I write.
AMOAFOWAA: What is your favourite food?
REUBEN: I’ll go for boiled plantain and garden eggs stew.
AMOAFOWAA: I see. What do you think about discrimination in general, from racism to tribalism and all the labeling?
REUBEN: It slows development and lowers self-confidence. I think it’s discriminatory to ask of my religion, nationality and tribe when filling a form or in an interview because above everything else, we’re all human. I’m human first from Africa, then a Ghanaian before seeing myself as an Akuapim and being a male or female. This is how I describe myself. If we all come together irrespective of our backgrounds, religion or sexuality and accept diverse opinions, we’ll go far rather than judging people by where they are from. Travelling on my bike, I’ve learnt to erase so much stereotypes about the various tribes because as you travel, you realize things are not really as people say.
AMOAFOWAA: That sounds paradoxical. Strong women are witches do you agree?
REUBEN: If the man has low self- esteem then the woman will definitely be a witch
AMOAFOWAA: Do you believe in witches?
REUBEN: I’ve never seen any before
AMOAFOWAA: But do you believe stories about them?
REUBEN: Well I’ve read so many fairytales about them thanks to my parents but I’ve never seen one so I am not sure how I feel about them.
AMOAFOWAA: Are you a Christian?
REUBEN: A Christian but I’m not so good. I’m a sinner
AMOAFOWAA: So what are your sins?
REUBEN: They are many, I can’t tell. With how I grew, I think I’ve lost some of the Christian morals I really cherish
REUBEN: I don’t pray anymore
AMOAFOWAA: So if you don’t pray you become a sinner?
REUBEN: Not really but I don’t practice religion I accept what the Christians, Muslims and the traditionalists. I put it all together and see how I can apply them in my life so that’s it.
AMOAFOWAA: That’s nice, so no religion. Do you think human rights groups are working hard in Ghana?
REUBEN: They work for those they know
AMOAFOWAA: You think so?
REUBEN: I don’t know how to put this but I’ll try. Human Rights groups fight for those already in the news instead of going down to search for the people who really need help. Some are trying though but on the average most of them go in for those who are already in the news and try to rescue them and add that up to their CV. Talking about human rights, it hasn’t got to do with those who are abused sexually alone, think about those who are fired because of religion or sexuality. We should also concentrate on the issues that are not making the news. Human Rights group should educate people more on the various forms of human rights abuse, even a mother denying her baby breast milk is a form of abuse. They should be a way of telling such stories and curbing them.
AMOAFOWAA: On the lighter side, are you for or against Anas?
REUBEN: I’ve never met Anas but I love what he is doing
AMOAFOWAA: Don’t you think he abused the judges?
REUBEN: I don’t think so.
AMOAFOWAA: If people are really suffering in Ghana as you said, what is your advice to them?
REUBEN: Grab opportunities, work hard and believe in what you believe in
AMOAFOWAA: What about those who are being abused as you said?
REUBEN: They should come out and say it just as it is.
AMOAFOWAA: What is your advice to all followers of amoafowaa.com?
REUBEN: Nothing was done before it was done and out of impossible we get the possible. You can do everything if you believe in yourself and also in your dreams. There’s nothing too late or too early in life
AMOAFOWAA: Thank you for your time
REUBEN: It was a pleasure.
Please donate to the Ghana Cleft Foundation
Ecobank, Harper Road Branch, Kumasi
Account number 0213074414843601
Determination can wield a nation
And passions can flourish in action
On paddles which drain knees
Wheels which drink sweat
Reuben rides his bike and likes
He tries the new and sighs
Sees what is and races to grab
His future with force as his bible stipulates
A head with many a thoughts so golden
On legs with strength to die for
If life is strife and strife does strike
I am sure it’ll find all but one
And that will be the untouchable Reuben
On his wheels on flying heels
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © 2015