If it were my wedding on February 9, 2016, I should be writing today perhaps, that I walked the aisle with the best of companions who have over the years not only helped me discover myself but also taught me that there is always a better version of me and showed me the path of constant self-discovery. I would have added as well, with all the confidence in me, that I have no regrets making the choice I made, and I certainly would repeat the same choice over and over when confronted with the option to.
Well, I do not know if the experiences of February 9, 2016, are equivalent to those of walking the aisle with a life companion because I have not done that yet. However, what is incontrovertibly certain is that the experiences, reflections and feelings expressed above are equivalent, if not higher in comparison, to how I feel today looking back to February 2016, which marked the commencement of my journey and story as a Kufuor Scholar. Everything I have become/done and becoming/doing post February 9, 2016, has been influenced by what the Kufuor Scholars Program (KSP) has impacted me with.
My lessons and grooming started right from the very unique Program selection process and has never since ceased. The three weeks of what I call the mother of all training camps, which took us away from the busy, flashy and easy access of Accra to the dark unreachable villages of Kwame Danso in the then Brong Ahafo region was impeccable. Here, we were exposed to the enormity of the task ahead and the limitless opportunities that abound for one to cause change.
The strategic mini-camps and the ad-hoc engagements spiced with the invaluable touches of wisdom from accomplished mentors would also prove very timely-responding to all the emerging challenges and converging clouds of perplexity that gathered as we went duty-bound to contribute to the change we want to see in society as young leaders.
In the course of my three years of formal grooming as a Kufuor Scholar, a lot has happened to me. As a program interested in raising transformational leaders, the first thing that happened to me was the reorientation of my understanding of leadership from one of position and politics to one of initiative, impact, influence and change. Armed with this new disposition, I became burdened with the task of living my new understanding of leadership. This challenged me with problems and potentials to take initiatives that will impact, influence and change society for the better. I saw the meaning of leadership in being part of the solutions and not just seeking/holding positions or lamenting about problems.
I began to act more proactively and as fate would have it, my preparation met opportunity, and more opportunities became the result. I got limitless platforms to multiply and amplify my impact and even in the midst of other young ambitious change-makers, leading the harmonisation of the efforts of groups of ambitious young leaders almost always fell on me by natural default. I realised soon, that opportunities to cause change are limitless and only dependent on our readiness and proactiveness.
When duty called on me to chair two very impactful youth advisory boards both at the national level, as well as other youth-led organisations and initiatives, the KSP experience came in handy and always stood out as the constant that combines effectively with other factors to tell the story of my successes and achievements as a leader. That unbeatable record of both psychological and physical preparedness sowed in me by KSP continues to open many great doors of opportunities to myself and others.
This has however not been all rosy without sacrifices, discipline and trade-offs. But the result has consistently been worthwhile. The first time I had an opportunity to travel outside of Ghana was for a week’s African Union youth event in Kigali, Rwanda. I had to make a choice between staying and participating in the mandatory three weeks of intensive scholars’ leadership camp or honour the Kigali trip. I chose the former, and it proved indispensably beneficial and as it would turn out, the Kigali program never happened to date.
And KSP offered me a real opportunity, not only to travel outside my country but the continent as well to Asia to participate in the prestigious Bai Xian Summer Program in one of China’s topmost schools, Peking University, at the heart of Beijing. This trip was a defining moment for me as I learnt most of the critical lessons of endurance, strategy, grit, cross-cultural understanding etc from here. I built some of the most diversified yet priceless networks from here too. In the end, I stayed a Kufuor scholar, an identity I hold dearly with unconditional reverence and pride. Yet, I got the international exposure and experience I needed, not just once.
These very cumulative experiences proved once again almost divine when I was selected as one of fifteen young leaders of the European Commission globally, which saw me participate in the European Development Days, 2019 (EDD19) in Brussels, Belgium. While my personal initiatives and those of the organisations/institutions I work with served as the basis for my selection as a young leader by the European Commission, how I fared and the output of my participation and all the fulfilment and many compliments that followed my participation during and after the EDDs, is owed largely to the KSP grooming. KSP baked me universally for the world. For the ultimate, and for every environment.
In all of these, the most valuable thing among the many that KSP imparted in me is the humble disposition to dream more and reach for the ultimate. It taught me constant self-discovery and ambition in humility. It showed me how to dare fear and dash out towards my goals. And it planted in me the constant reminder that the greatest form of leadership is service. I continue to live each day discovering the regenerative best version of myself while learning from yesterday to make today worthwhile and tomorrow most promising!
I am a proud Kufuor Scholar.
The author, Aaron Atimpe, is a member of the Kufuor Scholars Program (KSP) Class of 2018 and an Emerging Public Leaders’ Fellow at the Policy Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the Finance Ministry.