Revolutionary Minds: From Poverty to Excellence – Ghana’s Youngest Assemblyman

Revolutionary Minds: From Poverty to Excellence – Ghana’s Youngest Assemblyman
Source: Ghana| |Joseph Opoku Gakpo
Date: 09-11-2017 Time: 06:11:32:pm

“Excellence is not a function of age, riches nor blood ties but good planning, determination and hardwork. I was the most unlikely candidate for this award but guess what, here we are….”

Those were the inspiring words of 27 year-old Assemblyman for Mafi Zongo Electoral Area Julius Karl Fieve after he was recently handed the Youth Excellence League Award by the Beige Foundation at a colourful ceremony in Accra. He was awarded for his leadership, advocate for excellence and identifiable contribution to the development of his community and Ghana.

Mr. Fieve was elected to represent the people of Mafi Zongo in the Central Tongu District of the Volta Region at age 25 during the district level elections of 2015, making him unarguably the youngest person to have been declared victor that day. Armed with a lot of passion to make the lives of his people better and enormous youthful energy but very little resources, he beat the incumbent and two others to the top job in his community. He braced the odds, proved pundits wrong, re-wrote the history of his community and justified why the phrase “yes youth can” is no longer ‘a brag’ but words that could come true. 

“When I announced my intention to contest, some people objected to it with the argument that I am too young to be an Assembly Member and also because I am not married. But I kept the faith. I put together the best brains from across my electoral area and managed to get the elders of about 9 out of 13 communities supporting my candidature,” he told the Revolutionary Minds Project in an interview.

Service to Humanity

For Mr. Fieve, it was a call to service and a high honour that he will cherish for the rest of his life. “I was trained to always serve well and give back to society and my believe is; as you do that, posterity would not forget you,” he said. “The zeal and passion to offer myself voluntarily to the people, serve them with all what is in me and live a life for their utmost benefit just entered me. I was prepared to offer myself as a sacrificial lamb to save my beloved people from the doldrums of poverty,” Mr. Fieve added.

The office of an assembly man comes with huge responsibilities but little resources and very tiny authority to influence development in the various localities. Julius has however ‘done what Napoleon could not do’ for his people and continues trying his best to do more through advocacy, relying on his networks and using the people’s power to get more influential political officers to work.

Over the last two years, he has worked with philanthropists, central government and civil society groups to provide basic amenities to communities in his electoral area that have drastically changed the way they live their lives. Together, they have built school blocks for children there, communities have been mobilized to build health posts, electricity has been extended to some areas, and vulnerable residents have been hooked onto the National Health Insurance Scheme, among others.

One major focus of Mr. Fieve has been to instill in the people the spirit of pulling and pushing resources together to ensure the development of communities. He has made them believe in the principles of community initiatives including joint efforts, mutual assistance, social responsibility and community self-reliance. For him, these are valuable ideologies that are crucial for local development and nation building. It is for these efforts that the Prof. Stephen Addei led team at the Beige Foundation gave Mr. Fieve the Excellence League Award with a citation that hailed him for his selfless service to his community, humanity and Ghana as a whole.

A point to prove

For Mr. Fieve, he has a point to prove to his people that they didn’t make the wrong choice by electing him assembly member; a point to prove to the world that young people can make it big if given the opportunity; and a point to prove to society that with good leadership, every community in this world can lift itself out of poverty. “I want to raise the hopes of the community by serving them and not them serving me. I want to challenge and change the status quo. I refuse to accept the state that the electoral area finds itself in right now and I am in to change things around by the Grace of God,” he said.

Tough terrain

Julius had a difficult childhood. Born to parents in one of the Volta Region’s most under developed areas, he struggled to get access to quality education and even financing his schooling was tough. “I was born in a disadvantaged family. My parents are both peasant farmers. I spent the first ten years of my life with my late maternal Grandmother. Life at childhood was a very challenging one. There were waves of hardship that nearly blew me off track but I persevered,” Julius Karl Fieve told the Revolutionary Minds Project.

“Financial challenges nearly made me drop out of the Sogakofe Senior High School. But I purposed in my heart to endure the hardship and bring honour to my God and my family,” he narrated. “After school I farmed about 4 acres of cassava and managed to buy KNUST forms where I eventually went to study for a degree in actuarial science,” he said in an emotional tone.

It’s been ‘a break through the glass ceiling journey’ for Mr. Fieve in a community where many young people are unable to make it beyond senior high school level because of poverty. No part of the electoral area has motorable roads. None of the communities have good drinking water. Some communities are without electricity. Unfortunately, schools in the electoral area have some of the worst infrastructure you can find anywhere in Ghana.

The pupils study under trees or sheds with them being sent home any time there is sign of rainfall. In addition to these, the schools do not have Information Communication Technology (ICT) laboratory or proper libraries which make teaching and learning of ICT very difficult. It thus remain such a difficult terrain to grow up in, but Mr. Fieve appears to be one of the shining lights for the community.

“My electoral area is a farming community with about 99.99% of the people being peasant farmers. So the major challenge in the community is poverty. This is what is making it difficult for a lot of children from the community to make it even beyond the Senior High School level,” Mr. Fieve narrated. “Also because it is a deprived community, the motivation to have children embracing education was missing. Teaching and learning was also not of quality as compared to the schools in the towns and cities,” he explained.

All his life, the following have remained key guiding principles for Mr. Fieve: “Life is more of what you make it than the circumstances that you are born into; every good leader can turn the fortunes of his people around within his term of office if he wants to; never give up hope.” He is convinced the above motivations are what has brought him this far and he looks forward to even brighter days ahead for his community.  

Role Model

Julius Fieve currently works as Programmes Officer at the Global Women Development Promoters, an NGO in Kumasi. He is also a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, Kumasi hub. In 2016, Julius was granted distinction as an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society by the Queen’s Young Leadership Programme in recognition of his commitment to promoting values of the commonwealth and working to improve the lives of citizens.

For a lot of young people in the Mafi Zongo area, Julius is now a role model. He has become an emblem of what they can become in future if they put their hands to the fire and study hard. He doesn’t want to let them down. “The tenacity of purpose, zeal and ‘can do attitude of mine’ which in addition to the grace of God shot me up is an inspiration to the young ones not only in my community but in the whole of my district. I will do my best to live up to their expectations,” he said.

Writers’ note:
This write up by journalist Joseph Opoku Gakpo with additional files from Nana Aba Kanga Forson is part of a series of articles by the REVOLUTIONARY MINDS project to put the spotlight on unnoticed individuals engaged in radically, inspiring activities in their communities. The focus of the project is to tell the stories of young persons engaged in activities they would ordinarily not be doing. Every month, the project publishes the story of one “Revolutionary Mind” on, and this website and aggressively shares it on social media to the reach of as many people as possible. The objective of the project is to inspire all young people to do something ground breaking in their communities.

REVOLUTIONARY MINDS…. Do something Daring

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