Today, I would like to tell you about Ebo.
Ebo was the first-born. That was not really an advantage. His younger brother was more handsome, more popular and more intelligent. Compared to him, Ebo was a shy, gangly, awkward mess. He almost never spoke. Not even when his teachers called him to answer questions in class.
In fact, he would stand at his desk and not utter a word, until he was threatened with a sound thrashing before he would open his mouth to utter an answer that was most likely to be wrong anyway.
School was a nightmare, and home wasn’t a paradise either. His family was not wealthy. His hardworking mother was doing her best, but it wasn’t realistic for Ebo to expect her to shell out for an expensive secondary school education – especially not with his unremarkable academic exploits.
So with that option firmly out of his reach, Ebo decided on a much more achievable career path. He would complete Standard Seven and pursue an apprenticeship with a mechanic. This was his plan and he was sticking with it – until he met Miss Commey.
Miss Commey was one of those teachers who noticed every child. She could see beyond their rough, unvarnished exteriors to the pearlescent promise of possibilities and potential that lay within every one of them. So when she looked at Ebo, she did not see a mechanic’s apprentice. She saw a bright student who could go all the way. She encouraged him to write the Common Entrance exam and explore the possibility of secondary school.
Ebo on the other hand, hadn’t got the memo about nuggets and potential. For him, there were no such options available to him. Even if he was smart enough to pass the Common Entrance – which he knew he was not – his poor family could not afford to send him to secondary school anyway, so that was that.
But Miss Commey, like a go-getting galamsayer, was not going to give up until she dug out that nugget of greatness that she knew was inside young Ebo. So she made him a deal: “come pick a form, and if you pass, I will take care of you.
Suddenly, Ebo had something he had never had in his life: an opportunity. Someone had shown him an opening, a chance, a prospect – one solitary glimpse at an alternative life. Just by removing one of the two obstacles in his way, Ebo suddenly felt that the impossible was now 50% more possible. All he had to do was pass the common entrance. Pity he was so academically poor.
Unfortunately, only two people in Ebo’s year group passed the Common Entrance that year. Fortunately, one of them was Ebo. Against all odds, the gangly, awkward, timid boy who could hardly part his lips long enough for a sentence to escape, took the one opportunity anyone ever gave him, and turned it into an escape route from a life of limitations.
He went on to secondary school, University, and then a remarkable corporate career that included roles as General Manager of Kinapharma, as well as Finance and Marketing Manager at Asempa Publishers.
Today, James Ebo Whyte is the CEO of Roverman Productions. He is the most prolific Ghanaian playwright of all time, writing and producing one play every three months. Uncle Ebo is a national treasure without whom Ghana would be a very dull place to live indeed.
And we would all have missed out, if he hadn’t recognized the single opportunity that was presented to him and done whatever it took to take advantage of it and change his life forever.
As it happens, today is Uncle Ebo Whyte’s birthday, and although this message was meant to be a gift to him – just my way of showing him that i really do pay full attention to the things he tells me – I also realise that this story is also Uncle Ebo’s gift to the nation. It is yet another of the amazing examples this great man continues to set with his life, inspiring us all to greatness.
My friend, you must have heard that “opportunity comes but once”. Thank God that is not true. There are opportunities all around you. You may have squandered many already, but that doesn’t matter. Just make sure you don’t miss the next one.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and all I need is one single solitary opportunity.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!