A Senior Citizen defies all odds to obtain a Phd …and tells his own story
It was a frantic journey through time full of beauty, irony and illusion. But I did it for a formidable reason. I want to encourage others that age has nothing to do with education.
Why did I decide to come to America after all? Someone may ask. It all began in January 1979 when a friend of mine who had completed his studies in the United States of America, came to Ghana, West Africa to visit his parents. I had published two books on juvenile romance which won the hearts of youth in both Ghana and Nigeria respectfully. My decision came during our conversation when he mentioned that I would reach wider audiences if l could get my books published in America. I sensed an element of truth in his suggestion. Before he left for America, he told me to contact him should I decide to come to America. Having always had a desire to travel to America to further my education; I thought “this is my chance.” I had ten unpublished manuscripts under my belt, so the move to America would no doubt open a new page for me in the writing profession.
I arrived in Washington D.C. on January 19, 1980 filled with joy and excitement. Travelling is an art of excursion which broadens one’s scope of intelligence. Once in our lives we have read and continue to read the most vivid description of a country and the people. My mother used to tell me,” Kwabena, work hard in order to survive because you are the only child. Do not lean on anyone. You may fall, but you must always fight for the right course, and someday, you may wear the crown.” My progress depended on my late uncle Mr. Osei Kwame who saw me through my elementary education after my father died. My uncle and his younger brother Mr. Emmanuel Debrah taught me the art of living. They taught me how to mount courage to face problems and make decisions and taught me prayers to conquer pain and sorrow. They taught me the relationship between good and evil. They also taught me how to deal with people and maintain good relationships with others. They never talked about violence. Their major concern was to have me study and study hard. They pursed me to the classroom to answer questions from the teachers. And if I failed my uncle Osei Kwame, would give me twelve strong lashes on my bare back right in front of the whole class! My uncles loved me very much. They fed and clothed me. They never let me go hungry. They wanted me to conduct my early life properly so that I would crown it with success. I passed through what I may call a complete military drill. I disliked all the hectic lessons, the punishments and the stern discipline. They were painful to bear and hard to forget, but now I have realized that they are the key to my ambition. Without them, I would have grown up a spoiled child.
From this, I learned how to obey and respect. My mother, would tell me, “If you don’t go to school, you will be the most useless person in the worId.” She meant it. She didn’t want me to be a loser. She adored me as her only child. She wished I would grow up to understand her and assist her when she grew old and could no longer pursue life’s struggles. As I grew up, her advice lived with me. Determination became a greatest psychological factor in my life, but I also needed wit to reach my goal. I learned to discipline myself. I had an ambition. I embarked on private studies, aimed at courses which would earn me a higher salary and perhaps allow me to enter the university. I really wanted to communicate with the reading public. I loved writing and had the flair for it. But I wanted to write with some degree of distinction. To do so, I took the bull by the horns! I prepared myself by studying gradually everyday through correspondence courses with the conviction that someday I would find my reward and become a renowned writer. I trusted in the advice of Sir Walter Scott, “The best part of every man’s education is what he gives himself.” A surge of pain swelled in me when I heard of the death of my dear mother. I was away at a civil service training course in Accra when she died. By the time I learned of her death, she was buried. To this day, I do not know where she was buried. Such pain is scorching; it never leaves your life. A week after her death, I lost my aunt. Three months later, my grandmother died. In a further six months, I lost a cousin. Death occurred in my house one after the other in an unusual succession till all my hopes were completely shattered. I shed tears, not ordinary tears, but bitter tears which were borne out of the fear that I would have to face this life alone. “I know I will succeed” I kept telling myself.
The most painful aspect about it is that anytime I think about the tragedies in my home, tears gather in my eyes. I know they are dead. It is a perpetual journey everyone shall experience. They have gone from this troubled world of endless pain and sorrow to an eternal destina tion which has escaped the imagination of poets, writers, philosophers, judges, lawyers, educated individuals, pastors, scientists, etc. Why should a man struggle so hard in life? What for? Why should people envy or hate one another? Life is a short journey. The love for my mother grows stronger and stronger everyday as I reflect on the past. Nothing was left for me after her death. I am a man so I couldn’t use any of her clothing or jewels, nothing. I often think about the past. My mother used to tell me “When I die, you will see the true picture of life.” Yes, I have seen the true picture of life. Sometimes I envy stones and rivers. They don’t go hungry, they have no friends, they are always the same. They have no worries, life is always unadorned and easy. As a result of all these bitter I experiences, in my life, I became angry and worked hard to earn my master’s degree in Education in the year 2000 at Cambridge college in Springfield, Mass. In the year 2002, I earned another master’s degree in Social Work at Springfield College School of Social Work. I was employed as a Clinician for more than 10 years before I retired. I wanted to earn my PhD degree. That was my utmost dream for coming to America. Even though, I had written eight books I did not care about the aging process, it is only a number as people say all the time. Someone said,” The will to win makes one better than the other.” I was impressed by a powerful story l read in the “Daily Graphic” newspaper dated on Saturday April 5, 2008 entitled “Grandpa’s dream comes true; Graduates at 83.”
A Ghanaian octogenarian has set an unusual standard for adult education by graduating from the University of Cape Coast (UCC) at age 83. Mr. John Harry Johnson, who on his 84th birthday completed a three-year diploma program in Basic Education. Thefather of six, with 13 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Mr. Johnson studied Mathematics, Guidance and Counseling. Basic philosophy and Science, specializing in Mathematics” Bravo, Grandpa! Did you know that “In 1865, Patrick Francis passed his final examinations at the University of Louvain, becoming the first African American to earn a Ph.D.? His career in academia peakedwhen he became President of Georgetown University in 1874. Healy is often referred to as the second founder of Georgetown (New Post newspaper). Did you also know that George Dawson an African American who died at age 103 in 2001 did not know how to write or read, but he was determined and learned how to read and write at age 98? (Oprah show August 26 2001.) On May 21, 2016, I graduated from Gates of Heaven Theological Institute in Bronx with a PhD degree in Theology. lf l have done it, you too can do it. Dr. K. Appiah Kubi has written extensively in newspapers, magazines and books. His latest book on the market is titled: ‘SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL LIFE’ with a foreword by the late Professor Maxwell Assimeng, University of Ghana, Legon.
The African Spectrum