And his poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’, Robert Frost said that the persona after examining two parallel roads that divulged into a wood, decided to take the one less travelled by. He concludes the poem with the statement that the road which he chose from that junction made the difference in his life. This makes me believe that in this world, the kind of road one travels by determines the final destination – whether good or bad – that a person would get to.
The whole world is currently mourning the death of one man who is said to be ‘The Greatest’. The death of the legendary boxer who passed on this weekend shook the whole world not because he once was a heavy weight champion in the division but simply because of what he used the achievement to do in society.
He sought to ensure that he would use his position to change the cycle and thinking of men especially towards the black race which he proudly belonged.
From his humble home in Louisville, Cassius Clay as he was known until his conversion to Islam, Muhammad Ali reached out to the world.
He stunned the powers that be like a bee not only with his swift punches in the ring that tamed roaring champions of the time, but also with words and quotes and speeches to tell the world that the black race is far better than it was perceived.
After conquering the fear of flying in an aircraft, Muhammad Ali finally flew to nations in all continents of the world to preach his message of freedom for the race with great talents. ‘I am America, I am the part you won’t recognize.
But get used to me—black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me,’ he once told his former slave masters. On the occasion of his death, every continent or nation including Ghana has one fond memory or the other of Muhammad Ali.
Ali’s visit to the emerging black independent state of Ghana in 1964 was one which we still cherish as a people. Pictures of him in traditional kente cloth while in Ghana started flooding the internet following the news that he after 32 years surrendered to the Parkinson’s disease.
The Ghanaian press, then largely an extension of Nkrumah’s propaganda machinery, had hyped Ali’s coming to frenzied proportions. It was built up as ‘the ring poet is coming to town’.
Persons who took active part in his visit started narrating to the younger generation how Ali never discriminated against anyone during his visit. “Who’s the King?” Ali was said to have asked a crowd that gathered to see him during his visit.
The crowd responded that “You are!” the people responded. “Okay,” Ali said, “let me through then,” and the crowd parted immediately letting his move through.
At the palace of Otumfuo Sir Agyemang Prempeh II, Ali became the toast of the people of Kumasi and Ashanti Kingdom. While in the heart of Ashanti, he visited the Okomfo Anokye sword. History says the sword was planted there by the Ashanti High Priest himself and that the day anyone is able to remove the sword, the Ashanti kingdom will fall apart. Armed with this knowledge, of course Ali gave it a try. But after about five minutes, even this 6ft3, 212 pound heavyweight champion of the world could not break the spirit of Ashanti. He was also said to have gone to a local barber in Kumasi, one Agya Ntana in Bompata near the SIC Bank, to have his hair barbered. An image of him and the late barber is still kept in the house till date.
His visit to the great Ashanti Kingdom ended on high note when 40,000 people witnessed a sparring match where Rahman and Ali demonstrated how Muhammad had defeated Liston a few months before. The ‘King of Ashanti’ donated a Kente cloth to the ‘King of the world’ as a memorial.
In an article published upon the death of Ali, Joy FM’s Assisting Sports Editor, Gary Al Smith writes that the Ghanaian media which had said movie star Genie Kelly’s visit the previous January was the biggest celebrity event Ghana had experienced, had no choice than to revise their notes by the time Ali left Ghana. From an American athlete, Ali became a global athlete and a global hero, especially for the Black race.
Obama meets Muhammad Ali
It is therefore not surprising that the most powerful Blackman in our time and United States President, Barrack Obama would write the following tribute about Muhammad Ali.
“He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes—maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.
“Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace,” Obama who said he kept a pair of his gloves of ‘The Greatest’ in his private study at the Oval office in the White House wrote. The feat attained by the boxer who retired in 1981 is worth celebrating, hence it is no surprising that former champions of the sport and celebrated musician, would want to carry his coffin
Message to the funeral organisers
It is an undeniable fact that the funeral of the man who once said only two persons in this world should wake him up when he sleep – his fans and the press – would be attended by men of high repute. Every shot from the cameras of journalists at the event counts. Given the opportunity, I wish to however make a humble plea. I call on the organisers to include one person from Ghana in the itinerary of the day. He deserves to be part of the occasion not because he hails from the land outside of America where Ali visited after becoming a world champion but because he shares the same or similar story as the dead legend. The African Mayweather as he calls himself hails from Bukom, an old settlement in Ghana’s capital, Accra. He has risen to be loved and written about by most media men in Ghana.
Born Isaac Braimah Kamoko, Bukom Banku as he is known in the local media terrain enjoys perhaps same amount of strength as Muhammad Ali was in his hay days. Unlike Ali, Bukom Banku has minimal oratory skills. His minimal achievements on the local scene has made him visit several local heroes who hold him in high esteem because of how he could break through the ranks with little formal education. Coming through at a time when Ghana lacked a world champion in the game of boxing, many thought he was just the man to once again place the black star on the boxing map of the world.
Banku in his hay days
Many expected Bukom Banku to like Ali did bring Boxing from the back and last inner pages of newspapers to the front pages in the country. Armed with this expectation, members of the inky fraternity ensured that he was always written about. He was never denied the microphones and the cameras as well.
However, instead of taking advantage of the press attention given him to develop his talent and learn more on how to use the opportunities given him to improve the lots of his people and also shape the society to suit himself, Bukom Banku has simply schemed the tide against himself. Today, he is threading the part of other fallen heroes in the game. He has been at the centre of one controversial issue or the other with the latest being photos of him allegedly fumbling the breasts of teen girls. Muhammad Ali chose to keep his blackness and projected it to the entire world but over here, our ‘fallen hero’ is now bleaching his skin. He says he is doing so in the hope of becoming Ghana’s Ambassador to Germany someday.
As if that is not enough, Bukom Banku in a video that has gone viral on social media danced in public half naked. But for the intervention of one young guy, he would have exposed his manhood to the public all in the name of shaming a certain political opponent. He has simply thrown caution to the wind and made us all lose the hope we once had in him.
Learning common sense from carrying a coffin
On the occasion of the departure of a legend of the same enterprise he has found himself in, I humbly plead on behalf of the faint hearted persons from Ghana that Bukom Banku be allowed to carry the coffin of the legendary boxer. Despite accepting that success is never sexually transmitted, it is my hope that Bukom Banku after seeing and learning from other persons of greater repute in the game of boxing and sports in general, would learn the art of conducting yourself as a sportsman and celebrity. He would after touching the coffin of a legend also know that man never is thereby behaving like a matured person. Bukom Banku ought to see a brighter light than what he is used to in Bukom to know that he has more miles to conquer in his life walk. He has got to learn from the great heroes who fell off the ladder and learn to put his acts right.
In all sincerity, Banku ought to be advised to return from the road he has taken and take a right path which would make the difference for him someday. I do not seek to be a prophet of doom, but can easily predict that the road on which he is travelling currently would never lead him to a desired destination. Ghana awaits him to bring glory home not shame.
Nana Kwaku Nti
How the Rich Life of Aliko Dangote Started
Aliko Dangote GCON (born 10 April 1957) is a Nigerian billionaire, who owns the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities. The company operates in Nigeria and other African countries, including Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Togo, Tanzania, and Zambia. As of January 2015, he had an estimated net worth of $18.6 billion. Dangote is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 67th richest person in the world and the richest in Africa;he peaked on the list as the 23rd richest person in the world in 2014. He surpassed Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi in 2013 by over $2.6 billion to become the world’s richest person of African descent.
Aliko Dangote hails from a very prominent business family in west Africa. He is the great grand nephew of Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, the richest African at the time of his death in 1955. (e.k. oduro) Aliko Dangote, an ethnic muslim Hausa from Kano State, Nigeria, was born into a wealthy Muslim family. Dangote said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets [sugar boxes] and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”
The Dangote Group was established as a small trading firm in 1977. Today, it is a multi-trillion naira conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. Dangote has expanded to cover food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group also dominates the sugar market in Nigeria and is a major supplier to the country’s soft drink companies ,breweries, and confectioners. The Dangote Group has moved from being a trading company to being the largest industrial group in Nigeria and includes: Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement and Dangote Flour.
In July 2012, Dangote approached the Nigerian Ports Authority to lease an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port, which was approved. He later built facilities for his flour company there. In the 1990s he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with the idea that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company to manage their fleet of staff buses, a proposal which was also approved.
In Nigeria today, Dangote Group with its dominance in the sugar market and refinery business is the main supplier (70% of the market) to the country’s soft drinks companies, breweries and confectioners. It is the largest refinery in Africa and the third largest in the world, producing 800,000 tonnes of sugar annually. Dangote Group owns salt factories and flour mills and is a major importer of rice, fish, pasta, cement and fertilizer. The company exports cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seed and ginger to several countries. It also has major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles and oil and gas. The company employs over 11,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa.
Dangote has diversified into telecommunications, and has started building 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria. As a result, Dangote was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.He said, “Let me tell you this and I want to really emphasize it…nothing is going to help Nigeria like Nigerians bringing back their money. If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put our heads together and work.” Dangote played a prominent role in the funding of Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election bid in 2003, to which he gave over N200 million (US$1M). He contributed N50 million (US$0.25M) to the National Mosque under the aegis of “Friends of Obasanjo and Atiku”. He contributed N200 million to the Presidential Library. These highly controversial gifts to members of the ruling Party [PDP] have generated significant concerns despite highly publicised anti-corruption drives during Obasanjo’s second term.
On 23 May 2010, Britain’s Daily Mirror reported that Dangote was interested in buying a 16 percent stake in Premiership side Arsenal belonging to Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith.Dangote later denied these rumours. On 14 November 2011, Dangote was awarded Nigeria’s second highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by the President, Goodluck Jonathan. Dangote reportedly added $9.2 billion to his personal wealth in 2013, according to the Bloomberg Index, now making him the 30th richest person in the world, in addition to being the richest person in Africa. In 2014, the Nigerian government said Dangote had donated 150 million Naira (US$750,000) to halt the spread of ebola. In May 2015 Dangote expressed interest in purchasing the English football team Arsenal. He stated that if he was able to make the purchase he would fire the club’s long-standing manager Arsene Wenger.
Dangote was named as the Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2014.The other nominees for the award were South Africa’s Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela , Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC), Arunma Oteh , and President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka . In 2013, Alhaji Dangote and six other prominent Nigerians were conferred Honorary Citizenship of Arkansas State by Governor Mike Beebe who also proclaimed May 30th of every year as Nigeria Day in the US. The other prominent Nigerians are: Chief Ms. Temitope Ajayi , the President and CEO of Nigerian American Agricultural Empowerment Programme; Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State; Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina , Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Prof. Tajudeen Gbadamosi , a former lecturer of University of Lagos; Prof. Ade Adefuye , the Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States; Prof. Julius Okojie , the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission.
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