“I have… I have been…,” Amaniampong stuttered as he busily attended to his customers.
Amaniampong, a cobbler, plies his trade directly opposite the Ghana Institute of Journalism’s (GIJ) entrance. He tells me a security man at GIJ (named Nicholas) recommended he pitched his ‘tent’ at his current spot to repair the shoes of students.
“Bossu [he addresses me], Nicholas has really helped me. I used to walk from Madina then would make a stop here [GIJ]. But upon his advice here am I today,” he says.
Amaniampong wears a brownish white-singlet over a pair of knickers. On his laps is a piece of cloth dirtied by the footwear he places on it.
His voice sounds as deep as the bass singer of Mark Anim-Yirenkyi’s Deliverance Singers’ music group. The voice, a great competitor it would be to 3FM’s Alfred Ocansey’s ‘patented’ deep voice. However, seeing and interacting with student-journalists and communicators at large does not tickle him to dream working as a broadcaster someday. He is happily engrossed in his trade.
In 2011, when I got admission to study at GIJ, Amaniampong had only a shoemaker’s box. Four years on, the shoemaker, who I have a cordial relationship with, has proven the enterprising passion of most Ghanaian youth.
Walking from campus to eat at the GIJ bush canteen, Edward Balami, a friend, poked me to have a look at Amaniampong’s acquired machines. You won’t believe the shoemaker has bought for himself a generator and another machine he (Amaniampong) calls a grinder! Yes he has!
“The grinding machine cost me Ghc700 and the generator, Ghc900,” he tells me.
He says aside being tired of begging to tap electricity from nearby sources, the ‘dumsor’ the nation faces forced him to buy the generator.
Amaniampong, a native of the Ashanti region, is poised to make it in Accra before going to settle in his hometown. He wants to put up a metallic kiosk, the size of a lotto kiosk, to give a facelift to his business. He is, however, faced with a challenge.
Amaniampong’s challenge is not monetary. He has been able to save some cedis.
“Aday? Mmm ok, say Ghc80 or Ghc90.” This is the amount he makes in every single day, he tells me.
“That was why I was able to buy those machines [referring to the generator and grinding machine].” Amaniampong wipes off beads of sweat, like that formed on a chilled beer, on his forehead.
At a point in time, I thought he had forgotten my question asking him the challenge he faces in putting up his kiosk.
“I just need a permit to enable me put the kiosk here,” he says shooting his right hand to show me where he wants the kiosk to be located. He would need that approval from the Ghana Journalists’ Association and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.
Amaniampong knows how to make shoes and he would learn to improve his skills to give GIJ students the best of his services. In his yet-to-be-erected kiosk, he would have compartments for storing shoes to be repaired and those already repaired.
A successful young man per his own standard, I asked him if he is married or has a girlfriend. His answer was simply interesting and thought-provoking.
“Bossu, I am not married nor do I have a girlfriend. I want to make it in life before I think of relationship matters.” He continues, “if you have God and money, almost everything comes your way.”
Amaniampong’s stay at GIJ has gotten him a shoe-polishing job at the State House. He says some of the parliamentarians and government officials who often use the Gamal Abdul Nasser road, in front of GIJ, spotted him and offered him the contract.
He says polishing shoes at the State House is somewhat a juicy deal and that those officials seeing him in his dream kiosk would further appreciate his progress and ‘brand.’
Little did I know that the bench on which I sat to interview the shoemaker was his. On it was the inscription: “Amaniampong K.” He says the ‘K’ stands for Kwarteng.
Amaniampong Kwarteng has made a steady progress since my first time of seeing him in 2011. Aside his tools for his job then, he could now boast of a generator and a grinding machine. And Oh… a branded bench!
Should his dream of putting up a kiosk become a reality, I wouldn’t be surprised if he serves his customers with a sachet of ‘pure’ water each.
Who knows? He may even partner the Students’ Representative Council of the Ghana Institute of Journalism to make branded slippers and shoes for students.
Why don’t you feel free to dream too? After all, Ghana’s Inspector General of Police can NEVER call for your arrest for dreaming big.
By Solomon Mensah/3FM/3news.com
Note: This article was first published in January 2016. The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. Views expressed here are solely his opinion and not that of his media organization.
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