The first time I met Seidu Ibrahim he was a 17 year old surly teenager who in the company of his uncle Kwame said not one word to me. He just slumped on the sofa on my front porch with his feet and long skinny legs outstretched in front of him. Seidu’s life had changed dramatically at age 12 when his mother died and his young sister was sent miles away to live with an uncle and both he and his brother moved to the family village with no particular household to call their own.
I’ve known Kwame since I arrived in Ghana nearly 20 years ago. Kwame was and is my driver. He has been helpful in every aspect of our Anansi efforts to help village children go to high school and according to Ghana protocol, we owe him. “You (Anansi) must send Seidu to high school”, he told me. But Seidu’s test results were far from qualifying for a government high school, so I said, “Kwame, we cannot do that because he does not meet our criteria.” After some back and forth conversation we agreed that Seidu would sleep in my house on the single bed in the hallway and go back to junior high school for one year and retake the high school entrance exam the following year. Mohammed and John both lived in the two rooms in the boys quarters, so they could help him with his studies.
The night before Seidu came to live in my house I lay awake in bed thinking “What have you done? You have just invited a 17 year old boy to live in your house when all you know about him is that he “needs discipline.” I was awake for a long uncomfortable time. I needn’t have worried. Seidu was a delight to have in the house. He immediately pitched in doing his share of the household chores, but more importantly he laughed at my jokes at the dinner table. Actually, there was a time or two that he laughed so hard at me (he had never known a non Ghanaian woman before) that he had to leave the dinner table. Seidu quickly became a part of our household and both Mohammed and John helped him with his studies. Mohammed took him back to grade one in mathematics so he could start building his skills over again. “Somewhere along the way he missed some things.” Mohammed told me.
After the first year at our house in Mpeasem, Seidu not only did a great job on his exit exams from Kubease Junior High School, but went on as an Anansi student to high school at Ghana National, one of the best high schools in Ghana, where his academic work got better and better each year. He then went to the University of Cape Coast where he recently earned a degree in Social Sciences.
Seidu is a vital part of our Anansi family and this place would not function as well without him. Among other things he is our “go to” technical man. Whenever anyone has a problem with their phone, the TV or their computer, they always rely on Seidu to fix it or show them how it works. He is also a good cook, he sings as he works around the house and functions well as a tour guide for our guests. This past year he accompanied my grand niece, Kameron Reitan, on her public transportation trip to Mole Park in northern Ghana.
Jobs are not easy to find in Ghana if you don’t know someone important to help promote you, so at the moment, in an effort to keep busy while looking for his permanent professional job, Seidu is making plans to open a phone shop called “Swishy’s Phones”. Swishy is the name given to him by Megan Galley when she was our guest in Ghana. While typing Seidu’s name on her computer, the auto correct corrected Seidu to “Swishy”. Megan began calling Seidu Swishy, Seidu used the name as his handle on Facebook and now it has evolved to the name of his soon to be functioning phone shop.
We are all very proud of who Seidu has become and of his accomplishments.