2005-04-13 13:12:44This article has been read 5502 times.
MOST young people are full of self pity because of the difficulties they encounter in life. Those who come from very poor homes and do not have the kind of things their friends from well-to-do homes have tend to feel particularly sorry for themselves.
However, Young Alhassan Andani never had that attitude as a child, even though he did not have anything to boast of like his friends from rich homes. He thinks that his ability to avoid self pity is one of his greatest assets in life.
Although he was the son of a traditional ruler, he never received any preferential treatment and did not even have the unique opportunity of calling his father â€œdaddyâ€. Indeed, like most kids in the village, he slept on bare floors, looked after horses and worked on farms, in addition to going to school.
â€œHowever, I never felt deprived, neither did I feel unloved. I just likened my situation to that of a military academy where you grow up to be a man,â€ he recalled.
All these responsibilities notwithstanding, he managed to excel in school and, today, he is the Deputy Managing Director of the Barclays Bank of Ghana Limited.
Mr Alhassan Andani was born in November 1960 at Bamvim, a small village near Tamale, where his father was the traditional ruler. He started his pre-school education at the Bamvim Primary School, where his father also taught. Following the elevation of his father to a divisional chief at Sagnerigu, a village in the Tamale Municipality, the family of about 45 children also moved to the place.
However, his father died so his elder brother, Dr Andani Andan, inherited him as the chief of Sagnerigu. They, therefore, continued to live in the palace. He started full school in the 1960s at the Sagnerigu Anglican Primary School.
Mr Andani said his life as a child was not rosy. He recollected that among the chores he was required to perform were taking care of horses, cutting grass at dawn each day to feed them and cleaning their stall. He explained that normally the stalls were strewn with straw and every morning, he had to clear the wet straw on which the horses had defecated and urinated and replace them with dry ones. He said sometimes as he carried the wet straw away, the urine from it dripped down his body but he continued caring for the horses as he had been instructed. He also took the horses to the stream for bathing at regular intervals.
Aside taking care of the horses, Mr Andani said he was also required to work on the chiefâ€™s farm. This heavy schedule notwithstanding, he managed to have a farm of his own, as was normally the case with all the other children. He did his farming activities after school and at the weekends.
One of the challenges he went through as a child was that he never had the opportunity of sleeping on a mat. As a child, Young Andani and about 20 of his siblings slept on the bare floor of a big mud hall, while their horses slept at the other corner of the same hall. When they were lucky, he explained, they slept on a "zana" mat with a small piece of cloth to cover their heads.
Because the plant used in making the mat was hard, they woke up to find marks all over their bodies, he recalled.
â€œBut it was interesting; that was all part of the process of growing up. You have to be fully brought up as a man to be independent. So being the chiefâ€™s son was not really a privilege. It was rather tough,â€ he stated.
In spite of all the work he had to do as a child, Little Andani did not fare badly in school. He was always among the best three students, a position he maintained even at the secondary school. Although there was no electricity, he made sure he studied, read story books and did all his homework under kerosene lamps.
After Sagnerigu, Mr Andani went to the Nyohini Middle School for two years, sat for the Common Entrance Examination in 1973 and passed. He described his life at Nyohini as interesting, having to travel barefooted on a 10-kilometre journey every day to and from school.
The small narrow path on which he walked to school was very sandy and had bushes on both sides. At midday, the sand became very hot so he had to leave the main path and walk on the grass to avoid the heat.
â€œOf course, you pick up some thorns and get bruises, but it was fun. I enjoyed it. I donâ€™t regret it at all. I look back on those days and say, 'Wao! We survived it'.
From Form One to Four at Ghana Secondary School, Tamale, Mr Andani said, he never sent any pocket money or provisions to school so sometimes his friends shared theirs with him. He recalled that he did not feel any sense of want because there was always plenty to eat at the school dining hall. He said none of his friends ever teased him or looked down on him because he did not have the things they had.
He said because he studied hard, he did well and so his friends respected him and relied on him for help with school work. Mr Andani had his Sixth Form education at Tamale Secondary School. From there, he entered the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1980.
After university, he did a two-year national service at the then SSB Bank in 1984 as the Project Officer at the Development Finance Division and was employed at the bank later. He rose through the ranks until 1990 when he got an Italian government bursary to pursue a Masters degree in Banking and Finance in Italy.
On his return to Ghana, he worked briefly with SSB before joining Standard Chartered Bank in 1993 as the Accounts Relationship Manager. Later, he joined Barclays Bank, Ghana, in March 2000 as the Executive Director, Corporate Banking, and he was recently elevated to the position of Deputy Managing Director.
His advice to children is that they should not entertain self pity but see every challenge that comes their way as an opportunity to grow to be tough people. They should love what they do, work hard, be diligent, believe in themselves and they will surely make it. He advised children to make good friends and avoid those who are likely to lure and deceive them to engage in acts that are likely to destroy their lives.
"I don't remember my friends suggesting that we should go to the cinema, parties or jamborees. All my friends were the studious and serious type. They are the kind who will help you to grow," he added.