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20.11.2008 Elections

Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom • He Resolved To Serve His Country

Growing up as a member of the Young Pioneers Movement (a youth wing of the Convention People's Party [CPP]), young Papa Kwesi learnt a lot about Africa, its leaders and the ideals of former President Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

He was so fascinated and enthused about the leadership style of Africans like Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Modibo Keita of Mali that he resolved to become a leader for his country when he grew up.

"I thought I had a role to play for my country. It was not about becoming a president or about politics as such, but the urge to do something to serve this country," said Papa Kwesi who is now Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom.

According to him, the contribution of those leaders to their countries' independence made him proud to be an African.

Today, one would acknowledge the fact that, indeed, Dr Nduom has lived up to that dream to become a leader in his country, considering that he is aspiring to lead the country as its next president on the ticket of the CPP.

He has served this country in various capacities, from being an assemblyman and a Member of Parliament for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo to becoming a Minister of Energy and later serving as Minister of Private Sector Reforms.

Junior Graphic contacted him a few weeks ago at his office at Coconut Grove Regency Hotel, Accra, which he owns, to share his childhood with children and also enquire from him what his vision would be for children should he win the 2008 presidential election.

To that he answered: "I want a happy childhood for children and so when I become the president, I will let them have lots of fun by providing them with playgrounds."

Dr Nduom was born at Elmina on February 15, 1953 to Mr Joseph Hubster Yorke and Mrs Monica Yorke, both teachers. As teachers' son he was held in high esteem at the school he attended, the Catholic Boys Primary School.

He therefore had to live up to expectation. He learnt to read at an early age and read newspapers regularly because he was sent to buy them almost every morning.

Although firm discipline was enforced at home, as a child he still managed to sneak out sometimes to have some fun. And one of the places young Kwesi frequented was Mr Gee's Hall, a popular cinema hall at Elmina.

He also watched concert parties in town. "I would sometimes sneak to Mr Gee's Hall to watch movies and my father would come with his torchlight looking for me. And I will be running from one end to the other and if he caught me, he punished me," Dr Nduom recalled with amusement.

"I sometimes also sneaked to the beach to swim and play football with my friends, which my parents dreaded because they feared I might drown." No matter what he did to remove all traces of having visited the beach, he never went unnoticed.

"My parents only had to look behind my ears and they would find sand and I would be punished. Another time I would still go."

Young Kwesi took his religious duties seriously. His parents were staunch Catholics so he became a mass server in the Catholic Church at an early age. "Every morning by six o'clock, I attended mass before going to school." He was also a member of the Catholic Youth Organisation.

Papa Kwesi never neglected his chores in the house, which included fetching water, washing his clothes and polishing the wooden floor of their two-storey building on weekends.

His grandmother baked bread so he sometimes went there to help her. "I know everything about bread baking; I even sold bread", he added.

While in Form Four at St Augustine's Practice School in Cape Coast, Kwesi won a scholarship to study for a year at Cokato High School, Minnesota, USA. He returned to Ghana and attended St Augustine's College, Cape Coast, in keeping with family tradition.

While in Sixth Form at St Augustine's, he won the St Augustereo Economic Prize and that stirred his interest in economics, business and professionalism.

During his Sixth Form course, his interest in politics was awakened when students were asked to vote for their prefects. Papa Kwesi campaigned vigorously and was elected the school's Protocol Prefect for the 1972-73 academic year.

Dr Nduom returned to the USA in August 1973, worked his way through the Milwaukee Area Technical College, Marquette University and ended up at the University of Wisconsin, where he obtained a BA degree in Economics in December 1975, MSc in Management from the School of Business and PhD in Service Delivery Systems (USI Program), all from the University of Wisconsin.

He has worked with a number of companies including Deloitte and Touché where he rose to become a partner.

In 1992, he established Deloitte & Touché, West Africa Consulting. He was with the company until he resigned and entered politics.

He is married to Yvonne and has four children.

Story by Augustina Tawiah