In the afternoon David Kanji is scurrying along the busy streets of East Legon in Accra, in the scorching sun, chasing after cars to sell recharge cards, in the evening he is at lectures, learning to fulfil his dream to become a marketing consultant.
That pretty much would have summed up the story of David until you engage him in a chat, then the story changes from that of a young man struggling to make life better to that of a classic story of perseverance, hardwork and commitment.
“I have been doing this for the past five years. I started selling [recharged cards] during my Polytechnic days in 2009”, David explains, beads of sweat trickling down his cheeks from his forehead.
“It is not easy being on the Sun. It’s a very challenging job”, he continued, the passion in his eyes piercing through his words.
The Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), where David has enrolled in the evening to study BA Marketing does not charge cheap.
David Kanji pays not less than GH¢2,000 ($550) a semester. Even for Ghana’s middle class, the unfavourable economic conditions would mean it would not be inexpensive to pay that amount as tuition, and when transportation costs, cost of food and accommodation add to the expenditure mix, the average Ghanaian is sure to feel the pinch..
But the stout, firm-fisted man from the Ntsumuru District, close to the Krachi West District of the Volta Region says he is unperturbed by costs to get educated.
“There is a drive that is pushing me to go forward”, the man who is 'Class Rep' for his GIMPA course mates said. That drive is the dream to be a marketing consultant.
David says selling on the street became an option after several attempts to secure a job at banks and insurance companies failed.
“I have submitted my application to a lot of companies and attended a lot of interviews. I was told in some instances that I would be called but I am yet hear from any of them. I don’t know whether it is because of my schooling. But I am hoping and trusting God that everything will work together for good”, David recounts.
Does he feel ashamed when his lecturers and course mates stop to buy mobile recharge cards from him? “[He laughs] I don’t mind” was his answer.
What about his girlfriend? "Girlfriend? No, no, no. I am not interested. I can;t take a girl", was his answer.
“Hardwork, faithfulness and commitment” David explains, have been his guiding principles for more than thirty years of his difficult existence.
David Kanji's parents have all died. He is the seventh of eight children. All his siblings are in Ntsumuru District located in the northern part of the Volta Region – on the fringes of the Northern Region of Ghana.
He explains that his quest to liberate himself through education has not been easy. From lower primary through to Junior High, it has been a though experience. But still David looks up with hope.
David’s father and mother died while he (David) was in Junior High School level 2, and that marked the beginning of his long and tiring effort to break through the walls of formal education.
By raising one hundred yam mounds for farmers at Ntsumuru District for a paltry fee of GH¢1 – in what he called “work and pay” – he managed to fund the remaining one year of his Junior High education.
But David Kanji’s battle to excel in life through formal education had just started.
At Ntsumuruman Presbyterian Senior High School. He sometimes had to sit in class the whole day without anything in his rumbling stomach.
He studied, raised some more yam and cassava mounds on other people’s farms, owed his school and almost everybody some money but eventually managed to complete Senior High school.
To enable him enter the Polytechnic to take his High National Diploma (HND) in Marketing at the Koforidua Polytechnic he came to Accra to work.
But after jaunts at several menial jobs that paid a pittance as salary, he decided to sell mobile recharge cards.
“People will always recharge their mobile phones”, he said. “So I decided to enter that business after a friend introduced me to it”.
David Kanji revealed, reluctantly, though that he makes an average of GH¢20 a day as profit. “From this I eat, I pay my fees and pay for my hostel”.
“I would like to tell everybody that they shouldn’t look up to people to solve their problems. We can solve our own problems. If we put ourselves together, try to identify the problems that are facing us and develop a good strategy and implement them we can make it”.
So far David has identified his problems. He has a strategy and he is implementing them. “People should not look down on themselves”, David advises.
He hopes to get a better job – one that will not make him meander dangerously through moving traffic.
“I believe that things will change”, he says.
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