Moses Magazine

Moses Kanduri

Content The Power of Education Victories and Setbacks The Power of Creativity An Entrepreneur is Born – KANDO IT The Power of Networking My Network, My Net Worth The Power of Resilience Lifelong Contestant and Goalsetter The Power of Gratitude Shaping Path to Success 08 17 22 31 39 3 The Birthday Journal

Moses T H E AU DA C I T Y O F B O L D My birth, surrounded by the love and support of my community, was a prelude to the remarkable story that would unfold. “ 4 The Birthday Journal

November 4, 1983. It all began with the early morning sun slowly gracing the sky with its dark golden rays. The picturesque scene was set against the backdrop of towering baobab and shea trees in our humble village. My mother, heavy with pregnancy but brimming with strength, was determined to fetch water from the borehole. She knew that if she didn’t get there early, the queue would be long, and she was already feeling the first pangs of pain. With a gourd atop her head, she briskly made her way to the borehole. Along the path, she joined her friends and fellow villagers, each hurrying for their own reasons, discussing the challenges of tilling the November farm soil. It was a difficult task, but my mother, a teacher, had a different focus that day. Amid the chatter, my mother’s keen eye didn’t miss a moment. She cautioned one woman about her daughter’s grooming, showing her commitment to the well-being of our community’s children. And then, she spotted a young man, unsteady on his feet, attempting to evade her approach. With her eagle eyes and unwavering spirit, she confronted him. “Hey Awudu,” she called out, “don’t run away. You haven’t paid your children’s fees, but you can buy alcohol, eh?” My journey would be one of resilience, determination, strong family bonds, and a passion for breaking barriers, mirroring the story of my biblical namesake. “ 5 The Birthday Journal

As my mother spoke, she suddenly halted, clutching her abdomen. Her friends, bewildered, inquired about what was happening. “You’re not going to give birth here, are you?” they asked. My mother had already reached the borehole and, unable to endure the intensifying pain, she sat down and leaned against it. Contractions were coming on sharply, but she had concealed them behind her chatter, hoping to finish her task before my arrival. However, I had other plans. Before my mother could conclude her admonishment of Awudu, I was already at the mouth of her cervix. The other ladies, sensing the impending arrival, spread their extra clothes on the floor to provide a comfortable space for my mother to lie down. The atmosphere was filled with excitement and panic, as someone was urgently sent to fetch the local midwives and the Catholic sisters. My mother, now writhing in pain, held tightly to the midwives as the community gathered around. “Push!” The encouragement resounded from every corner. It seemed like the whole village was trying to support my mother as she gave one final, colossal heave. And then, with cries that filled the world, I emerged into the bright, beautiful world. Everyone rejoiced, and my father, who had arrived just in time, watched proudly as he welcomed his newborn son. The village erupted in ululation. The midwife inquired about a name for me. My father, in that jubilant moment, responded, “No, but there’s no need. This child reminds me of the Bible story, of the child drawn from the water. We shall call him Moses, for he was born by the water.” Little did I know that my name would set the stage for a life journey filled with greatness and resilience, starting frommy very first moments in this world. My birth, surrounded by the love and support of my community, was a prelude to the remarkable story that would unfold. My journey would be one of resilience, determination, strong family bonds, and a passion for breaking barriers, mirroring the story of my biblical namesake. 6 The Birthday Journal

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Frommy earliest years, I’ve been driven to embrace challenges and engage in various competitions. Some led to triumph, while others brought valuable life lessons that shaped my character. My journey, rooted in a profound belief in the transformative power of education, began in the picturesque village of Namori, nestled in the Garu district of the Upper East Region. My parents, Charles B. Kanduri (late) and Rita Shietu Dinko, were the architects of my destiny. Their remarkable union began when my father, Charles, a pupil teacher, crossed paths with my mother, Rita. Despite their age difference, their love story laid the foundation for my commitment to learning. My mother, Rita, later became a retired Assistant Director of Education and a royal fromWerikambo, the daughter of Chief Saan Lan Kpaana Duut. Her passion for girl child education defied cultural norms that initially undervalued educating girls in our community. The Power of Education Victories and Setbacks 8 The Birthday Journal

From my earliest years, I’ve been driven to embrace challenges and engage in various competitions. “ 9 The Birthday Journal

My late father, Charles, dedicated his life to education and retired as a Domestic Bursar at the Gbewaa Teachers’ Training College. His wisdom continued to guide our family, even after he passed away at the age of 80 inMay 2022. Determined to provide their children with the best possible education, my parents relocated our family to Bawku. Despite their modest salaries as educators, their steadfast commitment to hard work, discipline, and empathy became the cornerstones of our upbringing. Growing up, I was one of nine siblings in our close-knit family. Our childhood home was a sanctuary of warmth, curiosity, and intellectual competition. Siblings and cousins continually motivated each other to excel in academics and various activities. Our home was more than a residence; it was a haven of creativity and learning, often filled with visitors seeking knowledge and inspiration. At the tender age of six, my journey into the realm of competition commenced. My generous, forward-thinking, and well-to-do uncle instituted a scholarship scheme in our village. He organised tests for the brightest young minds in our neighborhood, with the aim of providing a pathway to a better life and education. These tests Our home was more than a residence; it was a haven of creativity and learning, often filled with visitors seeking knowledge and inspiration. She looked a bit sad, and yet she was excited. “You will be prosperous,” she added for good measure. “ “ Parents and siblings 10 The Birthday Journal

would send the chosen individuals from our village to the bustling capital, Accra, for their schooling at a boarding school. I wasn’t afraid of the test. My mother and other anxiouslooking mothers hovered around the small classroom door as we wrote the test that would determine which of us would win a scholarship. My elder siblings had long since taught me my ABCs and 123s. I didn’t disappoint my mother. Imagine her joy when the results were read out, and I had topped the test. She carried me on her back, danced around, and then took me home, rewarding me with a bowl of delicious rice and chicken stew, along with a bottle of Fanta. I remember the day I was leaving, a six-year-old with my little bag and other belongings being stuffed into my uncle’s car. My mother hugged me again and again until it felt as if she would squash me into a pulp. “Be a good boy, okay?” she advised. “Be obedient to your elders, wake up early, and study diligently.” She gave all this advice at once, wiping sweat frommy forehead, adjusting my collar, tucking in my shirt, and straightening my shorts every few minutes. She looked a bit sad, and yet she was excited. “You will be prosperous,” she added for good measure. What did I care? I’m sure I forgot her advice even before I sat in my uncle’s car. Even though I was leaving home, I was excited at the prospect of seeing my cousins who lived in Accra. And, of course, it was wonderful. I attended the boarding school at St. John’s Preparatory School along with my cousins. Although the boarding house was not like home, because it was kind of strict and regimented, it was so much fun because I had my cousins with me. Unexpected Twist: AMajor Setback inMy Life Four years later, at the age of ten, on a bright Monday morning, I experienced the shock of my life. That morning, as we marched to our class after assembly, singing our usual marching song, my world suddenly crumbled. My class teacher called me out, and with a firm grip on my hand, he separated me from my cousins, instructing me to go to the headmaster’s office immediately. It was anything but good news; I was being pulled out of school. The weight of this revelation hit me like a scorching coal, and my mind raced, trying to recall any possible misdeeds that might warrant such a punishment. Was it a suspension? Or was it expulsion? All colour seemed to drain from the world, and before I knew it, tears were streaming down my face. I was choking on my own tears, clutching at my belongings, some of which were hastily being bundled into the car parked outside. My two cousins, who had now caught wind of the situation, rushed to the car park. Our faces mirrored the grief of a funeral, all three of us in tears. As I sat in the car that would take me back to Bawku, I couldn’t even find the courage to wave back at them. My love for themwas profound, and over the past four years, we had grown exceptionally close. It felt as though someone had taken a broken plank and struck it hard against my chest until I could barely breathe. I cried for days on end, and my mother wept alongside me. Later, I discovered that an unresolved family feud had triggered this heartwrenching decision. Nevertheless, this setback did not deter me. My parents swiftly took action to enroll me in a private school in Bawku, one they could afford. At this juncture in my life, my love for football consumed most of my time, and it began to overshadow my commitment to my studies. Bawku Zinzin Zinzin! Zinzin! Zinzin! In my mind, I aspired to be like Brazil’s Pele, Argentina’s Maradona, or Cameroon’s Roger Milla, but my schoolmates thought I was more like Japan’s Zenzin due to my knack for scoring long-distance goals. They nicknamed me Zinzin. As our school advanced in the inter-school football tournament, I could hear them shouting out my nickname. The chants of my name made me feel like I was on fire. I was determined to score a goal, at the very least, to secure a spot as one of the exceptional sixteen players representing the region at the national level. 11 The Birthday Journal

Dribbling the ball past an opponent’s pass, I kicked it to one of my teammates, who swiftly advanced and passed it to another teammate. By this time, I was sprinting toward the opponent’s goalpost, running and running. One of my teammates delivered the ball to me, which I deftly controlled with my right foot. I continued running, and then, Zinzin! Zinzin! Zinzin! Now, I found myself face to face with the goalkeeper, feigning a shot to the right. He dove to that side, leaving the goalpost unguarded. I unleashed a killer shot, and... g-o-a-l! I had scored the only goal for our team. The entire school park erupted in joy, and the whole school cheered. Although we didn’t win the match, I was selected as one of the top sixteen players to represent our region. It was a bittersweet moment. On one hand, it was a source of pride for me, but on the other hand, my parents wanted me to quit soccer. They believed I was dedicating too much time to it, to the detriment of my academics. Would they allowme to participate in the national competition? Surprisingly, they did, going so far as to buy a new ball, soccer boots, and a new set of soccer gear for the event. When we eventually performed brilliantly at the nationals, my parents were exceedingly proud of me. Village Champion “The second position goes to Moses Kanduri,” announced the teacher. I heaved a sigh of relief, and my father looked at me with pride. The other parents and pupils exchanged surprised glances. Where had this newcomer from the village come from to secure the second position? A wealthy businessman, hoping his child would make it to the top three, even questioned if the teacher had read the results correctly. She assured him she had. After our national soccer competition, my mother informed me that I was changing schools to a private one. I felt deflated, and for days on end, I barely ate. I was scared that I wouldn’t shine in soccer at the new school. However, my parents kept their promise and transferred me to the Methodist Primary School. While the fees were much higher, it was a far more academically competitive school. The main challenge was that there were many affluent kids, so those of us from humble backgrounds stood out. Most children were chauffeured to school in their parents’ luxury cars, but my dad took me to school on his noisy motorbike, which made an unmistakable scraping sound everywhere we went. I often felt inferior to my classmates, making me reluctant to interact with them, which earned their disapproval. “Leave him alone; he’s a village champion,” they would comment, and I would withdraw, feeling insulted by the remark. Eventually, I stopped caring about their opinions. However, on the last day of the first term, when the results were read, my peers began to treat me with respect. Those who had mocked me previously were now waving and wishing me well. This victory marked the beginning of my winning streak, and I excelled to the In my mind, I aspired to be like Brazil’s Pele, Argentina’s Maradona, or Cameroon’s Roger Milla, but my schoolmates thought I was more like Japan’s Zenzin due to my knack for scoring longdistance goals “ 12 The Birthday Journal

Although we didn’t win the match, I was selected as one of the top sixteen players to represent our region. It was a bittersweet moment. On one hand, it was a source of pride for me, but on the other hand, my parents wanted me to quit soccer. “ 13 The Birthday Journal

point of becoming the head prefect. I held that prestigious position for 4 years from Primary Five until I lost it in JSS Two. I cried for a week. Nevertheless, I was involved in every club in the school, from the football team to the debating club, and I participated in every school quiz, including the French quiz. And the winner is… The whole place was buzzing with excitement, and we waited in eager anticipation as the MC began to announce the winners, starting with the third prize winner, then the second. At this point, I was starting to feel a bit disheartened. A thought crossed my mind: could it be that I had won the first prize? Was my work truly good enough? The MC raised his voice and declared, “And the winner is...” Then he paused, building the suspense. The entire roomwas filled with tension, so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. “The winner is... Moses Kanduri!” the MC exclaimed, and the whole hall erupted in cheers and applause. I felt an overwhelming sense of elation as I walked to the stage to collect my prize. I had emerged as the national Kiddafest drawing competition champion, and my reward was the opportunity to drawmy masterpiece on one of the walls of the National Theatre, where it would be displayed for many years to come. Before this remarkable achievement, I had already secured first place at a Kiddafest event in Bolgatanga. I had created a drawing of President Rawlings, inspired by a poster on our gate. As fate would have it, President Rawlings had passed by the kids’ festival, seen my artwork, and admired it. Winning this competition earned me an invitation to participate in an art competition in Accra, where I once again emerged victorious. It was evident, even at that stage, that God’s hand was guiding my life. Moses with parents – photo was taken shortly before dad passed. 14 The Birthday Journal

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My life story demonstrates my determination. As a teenager, I embraced the spirit of persistence, no matter the obstacles. “ 16 The Birthday Journal

My life story demonstrates my determination. As a teenager, I embraced the spirit of persistence, no matter the obstacles. My days in secondary school marked the inception of my journey into entrepreneurship and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These experiences have molded me into a resilient and effective changemaker, equipping me with valuable skills to surmount life’s challenges. This journey has refined my problem-solving abilities and fortified my character, sharpening my leadership and advocacy skills to address vital issues and champion children’s rights. With time, I’ve learned to adapt to new circumstances, glean wisdom frommy mistakes, and continue progressing. This capacity to rebound and persevere has made me resilient. Thus, even when life throws unexpected Creativity An Entrepreneur is Born – KAN DO IT The Power of 17 The Birthday Journal

challenges my way, I remain optimistic, embracing the ups and downs with a smile and a “KAN DO IT” attitude, ever ready to face whatever comes my way. A Search for a School In my teenage years, the moment came when I had to decide whether to attend a seminary or a regular secondary school. “My son is not going to any seminary,” my father firmly stated when my mother broached the topic. While my mother had always envisioned me as a priest or a doctor, I had aspirations to be either a priest or a footballer. We stood at a crossroads, uncertain whether I should enroll at St. Francis d’Assisi, which included a junior seminary, or opt for Tamale Secondary School. I did commence a term at St. Francis d’Assisi, but I found an all-boys school not to my liking. Upon my return, I took time to explain to my parents that Tamale Secondary School aligned better with my personality and aspirations. My father lent his wholehearted support to my decision. It seemed as though my winning streak had followed me into secondary school. My entrance into secondary school was anything but lowkey. I arrived as a skinny, youthful-looking boy, which led most of the senior students to believe they could easily bully me. Until one day, out of frustration, I slapped one of the seniors, turning me into their primary adversary. I endured considerable taunting from these seniors, which resulted in me developing sores. Eventually, two of them faced suspensions. In due course, one senior decided to take me under his wing, providing protection during my initial year. As my senior years unfolded, they became incredibly enjoyable. My popularity soared due to my involvement in football. I was the With time, I’ve learned to adapt to new circumstances, glean wisdom from my mistakes, and continue progressing. “ 18 The Birthday Journal

sole student in our school’s football club; the rest were recruited players. My joy wasn’t solely due to my passion for the sport but also because being on the school team came with special privileges. Our meals in the dining hall were distinct, and there were always ways to evade the consequences when we found ourselves in trouble. Alongside my sporting commitment, I actively participated in various school clubs, from the debating club to GUNSA and the rapping club. I even established a rap group. I held the position of Assistant Health Prefect, and I founded an informal NGO called the Bawku East Awareness Creation Team to raise awareness about the repercussions of violence. Remarkably, I also served on the Bawku Peace Council at a young age. However, my academic performance suffered, much to the dissatisfaction of my parents and my own concern. I even contemplated finding a way to exit the football team, which occupied most of my time. Eventually, I succeeded in transitioning from a player to the role of teammanager, providing me with more time to focus on my studies. During my time at Tamasco, I encountered one individual who would significantly influence my life: Alfred Kofi Appiah. The Seed of Change is Sown Our first meeting took place on a bus as I returned to Bawku from a holiday in Accra. He was the proprietor of Child Rights Africa, an NGO. It was a fortuitous encounter because I had initiated a club in school focused on children’s issues. Child trafficking was a prevalent issue in Bawku, a topic I felt deeply passionate about. WhenMr. Appiah mentioned his intention to establish a Child Rights club in Bawku, I didn’t hesitate to recommend my children’s club to him. That’s how the first Child Rights Africa chapter was founded in our school, and I was elected as the president for the Northern Region. In due course, we received an invitation to participate in a debate for Ghana at Fifty, a contest that our Northern branch secured victory in effortlessly. This experience ignited my determination to create an NGO. IceWater Entrepreneur While I was in secondary school, I endeavoured to take up part-time jobs during weekends or holidays to earn some extra cash. The idea was to alleviate the financial burden on my parents, especially when the school term resumed. I distinctly recall that my first successful venture involved selling ice water at the stadium. I had acquired the skill of tying water sachets when I spent a holiday with one of my cousins in Tamale. It was a pleasant surprise to realize that I could apply this skill in Bawku and transform it into a profitable business. In no time, I began to travel to various towns, fromBawku to Garu and other places, to try 19 The Birthday Journal

selling my ice water. However, my father expressed concerns about the safety of my means of transportation, which was a market truck, and he prohibited me from engaging in inter-town trade. Nevertheless, the drive for success continued to motivate me, and soon, providence brought MTN into my life. This marked the beginning of my journey as a successful mobile phone vendor. AMobile Phone Vendor “It can never work here in Bawku!” This man exclaimed loudly as he confronted us. Our task was to confirm whether the mast that MTN had installed in our town was functioning correctly. I had come into contact with the MTN team when they chose my mother’s property, which we were renting out to them, as the location for their mast in Bawku. Following the installation of the mast, they wanted to conduct a trial, so they provided us with a phone and sent us to the town to test it. That’s what we were attempting to do now, but this skeptic was making our job challenging. “It will definitely work,” I responded with enthusiasm, although I wasn’t entirely sure of its functionality. By this time, a crowd had gathered around us, and the nearby market women were expressing concerns about how people fromAccra often came to try to deceive them, assuming they were mere villagers. Moses with Nana Yaa at Catholic University, entertainment night Those market women seemed to support the boy who had challenged us, and soon a large crowd had encircled us. I dialed the number, and then, “hello,” the voice of his sister resounded on the other end of the line. The crowd erupted in loud cheers, and they almost wanted to hoist me on their shoulders; their joy was palpable. The boy exclaimed, “Where can I purchase some of these phones? I must have my own phone now.” The enthusiasm spread rapidly; everyone wanted a mobile phone. Consequently, we went to Tamale and found a supplier willing to provide us with phones 20 The Birthday Journal

to sell on credit. This was the inception of my mobile phone sales business. I became immensely popular during this time, and most people referred to me as O-244. I sponsored my friends to clubs and parties and received invitations to almost every event in town. Confronting a SecondMajor Setback Despite making some income selling phones, I harbored a strong desire to return to school. The sight of my friends heading off to university left me feeling lonely and bored. So, one day, I confided in my mother about my aspiration to attend a university. However, she remained hopeful about my becoming a Catholic priest and promptly reached out to some priests who sent me seminary application forms to fill. It seemed like I was on the path to joining the seminary, but my father intervened with a strong opposition to my becoming a Catholic priest. In response to this, I submitted application forms to the University of Ghana, hoping to secure admission. Regrettably, when their response arrived, I hadn’t met the required cut-off. Eventually, I received an acceptance offer from the Catholic University, with the late Hajia Hawa Yakubu sponsoring me. Sadly, her passing created financial difficulties, and I couldn’t afford my tuition. My parents did their best, but it wasn’t sufficient. I reached out to my cousin, who was a Member of Parliament at the time, for assistance, but he declined since I wasn’t a member of his political party. Faced with this financial roadblock, I made the difficult decision to defer my studies and head to Accra. I had a friend there named Razak, whose uncle owned a substantial phone and computer shop. I believed I could earn some money working there. In Accra, we assisted Razak’s uncle during the weekdays, receiving food and accommodation in exchange. On weekends, we ventured to Circle to sell phones for various vendors. However, this lifestyle was a challenging hustle. One day, I sat down on our mattress, in a room I shared with 7 other people, and assessed my life. Was this my destined path? Would I spiral downward? 21 The Birthday Journal

The importance of networking cannot be overstated. It’s often said that your network is your net worth. In my journey, I’ve experienced firsthand how the right connections and relationships can be a driving force for success. My story serves as a compelling testament to the idea that true champions, while celebrated for their victories, are equally defined by their determination to face each challenge with unwavering courage and grace. It’s not just the wins that make us who we are; it’s our resilience in the face of adversity that truly shapes us into forces of nature. A Proper NGO Enduring the hustle of life in Accra, little did I know that fate was pushing me towards my destiny; this setback was a springboard propelling me forward. Before long, I began to yearn deeply to start an NGO focusing on the passionate issue of child trafficking. This desire lifted me to my next level of life. My Network, My Net Worth Networking The Power of 22 The Birthday Journal

In my journey, I’ve experienced firsthand how the right connections and relationships can be a driving force for success. “ 23 The Birthday Journal

I stared at the computer in disbelief. Was it true? Had our NGO just been invited to attend a conference at the University of Ghana? It was an amazing opportunity, and I couldn’t afford to let it slip through my fingers. While working with Razak at his uncle’s shop, I had the idea of launching an NGO to address child trafficking, a prevalent issue in Bawku. I remember Razak looking at me with surprise and saying, “Okay. I don’t knowmuch about NGOs, but if you know what you’re doing, then that’s fine.” I started by searching online for conferences on child or human trafficking and registered for as many as I could. The problem was that our NGO was not officially registered, and we were relatively unknown. However, I had set an ambitious task for myself. Imagine my surprise and joy when we were invited to a World Bank-funded conference on the subject in Accra. This was a golden opportunity, and I couldn’t let it slip away. At the conference, I was anything but a passive participant. I made substantial contributions to all the workshops, presenting the problem as it related to Bawku, which was experiencing a crisis at that time. I had conducted extensive research and investigations on the issue before attending the conference, It’s not just the wins that make us who we are; it’s our resilience in the face of adversity that truly shapes us into forces of nature. so I had my facts and figures at my fingertips. Unbeknownst to me, I had caught the attention of an important person from theWorld Bank. This individual approached me during lunch and asked me to share everything I knew about the situation in Bawku, concluding by giving me his business card. Interestingly, I didn’t even bother to glance at the business card, and he requested my contact number, to which I provided my mother’s number. I didn’t have a phone at the time as I had sold my phone to make ends meet. Ironic, considering I had earned the nickname O-244 and had made a significant amount of money selling phones. I was fed up with the hustle in Accra, and I was feeling fired up and eager to return to my small project in Bawku. “ Moses with Razak and Camillo, secondary school mates 24 The Birthday Journal

Rising from the Ashes: A Destiny Helper Returning home fromAccra, my mother handed me the phone with a worried expression. She asked, “Have you been up to something bad?” Confused, I replied, “No, why?” She whispered, “There’s a gentleman on the line for you,” and passed me the phone. I wondered who would call me on my mother’s phone. “Hello Moses,” the voice on the other end said. “Hello, Sir.” “My name is Kofi Tsikata. I’m the one who gave you my business card at the conference. Can you come to my office tomorrow afternoon?” Surprised and excited, I replied, “But I just got home to Bawku.” “Can you come to Accra tomorrow?” he asked. My mother, pretending to sweep nearby, was eavesdropping on the conversation. After the call ended, she asked, “Who was that, and what does he want?” I explained everything to my parents. “I think you should go,” my father said. “You never know, something good could come out of this.” They gave me some money, and I headed back to Accra. It was very early in the morning, around 4:30 a.m., when I arrived in Accra, and since I was really tired, I looked for a bench at the station and slept there. Then at 8:00 a.m., I woke up and set off for theWorld Bank office. “You know how to read, right?” Mr. Tsikata asked me when I got to his office, to which I nodded. Then, giving me a document, he showed me the Public Information SystemOffice and asked me to go and bring him a print of it. That was how I began working with theWorld Bank, first as an office boy, doing menial tasks like photocopying and printing, etc. When we closed, Kofi would drop me off at Bawaleshie, where I lived with my elder brother in his one-bedroom rented place. Kofi took me to almost every event and many high-level events. Until one day, I was asked to sit in a Youth Conference, and I made some serious contributions on Youth and Agriculture. Here again, favour shone on me, for I was not the only contributor at the conference, yet it was me that the light shone on, for it seemed that I had impressed an important person in theWorld Bank. A Gem Is Discovered “Kofi, you know, we really must involve Moses in more of our activities, maybe make him a Youth Coordinator. He made some absolutely intelligent submissions at the conference today.” It was the Country Director of theWorld Bank, recommending me toMr. Tsikata. I had sat in one of the conferences for Youth and Agriculture earlier that day and had made some really good contributions. “That is what we are grooming him for,” Kofi Tsikata said. That day, it was decided that I should be the Assistant Youth Coordinator for aWorld Bank Youth in Action Project, which focused on turning youth into entrepreneurs, moving from a policy perspective to an action perspective. The project covered Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and had funding of USD 50,000. Such an elevation didn’t happen overnight; it felt as though God was pushing me closer to my success. Moses with Kofi Tsikata 25 The Birthday Journal

The Great Escape While working with theWorld Bank, my passion for advocating against child trafficking remained resolute. I took the initiative to formally register my NGO, naming it “The Enslavement Prevention Alliance.” Joining me in this endeavor was my online friend Tatiana Kotlerenko. Tatiana, though born in Russia and raised in the US, had her own personal experience with human trafficking, making her a dedicated partner in our cause. We started the organization, with some initial support from theWorld Bank. A fewmonths into our NGO’s journey, we collaborated with a private spy agency and the Ghana Police to rescue several girls from the notorious Soldier Bar in Accra. These young girls, aged thirteen to fourteen, had been lured to the city with promises of a better life, only to be trapped in the horrors of prostitution. Following this successful rescue operation, we received an email from the US State Department, acknowledging The Enslavement Prevention Alliance for its significant contribution to the fight against human trafficking. Ghana’s negotiations teamwith CEO of the Conti Group in 2012 Yet Another Win: Turning Prisoners into Farmers Sitting in theWorld Bank office in Liberia, where I was coordinating a project for theWorld Bank, I received an email notification. It was an open call for project proposals on sustainable agriculture. My mind immediately conjured vivid memories of my teenage years when trucks full of prisoners were brought to work on farms in Bawku, including my father’s farm, for which they were paid at the end of the day. The idea of formalizing such a project to improve the living conditions of prisoners struck me. I quickly developed the concept and submitted it to theWorld Bank, where it was approved and shortlisted. 26 The Birthday Journal

I was assigned a mentor, Kathleen Filling, who guided me through the process of refining my concept into a world-class proposal. TheWorld Bank office in Ghana also provided a consultant, Emmanuel, who managed the Busak Fund, a significant agricultural fund. Emmanuel and his team supported my concept, leading us to engage with the Prison Service and the Ministry of Agriculture to create a robust proposal. Together with my mentor, Busak, and the Prison Service, we crafted a proposal that aimed to recruit willing prisoners as farmers. They would receive training and stipends when the produce was sold. About 200 prisoners signed up, and we initiated a pilot program, starting fromNsawam and extending to Kenyasi, Tamale, Bawku, and Ankaful. We completed the proposal and sent it off. To my delight, I was invited to present and defend my proposal in front of a jury inWashington, D.C. The project gained popularity and even caught the attention of ‘The Voice of Africa,’ resulting in an interview with me by Durren Taylor, an interview that went viral. It was no surprise that my proposal was among the top five selected for implementation. Unfortunately, the funding never materialized due to the inability of the Prison Service and the Ministry of Agriculture to decide on the lead implementer. Little did I know that my trip toWashington, D.C. was not by chance, but a part of God’s plan to connect me with my next significant opportunity. A Scholarship That Defied the Odds “Mr. Kanduri, I have heard the story of why you didn’t complete college. Would you like to attend City University of New York?” My heart leaped, and I felt like somersaulting all around the City University of New York campus with joy. It was so unexpected and unbelievable, but I quickly composed myself and enthusiastically said, “Yes, it will be such a pleasure.” I gently placed my cutlery on my chinaware, took a long sip of water to wash down the roasted potatoes and lamb chops with gravy I had been eating before Dr. Peruggi made the offer. The proposal had not fully sunk in. Going from someone who dropped out of school because they could barely pay their tuition at the Catholic University in Ghana to being offered a scholarship to City University of New York – just like that, without even submitting a student application form? How had this happened? When I went toWashington, D.C. to present my proposal on prison farms, I got in touch with Tatiana Kotlerenko, my partner in the Enslavement Prevention Alliance, who was coincidentally working on a project at City University of New York. She told me, “The president of City University of New York would like to host you because they’ve heard you’re in town.” So, I took a bus to New York. To my surprise, the university hosted me for dinner, and there I met the Academic Provost and the university’s President, Dr. Regina Peruggi. She was excited to meet me, having heard about our achievements at the Soldier Bar. That’s when she asked if I would like to pursue my university education with them. As soon as I said “yes,” she turned to Dr. Fakhari, the Academic Provost, and said, “Can you please facilitate? Let’s give him a full scholarship to come back.” It felt absolutely wonderful. 27 The Birthday Journal

When I returned to theWorld Bank and shared the story with Kofi Tsikata, he was thrilled for me. All he wanted was for me to complete my education. Within two weeks of my return to Ghana, the U.S. Embassy called me to come for my visa – this was the second time they were calling me for a visa even though I had not applied for one. That’s how I left Ghana once again. And the New President is… There I stood in front of the podium, being introduced to the entire university as the new Student Government President, and they applauded vigorously. It was as if my entire life story flashed before me. Me? A peasant boy fromBawku?Was it a dream? Had I come this far? I looked all around, even seeing the pride in the faces of the other African students. I knew I had made my parents proud. The university treated me well upon my arrival, providing free student accommodation and a job as a College Assistant in the office of the University’s Vice President and President. I eventually became almost like an Assistant Program Officer. The university also adopted my human trafficking project. The State of New York invited me to serve on what was called the ‘It’s Happening Here project,’ a human trafficking project, so I worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security. I also served on the New York Anti-Human Trafficking Board, participated in various committees, including the Sexual Harassment Committee, was inducted into the New York Rising Star Fame, and into the Malavi Leadership Academy, one of the most prestigious Leadership Academies in New York, established by the late Gastos Malavi, one of the founders of the City of New York. In 2010, during theWorld Cup, the university allocated funds for me to extend a project I started, the ‘Red Card Project,’ which used the ‘Red Card’ as a tool to demonstrate during theWorld Cup that human trafficking for sexual exploitation was unacceptable. The BBC, CNN, and the Freedom Project took up the project and featured it on air. Newly elected Executives of International Honors Society Kingsborough Community College Moses with Dr. Fakhari, Academic Provost at KBCC, who recruitedMoses for scholarships and leadership Moses with Dr Peruggi at graduation 28 The Birthday Journal

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I’ve come to understand that in both victory and defeat, there are invaluable lessons to be learned, character to be fortified, and personal growth to be achieved. “ 30 The Birthday Journal

Throughout my journey, I’ve faced moments of both triumph and adversity, and each experience has woven into the fabric of my character. My willingness to step up, compete, and sometimes stumble along the way has cultivated a spirit of resilience within me. I’ve come to understand that in both victory and defeat, there are invaluable lessons to be learned, character to be fortified, and personal growth to be achieved. A Stint with the Ghana Mission There I stood in awe, face to face with the Ghanaian President, engaging in conversation. I pinched myself to ensure I wasn’t dreaming. It was 2011, and President Mills was visiting my school to deliver a speech. Someone had recommended me to him as a Ghanaian student and President of the Student Government. Alongside the Ambassador, we had a pleasant conversation. At the meeting’s end, he suggested, “You should find him a role to serve our country.” Subsequently, I was invited to work at the Ghana Mission to the United Nations in 2011, where I worked for five years. A Conglomerate Is Born “God bless our homeland Ghana!” I enthusiastically sang with a group of Ghanaians at a Philadelphia stadium. Following Resilience Lifelong Contestant and Goalsetter The Power of 31 The Birthday Journal

the Ghanaian anthem, the Chilean national anthem echoed. It was a source of immense pride for me as the whistle signalled the beginning of the friendly game between Ghana and Chile. Pumping my hand in the air, I cheered, “Yes!” I had successfully organised this friendly match between the Black Stars and the Chilean National Team. In 2011, I initiated the Ace Line, BC, and J group, starting as a sports organisation that organised sporting events and procurement. While seated, savouring the sweet fragrance of success, I noticed a beautiful woman. Little did I know she would become the mother of my children. A fewmonths later, we were expecting twin boys. The feeling was indescribable. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, that marriage didn’t last long, which was quite disheartening. The strain of that relationship wore me out and made me yearn for home. Sitting on my bed one day, I placed my hands on my head as I reflected on my life. It seemed my time in the U.S. was over. I was tired and hurting frommy broken marriage, and I felt weary. Picking up a pen, I wrote my resignation letter and submitted it to my ambassador later that day. “No, Moses, you can’t just leave like that,” he said, trying to dissuade me. However, my decision was final. Well, he continued, “I won’t accept your resignation, but I’ll grant you an extended one-year leave of absence. If you return and things aren’t working out, just come back.” I felt honoured. I had no specific plans in Ghana, but I felt suffocated in the U.S. A couple of friends back home encouraged my return, assuring me of opportunities in the country. Additionally, my friend Razak had managed our organisation so well that he had won a scholarship for his Master’s in the U.K. and was now back in Ghana. So, on a Monday, I packed my belongings, finalized my divorce the following day, resigned from the UN onWednesday, and returned home that very Friday. Aspirant Member of Parliament, Garu Constituency The first thing I did when I got home was to seek employment. I had two offers: one from the Ghana Moses with sons JoshuaWinimaan Tham-Kanduri and JosiahWinimi Tham-Kanduri akaWininix 32 The Birthday Journal

AIDS Commission and the other from the PetroleumCommission. I ended up accepting the role with the AIDS Commission, where I was tasked with raising funds to complement their budget for purchasing viral drugs. However, during my time back home, I sought to re-integrate with my people, so I frequently visited my village. “You should consider running for MP,” one of my cousins suggested one day. “Yes, stand, we will vote for you.” The only problemwas that I wasn’t sure about entering politics. “I will think about it,” I said, trying to brush it aside, but he persisted. By the time I was ready to make a decision, it seemed like everyone I met wanted me to run for MP for Garu Constituency. If I was ever going to pursue a political career, I wanted to build a good brand for myself. Toward the end of my first year back home, I visited my village again, and once more, most of the villagers encouraged me to run for MP. They talked so much about it that I decided to stand. After all, if I wanted to reintegrate with my people, it seemed like one of the best ways. So, I ran for the position, but unfortunately, I lost. I had the option to return to the Ghana AIDS Commission, but at this point, I was eager to start my own venture, something that was already in the pipeline. Thus, I resigned from the Commission and launched ALEXpay. ALEXpay Africa Holding the Operating License in my hand, I heaved a sigh of relief. Once again, I had achieved it. Feeling the document, I couldn’t help but smile; it was like gold to me. Now, we could take our interoperability company to new heights. I smiled as I reminisced about how I had reached this point. I was in my study, researching mobile money shortly after returning to Ghana. Even though I wasn’t using the platform, I was curious about it. I wondered why it was impossible to send mobile money across different networks. The more I pondered this, the more I realised there was a gap - interoperability. I had identified a business opportunity; now, I needed a technology that could facilitate fund transfers across networks. When I returned to the United States, I consulted a friend, Tiffany Rosebury, who was acquainted with someone 33 The Birthday Journal

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named Jacques. Jacques had the technology I needed but had no interest in coming to Africa or providing funding. However, he agreed to exchange the technology for forty-nine percent of the shares, and this marked the beginning of ALEXpay on September 9, 2017. We launched ALEXpay as an entropy platform, and to my surprise, Jacques did come to Ghana. He matched every dollar I invested with three dollars, allowing us to build and innovate the technology. However, too many obstacles delayed us from obtaining our Operating License, frustrating my business partner to the point that he left the venture in search of other opportunities. So, I found myself solely responsible for ALEXpay. I eventually secured the operating license in April 2022, but due to certain circumstances, I decided to sell about seventy percent of my shares. AHealth Scare All passengers on flight number AK574 to Accra, your flight is ready for boarding. Would you please make your way to boarding gate two?” The intercom rang out. I was working on my laptop, so I began to get up because that was my flight. However, something was wrong. First, only my right hand was typing on my laptop; my left hand was frozen. Then, when I tried to pick up my phone, it fell down, and I couldn’t even bend to pick it up. It was as if I was stuck to the chair with glue. Panic began to set in, and goosebumps covered me. What was happening to me? I certainly didn’t want to miss my flight. Would the other people at the airport notice that I needed help and come to my aid? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Jewish man sitting next to me rushing toward me. He asked, “I am a doctor, can you touch your chin?” But I couldn’t. He called out, “Aspirin! Does anyone have Aspirin?” The airport staff immediately brought me some aspirin and a bottle of water, which I drank, and then I was rushed to the hospital. I spent two days in the hospital and caught a flight back home on the third day, only to have another attack. My family members rushed me back to the hospital. It turned out that I had a clot in my brain that was preventing oxygen from reaching that area. I was immediately given medication to dissolve it. I am still on Plavix, which is okay, and I am generally fine now, except for numbness on one side of my face. I used to play tennis frequently, but that was quite rigorous, so I have scaled down. I now play golf, which has earned me a new name, GARU’s Golden Golfer. 35 The Birthday Journal

Ace Builders Hub Even before I sold off ALEXpay, Ace Line had experienced tremendous growth in various areas in Ghana, from building technology for the military to constructing command centers for the military and engaging in construction and procurement activities for the military in some African countries and other locations. I decided it was time to decentralize the business. I allowed Ace Line to handle the military side of the business and established a new company for real estate and construction. That’s how Ace Builders came into existence. Our goal is to build luxury homes using a pool of experts from different facets of the construction business. It’s essentially a hub where you can find expert architects, bricklayers, finishers, interior and exterior designers, and more. For instance, if a brand like Gucci is planning to open a store in Ghana and has specific standards, we already have a pool of experts who can provide the exact quality of work they desire. It’s worth noting that the company has recently acquired a franchise from South Africa’s leading paint brand, ‘Versus Paint.’ Garu’s Traveller Gh; Forty Countries Before the Age of Forty I’ve always had the goal of visiting fifty countries before reaching the age of fifty. It all started with my journey to the U.S. in 2008, followed by a Model UNConference in Slovakia in 2009. A year later, I represented my university in Salzburg, Austria, and from there, I visited my cousin and her husband inMunich, Germany. It was during that visit that her husband, despite being ill, expressed his regret about not traveling more when he was healthier. This inspired me to set a goal to visit forty countries before turning forty, and here I am today. 36 The Birthday Journal

Exchanging pleasantries with First Lady of Namibia, HE. Monica Geingos at Oxford University A Decade of Awards andMore Achievements This fourth decade of my life has been filled with awards and achievements. During this period, I received the Forty Under Forty Award for Technology, was honored as the Technology Entrepreneur of 2019, won the Global Outlook Award for Best Fintech Entrepreneur in the Technology category, and was invited as a Key Speaker at the Oxford African Conference. Additionally, I completed a Master’s Program in Finance and Accounting at GIMPA, with graduation pending, and I am currently pursuing an LLM in Commercial Law at the University of Salford. It’s clear that forty is just the beginning for me. 37 The Birthday Journal

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This deep-rooted sense of gratitude, intertwined with my faith and prayer, not only sustains me through life’s complexities but also propels me forward. “ 40 The Birthday Journal

I’ve learned that gratitude is a key to abundance. It’s in the moments of sincere thankfulness that I find the strength to persevere and keep striving towards my ambitions. This deep-rooted sense of gratitude, intertwined with my faith and prayer, not only sustains me through life’s complexities but also propels me forward. There are some individuals to whom I am eternally grateful. First and foremost is my family, who have supported my dreams so much. My mother, who’s unwell but continues to show us unconditional love, my big brother Christian who’s now the lead in my business operations, and my five sisters and their families. Alfred Kofi Appiah (Late), the founder of Child Rights Africa. Through his NGO, he gave me a platform and a voice. Even after his passing, his brother, Bright Kofi Appiah, continued to involve me in their retreats and events. This experience significantly improved my public speaking skills, boosted my confidence, and enhanced my charisma. I must also express my deep Gratitude Shaping Path to Success The Power of 41 The Birthday Journal