Mr Vee's magazine

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The success of a grand unveiling lies in the collaboration, dedication, and steadfast support of dear friends. I am immensely grateful for the remarkable triumph of our recent launch, and I owe much of it to the unwavering backing of dear friends like Dr. Vee. Their resolute commitment and belief in our vision were instrumental in turning our dream into a reality. Their guidance and expertise extended far beyond mere encouragement, as they actively contributed their talents, navigated obstacles, and propelled our team forward. Throughout the exhilarating journey leading up to the long-awaited launch, Dr. Vee’s support shone brilliantly. His infectious excitement about the theme was electrifying, as he went to great lengths to immerse himself in the essence of his chosen decade, dressing up in a stunning ensemble that transported us all back in time. The sheer passion and commitment he displayed ignited a spark and enthusiasm within me, fueling my own drive for the upcoming event. The success of The Birthday Journal’s launch was a testament to the power of collaboration, love and unity. Dr. Vee’s support is fueled by his ardent belief in incorporating love languages in his relationships. Recognizing that support is one of my own love languages, he went above and beyond, leaving no stone unturned to ensure that I felt an overwhelming surge of support on my momentous BIG DAY! To Dr. Vee and all those who played a part in the success of The Birthday Journal’s launch, I extend my deepest gratitude. Your steadfast support has not only made this dream possible but has also reaffirmed the power of friendship and the remarkable heights we can achieve when we come together. As we embark on this new chapter, let us continue to uplift and support one another, knowing that with the right support, there are no limits to what we can accomplish. Together, we will continue to transform dreams into reality, one milestone at a time. A Triumphant Launch for The Birthday Journal by Mansa Agyare POWER THE OF SUPPORT 3 The Birthday Journal

First Decade There goes Joojo as usual, walking up to Ralph, tapping him on the head, and saying, “Dumbo.” In reply, Ralph opens his mouth wide and goes, “waa waaa,” causing their mother to look at him in exasperation. His ears are not even big. What is he crying about? Joojo’s smile stretches from the far end of one cheek to the other. Mission accomplished, now he can change to the second gear, “Dumbo, Dumbo, Dumboooo,” a full blown song, and Ralph hits the ground, his cries louder. Next Joojo walks up to Cherie, an amused look on his face, wriggles his little waist, his thumbs stuck to the sides of his head, and his tongue sticking out at her. That one doesn’t even need an excuse to cry, she had just been waiting for Ralph to pass her the baton for this relay crying. Pandemonium. Joojo bursts into a fit of giggles. Their father looks up from his newspaper, and in mild irritation says, “don’t tease your siblings.” “Why not?” Joojo asks. “Because it is not nice.” “And why is it not nice?” And a debate has started between dad and Joojo; a back and forth of ‘whys’ and ‘becauses,’ which soon begins to annoy dad who tries to end the now turned argument, with a “you can’t be rude to me, you know?” which ends the tiff temporarily. Until Joojo advertently brings it up again, even though his mother is blinking fast at him, a silent warning that Mr. Annan is angry, her eyelashes fluttering like two overexcited butterflies. Mr. Annan picks his newspaper from the table and walks up to his room. A frisky child, Joojo is not done; climbing the dining table as music plays in the background, he makes stilted moves, freezing at each point; his own version of breakdancing, then it is time to do the ultimate flip, the move he has been dying to show off for so long; not even worrying about the slipperiness of the table cloth until, crash! He is on the floor. J J o o o For the family of five, who moved from Ghana to Liberia a few years ago, Liberia is a wonderful place, surrounded by good friends 4 The Birthday Journal

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He is lucky not to have fallen on any hard parts. His mom does an alarmed inspection of him, realizing that he is going to have a scar from this incident, she gives him a look of “I hope you have learnt your lesson,” while his siblings burst out in laughter. Payback time. The next few minutes, Joojo is shepherding his siblings towards their bedroom, mediating a small quarrel between them, and they are obeying like faithful lambs. Children are funny like that; one minute they are enemies, the next minute, friends. Joojo is a joker and a tease, but he is captain of the trio, and they adore him. A very responsible big brother. For the family of five, who moved from Ghana to Liberia a few years ago, Liberia is a wonderful place, surrounded by good friends, assisted by maids, gardeners, chauffeurs, placed in great schools; from Hilton-Van E, J. J. Roberts, and then to St. Patrick’s High School; a proper middle income family. But when it comes to family, it is just them five. Always them five; no uncles or aunties, or cousins, or even grandparents. But they are happy. The challenges of being an immigrant in America are real. Many missed opportunities but with his parents’ encouragement, guidance, and support, Joojo forges on Second Decade Thirteen-year-old Joojo and his family are making another significant move. This time to the United States of America. America sounds exciting at first; all of a sudden he is the coolest dude in St Patrick’s High School, Liberia, the others looking at him in envy. Like, he should be excited. Like, he is excited, until it is going away day. Then… Apprehension. What is the point of moving away when all your f riends are here? Who does that? But there is the prospect of comics in America. And comics. And even more comics. He would read all the comics in America, and still call for more. 6 The Birthday Journal

Well, America is nice, with all its lights and bling. Trouble is, thirteen is never the time to move to a new anywhere. I mean, thirteen is the age to worry about puberty, and about fitting into the ‘in’ group at school. It is most certainly not a time to be thinking about making new friends. Eeeek! Why does the whole class just stare at him whenever he walks in? Like, he just fell down from Mars! Wait a minute! Has the pimple on his nose got anything to do with it? Has it become a mountain? But it was just a tiny spot when he looked at it in the mirror this morning. Maybe it is his punk, is it way too high? Is it way too low? Oh dear! Why did his dad decide to buy this particular pair of sneakers? Of all the sneakers in the store, and this? So uncool. And why does that girl in the skimpy outfit sitting behind him keep asking, “what accent is that?” What accent is what? Joojo is smart. I mean, smart, smart. Even when he was in Liberia, he never needed to put too much effort into learning. Student extraordinaire. So, now in America, the teachers have noticed he is far above the average child, and have recommended a first tier school for him, and so he moves to the Science High School. The challenges of being an immigrant in America are real. Many missed opportunities but with his parents’ encouragement, guidance, and support, Joojo forges on. Joojo is smart. I mean, smart, smart. Even when he was in Liberia, he never needed to put too much effort into learning. Student extraordinaire. 7 The Birthday Journal

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Third Decade Joojo is at Rutgers. Engineering. His parents’ choice, following in his father’s footsteps. Fancy them being asked by a nosy Ghanaian relative, “so, what does your son do?” And his parents, their hands in their pockets, their faces laced with smug smiles, as they slide the cool word out, “ENGI-NEER-ING.” Their son is an engineer in America. At least they didn’t bring him out here to count high rise buildings, piercings and tattoos all over his body. The only snag is, Joojo’s demeanor, the connection he feels, is not for machines. It would be a shame to waste all that love, calmness and empathy on engines. The connection he feels is for people. So eventually, it is psychology that attracts him. A fitting profession. Rutgers. Filled with sweet memories of showing his bosom friends, Yaw and Ed, the art of sneaking big loaves of Ghana bread into the library. Lest we forget his stint with Afrocentrism. Dashikis, beads on neck and wrists, his every word laced with Africa this, Africa that. Hey there! True son of the soil! Yes, his great great grandfather, Dr. Alexander Oguntola Sapara, was a well known Yoruba Nigerian doctor. But bro! slow down kakra, it is getting scary. He gets past that stage. Whew! Thank God!! Fourth Decade Sitting down in a home in Accra, Ghana, waiting for his bride to be outdoored, ably flanked by Asikule, Yaw and Ed, who have flown all the way from the U.S, to support him, and are sitting with his family in the row directly behind him, his heart beats slightly. Hewatches as the gobetween, a witty middle-aged aunty, dances to the front and ushers in a young lady, her head and face, covered with an African print cloth. The go-between shouting the praises of the young girl. She removes the cloth from the girl’s head to reveal her full face, then she asks him, “is this beautiful damsel your bride?” He smiles and shakes his head. “No she isn’t,” he replies. The go between sticks her neck out in mock surprise, and exclaims, “you 9 The Birthday Journal

mean this is not your bride? Young man, you must pay me more money to look for your bride.” It is a customary routine to present at least three false brides to the groom before the real bride is revealed. After the third false bride is introduced, there is excitement building in the room. The deejay has amped the music, everyone is trying to get a glimpse of the bride, and as she is ushered in, Joojo can no longer stand the suspense, he stands up, as the go between presents this fourth bride, removing the African print cloth to reveal his Nana, looking more beautiful than he has ever seen her, a traditional princess, and the whole house erupts in a loud cheer as he confirms her to be his bride. Beaming with pride and hugging her, he feels emotional, for here, at home, in the land of his ancestors, he has come to claim his bride and he seems to hear a whisper in the wind saying, you have been away for too long son, welcome home. 2003, Ameni arrives. And then Fazi, in 2005. Fifth Decade Nana graduates from Boston University School of Law. Vidal, her ever-supportive husband, is proud of their family achievement. Nana would not have slept a wink during those school days in Massachusetts, but for confidence in his daddy skills. A loving father to Ameni and Fazi, from crying baby days, to troublesome toddler years, and now cheeky teenagers. 10 The Birthday Journal

Dr. Annan has grown in his chosen career; a trustworthy psychologist to his college students, young men and women who remind him of his youth, as he tried to adjust to a new life in America. The days have turned to years, black hairs turned to grey, mistakes turned to experience, and he has been through it all. As the years roll by, the feeling of contentment, completeness, of joy and peace, and that ever present calm. It is no wonder he stands today, tall, confident, assured; a truly content fifty-year-old. 11 The Birthday Journal

What’s the one thing you love aboutVee? 12 The Birthday Journal

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Handsome & sexy 14 The Birthday Journal

Vee is a pretty lovable guy so it’s hard to pin down just one thing. In the beginning, it was how he could make me laugh. He still does, but as we have grown in the 22+ years we have been together, I have loved different things about him. I love how he loves our children. Every child should be so lucky to have a dad like Vee. He’s literally one of their best friends and I love it for them. I love that overall he’s calm and steadfast. I love how witty he is. Most people assume I am the troublemaker in our relationship but the best-kept secret is how quick Vee is with a comeback. On any day he is ready to go with some crazy talk! No one can go from 0-100 faster than Vee. Everyone is surprised to learn this when they spend time with him. Get him in a room with his siblings and it’s a nonstop rock-throwing festival that has us all cracking up. And next to my Dad, Vee probably has the most nicknames for me - I can probably count the number of times he’s actually called me by my name and I know it is all love. It is Baybee, babe, Mrs. Annan, Esquee (not Esquire), and a few others muttered under his breath when I am annoying him. Ha! I love how supportive Vee is of all that I do. He balances out my need to always go, go, go. Once I decide I really want something though, he is 100% behind me. We won’t even talk about how, suddenly it all becomes his idea in the first place. Ha! I LOVE that Vee is still handsome and sexy! He makes an effort to keep himself together and I love it! I see you, Babe! When you have spent almost half of your life with a person, created new and amazing people, lost your best people, and can still come out and say someone is your person, you realize that it’s all great. In the moments some of our valleys seem so deep, but in reflection, we have had so many peaks and our lives have been pretty joyful and blessed. If I absolutely have to rank the greatest moments though; they would be having Ameni, having Fazi, and having each other. I wish for each year in the next decade to be better than the next. No doubt there will be some dips in there but I am hoping as the last decades have proven, the highs will be so many that they shadow the few low points. I wish that this moment where he is surrounded and celebrated by some of the people who love himmost and is one of his happiest moments is the worst that it can be for him. I wish so much love, joy, health, and wealth in Vee’s life, so much that it overflows and touches all of us who love him. Nana 15 The Birthday Journal

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There is just not one thing because he is my dad! I love how I can talk to him about anything I am thinking or feeling and how he is always able to relate to it and give me advice. He’s just a fun guy to hang out with. It feels like I am hanging out with one of my friends, but he’s just old! My Dad is competitive and has a smart mouth so we can go back and forth pretty well. He’s just a super supportive person and is pretty easy to love. All my memories with Vidal (sometimes he lets me call him this) are great. He’s literally my day one. I get to experience him every day so it’s not like memories as such. He’s been making me laugh all my life. Sometimes it’s not even on purpose. When my Mom was in Ghana during Hurricane Sandy (celebrating Fazi’s birthday while we were cold), I remember having to eat Dad’s cooking and back then, he couldn’t even make corned beef. It was hot dogs and corn! Even though I was mad at all of it, he still made it fun. We played board games and cracked jokes. My dad will make the best of any situation. I want my Dad to just enjoy himself. I love seeing him happy and joyful. I hope to make him proud too! Ameni leave me alone but i love you 18 The Birthday Journal

from his smile, i can tell he likes my cooking if it makes him happy, i’m good 19 The Birthday Journal

VI-DULL!! My Bestie!! I love a lot of things about my Dad. He’s funny, he’s foolish (the whole family is), and can make anything we do fun. Even little things like practicing how to drive, despite already being a pro driver. My Dad is so easygoing, he doesn’t take things too seriously, which is both a pro and a con, but we won’t talk about that. My parents are still up for a good cuddle when I need it. My Mom is my big spoon, I am the middle spoon, and then I am Dad’s big spoon, which he hates, but he lets me. I love when he gets bothered by me but he doesn’t really get mad, so it’s just funny to me. Vee met me when I was zero years old and from then on his life has been amazing! I am my father’s daughter so I hate waking up early to go to school. Every single morning, I make it known to my Dad that I don’t want to go and I hate it there. Of course, I don’t mind but it’s like our thing now. He picks me up sometimes so he knows I am fine, but those mornings are just TERRIBLE! When I was really little, I would yell for my mom every night across the hall frommy room to theirs but she would not come so I would yell “daddddddddddy coooooooommmmeee” until he would come for me. My Dad will fuss and he will complain, but he can barely tell me no. We are best friends for life! I am about to go to college so I hope he can manage without his secret favorite for a little while. I want my dad to be healthy and happy and rich for the next 10 years and beyond. I am leaving Uno in his care so they can bond even though Dad pretends that Uno is a bother. I love you, Vee! Fazi Pow OH! 20 The Birthday Journal

for waking me up early besties 21 The Birthday Journal

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Dear Joojo, It was such a joy when we found out we were having you. We were pregnant at the time of our wedding. The joy and pride your father felt, especially when he found out your gender. You were born on a bright sunny Monday afternoon in February 1973. A Kojo already, just like your dad. I chose to call you Joojo - the special Fanti name for Kojo, just because you are so special. Your real given name at your Ga outdooring/naming ceremony “Kpodziemo” is Nii Ewusie. You were named after your grandfather who was a chief in Oshiye, a town in the Greater Accra Region. Being named after your grandfather, the royal, I chose to call you Nii Mantse - The Honorable Chief!!! Your dad’s only sister would call you “Aunty Jo Papa.” You were precious to all of us. At the time you were born, we lived at Ridge, where you were the only baby in the family, adored by all your cousins and especially by your Aunty Jo. I had lots of help taking care of you - cousins, Aunty, and Grandma “Ol’ Cecilia”- your dad’s mom. We left Ghana in 1975 to go to Liberia upon your dad’s mom Ellen secondment to Liberia Broadcasting Corporation from Ghana Broadcasting Corporation where he was a Broadcast Engineer. You were barely two years old. You practically grew up in Liberia, starting Nursery School at Hilton-Van E. You loved school and your friends. Your teachers doted on you because you were a good student, topping your class consistently and winning all the awards, which you continued all through your schooling in Liberia. You loved reading and got excited when on Saturdays after your chores you got to go and buy “Hardy Boys” books and more comic books. Drawing was another 24 The Birthday Journal

passion of yours. You drew all kinds of objects and even portraits. Even in college you still drew. I still have some of your drawings - I will have to search for them! You were such a big brother to Ralph and Cherie. Every evening after watching TV together, it was your duty to wake them up and send them to bed. You also made sure they did their chores on time so that you don’t miss your Saturday trips to the bookstore. You played with them, entertaining them with your antics to make them laugh. We arrived in the United States to join your dad in 1986. Neither you nor your siblings were happy about the move. You missed your friends. You continued junior high school at a public school near where we lived. After spending the first semester in 8th grade you were promoted to 9th grade. One of the teachers advised me to move you to Science High School. It wasn’t easy convincing the high school to admit you - it was the middle of a semester. However, after passing the exam required for admission, they agreed to let you start. You ended up graduating high school as one of their best students. There were some challenges with college, as we were trying to get settled in. You did your part again with flying colors - MIT, Princeton, and Rutgers. Yes, I know we decided on Rutgers for 25 The Birthday Journal

various reasons, but you didn’t complain. We thought you were going to do engineering like your dad, but you opted for psychology - that was a decision you wisely made. We saw your calm, loving, and understanding nature shine. You made lots of friends who trusted you and appreciated your values. You made friends at church and in college. At church, you were a Youth Counselor and traveled to different camps in the U.S. You were also an acolyte and served at the altar. At school, you joined a group of friends who celebrated Afrocentric culture, grounded in historical principles and values. You studied Afrocentric poetry and literature. Being an African that came from the continent, the group gave you a sense of belonging. It also helped you figure out the challenges of being an immigrant in a foreign country. You loved it when we would go camping as a family. I remember your friends thinking it was a cool thing to do. Joojo, you are a free spirit who just got older with more responsibilities. I’m happy your chosen profession fits your personality. Listening, is one of your best attributes. You will listen so calmly to me talking your head off and not even interrupt. The three of us, Ralph, Cherie and I, can still enjoy the Joojo we know when we are together. You rolling over with laughter, and everyone falling on the floor having fun. We like the way you sometimes try to speak like your dad - that always put everyone in stitches, even him. I wish your clients get to see that side of you! A son who brings Mom a bottle of wine on his birthday to honor her as his mother. Nii Mantse, it’s been a joy to have you as my son. I can’t tell you the pride I felt as you took charge of things in our time of pain and grief. Ever since your Daddy passed away you have been the de facto leader, a unifier, ensuring that everyone has a voice. Chairing every meeting and making sure we are all on the same page after every discussion. How blessed and happy we are to have you as our leader. You are always very accommodating and that enabled us to work in harmony. 26 The Birthday Journal

Mantse, now that you have a family of your own, use all the strengths and values you’ve been blessed with to love, cherish, and protect your family and let God do the rest. We thank God for blessing you with your dear wife, Nana and your two precious jewels, Ameni (another Kojo) and our Princess Afaziwa. Joojo, Nii Mantse, my wish for you is happiness in life, love, joy, and all the wonderful things that life brings. Ralph, Cherie and I love you and cherish you so much. Happy 50th birthday to you, dear. 27 The Birthday Journal

Joojo was not the most mischievous as a child, but he was always one for jokes and jabs. He was constantly joking with everyone, especially with me and Cherie. He especially got a kick out of it when the joking went too far and we got mad or started to cry. This seemed to entertain him even more. I guess that’s the dynamic of being siblings. Joojo was also a great debater. He always had a love for a good back-andforth about any random topic. Through the years we’ve always bonded over taking different sides of an argument and going back and forth, trying to convince each other of our point. He definitely got it from Mr. Annan, who was always one to analyze, deconstruct, and understand different points of view. As with the joking, Joojo was always willing to go the extra mile. In debating, this meant sometimes, arguing to keep the argument going. As you can imagine this often did not go well with older people, especially Mr. Annan. I remember many times when Joojo would take up a counterpoint to something our father would say, only to be scolded for being rude. It was often hilarious to watch the two of them (debate/argue/fight). As Joojo got older he became bolder with his arguments and Mr. Annan became more and more short-fused. To this day the great debater, Joojo Annan, is known for striking up a deep and sometimes boisterous debate at the most inopportune times. Joojo has always been the one to mediate and bring people together. Whenever there is an argument, even something like who should get the last piece of plantain (always me of course), he has always been one to step in and try to get each person to see the others’ point of view. As the oldest, he was Ralph 28 The Birthday Journal

raised that way. Even as we were growing up, he was responsible for Cherie and me. And he took all the pressures and responsibilities of being an older brother in stride. Whether it was trying to get us to clean up after ourselves or waking us all up to go to bed after we fell asleep in the living room, he has always taken his responsibility for supporting us seriously and has done a good job at it. As Joojo has gotten older, he has become more and more cerebral and observant. His knack for analyzing people and situations to understand them has grown deeper and more structured. As you talk to him you can almost always see the gears in his head churning, taking in whatever info you are giving him and processing it. Whereas when he was younger he would quickly respond, as he’s gotten older he has become more of a listener. Joojo is most influenced by his immediate family. Most importantly his wife and children and his extended family. When he’s not by himself, he spends the most time with them. Even when they are not with him, he is thinking about them. He also takes their opinions very seriously, often asking them for their point of view and sometimes forgoing what he wants to do at the time for what he knows would accommodate them. This is his way of showing his love and such compromises on his part are frequently noticed and reciprocated. I’ve been most proud as Joojo has excelled in his academics and as he has transformed that love for learning and teaching into a career leading young people in an academic environment. I will be very proud when his 1st book comes out this year. 29 The Birthday Journal

Cherie My most cherished childhood memories with my big brother Joojo, all involve how fun he is. When we were growing up, Joojo was always joking around and coming up with fun games for the three of us to play together. Joojo loved comic books and would draw all the time. I always admired what a talented artist he was. Joojo is about four years older than I am, and so, some of our school graduations happened in the same year. When I was graduating from high school, Joojo was graduating college. When I was graduating from college, Joojo got his PhD....…. and from the same school (Rutgers University), so we graduated on the same day! I have always looked up to my big brother and am so proud of how successful he has been in all he does. I know it hasn’t been easy, but I love how he’s managed to persevere, with a smile. 30 The Birthday Journal

Gylla I love Vidal’s positivity. I don’t always agree with his glass-half-full outlook, but I can agree that his optimism is a beautiful thing to have on your side. I love his dedication to his family. He works hard to be there for all the members no matter how far removed. He is the epitome of the firstborn son, the oldest brother, Dad, Uncle Etc. (I’m assuming a husband too. He makes his family so proud. Our great moment was May 9th 2015. His new empty house, lots of smooth shiny floors. He wanted to prove to his kids (and to himself and us), he could still do a backspin. He got it on his 2nd try, kind of. He should have posed at the end, but we all had fun through the attempts and experienced his joy when he got it. For the next decade, I wish for Vidal to keep me in his life, I will continue to bring him great joy and that’s all a man really needs. Ask his brother!! I also hope that he continues to find success and joy in all aspects of his life. I hope that he has continuous, unfettered, unconditional love from everyone that holds importance to him; - like me, and I do…love him. Happy 50th!! God Bless! 31 The Birthday Journal

Afia Mansa: Afia, what’s one thing you love about Vee? Afia: ……….. Totally awash with emotions, lost for words, flooded with love (or a hot flush), can’t articulate anything sensible. I love you Vee!!! Ruby and Etse I love his calm and collected demeanor. On weekends, we couldn’t wait for Nana to come back from Law School to cook up a storm, so we could sit at the kitchen table and eat while making faces at Nana. I wish Vee all the best! Now that the kids are out of the nest, may you enjoy a sexier time with Nana and roam around freely in your house. Remain blessed now and always. And oh, let’s add another PhD just to show Nana who is the boss. Yemi and Danny We love Vidal’s wise counsel and calm perspective because he always has good advice when you need it. We remember the fun times we have with Vidal at the yearly Munaluchi Coterie Retreats in various fabulous locations. He is seen as the Head of the Coterie Members Spouses Club. Our wish for Vidal for the next decade is the joy and pride of seeing his children graduate and excel in their chosen professions, and for him and Nana to continue to celebrate and enjoy their love and companionship. 32 The Birthday Journal

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Shirley One thing I love about my brother Vee is that he is very considerate and thoughtful and has the best sense of humor! Lots and lots of memories from back in the day when Vee was a spry young man. I recall when Nelly, Nana and I went to Philly to decorate a wedding. When we started Platinum Star Events (yes ooo… we were event planners!). We wisely decided to drive back in a rented U-Haul truck in a snowstorm and got stuck somewhere on the turnpike and called Vee to pick up Nana… the look on Vee’s face when he got there was priceless! Nelly and I wisely did not say a word! Always wondered how the conversation went in that car ride home. On a more somber note, I recall when Barbara passed, Vee was so supportive and counseled Kwabena who had just ended his junior year in high school at the time. He also gave me great tips on how to navigate my new role as a guardian for a teenager! Love you, Vee!!! For the next decade, paving the way to sixty and retirement, Lucky will be 12 by then! My wish is for you to see him before then!!!! Seriously though… Vee, my wish is for you to realize all of your dreams and to achieve all of your personal and professional goals, to see your family thrive and for you to live life to the fullest. Muah! Yaa One thing I love about Vee is his cool, calm demeanor. My most memorable moments with Vidal were Nana’s 40th Birthday in Cape Town as well as Kwadwo’s Graduation in Orlando, Florida. Vee, may this milestone year be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in your life filled with joy, love, and abundance. As you look back on all that you have accomplished in the past half-century, take pride in the person you have become and the countless lives you have touched along the way. As you look forward to the future, may you be blessed with good health, happiness, and prosperity. May you continue to chase your dreams and find fulfillment in all that you do. May all your days be filled with love, laughter, and endless possibilities. Happy 50th birthday Vee! 34 The Birthday Journal

Kojo Vidal oozes unwavering support and empathy. His loving, compassionate, and caring nature allows him to connect with others on a deep level and provide them with the emotional support they need during both good and bad times. Just knowing that someone like Vidal is by your side, who genuinely cares about your well-being can be incredibly comforting and uplifting. My great memory is when Vidal and my family came to Florida to celebrate my graduation. His presence just made the whole experience “that much” special. Also, I cannot forget the sound relationship advice. Thanks, Vee!!! As you continue on your journey through the next decade, I wish you all the best and hope that you are blessed with an abundance of love, joy, and happiness. May your kind heart and generous spirit continue to shine brightly and touch the lives of all those around you. Abdul and Ngozi One thing we love about Vidal is his gentleness. He is funny in a subtle way. We had such a good time in the Bahamas at the Coterie retreat. We wish you good health, happiness, and many wrinkles. Dunstan and Nelly We love Vee’s super calm demeanor. We’ve shared many great memories we shared at Kenkey Fest! We really miss those days. May the next decade be even more amazing than the first five decades AK and PK Happy Birthday, Vee! You didn’t need to bring us all to Curaçao to tell us you have qualified for Social Security! Enjoy your day and send us Cliff Notes on “how to look cool at 50!” Cheers to another 50! 35 The Birthday Journal

Grace Kwadwo and Ivy He is extremely hospitable and has an impeccable taste in music. Amazing memories created during Coterie Retreats - Real Husbands of Coterie. My wish for Vidal is that he lives a purpose-driven life. We love Vee’s warmth and dapper style. The Annans home was always open to Asher and me when we were in Stamford and Vee as always was ever so welcoming! As for his dapperness, he’s got a serious style!! We’ve loved chilling with Vee and Nana in the South of France and in Cape Town. Our dear Vee, we wish above all things that you prosper in every area of life and be in excellent health, even as your soul prospers and you grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ! Sas and Ali We love Vee’s positive outlook on life. He is always the voice of reason. One of our best memories with Vee is our very enjoyable trip to Turks and Caicos, Fun in the sun! Happy 50th birthday to an incredible friend whom we have the fortune of calling family. We cherish your friendship and are so grateful to have you in our lives. We wish you a lifetime of happiness, wellness, and fulfillment of your purpose. We love you! 36 The Birthday Journal

Sharise and Wesley Wishing you a happy 50th birthday! May this next decade bring you joy, laughter, and all the things you love. Eronmwon and Louis Vidal is not only intelligent but also an all-around cool person. Each year, when we embark on the coterie retreat, it’s always a good time. Vidal is always on the dance floor. It’s obvious that he loves living his best life, and he’s always up for a good dance. It’s infectious, he just brings such great energy to the whole trip. As you celebrate your birthday, we want to take a moment to express our heartfelt wishes for you for the next decade. I hope that the next ten years bring you an abundance of joy, love, and fulfillment. May you continue to grow and learn new things, and may you always find happiness in the small moments of life. I wish that you achieve all of your goals and dreams, both personally and professionally. May you be blessed with good health and surrounded by loved ones who support and cherish you. Above all, I wish that you always remain true to yourself and live life on your own terms. Keep shining your light, and may it continue to inspire and uplift those around you. Happy birthday, and here’s to an incredible decade ahead! Baruch I love how he is always so welcoming. You can come to his house at any time, and he will treat you like family. I wish for Uncle Vidal to finish off his successful career with two great kids and a wonderful wife. He deserves everything that he has achieved. 37 The Birthday Journal

Peter and Sylvia One thing I love about Vidal is his quiet strength that matches Nani’s Sas sinews and drama!!! Thanksgiving in the Annan household with the NJ Family will always be etched in our memories!! The Kenkey spread for breakfast; sit, sleep, talk and then have dinner with great company and conversation is always a special time! Calories? Who’s counting? Veeeeeee!!! Happy Golden Jubilee! This is just the beginning of a great life, wishing you more of God, joy, happiness, success, and health. May the dancing never cease… May your heart be forever young!! Ekue One thing I love about Vidal is his patience and analytical view. Vidal has always been a great friend. A lot of great memories just hanging out at his house and with his dad. Going to parks and traveling to events as a group of friends. Vidal you have done 365 days x 50 around the sun and I wish you another 365 days x 50 wisdom as you are already wise and continue to be ever caring about your friends and family. 38 The Birthday Journal

The agyare family Uncle Vee and I shared countless joyful moments together, from beach days in South Carolina to heartfelt conversations after a long day of work. Uncle Vee’s listening ear and unwavering support will forever be etched in my fondest memories. Adoma Vidal has a very warm and laid-back posture, however he is extremely firm in his opinions. I have such great memories with Vee in 2008/2009 when I lived with the Annan family working at Citi in New York. We would settle down after dinner with our raisins and peanuts to watch TV, catch up on politics in Ghana and discuss my desire to return back to Ghana. Those were great times. Vee, Congratulations on your 50th birthday! What a prime opportunity to stop and reflect on how much you have achieved in so little time. You are an inspiration to all of us. May your future be bright and full of blessings. Toshe Pia and Rupert Vidal is a gentleman, easygoing, and chill. Well, most of the times I’ve met Vee with Nana, we’re usually doing our GirlsMom-HOPSA thing. We get bubbly, to put it gently and I’m as expressive as Nana is, so you can just imagine the conversations. Vidal always remains poised and plays along, even when he’s the subject of teasing and poking. He is an excellent host as well. Vidal, we wish you excellent health as you continue to grow gracefully! Continue to find fulfillment in all aspects of your life. May you enjoy the constant love and support of your beautiful family into a happy old age.

41 The Birthday Journal

42 The Birthday Journal

Pearl Love everything about my brother, he’s an all-around great guy and a perfect match in temperament for my sister. But back to the original question, the one thing I love about Vee is his sense of humor! I can’t think of any interaction with Vee where we haven’t cracked up about something silly. Even in dealing with challenging life situations, we always find something small to laugh about. I remember Vee, Nana, and I riding back from the outlet mall making up crazy baby names and laughing our heads off. Honestly, if anyone had heard the conversation they would have thought we were nuts! More laughter, great health, and more cash ($$$) because what’s the point of great health if you’re too broke to enjoy it? Happy birthday to one of my favorite humans! Enjoy your day and the years ahead Vee!!! Love you loads! the Ababio Family Chike and Jackie Uncle Vee is always ready to make us laugh, especially when he complains about the state of the world. We love when Vee comes for the barbecues. We sit, chat, get to catch up and he is always ready to help. We love him! We wish him never-ending happiness and newfound freedom with his empty nest. PARTY!! We love so many things about Vidal, but the one thing we love the most is how down-to-earth and caring he is. Vidal genuinely cares about people. And that shows in the way he interacts with people, and especially in the way he listens to people. Aside from his shared love for 90s hip-hop music, we can distinctly remember our 8-hour-long drive to Toronto with our families. So many jokes and laughs were exchanged! We never run out of things to discuss or debate. It’s always a good time with the Annans! Vidal, congratulations on reaching the 5th floor! For this next decade, our hope is that you fulfill your wildest dreams in life. Get that book published, and travel more. Enjoy your lovely wife Nana. Embrace the empty nest, and maybe even do some renovating if you feel like it! Blast the music loudly and maintain good health. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and we hope you do even more of that this next decade. 43 The Birthday Journal

The Akyeampong family Where do we even begin?! It is not possible to pick just one thing. He is so kind and has the most wonderfully calming presence. He makes us all feel so comfortable and welcome with his great energy! It always feels like no time has passed whenever we see him because he is such an integral part of our hearts. The most recent great memory was our road trip from Boston to New Jersey!! It was a long drive yet we had such amazing fun, playing games and laughing. On the way, Uncle Vidal introduced us to the Boston doughnut (from Dunkin’ Donuts) which is now Abena’s all-time favorite doughnut!! Our wish for this decade is for it to be one of good health with abundant joy, inner bliss, and never-ending success in all its forms. Ed Aunty Meg Vee is Trustworthy! You can always count on Vee even in the most challenging situations. He is consistent and genuine. An amazing brother! One of the most incredible and life-changing memories is when Vidal showed me how to smuggle freshly baked Ghana bread into the library at Rutgers. I wish you good health and happiness. make time to enjoy the fruits of your life’s work. Travel more, explore the many places you’ve always wanted to visit. My wonderful, handsome, calm, and intelligent Joojo, I just want to say thank you for being there for your mother and your siblings after your father’s passing. I pray that God will also grant you healing. May God Almighty guide and protect you and your family. As you continue to be there for your mother, Ellen, strengthening her in her grief and loss, God will in his own way, do the same for you. God will always be there for you and you will not lack any good thing. We love you, all your family in New York. 44 The Birthday Journal

Yaw and peggy I’ll break the rules and list 2 things! First, Vee has a wicked sense of humor. It’s impossible to spend time with him without breaking into laughter about something. It could be a serious issue of the day, or something random and trivial, but he somehow always manages to find and highlight the foolishness of what’s going on. He’s a real gem in the truest sense. Secondly, he’s a man of very high character and integrity. Always focused on doing the right thing, taking stakeholders’ interests into account, setting a good example for our children, honesty and a deep sense of culture and history, and how we fit in. He has an amazing intellect and practically every time we speak, I always learn something new from him. But his most endearing quality is his high character, honesty, and integrity. We’ve been friends for over 30 years and to this day nothing beats the countless days and nights we spent at the Rutgers University campus library eating gobs of Ghana bread, enjoying great conversation and laughing up a storm. We did everything except read and study. I wish Vee continued success in his career, particularly with his writing. I also wish that he is able to mentor the next generation and pass on the key elements of career success as well as character success. May God continue to bless and protect Vee and his family and grant him another 50 years of good and healthy life! One thing I love about Dr. Vee is how level headed he is. No matter what Ameni, Fazi and I got into, he would always be calm with us. My favorite and most memorable memories with Dr. Vee had to be late night car rides coming back from football games. We would play music and it was just a really good vibe. My wish is that he never changes. Dr. Vee, you really mean a lot to me. The days where I would sleep over for weeks because of soccer, you showed me nothing but love and respect. I honestly look up to you as a role model and I hope to be like you in many aspects. Zaiden 45 The Birthday Journal

Love is a universal language that connects people, transcending cultural barriers and bringing individuals closer together. Within the realm of relationships, understanding and expressing love in the most meaningful way is vital. This is where the concept of the “5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman comes into play. Meanwhile, milestone celebrations mark significant moments in our lives, providing an opportunity to honor achievements and strengthen bonds. Let us delve into how the 5 Love Languages and milestone celebrations intertwine, creating a harmonious union of connection and joy. Words of Affirmation and Celebrating Milestones The love language of words of affirmation involves using spoken or written words to express affection, appreciation, and encouragement. Similarly, milestone celebrations offer a perfect platform to shower individuals with words that recognize their accomplishments. Whether it’s a promotion, graduation, or anniversary, heartfelt congratulations and affirmations of pride can deepen the bonds between loved ones. Sharing personal anecdotes, expressing admiration, and acknowledging the efforts that led to the milestone can leave a lasting impact, making the celebration even more meaningful. Acts of Service and Thoughtful Milestone Gestures Acts of service as a love language revolve around performing actions that alleviate burdens or cater to someone’s needs. When it comes to milestone celebrations, acts of service can take the form of thoughtful gestures that demonstrate care and support. For instance, organizing a surprise party or preparing a favorite meal for the celebrant can speak volumes about their importance. By investing time and effort into planning and executing such acts, loved ones convey their commitment to making the milestone moment truly special. Receiving Gifts and Symbolic Milestone Presents The love language of receiving gifts involves the exchange of tangible tokens that symbolize love and thoughtfulness. Milestone celebrations offer a prime opportunity to present meaningful gifts that commemorate the journey and highlight future aspirations. Whether it’s a personalized item, a memento with sentimental value, or a carefully selected gift that aligns with the celebrant’s passions, the act of giving a thoughtful present can convey deep affection and appreciation. These gifts become cherished reminders of the milestone, fostering a lasting connection between the giver and receiver. Quality Time and Celebrating Together Quality time as a love language emphasizes the significance of undivided attention and shared experiences. In the context of milestone celebrations, prioritizing quality time allows loved ones to forge stronger bonds and create lasting memories. Whether it’s a family gathering, a romantic getaway, or a group activity, spending dedicated time together during milestone celebrations strengthens connections and cultivates a sense of belonging. This shared experience becomes an integral part of the celebrant’s journey, deepening the love and support they feel from their loved ones. Physical Touch and Milestone Embrace Physical touch, as a love language, involves the power of touch to communicate love, comfort, and reassurance. While physical touch may not always be the central focus of milestone celebrations, it can play a significant role in expressing affection and connection. A warm embrace, a congratulatory pat on the back, or a joyful high-five can enhance the celebratory atmosphere and reinforce the bonds between individuals. The power of physical touch during milestone celebrations lies in its ability to communicate emotions beyond words, bringing people closer together in shared moments of joy. Harnessing the transformative power of the 5 Love Languages in milestone celebrations can create profound connections and lasting joy. Reflect on your own love language and that of your loved ones. Incorporate words of affirmation, acts of service, thoughtful gifts, quality time, and physical touch into your celebrations. Let love be the guiding force that ignites the spark of joy and strengthens your relationships. Unleash the power of love languages in milestone celebrations, and witness the transformative impact it has on your next BIG DAY! As a fervent advocate of Gary Chapman’s renowned work, the 5 Love Languages, Dr. Vee firmly believes in its ability to create profound transformations within relationships. Brace yourself for an extraordinary exploration where the worlds of love languages and milestone celebrations collide, unveiling hidden gems and life-altering insights in honour of Dr. Vee. The 5 Love Languages: A Harmonious Union of Love and Celebration 46 The Birthday Journal

47 The Birthday Journal

48 The Birthday Journal

49 The Birthday Journal

Comic by Dominick Boachie 50 The Birthday Journal

ow well do you know Vee? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Across: ng 6. Middle name en to 7. head of householder 9. character trait 10. profession 11. soccer team DOWN 1. Thanksgiving in the Annan household 2. A staple in Vee’s car 3. Vee’s known trait; whys and becauses 4. Fazi’s nickname for Vee 5. Quality time away with friends and family 8. Mental health professional 10. Comprehensible 12. Music lover 13. Comic artist ACROSS 6. Vee’s Ga middle name 7. Head of this household 9. Admirable character trait 10. Psychologist 11. Ken Bates bought for £1 in 1982 14. Vee can eat this everyday 15. Vee’s mother’s name How well do you know vee?