BOATEN-KODUA AKYEAMPONG – AKA BAKABRI
Vocals, Seprewa, Kalimba, Flute
I am an Entrepreneur, a visionary, blind musician and a potential profitable crops and Mushroom farmer. I was born at Duampopo, a small village in the Asante Region of Ghana. In September 1970 I was enrolled at the Akuapem-Akropong School for the Blind, where I developed an interest in Crop cultivation, arts and music. I attended Wenchi Secondary School with the vision of becoming a classical musician or scientist, but I completed secondary school in 1985 without progressing towards my goal because the means to achieve them were not available to a blind person in Ghana at that time. However, my skills as a singer and flutist improved and upon graduation from Wenchi SS, I received one of my most treasured presents, the atenteben, a bamboo flute. Over the years, I taught myself to play several traditional African musical instruments E.g. Kalimba, Seprewa to call a few. and was among the first members of the Pan African Orchestra.
With the support of the Ghana Society for the Blind (now merged and renamed Ghana Blind Union) I effectively participated in a small scale business promotion programme in Entrepreneurship, Snail rearing, [Heliculture,] Mushroom farming, bee keeping and computer literacy. Though I had no means to acquire a computer of my own, I felt better equipped to function alongside my sighted colleagues. In 2004, I successfully completed FACILITATORS BASIC ENGLISH TRAINING COURSE organized by the non-formal education division of the ministry of education national functional literacy programme and with the help of Prof. Kwame Karikari, the Director of the West Africa Media Foundation, I formed Gonje, the only band in Ghana which performs with traditional African musical instruments which also came to an end in 2013.
In 2007, I was fortunate to play for an audience that included then World Bank director Mats Karlsson and to sufficiently impress him so that he helped me access a modest World Bank grant. The grant provided me with a computer enabled with software for use by the blind. Subsequently in 2009, the Ghana Cultural Fund, a Danish government supported program, donated some equipment that enabled me to train myself to record my compositions. I have also productively completed Mushroom refresher course organized by the Mushroom growers and exporters association of Ghana [MUGREAG], facilitated by the food research institute of the council of scientific and industrial research and sponsored by COTVET SDF.
In the year 2015, I was the best physically challenged farmer in the Ga-East municipality. Though I’m far from being self-sufficient with earnings from my performances and compositions, my quest is to support other persons with disabilities Ghanaians to unearth their potential and develop their skills, especially in the areas of using authentic African instruments for musical compositions or performances and profitable crops cultivation and Mushroom production.
Currently I buy and add value to Oyster Mushrooms on small scale; My products include: Fresh Oyster Mushrooms, Mushroom Shito, Mushroom Kebab, Mushroom Powder and Mushroom drink. I have the intent to become a first visually impaired mushroom industrialist in the west Africa sub-region. It is my long-term AIM to raise awareness and ease the plight of persons with disabilities in Ghana. In a society that still shuns its persons with disabilities as a curse, that largely limits its non-sighted citizens to basket-weaving, what is the hope of nurturing a Stevie Wonder or a Dianne Schuur or a Ray Charles or an Andrea Bocelli? personal change is inseparable from social and political change – Harriet Lerner, psychologist (b. 1944)
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. – Edmund Burke, statesman and writer (1729-1797) A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art. – Jorge Luis Borges, writer (1899-1986) The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker (1944-) Modenbo bu musu aba so That is the slogan of Akropong school for the blind and I take a lot of inspiration from that.