His father, a policeman, was a strict disciplinarian who never tolerated lies from his children. This fear of the consequences of lying made the young boy confess to his father one day when he played truant and was found out by his dad. It was the truth that saved him that fateful day, he said amidst laughter.
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, who is our personality for this week, said he played truant for quite some time during his primary school days because he was trying to escape being whipped for performing below average during early morning mental sessions in class.
Dr Akwetey, who was called Teifio during his childhood days, explained that his truant behaviour was as a result of the fact that he thought there was no logic in the excessive caning of pupils during mental sessions, pointing out that that did not motivate him to study to improve on his marks.
“So what I finally did was to abandon school during those days,” he said.
So even though he dressed and left home under the pretext of going to school, he never showed up in school but ended up at the Kejetia Market where he watched games of draft or went to the Kumasi Zoo or the Central Library to play.
To outwit his dad, he played and always returned home just around the time the school bus arrived, so nobody would notice his truancy.
Unfortunately for Teifio, he was a bit late one day.
Just as he was about entering the house on that day, his mates saw him and started shouting that he had not come to school. That was how his father, who was passing by, accidentally learnt about his truancy.
Even though Young Teifio was afraid of speaking the truth when his father confronted him, he eventually confessed and, interestingly, his father did not beat him. Rather, that incident led to the need to find a solution to his poor performance in school which had turned him into a truant.
"From that time onwards my dad started to teach me at home in the evenings, give me exercises and mark them. While I worked on the exercises, I realised that he occasionally sneaked in to check whether I was studying.
“That act by my father inspired me to be serious with my education from then because I realised he was interested in my good performance. That was how I began to excel academically and also develop the discipline of studying on my own," he recalled.
Today, that little truant boy holds a Ph.D in International Politics and is the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG).
He is also a governance expert and political scientist who has lectured for many years at the University of Stockholm, Sweden.
Dr Akwetey was full of praise for his dad, saying he “grew up to meet a policeman of a father who was incorruptible and made us to understand that the best thing to uphold in life is to be truthful because nobody would hurt us for speaking the truth”.
“Had my father beaten me after telling him the truth that day, I would have hated school. What he did encouraged me to study harder than I was doing and so when I left the Uddara Barracks in Kumasi for a school at Teshie in Accra, I was so fired up in my studies that I topped in an entire district examination, although I was a new student.
His studious nature helped him to successfully pass the Common Entrance Examination and gain admission to the Labone Secondary School. While at Labone, Young Teifio left no stone unturned in his studies. He actively represented the school in most of its debates. It was not surprising, therefore, that he won several prizes during speech and prize-giving events in the school.
Guess what: his weakness then was that he was extremely shy, especially when he had to relate with girls. It was so bad that at the sight of them, he would take a different direction.
Secondary school presented its own challenges for Young Teifio. His school’s location — very close to the local community — made it easy for the students to go out and learn certain bad habits. In addition to that was the fact that he made friends with some of the bad boys in the school who smoked, chased girls, among other things.
“There were a number of times that I attempted to smoke just like my friends. However, something always restrained me anytime I made the attempt,” he said, and added that he believed the values instilled in him at home protected him from that.
That notwithstanding, due to peer pressure and a lot of interest in playing around, his academic work was affected. That, in addition to the fact that he changed his name without the approval of his father, caused his father to move him to Accra Academy as a day student for his Sixth Form.
Dr Akwetey gained admission to the University of Ghana in 1979.
He studied International Politics and Development for his doctorate at the University of Stockholm, Sweden.
Dr Akwetey was born in Accra but because of the transfer of his father from one station to another, he spent his childhood moving around the country. This helped him to know various parts of the country and also to be able to coexist with people, regardless of tribe.
Walking through various cocoa farms to school in Ejura and Antoakrom exposed Young Teifio to rural life.
He taught for several years at the University of Stockholm, Sweden, before returning to Ghana in 1999 to be the founding Executive Director of IDEG.
He has three children, namely, Naa Komlley, Naa Kormiorkor and Nii Kommey. His elder brother is Mr Bright Akwetey, the lawyer.
Childhood past time
- Loved interior decoration, meeting new people and making friends.
- Enjoyed music and going to the beach to help the fishermen as a young boy.
He advised parents to take interest in their children’s education, adding that fathers should compliment mothers in the upbringing of their children.