Sir Dr Sam Jonah — Statesman
Sir Dr Sam Jonah — Statesman

Aptitude great asset but attitude puts you ahead — Sir Jonah

Statesman, Sir Dr Sam Jonah, has said that the progress of humanity relies not in the colour of the skin but on the purpose, character and willingness of an individual to work with others in unity. 


“In all you do, remember that while your aptitude is a great asset, it is your attitude that will get you ahead,” he said. Sir Sam, who was delivering the Commencement Address as the keynote speaker at the Morgan State University’s Graduating Class in Baltimore, Maryland, in the US last Saturday, urged the graduates to let their courage of conviction in their voices be heard in their journey for justice.

“The baton of human progress is handed to you today. Hold on for dear life, imbue it with added value, and when the time comes, pass it on to the next generation,” he said. “Class of 2024, the world is looking up to you to change the narrative,” Dr Jonah said, and quoted Dr Kwegyir Aggrey’s concept of the combination of the black and white keys of the piano to produce the best melody from the “good sounds” of each set.

More than 800 doctoral, master’s degree and baccalaureate graduates, including 219 Latin Honors graduates were called to the platform to receive their Morgan diplomas this spring.

Sir Sam and Valerie LaVerne Thomas, a high-achieving technologist, inventor and executive at NASA, received honorary doctorates at the ceremony. 


The astute businessman extolled the Morgan State University as a beacon of academic excellence, empowerment and innovation and urged the graduates to draw inspiration from the rich history of the university to change the world.

“Your education and the values you have learned here at this university make you ideal candidates to be the ethical and visionary leaders the world so desperately needs. Do not shy away from this responsibility. Embrace it, and strive to create a society where justice, fairness and integrity prevail,” Sir Jonah added.

He said while there had been some major strides in both the corporate and political world, many incidents in the recent past were reminders that there was a lot more to do in the quest for a fairer and more equitable society.

“I am not afraid to say in candour and humility that my generation has not been kind to you. “We have left for you a world riddled with wars, famine, disease, racial and gender discrimination, and a multitude of problems.

“The current global landscape is deeply influenced by a myriad of geopolitical and socio-economic challenges across all continents, highlighting the intricate interdependencies, and the urgent need for radical action,” Sir Sam said.

Personal experience

He shared experiences of his illustrious career as leader of a transnational mining company, Ashanti Goldfields, which became AngloGold Ashanti; advisor to leaders of nations, a serial director of top-notch global companies, and the longest-serving Chancellor of Ghana’s University of Cape Coast, and said it all began in the backstreets of the small mining town of Obuasi at the time when mining was not the most fashionable trade, but the preserve of unskilled nomadic labourers.

“All the management positions were reserved for white British migrants or expatriates who worked and lived in Obuasi under a system akin to the apartheid regime in South Africa,” he said.

Sir Sam, however, said through hard work in a white dominated industry, “at every level of supervision or management in the Obuasi mines, I was blessed to be one of the first Africans appointed to lead”.

He said he was subsequently appointed as Deputy Chief Executive at age 33, and CEO of the company by age 37 because of his perseverance and hard work.

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