Haadi: Good evening READERS,
Apologies for the change of time of tonight’s Social Convo from the usual 8pm to 7pm.
The subsequent Social Convos will maintain the usual 8pm
Haadi: The youth of today presents us with the tools to turn tomorrow’s society into a model
Striving youth are poised to turn the fortunes of the continent around through their industry in the world of work and the realms of academia.
As a continent with a growing youthful buoyant population, the lives, stories, experiences and roads chartered by some youth in projecting brands and hoisting flags of progress are simply inspiring and worth sharing with others in order to reorient minds and galvanise incentive toward better tomorrow.
Our great personality for tonight is………Felix Afrifa Boakye
Good evening Felix and welcome to THE READERS HUB’s Social Convo
Felix Afrifa: Thank you Haadi. Thanks a lot for having me here to join the company of accomplished personalities who have been here to share the story of their lives.
In fact, when I saw you describe me as an “upcoming luminary”, I felt a little bemused. I’m undeserving of such high accolade! You saw the great men and women who were before the Appointment Committee of Parliament this week? They’re the real luminaries.
Thanks once again for having me.
Haadi: We shall come to that another time
Sir, please tell us about yourself
Felix Afrifa: I would like to describe myself as an “ordinary Ghanaian”. You know, not being a politician or a famous journalist or some social commentator, I put myself in that class.
So, I’m an ordinary Ghanaian living a quiet life in Kumasi and married with two kids.
Haadi: Are you from Kumasi or you just live in Kumasi?
Felix Afrifa: I’m from Kumasi; virtually lived all my life here. I love the city and really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else 😄😄
Haadi: Kindly take us through your educational background
Felix Afrifa: I’m the typical “syto” boy who has managed with the kind grace of God to realize an educational status at the tertiary level. You won’t believe it, but I’m the first in my family to have a university education! 😄
Haadi: Oh wow! Surprise to hear that
Felix Afrifa: So, save my first two years in school, at around the age of 5 when my late dad took me to a city school, a so-called international school while living in the village, I have attended public schools all my life. I Had my secondary education at Konongo-Odumasi SHS and proceeded to the University of Ghana Business School, Legon.
It is observed from our previous Social Convos that our guests so far had not had it rosy in pursuit of their formal education…
(a). How was your journey?
(b) any childhood memories?
Felix Afrifa: To put it simply, it was rough and tough!
As I earlier said, I lived in the village with my parents and my late dad probably wished to give his first son a good educational foundation so he took me to a kindergarten in the city.
Unfortunately, before I could complete kindergarten, he passed on. My mum, struggling to take care of her five children, was left with no choice but to withdraw me to the local school in the village. I was there till class 4, going to class 5, when my Mum also passed. So, you can imagine. It was really tough for me and my siblings because we were all very young.
Haadi: Oh, so sorry
Felix Afrifa: By the way, the village is Atwima Darko; no longer a village though. It’s some few kilometres away from Opoku Ware School, your school, I guess?
Haadi: May their souls rest in peace. I haven’t Atwima Darko before
Felix Afrifa: You wouldn’t. 😄😄
Haadi: Lol! Sad story
What do you do as a career and can you take us through what it entails? Any other work experiences?
Felix Afrifa: I sell insurance for a living. I’m an insurance practitioner; currently managing the main office of Star Assurance Co. Ltd in Kumasi.
So, the story of how I came to be an insurance practitioner…
It amazes me myself but it shows how God orders our paths in a way that we may not understand.
I was privileged enough to be at the University of Ghana Business School. And over there, the top courses are Accounting and Banking and Finance. They were the courses of choice for all the top students at UGBS and I felt destined to be an accountant because, not having so much interest in Banking, accounting was more like the only choice left for me. There were other majors but they never even crossed my mind.
But my mind suddenly changed when I had a conversation with this female classmate of mine whom I had never spoken to. We were in the second semester of Level 200 and we would be choosing our majors in Level 300.
This mate of mine walked up to me and asked me which course I was going to major in. I told her the obvious choice – ACCOUNTING!
But then she started to tell me about some other courses. Apparently, she was going to choose insurance as her major so was sort of recruiting others to join her. 😄
She told me how insurance students were selected by top insurance firms for employment so graduates from the class didn’t have to join the uncountable number of unemployed graduates we have in Ghana.
I gave it a hard thought. I had to! The experiences of my childhood made wish to be independent so much that I was willing to do just anything to have a job after school. So, I did a few inquiries and I became convinced that perhaps, opting for insurance was the right course for me to achieve that objective of landing a job straight after school. And I have never regretted that decision.
Aside the demanding nature of your career, you are also pursuing law. What is the motivation?
Felix Afrifa: My motivation for studying law was shaped by the negative experiences of my childhood. I had to live with some accusation that was levelled against me for a greater part of my life. Simply put, I was accused of something I knew hadn’t done. So, I was never really liked by my foster parents. They thought I was some burden to them or so and their children didn’t look like they wanted me around all because of that false accusation!
Felix Afrifa: So, I think of all the other people who may be languishing in jail just because they have no one to defend them. If I consider the large number of remand prisoners, my heart bleeds. Many of those would be innocent; and they’re innocent until the law finds them guilt. But here we are. We have people kept in prison when they have not been proven guilty. It is quite sad. So, all of those things influenced me greatly to take to legal studies so that perhaps, if I’m able to one day get through the fortified walls of the Ghana School of Law, I may use my experience and my legal knowledge to help such persons who are suffering one injustice or the other.
Felix Afrifa: And then, as you know, intelligence is sexy! I’m deeply attracted to intelligent people. So, there are a few individuals whose excellence in their legal profession motivates me a lot to learn to follow their steps. Yoni Kulendi is one such person. Ace Ankomah is another. There are a few others as well but these personalities, I love them so much. They breath common sense into law and when you hear them speak, you can only wish to be like them, if possible 😄
Haadi: Wow! May God see you through
Felix Afrifa: Amen! With the way things are going, it will take only God 😄😄
Haadi: (a) What are some of the leadership positions you have held?
(b) Did you encounter some challenges and how did you solve them?
Felix Afrifa: To be honest, I’ve never really held any leadership position, unless if I consider my present role at the workplace as leadership but I don’t so no leadership experience.
I’ve always run away from elected positions in fact, even when people try to persuade me. I remember that in my junior and secondary school days, my teachers would ask me to put myself forward as the school prefect. I turned it all down. They probably saw something in me that I hadn’t quite seen and I haven’t managed to give it a try anywhere else.
However, I have some ideas about leadership and it is easy for me to know good leaders. I judge leaders by their ability to solve problems. Leadership is about solving problems and not merely wearing a tag as a President or minister or pastor or some chairman of some company’s board of directors. The positions may be easy to occupy but what you do with is what makes you a leader.
I would use Donald Trump as an example. He talks tough and talked his way into becoming the President of the greatest nation on earth. But when faced with the small problem of COVID-19, we are all seeing what’s happening to America. His poor leadership has been badly exposed. 😄
Haadi: Any experience in youth empowerment or mentorship?
Felix Afrifa: Well, I’m aware people look at to me. The youth in my church, the kids in my extended family and my own children. I do my best to be exemplary. You don’t want to disappoint people who look up to you so it becomes a challenge and helps to make you a better person. So, I do mentor the young children in my church and others who are quite close to me.
The youth is all that every country needs to have a great future. If the future of the youth doesn’t look promising, the only doom awaits a country. That is why it is so necessary that beyond the political talk of youth empowerment, we would need to do more to give the youth of this country a good future.
It doesn’t lie only with politicians, as a matter of fact. We all have to do our part by acting responsibly.
(Haadi: Readers should kindly send any questions they have for our guest in my DM please)
Haadi: Any suggestions to other senior members in other career fields in this regard?
Felix Afrifa: We have to act responsibly, that’s all I’d say. I admit that it is impossible for us all to act decently but if more and more people act like responsible adults, it shows good example for the youth to follow.
It’s incredible how much example we show just by living a responsible life and doing our best at everything that we become entrusted.
Like the faithful servant, do your very best and others would learn from you. I’m doing so, opportunities open that may lead you into higher places.
Haadi: Splendid! What next after your legal education?
Felix Afrifa: Hmmmm…the future remains uncertain. With the things we are seeing with legal education in Ghana, one cannot be certain whether you’d be able to fulfil your dream as a lawyer. Even first-class students are missing out of the Ghana School of Law so you can never be sure.
I hope it works out and I’m able to be the lawyer I want to be but if it doesn’t, I’m quite content with my profession as an insurance practitioner. Law is equally a profession and while I love to study law and all that, I wouldn’t beat myself at all if it doesn’t work out. I know it wouldn’t be because I’m not good enough but it is just that we have a system that keeps on failing students, somewhat deliberately, thereby killing the dreams of so many others.
So, after legal education, I would still be in my profession which has served me my so well in ways I never imagined. It’s been a rewarding journey so far so no problem 😄
Haadi: It’s a worrying situation
Felix Afrifa: Yes, very worrying. But I’m optimist that something would change and the much-needed reforms will happen. I can’t tell when but it would happen somehow. The current system is so broken that it would only have to crumble and be rebuilt 😄😄
Haadi: Hmm! Before we take questions from READERS…
Tell us your hobbies?
Felix Afrifa: I love READING, so much that I keep a small library at home.
And of course, as you know, I’m crazy about LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB.
So yeah, reading and football are my main hobbies.
Haadi: Let’s take some questions from READERS now
Mr Adams wants to know..
1. How you got your first job; with any work experiences?
2. What one thing did you do that changed your academic life?
Felix Afrifa: Very good question! You see, as I stated earlier, I was fortunate, so fortunate enough, not to have struggled for job after school. In fact, I completed Legon in May 2009 and by June 2, I already had a job with my current employer. It had everything to do with the course I chose in the university. I studied insurance. Star Assurance came to recruit some of the top students in the class. I was fortunate to be one of the few to be selected. We did some interviews two interviews and that was it. I was given a temporary appointment right after school, on June 2, 2009, and followed it up with my national service and was immediately employed after service.
Felix Afrifa: What I did that changed my academic life.
Believe it or not, my late dad had a great influence in my life for the short while that I got to know him before he was called to be with the Lord. He loved education so I took it from him. One day he paraded next throughout the entire village because I had come third in my class. A village boy placing third in a city school! It was crazy! It did a lot to my confidence even at that age because I suddenly realized that there was something good in it. So, studying was all I was interested in and that has stayed with me all this while.
Felix Afrifa: I hope to one day go back into academia. I love that part of my life even though it was for a short while because I had to leave to be able to pursue the law program. I knew I would do well as a lecturer but I had to follow my other passion so we will see. Only time would tell if I go back to lecturing.
By the way, to be clear, I was an adjunct lecturer at the Catholic University College in Fiapre, Sunyani, for two years while working with our company there.
Haadi: Who is an adjunct lecturer and what did u lecture?
More like a part-time lecturer. I taught a number of subjects from Life Contingencies to Risk Management to Pensions etc
Samad Danaa: 1. You lost your parents at an early age. What motivated you to aspire this far, given the dire challenges the death of parents bring to children?
On that score, what specifically should inspire kids in similar situations to aspire to higher laurels?
2. COVID 19 presents the world with a challenge that has never been experienced. Political will is not the panacea to a COVID FREE country. On this basis, I find your criticism of Donald Trump’s leadership along the lines of COVID as hanging a bad name on a dog. Leadership without cooperation can never inure to any order in society. Do you honestly believe that the solution to COVID lies in political will and political leadership?
Felix Afrifa: Some deep questions there. On the first one…..
I knew from my early years that education was the only way out for me. It was so obvious to me that I did everything to excel. I had to learn and be so good that my foster parents wouldn’t have any choice but to keep me going. And I did perfectly that. So, children who unfortunately find themselves in similar situations can only take comfort in their education, knowing well that if they give off their best, they will escape from the poverty trap like I have been able to do, with the mercies of God.
On Donald Trump and leadership…
Look, I love Trump, believe it or not. There’s something about his personality that I like and we all know that. The guy is simply authentic even if he comes across as some idiot, sometimes, forgive my language. But on his leadership in these times, I think he’s been exposed. He has failed to provide proper leadership. Yes, political leadership has been the difference between the countries that are doing well in the fight against COVID-19 and those that are not doing so well. So, we look at New Zealand and Germany and Australia on one hand, and the United Kingdom and the United States of America on the other hand. The responses of the leadership of these countries have been remarkably different and it is showing in the numbers of infection and mortality and so on.
Abena Konadu:1. If you had the opportunity, what would you have done differently growing up?
2. As an insurance man what advice/guidance would you give us on insurance?
3. Finally, what accounts for your undying love for Liverpool. Any other team in mind should Liverpool disappoint you?
Felix Afrifa @LLB: Interesting questions there Abena
Well, growing up was just full of challenges. I don’t exaggerate at all when I say this. But I wish I could be more active and more involved in a lot of things. I was a little timid because, once again, I was dealing with a lot of psychological pressure. Not good for a young child. So, I wish I never had to go through all that I went through but who knows, perhaps those experiences are what is s shaping my adult life. I see things better and have a reasonably better perspective about life based on the things I have gone through.
On the subject of insurance, it would be a long one so maybe we would reserve that for some other time. I’m sure Mr Moderator would think of a time for that. 😄
Haadi: Sure! Felix will be on Social Media Monk with Samad to tackle all insurance related issues very soon
Felix Afrifa: LIVERPOOL is simply the best team in the world. I don’t care if no one believes except Liverpool. We give something to football in a way no other club does. You might want to go back to watch the 2005 Miracle of Istanbul and the 4-0 massacre of Barcelona just recently. 😄
I won’t give up on Liverpool for anything. Even in our bad days, we still loved the club! Now that we are shining again, there’s nowhere else to go!
Haadi: Not even THE REAL MADRID? (laughs)
Felix Afrifa @LLB: I have a little spot left in my heart for Madrid but that is just because I detest Barcelona 😄
Bassing.A.M.A.Kamal: What do you consider to be a challenge in the Legal Education System of Ghana that militates against the aspirations of many people who aspire to become Lawyers and what do you think should be done to avert the situation?
Felix Afrifa @LLB: Hmmmm…..this one.
The present arrangement for legal education in Ghana is no longer fit for purpose. Period.
It was designed at a time when only a handful of people could be lawyers so we had just one school which trained all lawyers in Ghana.
The situation is not the same. There are many law faculties now, both in the private and public universities but the leadership of the General Legal Counsel inexplicably still beliefs we can still manage with the single-school system which has serious limitations and can only admit a few people in a given year.
So, I side with those who argue that we no longer need the Ghana School of Law. It must be reformed and legal education liberalized in such a that removes the artificial barriers that prevents so many Ghanaian students from pursuing their dreams
It is never true that we have too many lawyers. In fact, we need “too many” of every group of professionals in this country so the earlier we open up the better.
Mohammed Kulandi: The lady who to some extent persuaded him to do insurance instead and according to his own words never regretted the decision, is he still in touch with her?
If yes, to what extent is their collaboration?
Felix Afrifa @LLB: Phyllis! I never forget her and to be honest, we haven’t been able to keep in touch as much as I would have liked. Distance is a factor, family commitments and the rest but we remain very good friends. She’s also in the insurance sector, by the way, albeit in a different company.
Mohammed Messy: 1.Given the second chance to push in for a position like MP where he will go through elections, will he go for that?
2. The many youth hanging around without proper mentors to choose their courses of study at Universities, what message does he have for them.
Felix Afrifa: Hmmmm…..Politics!!
I love politics. I follow politics keenly but I am not really active politically. Maybe that would change. But if I have to stand for election at the national level, I doubt the same limitations that confronted me when I was young would exist. I’m a changed person; I’m more vocal even though I may appear to be very calm and I’m a bit more confident than I used to be so perhaps that may be a possibility and if it happens, it would be with the NPP. I don’t hide my political affiliation.
On the young and their careers, it is not an easy answer to be honest. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I hadn’t chosen insurance at the time I did. I know a few mates of mine at the Business Schools who didn’t have it easy getting a job after school, some with First Class and the rest.
So, I would just say that whatever field you find yourself in, give it your best shot. Just do the best you can and things would start falling into place.
At a point, I became the youngest branch manager in our company, when I had barely been with the company for three years. I was shocked when I received my letter of transfer to go head our regional office in Sunyani. I was given only a week’s notice. Totally unprepared and unexpected but someone was watching what I was doing and though that even though wing so young, I could take up that responsibility. So, it is all about application of efforts in whatever you do.
Lawyer Shakur (Hammer): Have you read the recent decision in the NCA scandal if yes what are your initial comments?
Felix Afrifa: The NCA matter. I haven’t read the judgement in full so I would refrain from giving my opinion on it. I would do so later on, surely, but until then, it is the judgement of the court and it stands so.
Emmanuel Brefo(JayBee): There is notion that insurance brokers deceive the public
This is as a result of how the sales team misrepresent facts in order to get people sign on since they make commissions from that. As a manager, what measures have you put in place to curb such cases.
I personally witnessed that when I was with one of the insurance companies.
Felix Afrifa: This is one of the biggest problems confronting the insurance industry in Ghana. It is what gives the industry a bad name. We don’t do too well in educating the insuring public on the terms and conditions of insurance products that we convince people to sign up to. It is when there’s a claim that we find stories to tell them. It is a whole big issue so perhaps some other time we can discuss it. But I would just say that if you’re purchasing insurance, just be curious and ask some questions before signing up.
Abdul Salam: I have experienced with many insurance officials who on personal grounds advise me to go in for 3rd party instead of comprehensive policy, why this?
Felix Afrifa: Really? I would rather advice you go for comprehensive instead of third party since the former provides you with a real benefit, though it is relatively expensive.
I don’t the reasons that would make them say so. Perhaps they may have had some negative experience with an insurance company. That happens a lot and a number of factors account for that, not always the fault of the insurance company.
This subject is so broad I wish we have time to properly discuss it.
Hadi: We will have a session for that soon, with Samad
Ing. Karim Mohammed: From his educational background he did not mention when he had his master’s degree, so was he lecturing with the 1st degree?
Felix Afrifa: No. I have my master’s degree (MPhil) from KNUST in Enterprise Risk Management. And I’m also a chartered insurance practitioner so a combination of those qualifications led me into teaching.
Dr Abdul-Samad Siddique: What are your weaknesses in your job and how do you manage these weaknesses?
Felix Afrifa: Weaknesses? Hmmmm….When I was being asked to come and head our operations in Kumasi, it was an elevation of a sort because it is bigger office and the responsibilities there are more challenging. Someone confided in me that some of our Senior Managers considered me to be too temperamental. When I did a bit of introspection, I knew why anyone would say so I changed. I started leaning to accept things less emotionally. In fact, I bought a whole book on Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman so I could learn how to lead (or manage) better. So maybe my temperament was my weakness but I have become better at it.
Wahidu Saaka: I want to know since Mr. Boakye works with an Insurance company and now pursuing a career in law, how does He blend the two and what effect will that have on his current job?
And is He willing to practice after completion?
Felix Afrifa: Insurance is law in practice, as a matter of fact. The two disciplines are complementary. There’s Insurance Law as a separate subject of study so they’re very much related. And yeah…I will certainly practice if I should come out as a lawyer. The motivation that led me into reading law still burns deep so I have to practice it.
Haadi: This is our last question for the session. Unfortunately, we can take all the questions die to time constraints. It’s been a wonderful session with you. We wish to go on and on..
However, time won’t allow us and we must say a big thank you to you. We look forward to an extensive insurance discussion with you on Social Media Monk with Samad very soon.
Felix Afrifa: To conclude, I’d encourage everyone to read the law and be interested in it 😄
Thanks a lot, Haadi, I’ve enjoyed it, thoroughly.
Thanks a lot, once again. God be with you too my brother. And thanks for passing through the other day with Manasseh’s book. I’m on The Fourth John. What a wonderful book!
Emmanuel Brefo (JayBee): I am very much inspired! The future is great!
Thanks for your time Bra Kofi
Mohammed Messy: Beginnings are mostly scary but endings are a little enjoying. We need people in one way or the other to keep us going. Go until you see no one following. What a touching story to dinned with tonight. Most grateful to the interviewer and the interviewee. Good night!
Danaa: A thorough session with so many low hanging fruits to bag. Learning from the experience of others really put us on a sound footing to doing better in every endeavour we are engaged in.
Well done Felix for such a clean account!
Lawyer Shakur (Hammer): Felix I’m genuinely impressed. May God increase you in everything.
Felix Afrifa: Grateful for the kind words. Feels great to know that our little stories can encourage others. Thanks to everyone for your kind words, again
Abena Konadu: Nothing is more beautiful than a smile that has struggled through tears. Who, without knowing your story, would ever think that Felix was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth? But amidst life’s unexpected storms, your hard work and determination truly paid and today we have a beautiful story on your journey of life. Reading your story, I couldn’t agree more with Zig Ziglar that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Thanks for inspiring us with your story.
Felix Afrifa: Thanks a lot, Abena. Life is a long road. We keep moving!
Haadi: Thank you very for that insightful interaction and may God be with you in all endeavours
Readers, we have come to the end to tonight’s Social Convo. I appreciate every one of you who made time with us tonight. I hope we have learnt a lot from Mr Afrifa tonight. Until we meet again, good night everyone!