By TONY KWAME ANSAH, JR.
COVID-19 has really messed up my mental state lately.
Being a husband, dad, and provider has put a lot of pressure on me.
I am sure you are going through the same and probably even more than I will ever know.
Fortunately, four days before my birthday in April 2020 I received
a special surprise gift via email from the Africa Scholars Forum of UMass Boston.
It stated that they wanted to recognize me for my community leadership efforts and invited me to give a keynote lecture at their eUbuntu African recognition event. To be honest, I was initially shocked by this recognition. Although I have occupied leadership roles and volunteered my services to the public through non-profit affiliations and so forth, I never really expected to receive such appreciation for genuine efforts.
In fact, I had to let this invitation marinate in my mind for a bit. I then travelled down memory lane and realized that I have done a lot work behind the scenes for various African Diaspora nonprofits as a volunteer and by way of my entrepreneur journey as a Ghanaian-American. One not-for-profit, African Coalition (AC) in Massachusetts, USA, came to mind, which was the first I joined forces with after graduate school.
On one random spring day of 2016 while at work, I engaged in a short and casual conversation with a fellow African co-worker who was putting together a list of names for an African social club. Without much hesitation, I wrote my name down. A couple of months later, I found myself registering AC as a nonprofit organization in June of 2016.
Now, I never imagined that joining a social club to support a diverse group of fellow African co-workers morally, socially, and financially would have led me to be an active member doing administrative duties. For instance, in 2017, I took the lead to help this same nonprofit to obtain tax exempt status.
I later decided to start my own small business that same year. I spent the rest of 2017 building an online business directory for African professionals, entrepreneurs, and companies worldwide. Towards the end of 2017, I took the lead to help begin the process of registering a staff placement agency for AC.
In 2018, the not-for-profit organization was approved as a staff placement agency in Massachusetts. I later took the lead to build the Staff Agency for AC. I laid the foundation and established the structure from the ground up. I was determined to provide job opportunities for African immigrants and others.
In 2018, I also took initiative to launch an online donation platform between USA and Ghana to solve global problems for women, children, elderly, and entrepreneurs. In addition, I took initiative to write articles about African businesses, culture, and philanthropy for online publications. Lastly, in 2019, I continued to facilitate online donations and publish articles.
I reminded myself of all these efforts to scratch the surface of me leading by example, taking on initiative, as well as showcasing where my passion and purpose in life resides as an American of Ghanaian descent. There is more work that I have done and will continue to do behind the scenes for the African community worldwide. Thus, this alone sums up a decent compilation of endeavors that are deserving of some acknowledgement, especially for those who witnessed it all in real life.
To be frank, I did not expect someone from the outside looking in to acknowledge my work. In this case, it happened to be an institution of higher learning. After more than 24 hours absorbing this unbelievable praise, I responded to the email and wrote; “Thanks for the recognition, invitation, and great opportunity!” A few days later I officially accepted my invite to do the keynote lecture and to receive my community engagement award, which ironically took place on my birthday, April 18th. On one hand I was grateful for the invite and on the other hand I was more grateful to be alive for another year, especially during COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, I must give thanks again to the African Scholars Forum at UMass Boston for recognizing my community engagement efforts and contributions to the African community locally and globally. I really appreciate it! I am truly honored and grateful, especially for the following post-keynote words of positive energy.
I wanted to thank you so very much for delivering such an inspirational keynote address to our graduates at our eUbuntu African recognition ceremony last Friday! Our graduates have informed me that they felt uplifted by the insights that you presented about your rich experience and background! What a journey!”- #eUbuntu2020
MORE ABOUT THE AWARDEE
Tony K Ansah, Jr., M.P.A. is a self-published author and a social entrepreneur based in Rhode Island, U.S.A. He has written and published several books and content via poems, quotes, fiction, non-fiction, blogs, and articles.
His new book, Diary of a Ghanaian Diaspora Entrepreneur 3.0 can be found in text @ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0871PJN4C & audio @ http://www.audiofrica.com/set/12-d-g-d-e-progress-revolving-around-african-business-innovations.
Tony has also received national & international recognition from Face2Face Africa, Modern Ghana, The African, Ghana News Online, SDG Philanthropy Platform and Alliance Magazine (just to name a few) for his articles about African business, culture, and philanthropy.