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Getting invited to the MCF high table in Ghana - Theodore Kanjo, Open Dreams Scholar.

Writing is all about being able to tell a story that your audience can relate to or a narrative that sparks interest to continue. This is how I start writing, from nowhere to a vantage point where I unequivocally see the motion pictures telling a complete story in my head. So, what I am basically doing right now is stalling and buying time so that when I write something relevant, you will unknowingly continue with the flow of the story even though I have said nothing so far. Right now, my mind is idle as that moment where your subconscious takes over every strand of thought in your brain and you the vessel remain; my mind is that vessel right now.

In conclusion, I was recently in Accra, Ghana and I had an overwhelmingly amazing time. I represented the scholar council chair for the MCF-ALA community in this year’s MasterCard Foundation annual meeting. I once read an article on Curiosity about motivated reasoning and how people will more likely choose to read conspiracy theories than read facts, which is not wrong as I am one of those people. Despite being stuck in this conundrum that I have yet to get out of, here is a conspiracy theory about the structure of MCF, maybe it will set the ball rolling in my favor. I am an MasterCard Foundation (MCF) Scholar from the MCF-ALA partnership. The MCF sponsors students from sub-Saharan Africa from partner organizations in top-tier universities. Each institution under this prestigious scholarship has a scholar representative that acts as a channel of communication between the MCF team and the students and enacts activities laid forth by the team. All institutions in this scholarship are governed by a scholar council body that works on ensuring that the program functions smoothly. The body is headed by scholar chair voted to office. I am a scholar representative at my university and I am not looking forward to stopping here, but to be able to help scholars in the program scale the educational ladder. Every year, each scholar council under MCF convene for an annual meeting and the scholar council chair alone goes to stand-in for the bigger MCF-ALA community. I have to admit, you have done a great job reading about the structure of the MCF community to the end, a fact that can be proven, just GOOGLE it (I know you won’t do it), it is not a conspiracy theory as I may have highlighted before, sorry! Be that as it may, this year’s meeting was in Accra and I stood-in for the scholar chair representing the organization (hope that made sense because it did in my head).

I was lodged in a luxurious hotel and had a master suit to all myself, was it a mistake I wonder. The food was amazing. I had been looking forward to eating the famous Ghanaian jollof rice that made news all over the world for a long time and I did. I enjoyed this delicious delicacy and quite unfortunately, its taste is similar to Cameroon jollof rice, aside from the extra additives. Yes, Cameroon also has jollof rice as a delicacy even though she does not feature in the battle between Nigeria and Ghana. I think we already know that ours is the best, that’s why we do not compete in extraneous battles as such. But, how can ours be better when I mentioned above that they taste similar? I used the word “similar” not “the same”. Anyway, just wanted to throw some shade and show some love for my country. I have digressed from the main issue, let’s return to the arrow in the bow and adjust the angle so that we can refocus on our target. Maybe I will shoot at the end. Angle of focus = Kwame Nkrumah.

In addition, I visited the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial and learned about a few facts from his history and the great things that he did for Ghana. I went to the cultural market and I did not leave as I came. The night life was amazing, I danced to Salsa which I only managed to learn a few moves, I will learn the spinning part next time. I cannot believe I ate so much that I denied food; every restaurant we went to, the food came non-stop. In my hotel, it was an all-you-can eat buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I envy myself back then for I now write with an empty stomach.

Now to the imperative stuff. It was a three-day intensive meeting (stress on intensive) with workshops that started at 9am and ended at 6pm with breaks. Topics of discussion were centered on how to make the core of the foundation (scholars) more comfortable in their respective universities and how to make sure the community is better connected and more impact is made towards reaching MCF’s targeted goals. I shared on some of the challenges that scholars at my university faced and possible solutions that could be made to the program to enforce more inclusiveness and collaboration among scholars, university and the foundation at large. I was given an opportunity of leadership that I never could dream of having that will affect thousands of lives in on the continent in future.

The amazing team of facilitators created a safe space where everyone had the freedom to express themselves and each idea was important. All universities under the MCF family were represented and we all connected both on a personal and professional level. I met the wonderful leaders of today that are effecting change both in their communities and immediate communities. To be in the presence of such individuals who live and act in the present, and think about their next plan of action to create more value made me wonder if I was doing enough, or if I was doing anything at all. It is amazing to see the love people have for humanity and the missions they set for themselves to make humanity feel humane again. Let the record show that when I met scholars from the universities that burned me (an Open Dream scholar’s way of politely saying “unsuccessful application!” that brings us closure), I felt like a misanthrope for a split second. Don’t get me wrong, it was the happy kind of jealousy if something like that actually exists.

Ghana rekindled a sense of home as I resonated with the people at the same frequency. Even though I was three countries away from home, I felt at home. The similarities between the behavior of a Cameroonian and a Ghanaian are uncanny, especially in the market. I miss that experience that sales agents use to get you to buy their product, talking to you like you are familiars. This feeling I had yearned for and got it in Ghana. I ended up buying something that I did not need due to the amazing conversations that revolved around fun which incited a need in me for the product, that I bought. I wonder if there is a return policy on what I bought though? I finally fired the arrow and it hit the bullseyes.

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