Hearing accounts of people converting from other denominations to Catholicism and how the beauty, serenity, and antiquity of Catholic traditions slapped them in the face and stopped them in their tracks could inspire practicing Catholics to even learn more about what Catholicism is all about.
The story of a Ghanaian Lawmaker and one who has been described on several platforms as a controversial political figure is one that is worth sharing.
Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin is a Member of the Parliament of Ghana for the Effutu constituency, Central Region who also serves as a member of the committee on Defense and Interior Committee in Ghana Parliament and a Deputy Majority Leader.
The politician and lawmaker recalled how his early years as a student at St. Augustine’s College, a Catholic second-cycle institution in Ghana, impacted his views on Catholicism and swiftly converted him from a Methodist to a full-fledged Catholic.
Young Afenyo-Markin grew up in a Methodist home in Ghana and went to a Catholic second-cycle school, where he stated he had a strong connection to the Catholic faith only a few weeks after enrolling.
“I had my baptism and confirmation in this school and I became a full Catholic, I was coming from a Methodist home my stepdad told me now your life is in your hands,” Mr Afenyo-Markin emphasized.
When he gradually began to appreciate and learn about the Blessed Virgin Mary, he observed that he got appreciative of the institution and its decorum, as well as the level of discipline instilled in students.
For young Afenyo-Markin, the Lenten season was a also fascinating encounter.
Mr. Afenyo-Markin emphasized that the routes that God chooses for one’s life can be rather fascinating.
“While I prefer to keep the facts of such experiences to myself, I’ve felt that it would be beneficial to encourage students, and it may be God’s desire that I share my experience so that others may benefit.”
Even though the school provided a calm ambience, the now well-known politician reflected on his days as a student and stressed that he had had to struggle to emerge as a young high school graduate.
“We have suffered to make it happen and so my dear students, please I am speaking to you today to assure you that you have a role to play.”
“I got to St. Augustine’s college somewhere in January 1995. The school fees for the year was one twenty five thousand cedis.
My Stepfather who was working at Pomadze poultry could afford only seventy five thousand so I came to the school without paying my fees but I had money (part payment) in my pocket.
I joined the well placed kids in Winneba who normally leave around. I join them in their pick up they had already paid their fees and when I came my mum told me I should come and plead, but she could not come with me. So that evening when it became evident that I have not paid my fees, I had to go back home and Dr. Apanu’s mother became the fundraiser so when we got to Winneba she reached out to the civil servant and the businessman that this is a young boy who is among our children his parents cannot afford his fees.
So they did some fundraising and in three days times I came back I topped it up and I paid my fees. I have only a trunk and the first day we came I was assigned to Kelly’s house.
Here in St. Augustine’s was a rainbow collision, people from all walks of life, different tribes, the rich and the poor were here and by the way my green shirt had different shades and different colours because we have to join.
I didn’t have a uniform colour you know we have different shades of green ……… I had no mattress, I had one of my friends giving me his blanket which I used and this I endued for three years.
My dear students, it was not all that rosy but friends were ready to share. I was determined to make it happen, I was determined to be part of the success stories of the great men who had brought their children here and they never hesitated to support me.
Back in the days, Nana Tawiah Okyere could give me hard times especially when Dr. Paa Kwasi Ndoum introduced his bursary and we were second year.
Pomadze Poultry had virtually collapsed and my stepfather have told me he could not afford my fees so I was so determined to win that bursary so I could pay my fees. But Tawiah and Dan Botwe will not let me be, and Herman Hersey will not let me be.
These guys were tough guys very brilliant guys will go and learn and learn and at the long round when the speech and prize giving day came I was second and I could not be first and they took the first prize I looked at them and said we live to fight another day. The sad part of it is Mr. President; the senior house master will come to the class room and give six lashes and sack you to go and bring your fees.
I endured this six lashes several times, almost every term I have to go back and find my way back.
Final year my stepdad told me clear that he has gone for the union loans and there was nothing more so as I was coming I should make sure I get some scholarship. We went to Cocobod office in Swedru we try to fill the forms they said we don’t owe any cocoa farm so we couldn’t benefit from the cocoa scholarship.
My determination was to win the prize this time and we went through it in the final analysis Mr. President, I am happy to say that I used one mark to beat Tawiah in Government, History was two marks and Botwe was crying and as for Literature I gave them a long gab. So first in History Mr. P your man did it, first in Literature and first in Government so I took the prize and that is what paid my fees for the year and my registration fee. I thank God.
But I also thank some colleagues whose parents were well endowed when we were here. I know some of you are expecting “home choo” it will never come, your parents cannot afford but some others have perfume rice with chicken they will share with you. In our days our parents could not come but I remember our friends whose parents were Ministers of State, Members of Parliament and businessmen have their food in excess and I am proud to say that they were ready to share.
That was the St. Augustine’s spirit and we enjoyed, my friend Allan Nartey as for his “home choo” and then Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur. And then Mr. President, back in the days these Science student will not let the Arts students be, our small …….in Literature too they will trying to compete with us. So they found themselves in our debate club where we even want to represent the school in the debate club, they will come they won’t leave their science behind and even that they try to take it away from us. That was the spirit.
So students, you are privileged to be part of the St. Augustine’s family. To me I owe everything in life to this, life on this campus was not as rosy as you expect it to be. The teachers have the determination to teach you. You may not be coming from a good home but reach out to that person whose parents can afford and can make it happen, don’t sit somewhere and attempt suicide.
Your story may not be the worse story to be told. Where ever you are coming from say to yourself you are determined to make it happen. That is why today I say, Mr. President, not because I am an NPP or part of your government but I say Mr. President this free SHS no matter what God bless you. I lived it, I know what it is, and the poverty when your parents cannot afford Mr. P is not easy “Afenyo-Markin abr3” to wit, Afenyo-Markin has suffered.
And when we finished secondary school we completed in 1997, I got back to Winneba and my stepdad told me again Alex you are welcome.!
I got a job as a post boy at Ghana Post, assistant poster officer and after three years when my colleagues were already at the university I could save for university education.
By the grace of God Ghana Post granted me scholarship and leave with pay. And whiles at UCC President Kuffour introduced this entrepreneurship programme where mentors were going round universities to inculcate in us that private sector dream.
So I abandoned school and registered my first business and I started running Excel Courier and friends were wondering why you would leave school and be doing business, I had my owe plans in mind. Eventually I found myself at Buckingham University but I did not go to Buckingham by accident.
I have to be controversial, survival on the street if you do small “joli joli” you will be defected so you have to be controversial sometimes to survive so it is not my fault but I am learning to change.