At age fourteen he could neither read nor write in the English language.
He failed all exams including his ‘O’ Level due to his inability to read.
But today, he is a legislator in Ghana‘s Parliament an articulate one at that, who now stands on his feet to debate in the Chamber with confidence and with good understanding of the issues particularly finance. The Bolgatanga Central Member of Parliament, Isaac Adongo hails from Bolgatanga.
“I grew up partly in Obuasi and partly in Bolga. I left Obuasi at the age of 14 because my father went for voluntary retirement way back in 1986. By then my father used to work at now Anglogold Ashanti,” he said.
The Bolgatanga Central Member of Parliament says throughout his primary and senior school levels, he could neither read, speak nor spell a word in English. He says he concentrated on playing football rather than his education, making him and his father well known in the area due to his football exploits. He says he was taken to the Goldfield Football Academy, but not long his father took a voluntary retirement and they had to go back home to Bolga.
The MP says it was tough for him since he could not communicate with his peers, “At the time I was in Obuasi, I hardly could speak English. I hardly could spell any word and so when I came back home it was a bit difficult, but I was a footballer. So, everybody knew me as a footballer. My father sat me down and said where we have come it was essentially impossible to make a career in football. He advised me to take my education very seriously. But it was tough because having arrived and not being able to communicate in English I just didn’t know how I was going to start and my peers at the time when they spoke in this broken English, I stood in awe of them because I just couldn’t say anything.”
The MP says he failed his entrance exam to the Junior High School level, but his father pulled some strings to get him admitted into the school. While in class, he was very quiet because he could not speak English. “The whole of Form One, I was not known because you had to speak either English or French. I could not speak neither of them, so I was very quiet in class not because I wanted it but that was the only option available to me.”
But things suddenly changed.
“By the second term, I had come second in class and my masters were struggling to identify that child and I was the one who sat at the far corner. When they called out my name, they didn’t believe that I was in that class but I was in that class and that was it, I never turned back. I spent all my chop money to buy Graphic (Newspaper). So I learnt English not by reading stories and by reading story books. I learnt English by reading the journalist‘s English by buying Graphic.
A whole year there was no Graphic that I missed. Everyday, I will go to town buy it before I come back to school and I kept reading and I made meaning of words by observing how it was used repeatedly. So, when I started speaking English I started speaking high level English beyond my colleagues. I spoke like a journalist. I didn’t use the dictionary, I understood them from the passage. By Form 5 when I wrote the ‘O ‘Level, I became the best student in the whole of the Upper East, Upper West and the entire northern sector of Ghana.”
The legislator since then, did not look back and he continued to the University of Ghana to pursue his first degree in administration.
“I pursued a professional accountancy qualification and I have been working in very diverse places. Over the years, I have worked in consulting. I cut my teeth working with SAG consulting which is a professional accounting and management and tax organisation and I was trained as a professional accountant with varied experience in taxation in financial management, in assurance and audit and from there I ventured into donor funded projects, particularly African Development Bank the World Bank, the European Union, the DFID. So, I have quite a lot of experience in donor funded projects regulations and experience in managing donor funds. But before then, I also worked in the private sector. I worked in communication most of the massive infrastructure in our telecom sector…that has been my experience before I came to Parliament and I have been here since,” Mr. Adongo narrated.
Today, as a legislator one can say that Isaac Adongo is a good orator who has developed a craft in breaking down the complex issues in parliamentary debates on national issues, especially the budget and other financial matters to the understanding of the ordinary Ghanaian.
But his life journey is an interesting one which goes to tell that with determination and perseverance, it is possible to succeed in life.