June Sarpong, a British television presenter, broadcaster and panellist on ITV’s Loose Women, of Ghanaian descent has revealed in an interview how as a child she lived a ‘wealthy and posh’ life in Accra–and then how a coup in Ghana forced her parents to move back to London in 1984, to a life far below what they enjoyed in Ghana.
She told the Guardian that: “My family moved to Ghana when I was two, although I was born in east London. My parents always planned to raise a family there. Dad worked in finance for the Ghanaian government and we had a very big house in a posh part of the capital, Accra. We enjoyed all the trappings of wealth, including drivers, servants and housekeepers. But then, suddenly, we had to return to the UK after a coup in 1984.”
Sarpong said the pressure of the sudden life change somewhat contributed to the divorce of her parents.
“The pressure of going from a very cushy life to a council estate, plus my dad being unable to get the kind of job he was qualified for, took a toll on my parents’ marriage and they separated when I was seven. Dad moved to America and got a job with Bank of America. He remained in contact and used to send us money. My mum became a nurse. I have to give my mum credit for picking herself up, because she had been a housewife throughout her marriage and so having to then work full time with three children wasn’t easy,” she stated.
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The TV presenter had this to say about the essence of education in the Ghanaian culture:
“Education is everything in Ghanaian culture and so my parents were furious when, at 18, I decided to get a job as a receptionist with Kiss FM, instead of going to university. We had this family meeting and all these uncles came, people I hadn’t seen since I was two. They told me how much shame I was bringing on the family by not going to university. I stood my ground and so my dad eventually said: “I am going to give you a year and if this nonsense doesn’t work out then you are going to university.” Luckily, it did work out. The funniest thing is that my family now say to people: “We told her: ‘Follow your dreams.’”
June Sarpong’s brother, Sam Sarpong, committed suicide last year–and she had this to say about him.
“My older brother Sam and I were very close. We used to play doctors and nurses, and he would let me pretend to give him an injection, by pricking him with a pin! He was an amazing human being. His passing in October last year is still so raw, really painful.”
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