Yesterday, a friend who works with EiB, Caleb Nii Boye, sent me some disturbing photos of Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye who played Strika in Netflix’s hit movie-Beasts of No Nation—and added that he had spotted Strika somewhere in Accra begging for money.
I asked that he quickly hold a conversation with him to ascertain what’s going on and if possible record an impromptu video interview with his mobile phone for publication. He did, and this video is still trending on social media on the back of thousands of comments. Some of those comments blame the producers of the film, others blame his co-star Abraham Attah and himself, for the way things have turned out for him.
The trending of the about 12-minute video interview on social media led to him being granted a live interview on GHONE, followed by others.
While certain issues are under contention, I believe we can all agree on these—that, Strika looked grossly disturbed, unclean and not healthy. He looked deprived and this image of him shocked us because we expected to see him at a better place or in a better light.
Another important matter which has come to light is that Emmanuel was paid 30,000 dollars for his remarkably played role of Strika in Beasts of No Nation. He claims he does not know where that money is and indeed he does not look like someone who is enjoying 30,000 dollars in Ghana.
So where is that money? He claims and it has been confirmed by certain adults around him in the known that the money was given to a certain producer named Kofi Robert at the time to be kept for Strika because he was a minor and could not receive the payment directly.
It’s being claimed that this Kofi Robert who is currently out of the country placed the 30,000 dollars into a bank account in Ghana at the time, ostensibly holding it on trust for Strika until he turns 18 years. The boy is now approaching 19 years and the money is said to be in some bank account somewhere in Ghana does he does not know of.
Without any solid evidence of this 30,000 dollars being held on trust for Strika, I am tempted to believe that, the money is gone. This is Ghana, a country where a well-recorded money of some 130 million dollars of liquidity support given to a whole bank, Capital Bank by the Bank of Ghana has ‘vanished’ into thin air when even a ‘man of God’, Mensa Otabil, was in charge as the Chairman of Capital Bank.
And you want me to believe that some 30,000 dollars given to this poor kid which some adult took hold of, is comfortable sitting in some bank account somewhere when I have not seen any documents to that effect?
So, which bank was the money placed at; Ecobank, collapsed Capital or UT Bank? And what is exactly the financial state of the money? Is it in Government of Ghana’s treasury bills, in a savings account or has it been used to buy into some sort of investment for Strika? Who are the signatories to this so-called trust account, being held for him?
At this stage that I have not seen any evidence and knowing what Ghanaians are capable of doing, I can’t just believe some cheap words that this young man’s 30,000 dollars is sitting somewhere in a bank account for him while he sells and begs on the streets of Accra.
If the money was supposed to make it to him when he turned 18 years, what then happened since he is way past that now?
It has also emerged that Strika like Abraham Attah before relocating to the United States was placed in a school by the producers of the Netflix movie somewhere in Cape Coast, and he has dropped out—claiming school is not for him as anything he learns shortly disappears.
And people are upset, literally lambasting and blaming him for having given up on school to become a hawker in Accra, selling tubers of yam and begging on the streets. I do not only find those doing this unthoughtful, it also highlights one of Ghana’s biggest problem—which is that everyone is placed in school, without careful assessment of the person’s interest, passion and strength or capabilities.
Abraham Attah wants to go to school. That’s great. But that does not mean same school is for Strika, who seems to have some sort of learning difficulties or seems to be completely uninterested in formal schooling.
The fact that someone is not interested in our general approach to education (schooling) does not make him useless or should not end him on the street if responsible adults take time to establish his interest and wants.
Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and a lot of people dropped out of a whole Harvard (though higher education) because they found that they had interest and were better at something else, compared to going through our globally structured educational journey.
It is always great to complete at least a basic education. But if a child is completely unenthused about this, you do not say he is stubborn and therefore has chosen to be on the streets by virtue of quitting school.
Strika says he wants to become a welder and continue to act, I am told. He was found on the street where he sells tubers of yams. The fact that he was hawking should tell us that he is not completely lazy—at least he is working and it’s not an easy job to be selling under Ghana’s scorching sun.
His situation highlights a much deeper problem in Ghana where parents or guardians literally and metaphorically compel children to study subjects these adults want, to become doctors, lawyers or whatever without necessarily listening or paying attention to the true interest and strength of the children.
Strika has been left to his fate because he does not want to be part of a boring formal educational system despite having expressed keen interest in an alternative which is equally valuable.
A few years ago, I met a young waitress at a food joint at Osu—I am currently paying for her to go through vocational training. When I met her, I asked what she wanted to do with her life and she said she wanted to go to school to learn sewing, to become a seamstress. She is happily engaging with her course because that’s where her passion lies. Imagine if I had pushed her on the path of Law School—something she had absolutely no interest in.
So for me, Strika may be stubborn, but the adults around him have completely failed him with what seems like a general blueprint to warding children in Ghana, albeit completely irresponsible.
Children, especially those of reasonable ages, have a role to play in deciding their own future but in Ghana, your parents or guardians determine it all for you, without consulting you or picking up on your true passion.
Now, can he get this 30,000 dollars to re-shape his life?