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.
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.”