At the age of 45, as I reflect on my journey, I realize that my childhood desire to be the go-to person has manifested in a unique way. I have found fulfillment in mentoring, challenging, inspiring, engaging, and rooting for others. Initially, as a child, I used to think that my name was cheap, as if it was randomly assigned to me by my father from my grandfather’s name. However, as I grew older, I began to feel honored and recognized the significance of carrying my grandfather’s name. Over time, I embraced the role and responsibility associated with the name “Papa,” even though I don’t have biological children. Many consider me a father figure, which initially surprised and unsettled me, but now I have come to appreciate my role in their lives.
As a deeply flawed individual, I pray for humility and grace every day. I have an eagerness to learn and seek wisdom from others, and I have made progress in understanding, prioritizing, and walking in my purpose. Clarity has filled my mind regarding what needs to be done, and I pray for the strength to navigate the challenges that lie ahead. Throughout the past 45 years, I have developed a firm conviction in my role as a creator of leaders. I am dedicated to teaching them to use their voices, helping them shape their stories, and instilling the courage to stay true to their values. I firmly believe in the limitless possibilities for Africa.
My milestone story reflects a journey of personal growth, embracing responsibility, and finding purpose in mentoring and empowering others. It highlights my commitment to making a positive impact on individuals’ lives and fostering leadership development.
My full name is Papa Appia Dankwa Arkhurst, although I have always disliked those two middle names. I suppose it was because my mother always mentioned them in full when I was in trouble. I could say that I was born at the University of Ibadan in Oyo State, Nigeria. I grew up in my first few years feeling like an outsider, and at the age of 7, I migrated to Ghana, where I continued my life as an outsider. I breezed through primary school at Legon and Cape Coast, and then transitioned to Mfantsipim School after getting admission to the University of Clark Atlanta, although I was denied a visa. I eventually attended sixth form at Labone Secondary School, experiencing a very colorful childhood but still feeling like an outsider.
I could say I was reborn when I entered the United States of America with a dream to become someone and change the world. However, those dreams later became meaningless in the overwhelming burden of life and its many stories. I went through my time, lived my youth, gained perspective, and dropped out of school twice for reasons that may shock you if you know the man I am today.
I can say I was reborn after I returned to Ghana, joined the public service, and took a trip to South Korea where I learned about greats like chaebols, Pak Jung Hye, and the beautiful teachings of Confucius and other deep thinkers. It was indeed a good time.
The truth is, I was born from tragedy, and all that came before were merely stages in the womb. I truly woke up when I lost my mother. The scales fell from my eyes, and I began to see meaning in life. From a place of better understanding, I have come to realize that everywhere I have been, all the schools I attended, every moment I experienced, every conflict or relationship I built, and every sound advice from my father and the great men I met were keys to unlocking the many potentials I would interact with. I won’t say much about the day-to-day engagements, but I state clearly that at this turning point in my life at 45, I feel grateful and indebted. Grateful for all the good and bad that have brought me this far to become an instrument of His will. Indebted to those who have not yet been blessed with this clarity of purpose and driven to connect with those I am meant to, optimize those I have to, and keep leading with humility. This is me at 45, and I am immensely grateful for life and the many friends and communities I have had the privilege of being a part of.
The next chapter begins now…