Madam Chairperson, Eminent Guest Speaker, Lady Rosa Whitaker Duncan, Illustrious Corporate Guest, Ms. Valentina Mintah, Accomplished Mentors, Distinguished Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning.

I find it most honouring to be part of this very important occasion as Special Guest. It gives me great joy that I am able to contribute my effort to an endeavour that touches directly the very fabric of our society. If our society is to be great – and it will – it is the people who will make it, and there can be no greater joy than helping affect the minds and hearts of such a people.

Madam Chairperson, today reminds me of my School days, when I will look at my Headmistress, Mrs. AlbertaQuartey of Alsyd Academy and wonder when I too will bear responsibility for the wellbeing of a whole population of people. I looked up to her and hoped to be like her, with my only worry being how long it will take for me to get there. Madam Chairperson, here we are.

My story is no different from yours. My aspirations are identical to yours. All of us want a better life – a life that gives us the chance to do something for ourselves, for our family, for our country and our world. Only a few years back, I too held the dreams you hold today. Madam Chairperson, the story is indeed the same, it is only the era that has changed.

I have always seen life as a two-way journey of teaching and learning from one another. All of us, without exception, need someone who inspires us to do better than we already know how. Along the way, on the various paths that lead ultimately to our calling, there will be hurdles that we need to overcome. But we must press on.

We would have to learn how to overcome life’s challenges; and there is no surer way out of it than making use of the learning and experiences of those who have come ahead of us on that path.

Today’s theme is apt. All of us have stories to tell about growing up and the life we have known. Some of us may have very peculiar stories, owing perhaps to some special circumstances under which we grew up. But the Ghanaian story is generally the same. And yet the outcomes have been different and will continue to be. Two people grow up in the same circumstances with the same training; but while one goes on to become a successful entrepreneur, artist, actress, designer, lawyer, architect or President (vice President too – smiling), the other may be languishing in jail serving life or sitting idle at home with no sense of purpose. It is a matter of choice, which path we choose and I ask you to join me in looking up to those who have come ahead of us and gone on the right path.

Yesterday it was Albert Einstein working day and night, to explain for all our benefit, how the universe works. After him, it was a young man using his learning and wisdom to become the first black president of the United States of America. Today, the world is asking you and I where our story is.

It must be a story of hope and success my dear friends, one worthy of carrying an entire generation tirelessly on its wings. It must be a story that little children in the smallest villages of our country will look to and hope to become characters in. It must be a story that adults with the biggest of accomplishments will see and smile at. It must be a story that people from every walk of life, in every part of the world, will see and keep.

Madam Chairperson we are a lucky era. Ours is aloft with the benefits of technology and globalisation. Today, thanks to an ever growing Internet age, what happens in Tokyo can be seen live in Elubo without effort. We see for ourselves how the leaders of the world are shaping it to make it better for all of us. But we must not be sightseers alone. We must take active lessons from what we see happening all around us and we must strive to achieve even more.

A couple of years back, research was not as easy as it is today. Admittedly, there is still a lot of reading to be done before you gather the requisite material for the literature you are working on. But I can tell you quite honestly, that it was much more tedious to do the same thing in the not so distant past. We had to spend long hours in the library flipping through books searching diligently for information to use.

These days you can sit in the comfort of your home and enjoy the luxury that Google brings to your doorstep. There is vast information readily available accompanied by technology that tapers it down to exactly what you need. What more could you ask for? I owned my first computer after I completed University. Communication has become speedier these days. With the dawn of instant messaging, we no longer have to wait long hours to receive correspondence.

But whiles we are grateful for the solutions the Internet offers we cannot close our eyes to the impairment it causes in our world today. An article written by Leon Watson in the telegraph reveals that scientists have found the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer.

Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others, and the results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds. The dominant age group that falls within this category could easily be said to be you – you who are more attached to your smart phones and the Internet than the older generation. I wonder where I even fall.

We must not allow technology to destroy us. Let us take the good things it brings and make very good use of them, while putting to shame those who deliberately feed the Internet with evil to destroy us. Focus on the good it brings to you to make your life better, leaving the bad a million miles behind us.

Madam Chairperson, our world is a competitive one, and in order to stay ahead we must permanently strive to be the best we can be. This will not come on a silver platter. I have learnt a lot in my life, but if there is anything at all that I am eager to share with you, it is the virtues of hardwork, determination and dedication.

In this day and age of social media overstimulation we no longer have the time to do the things that truly matter to us. It is all just a pageantry of vanity and emptiness, lacking true worth and fulfillment. We have to learn to be diligent and thorough in every aspect of our lives. We have to learn to identify the qualities we need to become better people. We have to learn to work at those qualities and attain them, and while we attain them, we have to go the extra mile of sharing the lessons with others. It makes us better people when we help make other people better.

I would like to share with you, before I end, what has kept me going, and it is this; no matter what you go through there’s no room to give up. You need to get right back on your feet and move steadily on. Take for instance the past eight years of campaigning for political power in this country. It was indeed a long eight years of setbacks but a bright story today. Rather than looking at those years as a total waste of time, energy and resources, I choose to see those years as preparatory years for the task at hand. I picked the lessons as they came and those lessons have helped me to become a more enhanced person capable of better handling this position I now find myself in for the betterment of the people of Ghana. When I am down, I tell myself it will be alright, it will all work out in the end. A new challenge will present itself. A better opportunity will come my way. As the distinguished author Paulo Coelho puts it, “There is no defeat or victory, there is only movement.” I am proud of the woman I am today because I went through a tough time becoming her. There is a famous inspirational quote that says life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain. It is okay to be a little scared to fail but do not let it keep you from trying because mistakes, they say, are proof that you are trying. There are only two options: make progress or make excuses. Choose to make progress.
Thank you.