Umar Mohammed, Ph.D.: Ghana’s New Inspiring Ph.D. Graduate Dedicates It To His Late Father

Umar Mohammed. Photo credit: Umar Mohammed/Facebook

We just told you about Umar Mohammed and how Umar Mohammed, the one time 15-year-old boy from rural Ghana bagged his Ph.D.

His big break came when he met officials from the US Embassy 15 years ago and they signed up onto the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program.

Since then, he has enjoyed an upward climb in his educational journey.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Umar dedicated his Ph.D. to his late father who passed away last January.

Here is his dedication to his father as he shares how his father has been instrumental in his life:

Dedicated to my Late Father Afa Mahama Zakali (Mahan’ Kpihiga x Kusheli Doo)

My father died this year. He died midnight January 16th, 2020. I could not be home to bury him. I had plans for him. We had plans for the future of the family.

Umar Mohammed. Photo credit: Umar Mohammed/Facebook

I had planned more discussions with him this summer. Allah in His infinite omnipotence decided to call him back to His bosom.

I miss my father a lot. More importantly, I am heartbroken that he died a few months away from witnessing me graduate with a doctoral degree (his first son to do so). As I had planned to graduate in May, he missed my initial graduation by four months.

The heartbreak of his passing partly led to my delayed completion of this Ph.D. But I still did it. Without my father’s vision, I’d not have made it.

Umar Mohammed. Photo credit: Umar Mohammed/Facebook

Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see it come to pass. For that, I’ll always feel sad when I think about my Ph.D. I come from a large family.

My father did not have as many siblings compared to other young men and women of his youth —he had only three. When he came of age, he decided to make his own siblings. I have 22 surviving siblings.

I have six mothers. My father made sure that I’ll never lack for siblings. My father made sure to take care of us the best way he could. Some of my siblings are farmers.

Some are traders. Some housewives. Others teachers. Some are full Saudi-trained Imams. Others, like myself, educated in the Western tradition. It was all part of my father’s vision. To make sure that my family had anyone we could need to depend on.

Even though coming from an illustrious lineage, he was a simple man. Even though he could have been a chief, he chose not to. For a man who came of age at the cusp of independence to a mother and father born to chiefs in the Sang and Mion area, my father spent his childhood in Sang proud in his great grandfathers having been chiefs of Sang and being great grand child of Naa Andani Sigli.

I was born in Sang as my father was, but spent my early childhood in a farming hamlet called Kusheli, now a thriving community in the Mion District.

Before I was born however, my father had an exciting young life traveling to the interior of Ghana as far as Ejura in the Ashanti Region.

Umar Mohammed. Photo credit: Umar Mohammed/Facebook

But once back to Sang, he rededicated himself to farming and building a family and soon went with his uncle to start the village now called Kusheli.

He took me along as the first child to that village by the way. But when the Kokomba-Dagomba conflict displaced my family to Tamale, my father decided to leave me and other siblings in Tamale to be educated while he went back to the village after the embers of the conflict died down.

That vision is the reason I am here today. After my father saw the importance of education after spending a few months in Tamale as an IDP, he saw the need to educate his own children.

Some of us went into Arabic education, and others like me into the Western tradition. On either side of that pendulum, my father was always proud of us for not letting him down.

My father saw me graduate with a bachelors degree as his first son to do so even when he himself never had a day of school.

He was proud. I wanted to make him even prouder by reaching for the skies. He was always visibly excited when I went to talk to him about my experiences in the United States.

Unlike other fathers who will put so much pressure on a grown son like me wasting time chasing degrees, my father never complained. He was always happy for me and my academic endeavors.

My father was the most informed man I knew because he was always listening to local and international news on BBC Hausa. Often, I could hold any conversation on local and international affairs with my old boy.

Those were times I thoroughly enjoyed. I will forever miss these invaluable moments. The wisdom he imparted narrating his escapades down south working plantations and earning British pounds and shillings I will forever hold dear.

I am dedicating this Ph.D. to my father known in Sang as Mahan’ Kpihiga because my grandfather was Kukologu and later Kphiginaa Zakali of Sang during my father’s later childhood.

Umar Mohammed. Photo credit: Umar Mohammed/Facebook

In Jisonayili where he spent his last years, he was known as Kusheli Doo. My father was a good man. He was a loving man.

I vaguely recollect him carrying me on his shoulders as a child in Kusheli and me and him drinking a lot of koko (kukogu nyina in particular).

I remember always wanting to eat his leftovers. I remember my father preparing me for a career in farming with my own yam mounds at age 5.

I remember harvesting yams with my father. I remember traversing my father’s gigantic maize farm with him as a child as he explained various things to my little self.

So much good memories. I miss my father. But he lives in me through these beautiful memories. A lot of people say I look my father. I am proud to hear that.

I made so many memories with my dad. I needed more. I made so many promises. I intend to see them through In Sha’Allah. This Ph.D. is my dad’s Ph.D.

Source: Umar Mohammed||

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