Green leaf in the dry forest: Wisi Chong’s remarkable life story

5 min

Wisi Chong

He claims to be born on 25th march, 1995, even though he has no actual knowledge of the day he left his mother’s womb. Many are vulnerable to this conjecturing of marrying dates to themselves. In fact, the Sissala land is no exception as it is unfortunate to have about 80% of her people being illiterates and cannot even read nor write. Sequel to this, they cannot record dates of birth of their children. Gone are the days, as it is still the status quo, that in many villages of the Sissala land when a new baby is born their parents will use the season of the year, the death of someone, a festival time etc. as the reference dates to determine the birth date of their child.

The case of Wisi Chong exemplifies this narrative. Wisi Chong escaped his mother’s womb somewhere in the year 1995. And typical of most traditional homes, his parents birthed many children. Out of 10, 3 passed away with 7 of them still battling with life as hard as they can, only to exist. Wisi Chong is the 4th of the remaining 7. They are 4 girls and 3 boys. His parents, though happily married for decades still live in abject poverty. However, the most interesting thing about this couple is that they never fight nor quarrel. If you ever want to understand what it means to be content with what you have, then you would want to meet this couple. There is usually peace of mind in their small home and everyone lives with poor joy. His dad has the tradition of always taking 2 bulls from a man in Nankpawie to rear them to maturity and use them with a chariot to plough his 5-acre land. What is rather unusual about this man is that when the bulls are very mature and energetic, the time you can use them to gain more returns, it is the time the owner takes them to sell and give only a token to the father of Wisi Chong. After that, he gives him very small ones to rear again, and the tradition continues.

In their family, it was a norm that each child at one point in time would take the cows out to graze and bring them back when they were full. This ritual continued for each and every day. Their surviving elder brother was the one that first handled this duty, he later handed over to his immediate younger sister, she in turn also handed over to her next sister and then she also handed over to Wisi Chong. Wisi Chong executed this responsibility until the year 2003 when the owner of the cattle took them again as has always been. But this time around, his dad would not have it. Wisi Chong’s daddy got infuriated and took Chong and his kid sister to the Sakai Basic School to begin a new phase of life –from the bush to the classroom. No matter how tedious this was, they were still committed to make things happen.

Nankpawie, a small town in which Chong and his family inhabited is 37km away from Sakai, but the long distance was not enough to scare Chong and this sister away from pursuing their new uncharted path. Unfortunately for Chong’s sister, she would later abort this new life after having lost hope and endurance, only after a year into walking 74 km a day all in the name of learning letters of the alphabets and numeracy. This made Chong sad but he was more determined to continue with his education.

He was in JHS when almost all his mother’s siblings stopped schooling because they could not even afford basic classroom materials such as exercise books, pencils and very petty obligations required by the school. Realizing how difficult this had become, Chong developed a strategy to make things work in his favor. He would always air out his challenges to his teachers and friends and some of them would come to his aid –this was mostly difficult to do, but Chong had no alternative. When he entered JHS 2, he was elected as the senior prefect of his school from among 7 other contestants.

Chong fought through school and sat the BECE. After completion, he entered into a charcoal business that his uncles were doing for a living at Afram plains in the Eastern Region.

In September 2011, he gained admission to Kanton Senior High school in Tumu- upper west Region, the district capital of his village. The fees as at then was GHC300. Fortunately, his charcoal strides managed to have him save the same exact amount from his uncle. His sister supported him with a mattress, chop box and other stuff to help him go to school; she had saved this amount from the popular kayeyo (head porter) job in Accra.

Chong spent a whole month at home looking for ghc60 to sew his uniforms. But however little this amount may seem, his aged father was struggling to get it for him.

He managed to go to school and continued with the same tradition by imploring his friends and teachers. He did this throughout school and finished WASSCE without even owing the school a dime. The Sissalas have a witty saying that ‘it’s only God that chases away flies from the wound of a tailless cow’. Wisi Chong went ahead to gain admission to university of Education –Winneba, Mampong Campus to read Bsc Biological science education. But unfortunately, the young man had no money to cover for his school fees. Chong resorted to seeking for help; he wrote to departments and philanthropist to assist him but nothing seemed to be coming through. At a point, all hope was lost and the dreams of Wisi Chong flatly shattered. The admission time was almost over, just a day to the deadline and Wisi Chong was all in tears because he had not yet raised the amount he needed. Chong left to the bush in mind to execute himself, never had it been more apparent to him than then, that suicide was his only option left. Yet, whilst he was in the bush, he remembered one of his best reggae songs “don’t worry, be happy, every little thing gonna be alright, be happy”. The song managed to grease Chong’s heart with some hope and glee and caused him to discontinue his suicide plan and go back to another option of following up on one of the departments. But he received the shock of his life when he was told: “Chong I am sorry to disappoint you, but the truth is that we can’t be of help to you”. Chong had heard this sentence more than his name, but no matter how many times he heard this statement, something within kept reassuring him that there would surely be a breakthrough moment someday.  And so he left again in tears as he shut the door wildly behind his back and affront a very fine gentleman who was also entering the same office he was walking out of. The gentleman after noticing Chong in tears, halt, and confronted him about why he was watering his cheeks with tears. Chong narrated his ordeal as he ceaselessly crept in tears and bemoan.

There has never been a time in Chong’s life that he believed in the power of miracles and angels than that day. He couldn’t immediately cut the bewail in exchange with joy, but he ceased the tears quite sharply with a wide smile when the gentleman told him to bring his results and the admission letter so that he could see how to assist. Chong quickly rushed home and gathered the documents within 10 minutes, and delivered them to his angel –it was on a good Friday. On Monday, the man called him and handed over an envelope worth one thousand Ghana cedis (ghc1000) to Chong.  His problem was partly solved now, but not wholly. Chong needed a total of One thousand, four hundred and eight Ghana cedis to cater for the entire academic year fees. He stayed steady as he mulled over ideas on how to raise the remaining amount.

But sadly, Chong received the most unpleasant news that anyone would ever desire not to hear. His father had answered his eternal call. Meanwhile, his death brought another ghc1000 from a good Samaritan, this finally landed him into the university –Chong’s fantasy of attending a University had finally come to light.

Yet still, though Wisi Chong’s family live in abject poverty, he still has the love for leadership, he dreams big and desires to be a very super competent leader whom will inspire others to be great. He motivates his peers and always stand content with whatever he has or receives. At the university, Wisi Chong holds four leadership portfolios. These are: Nuss president, SBA vice president, Uwesu Secretary and Deputy course rep. He never allows his environment to define him, he aspires greatly, works hard, and with prayers, faith, determination and perseverance, Wisi Chong is now a third year student in good standing.

To be continued…………

Thank you

Written by: Jettele Dimah Haruna

Chief editor:Bayouni Dramani Maazu.

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Mashood Hillia
Mashood Hillia is a writter, actor, website/mobile app developer and founder of


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