The Hungry Boy: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson

The Hungry Boy: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
18th July 2016
Daniel was hungry. He was just a child, but his life was already tougher than most adults’. It had become clear that there was no room for him in the cramped family house where he was born, so he had moved out, and found himself a little corner on the floor in a friend’s house. That was the best shelter a 12-year-old could manage.
But he was hungry.
A 12-year-old child in Labadi with nobody to take care of him was a sorry sight indeed – the kind of image foreign fundraisers would show rich Westerners, to guilt them into donating towards the end of hunger in Africa. But Daniel was hungry now. He couldn’t afford to wait for some white man to come end hunger in Africa before he would eat. So he decided to end his own hunger. He became a bofrot (doughnut) seller. Then a kerosene seller. Then a trotro mate (bus conductor). Then a labourer. Then he sold books. Then he became a pupil teacher. Then he got a job as a messenger for a shipping company.
But he was still hungry.
Daniel heard about the problems poultry farmers were having finding feed for their birds when the maize season was over. This gave him an idea. He got in touch with a friend in Techiman, and together, they started buying sacks of corn during the bumper harvests, and storing them until the lean season. They would then sell the corn to the poultry farmers, making up to 300% profit on each bag. Soon, Daniel moved into coffee. Same principle, even more profit. Now, Daniel the Messenger/Pupil Teacher was making good money.
But he was still hungry.
Being a messenger in a shipping company gave Daniel the opportunity to learn a great deal about the business of shipping. The more he learnt, the more he applied himself at work, and the more his superiors noticed his competence and reliability. Soon he was promoted to Tally Clerk. Then Import & Export Clerk. Then Manager. A few years later, Daniel the messenger, through learning, hard work, dedication, and ambition, became General Manager of the shipping company.
Now, this is quite a heart-warming story, isn’t it? A 12-year-old kid from the poorest corner of Labadi, clawing his way from the streets, climbing from bofrot seller to General Manager – it’s enough to fill your eyes with tears and make you stand up and clap for this legend of a kid. This is a story you could tell your kids to make them believe that hard work does indeed conquer all, and that everyone can strive hard to create their own happy ending, right?
Wrong. Because this is NOT the end of the story. Daniel was still hungry.
Now, he knew all there was to know about shipping, so he quit his job and started his own shipping company. At first, it was customs clearing. Then he added haulage. Then warehousing. Then he engaged some foreign partners and started door-to-door shipping from China and the United States. Then he started handling full-blown time-sensitive projects. Daniel was in the big leagues now. Little by little, over the period of three decades, Daniel, the little 12-year-old Labadi kid who always smelled of kerosene had built the biggest, most successful shipping company in Ghana, McDan Shipping.
Today, the McDan group is made up of five companies and employs 7000 people. The Hungry Boy from Labadi is now feeding 7000 families every day.
Friends, hunger is a wretched thing. It is the most despicable manifestation of poverty. But for Dr. Daniel McKorley, hunger was the torch which lit his path out of poverty to unimaginable wealth. So today, let me ask you this: are you hungry? Are you hungry enough to work harder, read wider, learn faster, go farther and be greater than your peers? Are you hungry enough to do whatever it takes to claw your way up the ladder and stand head and shoulders above the competition? Today, let the amazing story of this Ghanaian hero, Dr. Daniel McKorley, teach us all that if we’re not wining, it’s because we’re not hungry enough.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and where my hunger resides, my strength abides.