Richard Alandu Achumboro
Richard Alandu Achumboro
I have had the privilege of knowing Mr. Richard Alandu Achumboro since our student days in Navrongo in the 1970s. I was at Notre Dame Seminary Secondary and he was at Navrongo Secondary School. He and Paul Afoko were very close friends and were always seen together, like twins. Both Richard and I had/have homes in Tamale and, coincidentally, a common friend of ours, Ayak, lived there, too. During school vacation we would hang around with other friends at our friend’s home. We didn’t just idle about but engaged in lively informal debates on social and political issues. We also discussed the contents of books we had read, for example, masterpieces of African writers like Achebe, Ngugi, Ayi Kwei Armah, Okot P’Bitek and many others. What struck me about Richard at the time were his clear-cut and empathetic moderate leftist views on social and political issues and the eloquence with which he articulated these. I would see genuine concern in his face whenever he was talking about the shortcomings of the system and how ineffective it was in working to reduce poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and the general suffering of the man on the street. I shared his views and enjoyed listening to him. I learned a lot from him, too. He was not only the big brother I wish I had, but the knowledgeable friend and peer I could look up to.
Richard and I lost contact after our Sixth form education in the North. He went to Nigeria, to study at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, while I proceeded to the University of Cape Coast. Some five years later, I met him briefly in Sokoto in 1983 when I was visiting Thomas Karimu Issah there, another common friend of ours and my former school mate at Notre Dame Seminary Secondary School, Navrongo and Tamale Secondary School. Richard must have just graduated from Ahmadu Bello at the time, and university education must have sharpened further his critical views on society, and there was (and there is still) a lot to criticize about Nigerian and African society for that matter. Richard sounded even more revolutionary than he had been during his secondary school days. That was the last time we met before our roads parted again for an indefinite period of time. Sometime in 2009, I was searching Google for information on Bulsaland, with “Sandema” as my search word when I tumbled on the website of the Foundation for Integrated Strategic Development (FISTRAD), Sandema Educational Resource Centre, and learned that Richard was the brain behind it.
I was very delighted but not surprised about the information. He has always been passionate about community development and cherished youth empowerment as part of his social responsibility and area of social engangement. He exhibited these from early adulthood! I was very proud of my friend, a man who has made his visionary dream come true. That cannot be taken for granted. The political landscape of Ghana today abounds in former revolutionaries who have succumbed to the temptation of money and material things and abandoned the cause and welfare of the disadvantaged in society. I admire Richard for the consistency with which he has pursued his community-based philanthropic dream. Sandema Educational Resource Centre and Radio Bulsa FM (106.5) have benefited and are still benefiting Buluk, the youth in particular. This is an acknowledgement of gratitude and esteem to him for his selfless contribution to development efforts in Bulsaland.
FISTRAD defines its vision, mission, core values and objectives as follows:
Vision: A world without poverty in which each is given equal Rights and opportunities in an environmentally friendly society
Mission: To work in partnership with communities, other agencies and government using participatory approaches to contribute to poverty reduction, respect for human rights and environmental protection and preservation.
Core Values: Honesty, hard work and professionalism
1. To establish and make accessible an educational resource centre that will serve as a source of education and enlightenment to all in Bulsaland
2. Assist young people to acquire skills and improve their educational levels as a necessary tool for future development. (Young people who do not acquire relevant skills risk a doomed future)
3. Carry out advocacy and public education to create awareness for development issues, to empower ordinary people to demand their rights, and to participate in deciding issues affecting them and their environment.
Since its establishment in 1996, the Foundation has lived up to these goals in many significant ways.
It has put educational and vocational facilities in place and created opportunities for willing young people to take their destiny in their own hands. The community-based educational resource centre assists young people to acquire knowledge and working skills in tailoring, audio and radio broadcasting, handicrafts, gardening, carpentry, building. It also organizes free classes for pupils and students. And to facilitate teaching and learning, it has set up one of the best libraries in our two districts, Africa Unity Library. One of the Foundation’s many remarkable achievements is Bulsa Radio FM (105.6) which has become an institution in Buluk today, disseminating information and giving people a platform on which they share and exchange views on matters relating to the development and welfare of our districts. Broadcasting in Buli, Kantosi and English, Bulsa Radio reaches more people in Buluk today than any radio station has ever done in the past.
In recognition of his contribution to his community, Mr. Achumboro won one of The MTN HEROES FOR CHANGE PROGRAMME awards in the category for Economic Empowerment and Community Development 2013 at an event that took place at the International Centre in Accra on 4th April 2014.
Born on 17th October 1958 and a Bulsa native of Sandema Kobdem, Richard attended Ghana College, Tamale and Navrongo Secondary School where he did his General Certificate of Education (GCE Ordinary Level) and School Certificate of Education (Sixth form, Advanced Level) in the 1970s. He read political science at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria from 1979-1982 and did a diploma in International Relations and Alternative Development Strategies at Tashkent Komsomol University in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1989-1990. A postgraduate diploma course in Education took him to the University of Cape Coast from 1994-1996, after which he initiated and established FISTRAD. Richard is married to Beatrice Quaye and they have five children.
The following link provides more information about the work of the resource centre he heads: www.sandema.org.uk