House of Secrets, Unhappy Wifes Confused Husbands, Men Run Women Cry are just a few of the excellent plays written and directed by Ebo Whyte popularly known as Uncle Ebo. Here is a man who had a vision for the Ghanaian entertainment industry to bring live stage plays to life in the country and this I can pretty much say is doing brilliantly well. I had the wonderful opportunity to have a chat with one of Ghana’s most admired playwright, Ebo Whyte to pick his mind on everything to do with entrepreneurship, his work, relationships and football!
If you hadn’t been a playwright what would you be working on now?
Most probably a marketer even though I trained as an accountant. I left accountancy with a stronger desire to go into marketing and became a self-taught marketer.
How to overcome challenges during a startup business?
Believe in yourself
especially in an unchartered field where the default or common response to your new venture would be ‘ It can’t be done.’ Believing in your dream or vision needs your resources to counter the naysayers and doubters.
Learning to overcome failure
and recognizing that there is life after failure. Many people aren’t prepared for failure so when it hits them recovery becomes a challenge. Many of the people who we all admire have all learnt how to rise out of the ashes of failed ventures. My first commercial play didn’t work out and I run at a loss and the second commercial play saw me financing it through the sale of my car which never came back. It was my third play which broke even and finally the fourth which got sold
out. learn to look beyond failure.
Humility to start small
. Too many people when they want to start any venture want to start out as big as the people who have succeeded now. Taking the theatre industry for example, some one who wants to go into theatre would want to be where I am now. I didn’t just get up to be where I am now just like that. You would realize that so far I haven’t mentioned money. It’s not about the money but the kind of mindset needed, once you have the vision right, ability to stare failure in the face, then everything else you need will fall into place
What has been your favorite play so far what made it?
My favorite play is the next one. it’s going to beat all the others.
Your favorite childhood memory
The day and only time, my Dad helped me with my arithmetic homework. I still have images of his neat handwriting ( no thing like my scribbles) and I remember that one night as he guided me through my assignment. this happened only once and i will never forget it. My father loved to walk me and my kid brother to school on reopening days to pay our school fees. He had quiet a wide gait and my brother and I almost always had to trot behind him to catch up and he would walk proudly almost as if he wasn’t aware of us struggling behind him.
Should Ghanaians look forward to DVD versions of your plays?
There are DVD versions of the plays but not available for commercial sale. This is due to copyright issues to prevent piracy which we are currently working on to resolve. Another reason why DVD copies aren’t out is to grow the Ghanaian live audiences. Ghanaians are used to sitting home and watching everything on the TV. It takes a lot of effort now to get the average Ghanaian to come out of his house so we want to bring back the joy of going to the theatre. We still have many Ghanaians who haven’t attended any of our plays at the National Theatre. They need to experience the joy of live theatre. nothing beats that experience. Nothing.
Are you a sports person? favorite sport and favorite player. Why?
Well in Ghana we have only one sport and when we are in a good mood we add boxing *laughs and continues* Every Ghanaian sports program is about soccer. once in awhile we get hockey, boxing, tennis or a bit of golf unless it’s Otumfuos Golf Tournament. I was a footballer in my youth and played defense. A lot of my approach to life has been borne out of lessons learnt during my playing days. When you are a defender you don’t rush, when you rush the attacker will outwit you. Let him come and dribble all he wants, don’t watch his face or body movements rather keep your focus on the ball. Be patient and dispossess him of the ball. These are lessons of life for me that when I deal with someone I get the goal and objective clear any other thing is irrelevant.
My favorite football player is
. Those of us alive now should be thankful to be alive when this guy was around. He is a fantastic player. I like Cristiano Ronaldo for his hardworking and determination to succeed in every game. Gerard of Liverpool has my admiration due to his commitment to his team over the years.
is also an interesting player with a magic left foot. Oh by the way, I like some managers also. My all time favorite manager is Jose Mourinho. I like him because he is pretty unreadable and it seems he has a hard exterior which can give a wrong impression about him. But then every player who has dealt with him can tell you how soft he is inside. I can forgive Mourinho for any sin he commits for one simple fact.. that is.. he came to Ghana. He is the only top coach who has come to Ghana and that makes it very easy for me to pardon him when he errs. I respect the achievements of Alex Ferguson.
Who inspires you and why?
I am more inspired by the changes and evolution of things around me. There is so much more out there which can be done and when I look at the horizon the possibilities are simply inspiring. I am also inspired by astrophysics because of the awesome size and wonder of the stars and galaxies which really never ceases to amaze me. There is so much out there!!
5 key things needed for a successful marriage.
One Foolish Person, One Blind Person, One Deaf Person and One Dumb Person
What is the meaning of Roverman?
This was a title I earned at JoyFm earlier on when Food for Thought was then called the Rover Report. So I became known as the RoverMan.
If you could meet one person who has died who would it be?
*thinks for a moment* Oh..Oh I know…. Lucky Dube! (*my eyebrows raises ever so slightly*) Any live band in Ghana which doesn’t play Lucky Dube during its performance hasn’t scored. (I guess you are surprised about my answer, asks Uncle
. I am shaking with laughter and said yes as I was expecting him to say ‘Jesus’! We both burst out in laughter)
If you could invite 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Spielberg, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Tyler Perry, Barrack Obama, lastly Tiger Woods and George Bush Junior for comic relief!
One book everyone should read.
How does one get to be auditioned for a role in your cast?
Auditions are done once a year either late January or early February. During this time i pick the cast I would need for the rest of the year. I have over the years retained previous casts used over the years on the condition of the person showing up during the auditions. It’s simply a matter of showing your face and that renews your membership for the year. This is announced in the mass media.
What are the best qualities a Ghanaian entrepreneur should possess?
The ability not to think like a Ghanaian
Too often we worry about what other people think of us, the way we dress the cars we drive etc. Many Ghanaians don’t spend according to their needs rather spend according to what they perceive to be other peoples expectations of their lives. We also allow what people say and think determine to a large extent the choices we make.
We get satisfied with too little
The average Ghanian gets easily satisfied with the little he gets when there exists a much higher goal.
Our attitude to money needs to change.
Our desire to make it as quickly as yesterday.
We have poor attitude to service and do not understand how to retain customers with good service. There is a shoe called ‘Ma Tricki Wo’ which is a product of extremely low quality made in Kumasi and I find it challenging to understand why such a product should be out on the Ghanaian market in full knowledge of its low grade quality.
Poor attention given to a business which starts expanding. Once we achieve a little success we relax and don’t focus on the vision of the business anymore rather choosing to glow in accolades of being called a Madam or Boss.
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10) This is a quote which helped me through challenging times in the past. I also love THE MAGNIFICAT (Luke 1:46). He quotes,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name!
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