Up close with Sleek Shushu, Our First Class Graduate From Nima

This week our social media walls got flooded with pictures of Mubarak Idrrisu, who graduated with a First Class in Mathematics and Business from the University of Cape Coast. The idea of he being carried and celebrated by groups of his friends from Nima drew attention to why no other celebration is seen of other people who may have equally done well or even better. As published in a previous article, Mubarak Iddrisu, popularly known as Sleek Shushu was deep into some misdemeanor that made him abandone his education. His is not a common story you would often hear about the Zongo. His comeback story is what this interview is about. The Today’s Muslim (TTM) engaged Mubarak Iddrisu (Sleek Shushu) as he shared insights about his experience and a journey to such an outstanding comeback.
TTM: How did you feel about the warm reception you’ve so far received from the community upon your graduation?
Sleek Shushu: Well, I’m already a loud boy, so I would’ve done same to celebrate another person. But I was happy about my friends’ action in front of our auditorium. I’m only shy about the social media hype because, like I said in my write up, this is a little feat though worthy of celebrating. Other brothers and sisters in the hood are doing better but we don’t recognize them. So the positive thing about all of this, is that we are hyping a positive cause and not tomfoolery as it has usually been the case.
TTM: Can you tell us a brief about your background prior to enrolling in school?
Sleek Shushu: I completed New Nation, now Miss Edu Sam’s New Nation in Nima in 2007 and then attended Oreilly SHS. It was during my SHS period that internet fraud and scamming took over. I started making it ‘big time’ and then moved out of home around 08/09 to secretly rent a room. It was then that my interest in school reduced or faded. I made a lot of friends and then started clubbing, womanizing, gambling and chilling. The only thing I was fortunate not to do was make smoking and drinking a habit, thou I tasted weed for some time.
TTM: At what age was that?
Sleek Shushu: I was around 15 or 16yrs by then. I lived that life throughout my SHS days, bribing our gateman so I’d run from school or just jump the wall. The only thing I always wanted was to make my parents happy so I always dressed and went to school so they don’t complain. But I almost always ran away and even when I stay in school, I sleep throughout because I didn’t sleep the night before.
TTM: So how did you manage to complete SHS successfully in spite of your misdemeanor?
Sleek Shushu: I was managing to write my exams and not fail though I wasn’t serious. So the school registered me for the WASSCE which I wrote and failed abysmally. We completed in 2011, so I went back to my browsing and chilling habit. But I kept making so much money and then spending everything so I decided to try traveling to the USA like all our boys do but I had doubts so rescinded my decision.

TTM: What inspired you to change your mind and go back to school?
Sleek Shushu: My parents always complained about the school issue and I kept promising them that I’d go back to school. Every time I went home, we argued over this so I even reduced my frequency of going home. I had a friend called Mr. White who had been advising me. Also, there’s a base in Nima called Los Angeles where lots of intellectuals from the neighborhood often met. I really loved and admired their style of discussion and debating so it influenced me to start considering going back to school. But it was my class captain in SHS who finally made me take the tough decision to go back to school. He gained admission to UPSA and told me I could easily go to Ideal College, pay and start a remedial class. So I did that and the following Monday I started the remedial classes. I remember it was on the 7th Jan 2013.
I bought a motorbike and started riding it to classes but I realized remaining in my neighborhood, Nima, wouldn’t help so I abandoned the motorbike and relocated to my grandparents’ house in Madina. There, I was able to stay focused and write the exams. I wrote the 8 papers and successfully passed all. My parents only believed I had gone back to school when I relocated to Madina because they didn’t expect that.

TTM: So why the choice for UCC? And why Mathematics?
Sleek Shushu: I could’ve easily gotten Legon; in fact Legon and UST gave me admission but I decided to go out of Accra because I didn’t want my surroundings to distract me again. I didn’t want to be enticed by internet fraud and the nightlife I used to live. So I decided to go to UCC or UST but UCC’s admission came first and I was given my preferred Maths with Business program. I was a business student and my dream was to become a CEO. Also, I am good at mathematics so I thought the best course for me was the MBU. But things have changed now anyway. My career goals have totally changed; now I want to go into Financial Mathematics.

TTM: How was life in UCC? It’s well known that their academic system is rigorous. How did you manage to keep up and graduate with a First class in one of the university’s most difficult programs?
Sleek Shushu: Hmmm, UCC is hell on earth (laughs). Most things you hear about the school’s academic system is true and we’re proud about it… (laughs).
It was self-discipline. I realized I deserved the best so I just disciplined myself and stayed away from all the things that distracted me in SHS. I invested all the money I made into my education.
TTM: How was your typical day like in UCC?
Sleek Shushu: Heeerrhh, every day was my busy day. One could write a quiz at 5am to 6am. Then move to class from 6:30 -10:30 am; 4 credit hours for two different courses. And maybe go for another 2 credit hours in the afternoon. That’s minus personal studies at the library or group studies and a lot more.
But I always took advantage of my free days during the weekdays and on weekends. I always went to campus even if it were a free day. On such days, I would often go very early around 8:30am and be there till about 12:30pm. I would come back to my room and sleep and then later on, go to group studies from 4-6pm. I did same on weekends, so I avoided washing my own clothes. I paid the laundry to do that for me and though I’m an ardent fan, I had to miss most of the football matches.
TTM: From where you stand now, how do you think we can get more of our brothers and sisters from the Zongos into higher education?
Sleek Shushu: It’s something every Tom, Dick and Harry must come together to do before we can achieve. I wrote a little piece on my Facebook wall about this; we organize free SHS classes but the students don’t even show up. Even though we shared and promoted it on social media, even those who complained about our low literacy rate never attempted to bring their siblings not to even talk about a neighbor’s child.
The community is so cavalier about education that, I feel we must use the radical approach. Start organizing quiz competitions on our streets, block the roads like we do when doing awure parties and naming ceremonies. We should stop holding educational programs on the outskirts of our towns, especially the Kanda Library where residents of Nima will often not even notice. We must do it in the heart of our hood for our parents to see and feel the value of education.
TTM: So in your own way, you are organizing classes for students right?
Sleek Shushu: Yes! I’m a tutor and I have been assisting the Ghana Muslim Academy, now Ghana Academy of Muslim Professionals during their vacation classes. I started in 2016 teaching Core & Elective Mathematics, Accounting and Management. But I’ve now focused on teaching Mathematics since that’s where most of our people are lacking. There is this group called GETO (Genuine Entity for True Opportunity); it’s a group at the base I told you about, Los Angeles in Nima. They also organize classes for SHS & JHS finalists to prepare them for their respective exams. I do teach with them anytime I’m home and on vacation.
TTM: What should the community expect from you say, 3-5 years from now?
Sleek Shushu: Hmmm, I want to be a little discreet but one of the things I want to do after pursuing my Masters degree is to set up an education consultancy firm in the neighborhood.
TTM: Your last words…
Sleek Shushu: As for the younger ones, they like to become what they see that appeals to them. So my call is to the adults; we must promote good things in our societies. Our intellectuals who have made it shouldn’t disguise themselves. They should show the blessings bestowed upon them so that the young ones will appreciate the essence of education. Let’s keep doing our little effort and In Shaa Allah, we shall get there!

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