ROCCO ACHAMPONG - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
BARRISTER AND SOLICITOR (ALSO SEEKING PUBLIC OFFICE)
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Tell us a little about yourself?
Where does one begin? I am the first born of five children, son of immigrant parents from Ghana, a tribal mix of Ashanti, Assin, and Torontonian. Born December 25th, 1978, my family came to Canada in March 1988 and settled in the east end of Toronto. As with most newcomers, we moved about until we finally settled in the west end of the city, eventually becoming Lakeshore residents. I returned to Ghana for boarding school, encamped atop a plateau with a Catholic novitiate, it was a very formative experience. To this day, I continue to say my “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” when the journey of life becomes impossible.
I attended Trinity College, University of Toronto, and finally received my law degree in 2008 from Osgoode Hall Law School. I am currently a sole practitioner in the Province of Ontario, practicing primarily in the GTA.
Tell us what others may not know about you?
I am a veritable “Peter Pan”, approaching each adventure with the curiosity of a child. Some might fault me for that, and I would agree. I also love music and was intimately involved in the early urban music renaissance in Toronto as a 12 year old, writing music for popular personalities—Lastly, I was a pretty good hockey player.
What’s my inspiration and how do I get motivated?
Two latin words: Dignitati Hominum. Loosely translated, it means the dignity of mankind, doing one’s best to emulate the better examples of history, and being a servant to the nobler objectives of our better angels. My motivation is never to be lesser than myself, which, at times, seems an impossible task in Toronto’s hyper capitalist context. And, that motivation, in and of itself, identifies me with my brethren in Toronto, for, as I reason, if it can be difficult for me, it will be impossible for most others—So, one wakes every day to “keep on trucking”, if only to inspire confidence in others to keep on as well. To live and be faith, that is my purpose.
How did you get to where you are now and what more do you hope to achieve?
I got to where I am now by the guiding hands of my mother and father. I was rebelliously curious about their faith and love of study, which became twin virtues of my persona. It also helps in a society like Toronto, where the system is set up to further you along should you wish it.
As to what more I hope to achieve? Heavy is the head they say, so I’m careful to hope for the subtle life of simplicity, stability, and service.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I’d like it to be said that “He played His part” and furthered the enterprise of dignitates hominis, the dignity of humankind.
How do you balance work, family, friends, and leisure?
I don’t, hence the hope for stability.
What’s your favourite food, book, music and movie?
Favourite food—Spaghetti Bolognese steeped in a rose based sauce, I’m also partial to seafood.
Favourite book—“Tragedy and Hope” by Carrol Quigley.
Favourite music—Reggae, Hip Hop, Classical, Traditional Chinese, Soft Rock—really depends on mood and context.
Favourite movie—I love a lot of them, but Notting Hill and Godfather are standouts.
What’s your experience as a Black person in Canada?
The answer is complicated. My personal experience has been privileged for the most part, but I am not incognizant of the well documented prejudice that exists and have experienced. The further fact of deliberate economic exclusion, the consequences of which was intended, has made it doubly difficult on the individual black person in all respects of access. A black person in Canada views the future through the lens of hope, not being remiss of why that is so. The very fact that this question can be asked ought to speak to the fact that it is still an issue.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, Oprah, BET, etc.
I remember how difficult it was for the Milestone group to get licensed for Flow 93.5, it became a community campaign from barber shops to university campuses. Organizations came together, and new ones were formed, all for the express purpose of lifting our voice to be heard on the issue. The story is now well known, but it required a lot of effort. Until it does not require a whole community to come together for a license to be issued for a simple radio dial, opportunities for the next Denham Jolly’s, Measha Brueggergosman’s, and Michael Lee Chin’s would be few and far between. There are signs of promise in my generation, but we are not there.
Favourite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
I don’t think I have ever viewed persons in those categories and ascribed the word favourite to them simply because of their skin color. That admiration is often merit based and needs to be earned. I can make the mistake of simply mentioning some of the usual suspects simply because of their prominent names and get a pass with an answer, but I don’t see many leaders. As for artists, I think Olunike Adeliyi is impressive, a younger Kardinal, current Saukrates and K-os, and Drake. Role Models would include historians Afua Cooper, jurists Tulloch, Guiste, Warner, McLeod, Mgbeoji, Hall, Community activists; Chapman, La Rose, and even Albert (Liberal biases aside).
Should Blacks patronize black music, events and businesses?
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
We were there at the beginning of this great country and we will be there when all is said and done.
FEW WORDS TO AN UNINSPIRED PERSON WITH AN INTEREST IN LAW
An uninspired life is not worth living. Read and work always, and, above all else, keep the faith.
See this article for further info on Rocco: