Have you ever met someone who impressed you so much so that if you were asked to bet your entire house on them achieving greatness in this lifetime, you would happily oblige?
Meet Jake aka the Debonair Disciple, a multi-talented international style connoisseur, Cambridge graduate, speaker and business owner.
Jake is a great lesson in being tenacious, faithful to your own vision and starting with whatever you have in your hand.
Having recently been appointed as Global Youth Ambassador for Ghanaian Diaspora Relations, Jake has had a life changing year. Here are a few soundbites from his Personal Blog Diary. Be inspired!
Looking back on the near-year it has been since I launched this platform, a part of me wonders why I did not start earlier. Another part of me, however, knows exactly why: I was terrified of opening my life up to the world. This may come as a surprise to those who have known me for any extended period of time because I am not one to keep to myself or stay silent about my opinions, passions and interests.
Many would instead describe me as someone who actually enjoys opening my life up to people and they will not be entirely wrong, except for one missing caveat: I only like to share with people I meet i.e. people I know or am in the process of getting to know.
So the knowledge that someone on the other side of the globe, who I may never meet, would by virtue of this platform have such easy access to my life and the liberty to develop an opinion about it without ever actually meeting me, terrified me so much that I hid…
…It’s crazy, however, when you finally realise that you are the one. That you are the one to create, materialise and implement that idea that crossed your mind bringing along with it equal doses of excitement and fear. That moment for me was the culmination of a gradual revelation that was being pieced together every time I received a compliment on my wardrobe, every time I was reminded by friends that I had a gift and every instance when I experienced success in my attempt to try out my ideas.
However, while these reminders and compliments never ceased, they only became effective when I spoke them to myself. There comes a time when you must stare yourself down in the mirror and declare, “I am the one”.
I may not be the best or the only but I am the one to do what I do. This journey has involved pulling back layers of who I am and exploring my perspective and beliefs on everything ranging from menswear to faith. I am forced everyday to ask myself why I believe what I do and to understand things enough in order to communicate them.
As and when I do have these moments of clarity, I share. And with each passing day, it becomes a little easier to bare my life to you all. Occasionally, it still makes me feel a little overexposed but hey, a city on a hill cannot be hidden, right?
Believe it or not, I used to always feel the need to apologize for having an often larger-than-life personality. After all, it is not initially pleasant to always be described as ‘extra’. From time to time, I still feel the need to apologise and often have to remind myself that with the largeness of the life I am blessed to live, and the uncontainable largeness of the God who I believe makes it possible, there is hardly any reason to attempt to tame what has been deposited in me.
Nothing makes my Pan-African Afropolitan soul happier than to see Accra flourishing along with many in it. I often feel very privileged to be part of a generation seeking to see this glorious flourishing to completion. The creativity, innovation and consciousness I have been privy to since returning to this city is unprecedented with creative entrepreneurs taking risks and pioneering with all the audacity they can muster.
It seems like every two or three young people gathered now are discussing ideas, forging collaborative links or offering advice and feedback on products and services. To all who I just described, thank you for your courage and commitment to your dreams. You make me believe in mine.
Sometimes you just need to step into that which is meant to be yours and be forced to grow into it. Like those big shoes your mother bought you at the beginning of Class 2 but were miraculously your exact size by the beginning of Class 3, what aspect of YOUR calling and gifting do YOU need to step into today?
It might feel too big and bright for you now, but despite the fear put your game face on and step into the light of it. It’s yours, after all.
I feel like it’s onwards and upwards in this second half of 2017. P.s. I’ll take a Nike endorsement deal, if I may. 😏
Being named @GlitzAfrica Man of Style is an honour I could not have imagined receiving this early in my career but it is definitely a dream come true for my younger self who always believed in ‘future me’.
Growing up as a kid in Accra, I was surrounded by style every moment of every day – or at least that was how I processed the world from as early as I can remember. I would polish my father’s 30-pair shoe collection every other Saturday morning all the while dreaming about the day when I’d be big enough to fit into them. I’d watch him get ready for events as he laid out his suit and opened up his tie collection and all I wanted to do was to grow up and be able to do same.
His favourite statement, ‘Don’t be afraid of colour’ still rings in my head every time I’m selecting bow ties, socks, scarves and pocket squares. My fearlessness in fashion and incessant need to dress creatively definitely comes from him.
Then you have my mother who taught me everything I know about quality and excellence of appearance yet making sure to stress that it was less for an audience and more for yourself. She often told me as a child, perhaps in an effort to humble me: ‘No one is looking at you’. Inasmuch as we now know that to be untrue (because we all watch and draw inspiration from each other), I appreciate that I now have the confidence to be who I am with or without applause or attention.
All this being said, it does still feel deeply fulfilling to be recognised by @GlitzAfrica for my creativity and work in styling. After all, additional validation is never a bad thing and I do not take it for granted.
I love women. Being the son of a powerful woman and brother to four amazing, resourceful, glass-ceiling shattering women, my respect for womankind grows everyday. But you know what? It’s easy to celebrate power and strength of women without realising that powerful women don’t just happen; they first start out as girls who are nurtured to believe that nothing is impossible.
The UN in 2012, declared 11th October as the International Day of the Girl to highlight the importance of paying attention to the needs of girls globally so they can grow into the Oprah’s, Michelle Obama’s, Beyoncé’s and Antonia’s (a.k.a. ‘Mummy’ in my household) that will continue to shape our world.
A week ago, I was proud to honour in invitation of The Bardou Foundation, @idriselba and the Prince’s Trust to celebrate this day with a private dinner at the Albert’s Private Members Club in London. It was a beautiful and inspiring evening for an all-important cause. I often look forward to fathering a daughter and knowing just how much this generation is working to make this world better for women and girls, I get increasingly excited by the day.
P.s. I know I need to work on my paparazzi face. 😩
Since as far as I became conscious of my purpose, I have known the service of Africa and Africans to be central to it. So in 2014, against conventional career prospects I chose to pursue a Masters of Philosophy in African Studies at the University of Cambridge to explore some of the big questions I had about Ghana’s formation, its liberation from colonial rule and its first president.
Last night, here I was at this same institution hosting a private dinner for the twelfth president of Ghana and sharing my research with him (amongst other glorious banter)—Talk about a full circle moment! I have often wondered how my lifestyle curation skills and passion for intellectualism would ever converge but yesterday was a confirmation and a dream come true.
I thank the Ghana High Commission for trusting me with this high honour, the officers of the Cambridge Union for all their generosity and flexibility in accommodating my (many) specific requests and all the members of the Ghanaian Society of Cambridge and African-Caribbean Society who showed all of Cambridge yesterday that we support and cheer on our own.
President @nakufoaddo, you made the African diaspora proud yesterday. I saw it in the added pep in all our steps after you delivered your address and I personally thank you so very much.
A commonly held misconception is that I am brave. It is touching (and even flattering) to hear such high virtues being associated with me but it would be disingenuous of me to accept it without providing a caveat. Yes, I have moments when bravery and courage are granted me from above but more often than not, what often (initially) drives me to seek out opportunities to apply my gifts, talents and competencies is actually fear. Fear that with every moment of laziness, hesitance and self-doubt I am dishonouring The One who gave me purpose and to Whom I lift up my hands every morning to say, ‘Lord, use me’. I fear daily that with inactivity and self-deprecation, I would be wasting time and hoarding the gifts I am meant to use in service of others, thus sabotaging destinies of this generation and those which are to come. So I work in any way I know how.
For those who have a visceral reaction to the word ‘fear’, you can call it ‘urgency’. But whatever you choose to brand that feeling of discomfort that drives you to be and do more towards fulfilling your purpose, make sure you obey it. We are all depending on you.
“Mobilize your tribe” has been my mantra and mission for the past few years and with every passing day, I understand more and more why God spoke it to my spirit when He did. Day by day I understand why, since then, I constantly find myself surrounded by those who my spirit recognises as my people.
Like Samson, Africa’s hair is growing back and its strength is returning. Strands as we may be individually, we are uniting into glorious locks and this time, we will not be cut off from the richness of the glory, grace and wealth that our spiritual and natural heritage entitles us to.
When I think about the Inner Circle, and its successful launch party this past weekend all I keep thinking is how I did not think it would all happen so quickly.
I never thought that as early as in my late twenties I’d become the Curator-in-Chief of my own private members club. Granted, in many ways, we are not your typical members club but hey, our club, our rules.
So, if you too are serious about having a good time, living your best life and exploring your wide-ranging interests and tastes, the @debonair.innercircle is the community for you!
Using our collective knowledge of food and wine, travel, style, entertainment, arts and culture, our team curates one-of-a-kind experiences that introduce you to unique spaces and builds your connections in Accra and beyond.
The Inner Circle is back! Before January ends and we run at high risk of forgetting our 2018 goals, @debonair.innercircle is meeting on 27th January over brunch and mimosas to write them down. Consultant and Life Coach extraordinaire @peteryobo will guide us through creating our personal 2018 vision boards while we sip on classic brunch cocktails and enjoy a family-style brunch with an array of sweet and savoury selections. @debonair.innercircle members your invitations are in your mailboxes (check your Promotions Junk Mail folders). See you at the Excellence & Dreams Brunch! 🥂🍾 📸:@vineaccra
My whole life has been about continually widening the circle of those who I consider myself called and skilled to reach. Every time I think I have drawn a sufficiently wide circle, God steps in and further enlarges it with opportunities and exposure to people and experiences that challenge my mental borders. It is a stretching exercise I have always welcomed with excitement and intense introspection and the feeling is no different this time around as I take on the role of Global Youth Ambassador for Ghanaian Diaspora Relations.
Since my appointment, I have reflected on all the humbling experiences and moments of learning – and unlearning – that have brought me to this point. I have remembered the people who through their advice, perspectives and insight have helped to teach me all I now know. It was in these moments that I developed my dream to transform the global narrative of Africa and the African (continental and diasporan alike). Now I am faced with a task and role that makes my heart beat faster in the best possible way and I couldn’t be more overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to serve.
To all the dreamers and ‘visioneers’ of Africa’s glorious future, this is for us.
Never doubt the vision.
Now let’s work! 🇬🇭🌍