Tell us about you (Background, believes, profession, passions and drivers)
My name is Appiah Boateng, I am a lawyer, practising civil litigation in Toronto, Ontario. I am originally from Ghana West Africa, where I completed law school. When I moved to Canada, I vowed to complete my studies and ultimately practise law here. With desire, preparation, and hard work, I successfully completed the process and was called to the Ontario bar within 2 years after my commencement. I worked for a general practice firm in Toronto but currently, in the process of launching "Ashanti Law".
I am an artist as well. I studied fine art for my undergraduate studies. However, not long after I begun art school, I decided to challenge myself to go to law school. Needles to say that it came as an unexpected turn of events for family and close friends, the new path I had taken could never be adequately explained, but to me it was nothing new at all - the desire had always been there. I welcomed the challenge of venturing into a completely novel endeavor to discover for myself my potential outside art. At the time, the mystic about the law appealed to me, and I went to law school.
How did you hear about Manyatta Network, how was your experience with us and what is your opinion?
Sometime in 2014, I was invited to a networking event by a colleague. At the time, I was hesitant. I told him it was not going to be different and that I will go at some other time. He insisted this was going to be different as it catered to people I had much in common with. So I went.
When I arrived, what I saw was nothing like the ones I had attended in the past, as many young black professionals happily and casually engaged with each other. I felt I belonged there. I think Manyatta is doing great work among the professional black community. It is the connecting hub of various like minded professionals. It offers a networking environment that is unique. This uniqueness, in my opinion, is what draws people to Manyatta.
Can you share some of your life experiences with us?
I was in my third year, law school when I had the opportunity to relocate to Canada. However, the decision to move was not so easy. I was doing very well in law school, and at the time, when many of my colleagues were faced with the challenge of finding jobs after school, I already had a guaranteed placement with a lawyer upon graduation from law school. This made the decision to move to Canada a very difficult one considering the unpredictable challenges of relocation to a foreign land.
But I took on the challenge against the odds of uncertain future, and relocated. With my goal clearly in mind, I did some research on how to accomplish it; and worked hard at it. Within two years, to my own amazement, I had attained the goal against the stereotypical odds of failure before success.
Hard work pays, and it paid! But that was possible because I had a desire, which I nurtured by creating a mental picture of it, and laying out clearly the pathway to attaining it; while I continually worked hard towards its accomplishment.
What were your biggest challenges after relocating to Canada?
My greatest challenge when I came to Canada was the culture-the peculiar way of legal networking. I completed my bridging courses at the law faculty of the University of Toronto. As many of my colleagues in the class were immigrants, the school run a program that sought to assimilate them into the legal culture. Several networking events were organized. Every single one of them was uncomfortable; and at the time, never seemed to get any better. Once I understood it as a challenge, in and of itself, to overcome, I accepted it in calm strides and participated without hesitation. As I quickly understood, staying in my comfort zone will only make me uncomfortable.
In addition to adjusting to the culture was the challenge the Challenge Exams (the bridging examinations for foreign trained lawyers), and the Bar exams. At the out set, the bureaucracy of navigating these exams was a difficult needle to thread, they appeared daunting and portended failure. But I was too prepared to give up, or be overcome by them.
What would be your advice to young Africans in the diaspora?
“The geographical distance between Canada and Ghana is a reflection of the gap in culture between the two countries." This was how I typically responded to the common question: “How do you find Canada”? With this wide cultural gap, immigrants face a significant challenge as they endeavor to navigate the system. To overcome the challenges, one must first acknowledge them and strategically work in harmony with your goals. Success is not the result of the fortuitous aligning of events, but of preparation.
What is your vision of the future?
Professionally, I want to see myself well established in the next 5 years. It is my hope that I will acquire substantial expertise that will be invaluable for business in Africa. At that time, I will consider various ways by which I can make an impact in Africa.