We meet Ofuakuor Ofuatey-Kodjoe, popular as Ofie Kodjoe, in her beautiful home in Tesano, a suburb in Accra famous for one of the country’s first sports clubs. A person with multiple talents deserves multiple adjectives to describe her. Suffice to say she is one of the most pleasant, inspirational, witty, intelligent and down-to-earth personalities you will meet in Ghana.
Kodjoe has had a multifaceted career, from being a corporate executive at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks in New York and an award-winning singer to launching three successful businesses and her own radio show in Accra.
Kodjoe, along with her brother and sister, were raised in New York; her dad was a professor of political science and her mother a nurse. The family’s plan was for Kodjoe to attend law school but she changed her mind half-way and switched to medicine. She finally ended up studying political science and African studies.
That was not the end of her academic ambitions. Her real aim was to study music.
“When I was 19, I went to my dad and told him I wanted to go to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he looked at me like I had six heads and said ‘no’,” says Kodjoe, who was too scared to fight, and instead settled for her dad’s career choice – political science and African studies – a decision she regrets.
She went to the City University of New York; her dad ensured she excelled in all subjects. She would rehearse with a band after class while still achieving 18 credits in school. After graduation, the logical progression was corporate America because music was not as lucrative as she had hoped. She managed to get into BET, one of the biggest media houses in America, rising to the position of Director of Corporate Travel and Corporate Services.
Alongside, Kodjoe still maintained her love for music.
“I was with a band and I was singing so I had this corporate parallel to my creative side and I loved it.”
But tragedy struck, and it changed her life. The first setback was when Kodjoe’s brother died of cardiomegaly (an enlarged heart condition) in his sleep. Two years later, her father underwent heart surgery to fix a broken valve; he also suffered from a kidney condition.
“I realized we didn’t have that much time left with him, maybe two years, so we decided to come back home,” says Kodjoe.
It was her father’s wish for the children to relocate to Ghana to give back to the country he so loved. It was a traumatic period. The loss of the two men in her life took a toll on her.
In Ghana, Kodjoe set up a management consulting business with her business partner to teach young Ghanaians to become successful in the workplace and also advice organizations on getting the best out of their workforce.
She set up another company, Moka Entertainment, which got its big break when BET came to Ghana to do a reality show. Its success led to various production contracts. Kodjoe was falling in love with music again. Her sound is a cross between Afro Jazz and Neo Soul. The highlight of her career was opening for the BET Celebration of Gospel event in Los Angeles and also for BET Walk Of Fame, which was celebrating American icons like Smokey Robinson.
She has also performed for the President of Liberia. In her weekly radio show on the hit ‘adult alternative station’, Atlantis Radio, in Accra, she spends her time covering inspirational topics that encourage listeners to look at the upside no matter their ordeal. She spends her time mentoring young talent through her management label, which has a roster of top R&B singers from across Africa. Her biggest regret though is the lack of support for music.
“I didn’t have the guts to say I don’t care what you think, I am going to do it anyway,” she says of her journey into it.
This regret led her to found yet another company, Onyx Management, geared towards helping young people understand their purpose and passion – even if they have to fight to make it happen. Her motto is live life, love life and live love.
Accra’s youth stay tuned.