Sevan Matossian (00:02):
Hey, I’m more live. Good morning.
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:03):
Sevan Matossian (00:06):
Alma. O oer.
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:08):
Sevan Matossian (00:11):
Alma. O o
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:12):
It just alma o Opa.
Sevan Matossian (00:16):
Alma o Opa. Yep.
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:20):
Sevan Matossian (00:20):
Got that. Oh, he opa alma. O he Opa. And you even got a hyphen in your name.
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:29):
Sevan Matossian (00:30):
<laugh>. Is it, uh, mom, mom and dad mixed together, or
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:33):
No, just my dad’s middle name. He gave to all his kids.
Sevan Matossian (00:37):
Oh, good morning. I’m sev.
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:40):
Sevan Matossian (00:41):
Thanks for doing this, brother.
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:43):
Thank you for having me.
Sevan Matossian (00:45):
Um, can, can I, uh, I wanna play this clip, uh, from your Instagram real quick.
Alma Ohene-Opare (00:51):
Sevan Matossian (00:53):
Uh, let me see if I can find exactly where it is. There’s so many, Um, there’s so many good ones. Oh man. Let’s, let’s start with this one. Let’s see if I can pull this up smoothly. Okay, here we go. Here we go.
Speaker 3 (01:17):
Study people who are at the pinnacle of anything. You recognize that to get there. Motivation was maybe 1% of the formula, maybe 1%. You thought motivation was the formula. Winners don’t need motivation. Winners need discipline discipline’s about getting it done cuz it needs to get done. Not cuz I feel like it, not cuz I’m motivated for it. You think Nelson Mandela is motivated to spend 27 years in prison. You think Martin Luther the king was motivated to march across the states and proclaim freedom. You think, You know, if you look at people that change the world, they’re not doing it because they’re motivated. They’re doing it because they made a commitment to do it, and they disciplined to see it through. Discipline is far more important than motivation, which is why you’ve gotta be careful the decisions you make. Cause once you make that decision, you have to see that decision through. Like my mentor says, first we make the decisions, then the decisions make us. So if
Sevan Matossian (02:16):
No plan B, just really good habits.
Alma Ohene-Opare (02:20):
Sevan Matossian (02:22):
Um, do, do you know where you got your good habits from?
Alma Ohene-Opare (02:26):
Um, uh, I would say definitely from my parents. Um, my parents were exemplary and, um, raising us up to be people who understood responsibility, understood duty, and understood what was necessary for success. So this was, you know, my parents were very hardworking. My mom was an entrepreneur and she never saw a problem that she didn’t believe could be solved. And, and she just went to work anytime found a problem. She just went to work to try to solve that problem. And so that’s, that’s the kind of upbringing that I’ve had, uh, growing up and, and that has permeated all through my life up till this point.
Sevan Matossian (03:12):
And you’re living where now?
Alma Ohene-Opare (03:14):
I live in Utah,
Sevan Matossian (03:18):
So over here, Over here, that’s the state stuck between Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho. And there’s something else over here. I wish Colorado. And you come from here, you’re born over here?
Alma Ohene-Opare (03:32):
Sevan Matossian (03:33):
Ghana, Western Africa. I spend a lot of time in Africa. I, but not Western Africa.
Alma Ohene-Opare (03:39):
Sevan Matossian (03:41):
And, and when you say your mom, uh, Alma, when you say your mom, um, was an entrepreneur, what, what does that look like in Ghana? What are some of the ventures she was involved
Alma Ohene-Opare (03:50):
In? So, my mom, uh, actually, um, ever since she got married, um, just to back up a little bit, so my mom actually went to high school, um, her last year of high school in New York. So she won a, an essay contest and was able to get a scholarship to be an exchange student up in New York. And so that was, um, kind of her heritage. And when she, she got back home, she got married to my dad, she immediately went to work to try to find some way to support him, um, as he also, um, supported the family. And so she started, you know, with just selling of textiles, um, and, and things like that. Just, um, trading. And then she started making pastries and, and baking goods that my dad would then take to work to sell to his colleagues and friends. And, and so that’s what she, she kept doing.
Alma Ohene-Opare (04:46):
But one passion that she had was when she would walk to school with us, um, her kids, she would find herself standing there and watching the people take care of the kids. And she, she felt kind of mesmerized by it. And eventually she spoke to one of the owners of the school and said, You know, when I grow up, I wanna start a school. And the lady said, Why wait till you’re old? Like, why not do it now? And so she, uh, that lady planted that seed in my mom and she set out, set out to achieve that goal. So in 1989, my mom set up her first school, um, with 11 kids in a relatively, I would say disadvantaged neighborhood in the capital of Ghana. And so she started her school there. She called it the Sun Beam Nursery School. And that school ended up, you know, growing and becoming very large.
Alma Ohene-Opare (05:47):
She got up to 700 students. Wow. She was able to move, um, my, my, my entire family to attend that school. And that’s where I went until ninth grade. All my cousins ended up going to that school. She, through that school and others, she set up others, um, other campuses she educated close to, I would say probably close to 10,000 people over 30 years. Wow. And so this is something that she, she was dedicated to even until her, um, unfortunate passing. Um, in April this year, she was building yet another school when she passed. And so, um, my mom has been really big as an entrepreneur and as she, she ran to school every time there was a need, she decided to solve it. And so one of the things she saw was, you know, of course because of the needs of the school with the kids, um, many of them coming to school without breakfast, she actually created a bakery, which she called a bountiful bakery.
Alma Ohene-Opare (06:53):
And she started making the bread and, uh, and the pastries that she would then feed the kids with when they would come to school. And beyond that, she loved, uh, a lot of these kids who were growing up and she wanted to help them, you know, get married and start their families. And so she went to school and started doing cake decorations. And so she was making wedding cakes and, and decorations for people and so on. So my mom was involved in probably 10 or 15 different ventures. And many times we had to tell her mom, you know, even when she was sick, get into the end of her life, we were saying, You need to retire and it’s our generation now. Let’s take over from you and let’s, you know, have you retired? And she said, If I stop this, I will die.
Sevan Matossian (07:41):
So she was a serial entrepreneur. She really, she was definitely just, Yeah, definitely. Uh, Alma, you popped up, I’m saying your name right? Right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Alma, Alma o Hiny.
Alma Ohene-Opare (07:54):
Sevan Matossian (07:55):
Opa. Um, you popped up on my radar, obviously for the reason you popped up on millions of people’s radar. You, uh, sent the open letter to, uh, Joe Biden. It, it was, it was so, uh, appropriate as a, um, lifelong, uh, liberal who voted for Obama, Hillary Clinton, uh, et cetera. Uh, um, to see what’s coming out of that administration is, I mean, to, to look back and see what was coming out of all the administrations is kind of scary. Just the divisiveness and the manipulation of, of, of the people. I, I, I’m still on the naive side of the fence, um, where I don’t think that they’re doing it on purpose. I, I don’t think that they really realize that they are the, um, plantation owners and that they are continuing the spread of racism through their, um, benign attempts to get rid of it.
Sevan Matossian (08:44):
I don’t think that they realize what they’re doing. Um, but that being said, it is. So, um, when I, there’s three groups of people that I really think need to speak up, um, in this country. I think the obese people need to speak up and take responsibility for the, uh, the, the, I think the whole entire pandemic was, um, I, I think that the entire pandemic, those who were at threat were strictly just the obese. Um, I think that was the, the, the singular correlate that was the problem. I think that gay people need to speak up and, and separate themselves from the trans community and let them know, Hey, there’s no, this is a totally different situation. And then I think people with black skin need to speak up and be like, Hey, they’re pushing this victim mindset on us because, because un unfortunately, the straight white people are terrified, Right?
Sevan Matossian (09:40):
They don’t want to be accused of being racist. They don’t want to be accused of being homophobic. They don’t want to be accused of being fattest. Right. And so everyone’s so scared and trying to walk this, this really narrow political line mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So when I see someone like you come along and take on this, um, this, this task of, of, of representing people with melanated skin, people who just biologically are, um, more, uh, better prepared to live closer to the equator. I mean, that is the only, uh, I think difference between us. But they keep wanting to say it’s black and white, but really it’s just a biological thing. And it actually has nothing to do with race. If anything, it just has to do with culture. These are my opinions. Um, h how do you have the, uh, audacity, the balls to do this? Like, aren’t aren’t you afraid that, um, I would think that people with black skin would be just as afraid that they’re going to alienate themselves from people who look like them the same way white people are gonna be afraid to, uh, get judged for being racist?
Alma Ohene-Opare (10:45):
Um, I think the truth is much more important, um, than any cons, any other considerations I may have. And I remember growing up, my dad had a plaque in our living room that said, um, two things. The first one said, Do what is right and let the consequence follow. And, and the second one said, If you do what is right, you have no need to fear. And so a lot of times my philosophy is, what is the worst case scenario in anything that I’m doing? And am I prepared to live with the consequences of that worst case scenario? And what is the alternative? And so by doing that analysis, I say to myself, um, if I don’t speak up, who would? And, and if I speak up and that means that it costs me something, then for me that is a, a price worth it to pay.
Alma Ohene-Opare (11:50):
I grew up in a country that was military dictatorship for the first seven years of my life. And ideas like freedom of speech were not guaranteed. And there was an actual fear of retribution from the government, for speaking against the government and having grown up under those conditions, you know, and finally, you know, being here in America, I will not take my freedom of speech for granted. And so my belief is that, you know, I have been blessed with the ability to express myself in a way that conveys important points without any malice and without any anger towards anyone. And I believe that is the kind of speech that we need to promote so that we can begin to talk to each other again, so that we can begin to hear each other again. And that is the path that will lead us back to the greatness that America is known for. And I want to be a catalyst to bring back that kind of conversation.
Sevan Matossian (13:06):
How do I, how do I do that? How do I, um, um, talk like you so that when I express my ideas, they’re not offensive just based on, or, or, or alienate people based on their tone and sort of the anger that might, I, I might express,
Alma Ohene-Opare (13:26):
I would <laugh> I would say first the truth by its very nature is sometimes offensive to certain people. So you can’t always avoid, you know, offending somebody when you’re speaking the truth. That’s, uh, a reality of life. And so my goal is not necessarily not to offend anybody, correct, but my goal is to make my intentions clear. A lot of times we are assuming people’s intentions as they speak to us, and we judged what they’re saying based on those pre um, you know, predetermined intentions that we have assigned to that person. And so, for instance, um, someone commented on one of my videos recently and said, Hey, you know, the people you were talking about or the people you’re supporting don’t like you, they hate you,
Sevan Matossian (14:20):
You’re human. That that was amazing. That was very manipulative on their part.
Alma Ohene-Opare (14:24):
And, and, and so if you approach a conversation with that premise already embedded in your heart, there is absolutely no chance that you end up in a place where there’s constructive, um, moving forward. Right? And so I say first get rid of all the prejudice and begin to see people as one fellow citizens, but also even if you believe that they’re wrong in some way, you should have enough humility and enough, um, sense to say, this person is a potential convert. And if they’re a potential convert, then how do I further that conversion by hating them, Right? Right. And so one philosophy that I I live by is leave every conversation as a friend rather than an enemy if you can help it. Right? And so when I go into a conversation or if I’m speaking about something, I say, What is my goal with this conversation? What do I want people to do after they hear something like this? And that’s kind of how I frame what I’m saying. And I make sure I pick my words carefully, as carefully as I can to make sure that I’m not, um, putting off any vibe that I don’t intend to.
Sevan Matossian (15:44):
Yeah, it’s the vibe,
Alma Ohene-Opare (15:45):
But I still wanna speak the truth.
Sevan Matossian (15:47):
I think I, um, I can vibe people wrong. It’s not the, I’m not worried about offending them either or hurting their feelings, but I do, I I am disappointed when I alienate people. I, I get, I get a little disappointed in myself.
Alma Ohene-Opare (16:02):
It’s, it’s natural and I think it’s, it’s normal that some people, no matter what you do, will be alienated seriously if you come. Um, and, and that’s why I I decided to join this, this movement to reclaim the, the whole maga idea from all the people who have taken it and, you know, completely twisted it. Because, you know, if I said to, um, I went to some random village in Africa, and I said to them, Let’s make this village great again. Um, I don’t assume that people will immediately say, Well, you hate us. Right? And that’s why you’re saying that, right? Right. And so we have created this atmosphere where language cannot be taken for what it is. There’s always some digging in for some nefarious backstory to the language that is being spoken such that when you say even benign things, people hear something completely different. So you say, Make America great again. And somebody says, No, I hear Make America white again. I’m like, How do you come to that?
Sevan Matossian (17:11):
I call that, um, I call that being trapped in their head.
Alma Ohene-Opare (17:15):
Definitely. Um, and I I will call that exactly. It’s, it’s this a form of mental slavery
Sevan Matossian (17:22):
Where yeah, there’s, they spin a instead of listening, they, they’re constantly spinning narratives around everything that’s coming in. And then they, that is true. They don’t even know they’re doing it. And then they react to their own narrative. So now they’re talking to themselves and they don’t even see Alma or Sivan.
Alma Ohene-Opare (17:35):
That is, that is exactly the case. Um, the way I I, I have described it recently is, um, people subscribe to different channels for their news, but unfortunately, I think there’s a trend where people are outsourcing their thinking to those platforms that they subscribe to. And so instead of hearing the information and analyzing that information in their own, you know, cpu, so to speak, and, and then kind of internalizing that information in a way that makes sense to them, and then speaking about that experience that they have after receiving that message, people are just short circuiting the whole process and saying, I trust this source. And so I am just going to outsource my thinking to them. And so anything they that they spew out, I will just be a conduit for the regurgitation, the regurgitation of that information without even thinking through it. And so you find a lot of people saying the same thing. And you, and my question is, how is it possible that you could have, you know, a hundred people spread across the entire country, literally saying the same words, and you realize they’re not really thinking through it, They’ve just outsourced, you know, that thinking to some tin tank, and they’re just repeating the words of the tin tank.
Sevan Matossian (18:56):
Even the most simple things, um, p people struggle with, people struggle with listening to. Um, because I, I, I’ve spent months and months living in Africa, and, um, I spent months and months living in China and in India, and I filmed movies in over a hundred countries. And when people refer to people by the color of their skin, I see this giant miss, this giant ignorance because it has nothing to do with the color of skin. It’s all cult it or race. It’s all cultural. So you can’t, you can’t even say that, you know, black people as a culture if you haven’t lived in Africa for six months, because the cultures are, it’s like saying, you know, white people, but you’ve never been to Iceland. The white people in Iceland are fucking nothing like the white people in fucking Los Angeles. I apologize for the swearing. I wanna tell you guys something really quick. For those of you don’t know, and I apologize for not introducing, uh, introducing you to, uh, Alma Ahei is say it right,
Alma Ohene-Opare (19:56):
Sevan Matossian (19:57):
Opa, um, born in, uh, Ghana, came to this country 19 years ago, uh, recently, um, in the last couple years became a, uh, US citizen. Um, he came here for missionary work. He did not come here as a Muslim, as some of you racist in the comments, say, No, I’m just joking. Uh, four children been married for 16 years. Uh, he’s a no plan B guy. There’s no, um, he doesn’t need any motivation. Um, he just has one plan, one vision. He moves forward with it. He’s highly disciplined. Uh, and he is maybe the most articulate, uh, and kind of like he speaks like how, how I imagine the, um, the Buddha would speak, just pulling his words very gently. Sorry if that was sac religious, since you’re a Christian’s, he pulls his words, that’s fine. Very, uh, gently from a well of words and, and brings them, uh, and gives them life in this world. And, and it’s made him a, um, a social media, you know, for those of us who need to hear his calmness and his clarity, it’s made him, uh, a vital part of our, our social media experience. Why not stay in Ghana? Your mom is, your mom has a school with 700 kids. You could take that school over, um, you could get married there. You could live just a cool life. Um, uh, you know, why not do that? I mean, it sounds like you had a good base there.
Alma Ohene-Opare (21:20):
Sevan Matossian (21:21):
Um, I come over here and start from scratch.
Alma Ohene-Opare (21:23):
I know, Um, definitely, uh, I do not claim at all to come from some, you know, underprivileged background. I was actually very privileged growing up in Ghana. Um, my parents were well todo as far as, um, you know, comparably, <laugh>, uh, relatively. And, and they, like I said, set up this wonderful base for us. And so one of the things that I did initially, I in Ghana, is, um, I graduated high school at 16, and I wanted to come to college in the us. Uh, however, I was, I was too young. Um, my parents wouldn’t let me, uh, come to America at 16, um, and go to college by myself. So they actually gave me an alternative, and the alternative was to hire me in their school to teach. So I became a teacher, uh, late, you know, in my 16th year and started teaching English and started teaching, um, computer skills
Sevan Matossian (22:25):
Alma Ohene-Opare (22:27):
Uh, to kids from Kates and ninth grade. And so I had the opportunity to kind of, you know, learn how to transform my thoughts into words, but not only into words, but words that people would understand and to leverage analogies and storytelling as a way to convey important points. And so that’s something that I, I really admire my parents for doing for me. And they did this for all my siblings as well. Everyone in my family had the opportunity to teach in the schools. And so we all learned that and, and were able to gain this kind of public speaking abilities from it. Then from there, um, the reason I didn’t stay personally was because there were things that I wanted to do that I felt, um, you know, whether, whether true or not, I felt I couldn’t achieve over there. And, and for me, it is all encapsulated in a really, uh, interesting story that happened to me when I was in high school.
Alma Ohene-Opare (23:30):
Um, I found a, a physics textbook, and in there there was instructions on how to construct your own, um, pinhole camera. And I wanted to do that so badly. So I called a group of friends and we started putting that, um, stuff together. We realized we needed this particular film, and I couldn’t find it. I, I just scoured the entire city. I couldn’t find it. Eventually I had to make due with an alternative, and I didn’t know if that alternative will work, but I had to try it. And so I tried it. We put this camera together, and then we took some pictures with it, but I could never find anyone to print those pictures for me. And so that basically is a quintessential explanation of how I felt being there, that you could have dreams, you could have ideas, you could have things you wanted to do, but the system and the infrastructure and the, the, the entire community was not array to help people do certain things that were kind of out of the, um, the spectrum of possibilities.
Alma Ohene-Opare (24:36):
And so you find yourself kind of censoring yourself a little bit in your dreams, saying, Well, this, I can’t do that, you know, that I can’t do here. And I said I wanted to go to a place where I could drain freely, that I could think about anything I wanted to do, and be sure that I could find someone or something, or a system or a tool that could allow me to do that. And the way I summarize that is I could wake up in the morning with an idea, go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, buy some material and come home on the same day and build a prototype without thinking, Right? And I couldn’t do that in Ghana. I could wake up, I could think about great ideas, but there was always some structural, um, block blockade that prevented me from getting to the other side of that dream. And I wanted to be in a place where I wasn’t burdened, and I didn’t have to kind of censor my dreams to fit the, you know, what the society could give me.
Sevan Matossian (25:40):
I don’t think, um, that story is so out of reach of most Americans, even even be being able to empathize it. I had a gentleman from the Ukraine on the show many, many years ago. Um, he he came to the United States, or no, he met his wife there who was doing missionary work. She came from California, then ended up having seven kids, ended up doing missionary work in Afghanistan, which was just crazy. Um, but anyway, he, he said he just couldn’t believe the fact that in the United States, you could walk down the street, walk into a McDonald’s, and apply for a job and be working the next day. He just said that he, and that the fact that, that there were jobs everywhere. He said, you, it’s not even like that in my country. Yeah. He couldn’t even believe the stuff that we, um,
Alma Ohene-Opare (26:25):
We take for granted.
Sevan Matossian (26:26):
Yeah. That we take for granted. Uh, and the camera story is fascinating. Um, what a, what a healthy, uh, sort of inquisition you did experiment. D do you, do you know, um, Thomas Soel, are you familiar with him? The economies? I
Alma Ohene-Opare (26:43):
Sevan Matossian (26:45):
I I’m not gonna do this justice. I wish I could speak, uh, more clearly on this, but basically he was saying that what happened was is that, uh, to, uh, people with black skin in the United States, they got involved in politics and that took them down the wrong path. So today, a lot of people think the whites are the richest people in the country, but if you look at that medium income, they make 66% or something like that of the average. If you were to break people down by the way they look, they make 66% of what, um, Chinese people make in this country or, um, Indians. And, and then there’s a whole list of, you know, if you break down the ethnicities, whites are like at the halfway point. And he was suggesting that, that those Indians, Chinese, um, and he lists a whole bunch of them just kept their head down. And because, uh, people with black skin chose the path of politics, that’s where they got derailed and started being used as a tool of manipulation. Do, do you have any thoughts on that? That that, that that world of politics is just, there is no end game there, there is no success there.
Alma Ohene-Opare (27:49):
Um, I will look at it a little differently. Please. Um, and, and the way I I look at it is,
Sevan Matossian (27:55):
And I apologize if I misrepresented Thomas Sowell and he didn’t say that <laugh>, I apologize, but I
Alma Ohene-Opare (28:00):
Think I That’s okay. So I will look at it a little differently. I say, um, to the extent that black people got involved in politics, I think they were compelled to considering the history, um, and, and how the country in many respects were a raid against them as a group of people. And so the, the, there were only two, I would say le there was only one legal way to assert your rights, right? The other way was to fight for it, you know, violently. Um, and, but the other way was to use the political process to change some of those, uh, laws and, and systems that were in place. And so I think, you know, they had to leverage politics as a way to kind of get the message out there and fight for civil rights and so on and so forth. Um, the question is like
Sevan Matossian (29:01):
Literally get the shackles off. Like, Hey, we have to
Alma Ohene-Opare (29:03):
Fucking change how laws deal with that. And unfortunately, the way you do that is through the political system, otherwise it’s, you know, Right.
Alma Ohene-Opare (29:11):
Violence or you’re fighting against the country. And so, so I would say how they got to that was not necessarily a choice. It was, it was something that they had to do because that was the only way you could, you know, get your yourself at the table to make the kind of difference and that you needed to make in that community. So, putting that aside, I personally don’t purport to represent or speak on, you know, black issues necessarily. Um, and the reason I don’t is because the way I look at it is I don’t have a full and clear perspective of people’s, um, perceptions of themselves and, and their perceptions of the opportunities.
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