ENIGMATIC Kofi Wayo, the showman, international businessman and “Son of Nima”
Kofi Wayo was named Charles Eric Kofi Wayo at birth by his father Mr Kwashie Akakpo, a cocoa farmer and mother Dede Aku of Doryumu, near Somanya in the Eastern Region some 50 or so years ago.
Chuck, the first of ten children comprising four boys and six girls (two of the boys are no more), was born at Kofi Pare, near Coaltar in the Suhum-Kraboa-Coaltar District in the Eastern Region, where he started his primary education.
He later left to settle with his family at Nima.
He continued at the Myahyong Camp Middle Mixed School from where he left for the USA. According to Chuck, his strict father, a cocoa farmer who sold his produce to Cadbury and Fry befriended a white American called Captain Charles Simons who adopted him.
Not long after Captain Simons’ departure to the US, Chuck joined him in Albany, Georgia where he was enrolled at the Albany High School from where he left to be on his own after four years in the school.
“I left for the University of Hardknocks,” he said with a chuckle. “First I went to Tennessee then to Detroit where I got my first job washing car tyres and making an average of $30 a day. ”
Chuck became his own man at the age of 17. He wanted to continue school after a while but couldn’t. However he read a lot on various subjects to acquire the knowledge he was missing at school.
He had picked up a lot of interest in guns and so getting into the arms business was attractive to him. “I started by selling pistols and when I got my licence, I went into business with a policeman friend called Jameson and with $600 to start with we made about $260,000 a year.”
Soon, Chuck was on his own selling guns on a big scale to clients all over the world. He made it clear though that he never sold arms to any country in Africa.
He said that he met all kinds of people — presidents, army generals, spies, mercenaries, agents, criminals — indeed, all kinds of characters making him very savvy in the business.
“When you get out there in the world you learn, learn so much you get to know everything. Most of my knowledge that’s how I got it — from the practical side.
While selling guns in the Middle East he realised they were willing to trade oil for guns and made investments there eventually ending up with a guy called Chris who owned a small oil business there.
“He supplied the oil and I paid him with guns. In 1988, I sold my company and joined his company full time.” Chuck said he is one of eight partners and has 10 per cent in the company.
He loves walking, baseball and theatre especially KSM.
Chuck loves cars and collects them as an investment. To date, he has 19 cars, five of them Rolls Royces. One of the Rolls Royces is in Accra together with a Caddilac, Lincoln and Jaguar. The rest are all in the US. He said that these days he doesn’t feel comfortable driving the expensive cars around while his people remain poor.
According to him the only people who impress him are God and his son, Jesus Christ, a poor man who made a deep impression on the world through talking and making a lot of sense.
“God is wonderful. When you read the Bible you get to know about Him and when you read physics you see the marvel of God in action and you will need to worship Him.”
Chuck said he lived in the US for 42 years and three months and is proud of the fact that for all that period he still holds a Ghanaian passport.
Nii Addokwei Moffat