Once a struggling young professional working menial jobs during the 1990s, former MP for Gomoa West, Joe Kingsley Hackman, has successfully reached the highest of heights as a coveted university professor and popular politician working alongside former presidents and ministers.
But his experience in political office did not come easy, and he says if it all over again he could do would not.
Mr Hackman’s journey in politics began during a sabbatical trip to the United States where he met Senator Cory Booker, who convinced him to run for office in Ghana.
“People have always seen me as friendly and easily approachable and they would always encourage me to become a politician,” Mr Hackman said on Personality Profile with Lexis Bill.
Initially, the U.K.-educated KNUST professor with experience working in Holland, France and the U.S. was hesitant to run for office, but after some self-reflection, he decided to contest.
Surely enough, Hackman won in the 2004 Parliamentary elections, but not without extremely hard work, sacrifice and the discovery of some disloyal friends.
“The pain of running for office is a lot for anyone to handle. It is like punishment,” he recollected. “Just one day before the elections people were smiling with me. Suddenly some of those same people turned against me and wanted to see me lose.”
“But at the end of the day, I won.”
During his political career, Mr Hackman recalled a gut-wrenching moment when he was asked to deliver a speech before Parliament about how the police could apprehend notorious criminals. Following the speech, his life changed.
“The very next day there was a story in the newspaper that I had received 250 million cedis and embezzled it. Every paper and radio station was calling me asking me why I stole the money. That broke me down.”
He hinted he was suicidal during that time, suggesting that “if I wasn’t a strong Christian I would have taken the ropes.”
When asked if he would agree that politics is a dirty game he replied:
“Yes, but it depends on the community and the people who you contest against.”
Lexis Bill: Do you regret getting into politics?
No. When I think about the history of what I have done and the interventions and support I’ve given to ministers, the police, the military and the firefighters, it makes me feel like I have played my part. It excites me.”
Fortunately for Hackman, he entered and left politics with the same core values. He is thankful that people have finally come to understand that he is a man of solid character, and he offers this advice for anyone interested in getting into politics:
“Your best friend is yourself. Have a mentor you can look up to and put God first.”