Dr. Felix Odartey-Wellington: The Compelling Story of Ghanaian-born Lawyer & Professor

By IndepthAfrica
In Ghana
Apr 17th, 2014
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Dr. Felix Odartey-Wellington

Dr. Felix Odartey-Wellington

Dr. Felix Odartey-Wellington: The Compelling Story of Ghanaian-born Lawyer & Professor

The story of Ghanaian-born Dr. Felix Nii Lartey Odartey-Wellington is a compelling one that provides ample motivation and impetus to succeed in spite of the odds. Born into a military family, Felix lost his father, Maj.-Gen. Neville Alexan-der Odartey-Wellington, who was commander of the Ghanaian Army, at a very young age in the military uprising of 1979. Through all the attendant challenges of living under a repressive military government, he remained resilient, un-deterred and focused on his goals and aspirations even at that tender.

With the support of his family, especially, his mother, who spared no effort in ensuring he (and his siblings) received the best education, he completed his primary and secondary education though with some challenges. Felix readily recalls how difficult it was in those volatile times being denied the opportunity to attend some government-run primary schools due to the circumstances that led to the tragic loss of his father “It was very difficult in those heady days,” he stated to African Immigrant referring to the uncertainty and uneasiness that persisted in the wake of the military revolt.

After completing secondary school, Felix realized he could not pursue his ambition of a military career in Ghana, because in the view of the authorities, he posed a security threat, again due to the circumstances that led to his father’s death. Invariably, he turned his attention to higher education and earned a Bachelor of Law Degree from the prestigious Ghana School of Law in Accra and a BA (Honours) in Political Science and Law from the University of Ghana (Legon). While in university, Felix inadvertently ventured into student politics, serving as General-Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) in 1996, against his earlier resolve to stay clear for personal reasons. He noted, “I saw politics as a force for good, hence my involvement with NUGS, during a turbulent political period which determined the future of higher education in Ghana”

After completing his studies at the Ghana School of Law, he went into broadcasting, working at Choice Radio and Ghana TV. This provided an avenue to espouse his political views and speak against some of the repressive policies of the government of the day. While in broadcasting, he also practiced law as a criminal defense attorney, giving him a wider platform to advocate on behalf of those victimized by the state. He credits prominent Ghanaian human rights lawyer and presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo for boosting his legal career.“Akufo-Addo gave me a job in his law firm, Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co, and made a lawyer out of me when I did not know what law career was”, Felix intimated. Despite enjoying a successful legal practice however, he decided it was time for a change and relocated to Canada. “My sister Dorothy, who is an academic in Canada, was hugely responsible for this move. My political commentary in the media had brought me some unwanted attention by the Ghanaian state security apparatus, including a spell in detention in 2000, and she encouraged me to pursue graduate studies to cool off,” he explained.

With a degree in law, he was drawn to media studies and “compelled” as he put it, to “regularize” his relationship with the discipline. “I loved working in the media but the media was the mistress and Law was the wife, so I decided to pursue graduate studies in Communications to regularize my media relationship,” he said exposing his witty disposition. Accordingly, he enrolled in Concordia University’s media studies program, well known for its critical communication orientation and earned his masters in media studies. Moving to the nation’s capital, Ottawa, he worked at the Ghana High Commission during the tenure of His Excellency Mr. Samuel Odoi-Sykes, who prevailed on him to consider PHD studies. He heeded the wise counsel of the seasoned politician and diplomat whom he regarded as a mentor and enrolled in Toronto’s innovative York-Ryerson Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture , earning his PhD in Communication and Culture.

Through hard-work and persistence, Felix, who pursues a strong social justice-themed research program, especially, in the area of race and media, has, in a relatively short time, distinguished himself in his discipline with several scholarly works to his credit. He is considered an expert in Canadian broadcasting policy and regulation. He also recently co-authored “Never Say Die: The Autobiog-raphy of a Ghanaian Statesman,” the critically acclaimed autobiography of prominent Ghanaian politician Dr. Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe. He is also co-author of the book, “The CTRC and Broadcasting Regulations in Canada.”

Currently a professor of Communication at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Felix finds time outside of his academic pursuits, to serve in his community as the Public Affairs Representative of the Cape Breton Highlanders, a Canadian Armed Forces Reserve regiment with a history dating back to the 19th Century. Just last year, he was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work with the High-landers. He and his wife Kokui consider the Highlanders to be their family in Cape Breton.
Felix readily admits that his Canadian journey has not been easy, but for his unassailable tenacity to succeed and the unwavering support of his family. “I really benefitted from my sister’s advice and help, because she was able to draw on her own rich immigrant experience in Canada to guide me. That made a difference between success and failure for me, ” he stated.

When asked what advice he has for his fellow African Immigrants who face numerous institutional challenges, the communication professor aptly offered this perspective “I guess I may be biased, but I think we need to take more ad-vantage of academic and trade training programs that make us attractive in the job market. It requires some delayed gratification, but guarantees sustainable career prospects. There are no short cuts, really.”

First Published on: African Immigrant Magazine

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