How Ghanaian mechanic Emmanuel Geraldo built his own car after dropping out of school

Emmanuel Geraldo dropped out of school at JHS level, but his zeal and determination have seen him build his own car right here in Ghana despite limited support…

How Ghanaian mechanic Emmanuel Geraldo built his own car after dropping out of school

There’s not much else to say about what Emmanuel Geraldo has done for himself.

It’s inspiring. Eye-opening. Spectacular. Impressive. For a 28-year-old, building a car certainly ranks among his proudest moments.

But the rawest realisation of his ingenuity came a couple of months ago when he drove his personally-built car to Ada. On the way, he met a Police officer who was so fascinated by the car that, he [Police] wanted to have a feel of the vehicle, even joking that Geraldo should leave the car with him and board a troski to continue his journey to Ada.

It is one thing to build something special and it’s entire another to have people admiring whatever you’ve built. These are the stuff of dreams for any kid, let alone a boy who grew up not knowing if he was going to have a bright future due to his poor academic record.

“When I was young, I thought only the Whites could make cars but when I grew up and started following my dreams, I realised nothing was impossible,” Geraldo told Pulse.com.gh.

“When I was growing up, I was not good with books. But I was good with taking things apart and putting them back together.”

Geraldo’s peppiness and gravitation towards fixing things would eventually lead him to find his purpose. In Ghana and across Africa, talent abounds. The challenge, though, remains how to tap into those talents, especially with no support policy and infrastructure in place.

The situation is more damning for those who have no formal education. Without a degree, many are forced to abandon their dreams and, in most cases, are looked down upon by those in higher places who are supposed to put structures in place to support their dreams.

The reality is that the Ministers of State and the Engineering Council are more likely to welcome an engineering graduate to their offices than entertain a motor mechanic who didn’t learn his craft from the brightly-lighted lecture halls of a university.

In Geraldo’s case, he started by fixing bicycles and steadily learnt his way up to becoming a motor mechanic despite dropping out of school at a very early stage.

“When I got to JHS 3, things weren’t going well so I had to stop and start to fix bicycles,” he explains. “Through that I had a motorbike and the motorbike started to give me problems so I had to take it to the shop every day.

“I was spending money every day on this one problem, so I decided to take it there one last time. While there, I was looking at the man carefully and what he was doing.

“I noticed this was not difficult – that was when I started to fix motorbikes. From there, I started to fix people’s motorbikes and, early last year, I had a dream I was driving my own car.”

This dream that Geraldo refers to wasn’t just any dream; it came with specifics which deepened his faith. As somebody who made it a hobby to fix things, he decided to test himself by building a car.

But he first had to make some sacrifices. Buying the parts of the car didn’t come cheap, which meant he had to sell five of the motorbikes he owned to finance this wild project. In all, he spent almost GHc40,000 to get the car ready but it was well worth it.

“I had a vision on everything about the car, so when I came to came to the shop, I told myself this is work but let me see what I can do,” Geraldo said

“At the time, I had two Majesty and three Royal motors so I had to sell all of them to raise the money to go for the parts of the car. I had help from my father too.”

To dream is to believe, but to see that dream coming alive is a feeling that many don’t get to experience. Geraldo, though, didn’t only dream but saw it all come alive.

And he did not only make himself proud after successfully building a car, his community equally shared in this masterstroke.

“When I was done with the car, the first day I moved it was fun,” a proud Geraldo effuses. “The people around my area all came to see the car and were amazed.

“The mechanics around drove it and said it was good. I was very excited that I could do something that could move.”

As a motor mechanic, Geraldo has scaled himself into the realms of innovation. But he’s not done yet. Just as he dreamt of building a car and actualised it, he now aims to make a Four-wheel drive in his next project.

“In the next five years, I want to see myself owning a car shop, building my own cars and even building it bigger. I have my next project in mind, which will be a Four-wheel drive,” he noted.

Geraldo is, however, conscious of the barriers that curtail the creativity of young Ghanaians and the lack of opportunities that hinder geniuses who have no access to resources or know people in higher places.

His message to everyone with a dream, though, is to remain hopeful, take the first step and keep going.

“The young ones out there who are like me, they shouldn’t shut their dreams away,” Geraldo advises.

“It’s not easy to build something but when you have the opportunity to do something, you’re supposed to do it.

“If you have an idea to build something, I urge you to be strong and bring it out.”

Geraldo may not have attained the highest education but, years from now, students may be studying what he has done. And it's all well-deserved.

Videographer & Editor Credit: Jeydolph Marcelino

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