More than a year ago Eric Manu was just a landscaping employee in Canada, but that all changed when his home tribe in Ghana asked him to come home to be their chief.
Manu grew up in the village of Adansi Aboabo No. 2, which is comprised of 6,000 people. He gave museum tours in his village and on one tour he met a Canadian woman interested in African development. Through email correspondence, they eventually fell in love and married in 2010.
Manu left Africa in 2012 to live with his Canadian wife and was surprised by the tribe’s request, believing that he was too young. His uncle had been the previous chief, but he died in 2013.
When he decided to accept the role, Manu’s boss, Susan Watson, started a nonprofit group to collect money and goods to send to the village. To the Moon and Back Foundation collected enough clothes, shoes, books, school supplies and other items to fill a 20-foot shipping container.
“It was an amazing day for everyone in the community to see this magical stuff,” Manu told The Washington Post. “They never believed they would receive stuff like that from here.”
Now, eight months after his coronation, he is back in Canada and working for Watson once more, trimming hedges and mowing lawns.
“Some people are surprised that a chief is working and cutting their hedges,” he said. “People have to be humble. Even a chief can be doing this kind of job. I’m not going to change my attitude. I’ve been simple from day one.”
Manu hasn’t abdicated his role as chief but is working to raise money for his village and to build relationships with those in the West to help support his people.
He hopes to improve the villagers’ lives by providing better access to medical care and good education.
“I really want my home, my village, to be ‘Second Canada,’” he told CBC News.
Watson’s foundation expects to send another shipping container soon and help improve the local medical clinic.
“The people there are extremely friendly and loving and receiving,” Watson said. “It was a life-changing journey for me and my family to see where he came from and the hardship that country suffers under. He’s very motivated to bring the spirits of his people up. His passion rubbed off on me.”