"Greetings from Ghana, West Africa, where we are thinking of you and thanking you for such a successful work year. From myself, my family, and my seven carving assistants, we wish you the best.<br><br>
"My name is Salihu Ibrahim, and I was born in the eastern region of Ghana in 1964. My father, Ibrahim, died when I was a child and I'm certain his death actually changed and shaped the course of my life. With the death of my father, I was sent to live with one of my father's closest friends, Opanin Osei, a renowned traditional carver to the then Akwamu chief and the people of Akwamu. At the age of ten, I was fully under the carving tutelage and control of Opanin Osei, who usually carved the items and then passed them on to me for the final polishing and beautification. I worked with the chief's head carver for about 15 years, during which time I learned the various styles and techniques of Ashanti and Akwamu traditional methods of wood carving.
<br><br>"I then traveled to the city and stayed with a relative. I greatly owe much of my initial success there to this relation of mine. This is because being new in a big city exposes you to harsh treatments from human scavengers, criminal gangs and business rivals who would want to cash in on your innocence and dupe you out of your possessions.
<br><br>"Before my decision to come to the city, I had carved about 50 pieces made purposely to help me raise sufficient capital to open a workshop. With the help of my friend, these products sold in no time, to my surprise! This gave me the chance to open my first woodworking shop. I never realized how valuable his help was, until I decided to stay on my own to sell my own products. Being a newcomer in the business, many customers came to buy my products but on several occasions took these goods away on credit; the majority of these goods were never recovered. I learned my first lesson - never sell on credit!
<br><br>"These experiences helped me develop physically and intellectually, so I quickly learned to read through the trickery of any fraudster. My work began to flourish and achieve recognition. My clientele increased and some of my products have made their way to the USA.
<br><br>"I have exhibited my work at local art fairs as well as in Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Now, I have seven apprentice carvers with me learning the art of carving and preparing the carved items to resemble antique pieces."