Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What is the job of the Ghanaian ambassadors, embassies and consulates? #Ghana

Earlier this year, the Ghanaian Ambassador to the US, His Excellency Daniel Ohene Agyekum, was at Stanford to meet members of this community. It was a 90-minute meeting organized by the Akwaaba (Ghanaian Students Association) here, spearheaded by Kwadwo Osei-Opare. I wasn't sure what to make of the meeting. I have never really encountered politicians or statesmen that close (from Ghana). Either way, let's get into what happened.

I was given the honour of introducing the ambassador. I knew about him as a one-time Ashanti Regional minister during Rawlings' time. I grew up in Kumasi. After the intro, Mr. Agyekum gave a little speech to the audience. Half of us were Ghanaian students, others were Caucasian and Black American. As a historian, Mr. Agyekum saw it to talk about Ghana's history, the might of the Ashanti kingdom and how Ghana is really democratic. The Ghanaians in the room must have been wondering, "erm, we know this already". But it wasn't just Ghanaians in the room. He was there to sell "Ghana" to non-Ghanaians too. Apparently, it's part of his job to sell Ghana and woo investment.

I wonder if he gives this speech everywhere as he woos foreign investors to Ghana. I kept thinking, "why are we talking about democracy so much?" We've been democratic for almost 20 years now, it's nothing to celebrate. Don't give me the other African nations are not enjoying the democracy we have story. Democracy is not putting money in our pockets or creating wealth. I'll pardon the democracy story because it is an important factor in wooing foreign investors. But, Let's start talking human capital too.

I love how he signed off talking about the Black Stars drawing England's football team in Wembley the day before. He managed to lick old wounds by saying Ghana's team dumped Team USA out of the last two World Cups. The proudest moments for Ghanaians are about the recent World Cup exploits of its Black Stars. It's debatable and we probably should find better things to be proud upon discussion.

One of the things I was thinking about before the meeting was - what is the job of Ghana's embassies? Is it only to give visas out to people who want to visit Ghana? From the interaction with the ambassador, it's clear it is also there to woo investors and sell Ghana within the country. Mr. Agyekum mentioned that his jurisdiction includes places like Mexico and the Carribean so he'd been doing a lot of traveling.

To cut this short, I wanna see our Ghanaian embassies do more to support Ghanaian efforts abroad. If Atta Mills has to put more budget, let him do it. We need our best brains everywhere working for Ghana everywhere.
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