Only a handful of Ghanaians, including some disgruntled members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Holland branch may paint the just-ended official visit to the Netherlands of His Excellency, the President, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, black, but for the majority, it is the respect of the highest order ever accorded a migrant community in the Netherlands.
The reasons for their bickering and open rebellion, at a dinner last Wednesday, December 22, 2008, in Amsterdam, initially programmed for the president to attend, but was not to be for myriad of reasons, was because events did not permit them to hijack the presidential visit for their parochial political interest; a visit, which was at the instance of Dutch Queen Beatrix in the first place.
Given the heavy schedule of the President on the day, with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Dam Square (the most honoured national monument), a visit to the Sitos Group, a logistics company which stores and ships cocoa and coffee (some of which from Ghana) and later a lunch with the Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, it smacked off expectation that the President could return to Amsterdam for a dinner with Ghanaians, many of whom were even not comporting themselves.
Same tickets were being used triple over, to enter the venue, even special press accreditations to the local community media personnel were passed on many times over to friends, swelling up numbers, thus leaving some invited guests with on seats. This was nothing but a betrayal of decency of Ghanaians.
For the inadequately informed mind, the purpose of the President's visit was to affirm and strengthen bilateral trade and diplomatic relations, dated over 300 years between Ghana and the Netherlands.
It is from this unique friendship, Ghana receives annual supplementary budget allocation from the Dutch government every year to support her national budget. And it is against this backdrop that the visit must be judged as a success or failure, but not for the unfulfilled name and personality recognition that some over-ambitious boot-lickers in the community craved for as was in the case of the NPP presidential nominee, Nana Akuffo-Addo's visit to Amsterdam recently.
Rather an adjunct of the visit worth telling to next generation must be the recognition of the Council of Ghanaian Chiefs in the Netherlands, when some members of this Council were invited to a high-profile regal dinner by Queen Beatrix at the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague on the Tuesday 21, with the President in attendance.
The chiefs and the queen-mothers came, rubbed shoulders with the Dutch royal family, top CEOs of Dutch companies in Ghana, Ministers and sharks from the Dutch society, all for the sake of the Presidential visit. Conspicuously absent, however, were Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and wife, Princess Maxima, whom the Queen told me they were in Africa on vacation. Nothing could be more gratifying than that.
To be given audience with the Dutch Queen. This is a positive experience many present confessed to live to tell generations to come, given the fact that there are many Dutch people who have not physically encountered the Queen in this close proximity.
Nevertheless, before then, the kingly ride set off from Amsterdam in a motorcade, in a typical rush-hour through the busiest highway of the country via the Schiphol Airport, a journey which would have taken hours because of traffic hold-up during this time of the day, but was made under 45 minutes to the Palace, thanks to the royal threat from a three-man Royal Marine motorcade which created easy passage.
“Dining with a Queen and a President!”, tells one chief, “ostensibly in a show of deep gratitude to his clan elder, instrumental in his pick for the royalty”.
“I will forever live with it till I die” whispered another chief to me.
Two queen-mothers, seven chiefs and a press-cum protocol officer constituted the group.
Added to this, on the Wednesday, was a special cultural night of near-perfect traditional Ghanaian dances from a mix of Ghanaian-/and Dutch-born youth to which the Her Majesty played host, at the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague.
The youth held all the dignitaries spellbound including the Queen and the President that he (President) requested for a special acknowledgement from Queen Beatrix in the form of a group picture with the ensemble.
The show ended at 9.30 pm local time.
But the President was on schedule to return after this event to Amsterdam again for the dinner which was not to be, for many reasons more than one. Yet just a handful of people deemed it a 'snub'. Conversely the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians is of the view that it is a visit though long overdue, yet has placed a conversation on the lips of many Dutch and non-Ghanaians alike in The Netherlands as well-deserved.
One Dutch acquaintance noted to me in Dutch this remark: “Jongen! jou president is heel knap!” translated in Dutch: “Guy! Your President is really presidential”
Source: Akasanoma Radio/Sikaman-The Netherlands