President John Agyekum Kufuor has dedicated the prestigious Chatham House Award presented to him in London to all Ghanaians.
On Monday October 27, 2008, President Kufuor, as a guest of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, was decorated with the high-status Chatham House Prize for 2008.
After Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh had presented the award made up of a crystal plaque and a scroll signed by Queen Elizabeth who is Patron of Chatham House to Ghana's President, the latter gave an emotional speech to express his appreciation.
In expressing his gratitude to the people of Ghana who gave him the mandate to become President for eight years, Mr Kufuor told the over 250 dignitaries who had gathered at the magnificent Drapers' Hall located in London's financial district for the dinner and award ceremony that “It is appropriate to share the prize with all the people of Ghana”.
Chatham House announced last month the selection of President Kufuor as the recipient of the award, in recognition of his positive role in mediating in the conflicts of Ghana's immediate neighbours including Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire.
The award was also in recognition of President Kufuor's tireless and selfless mediation in multiple crises across the African continent when he was Chairman of the African Union in 2007.
“I feel deeply honoured… Ghanaians gave me the mandate to serve and it is the quality of the service I offered that has won me this Chatham House Prize,” stated President Kufuor.
The receipt of the award, which was launched in 2005 to recognize the role played by key individuals in world affairs, automatically makes the recipient a member of the Chatham House.
Aware of this, President Kufuor, who will be ending his term of office as President of Ghana in January 2009, said “I wholeheartedly accept membership. May Chatham House continue to flourish for the good of mankind”.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who related that he first visited Ghana in 1959, two years after the country had attained independence, said it was rather “unfortunate that Ghana has gone through shackled experience until Kufuor came to its rescue.”
Because the crystal plaque was very heavy, Prince Philip could not lift it up to present it to President Kufuor, so the President later picked it up himself and after admiring it, lifted it high.
The annual Chatham House Prize is awarded to a statesperson who is deemed by Chatham House members to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year.
After a rigorous selection process that draws on the expertise of the research team and three presidents of Chatham House including Lord Ashdown, Lord Hurd and Lord Robertson,members were then invited to vote for the winner. President Kufuor was chosen as winner ahead of Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the German Republic; Aga Khan, Founder of the Aga Khan Development Network; and Ambassador Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the US, who were all nominated for this year's award.
Though the award was instituted three years ago, it is fast emerging as the British equivalent of the Nobel Prize and the first one went to President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine in 2005, with President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique receiving the 2006 prize. Last year's award went to Sheikha Mozah, the Consort of His Highness the Emir of Qatar.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey