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05.11.2008 News

Ghana's Sweet Scent Is Everywhere


There are times in our lives when one gets swollen headed because of some relief, success or victory. In times like that you feel like sharing your feelings of joy with the world around you.

You itch to go and tell it to the mountains, over the hills and everywhere that you are in a joyous mood.


 I got into one of such moods last week on Monday night. Celebrating Ghana is my obsession.


I go out of my way to look for instances to display my nationalistic pride and when those instances show up, I make sure I celebrate in whatever form no matter how small.

I had turned on my television purportedly to listen to the Ghana Television prime time news last Monday night, only to be greeted with one of the most exhilarating live coverage ever watched on television in recent past.


This was the live coverage of the Chatham House Prize 2008 edition in far away London.


The toast of the night was the President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor and by extension, the Republic as well.

The live coverage of the event was just superb. We certainly do not need any spinner to spin it for us. Neither do we need any sour grapes to water it down.


The ceremony as shown on television, with the lively and exquisite commentary in the Queen's English, spoke tons for itself.

What exactly then is the Chatham House Prize? Regarded as Britain's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, the annual Chatham House Prize is awarded to the statesperson who is deemed by the Chatham House members to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year.

This is the fourth Prize since its inception in 2005. The award winners so far, are Viktor Yuschenko of Ukraine, Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and Sheika Mozah of Qatar.


Chatham House was founded in 1920 as the Royale Institute of International Affairs.

Watching the live commentary interspersed with interviews conducted by a British commentator, one learnt that President Kufuor beat three other weighty contenders who are big players and who were initially nominated for final balloting.


The three included, Aga Khan, Founder of Aga Khan Development Network; Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Ambassador Chris Hill, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Department of State of the USA.


These three were balloted alongside Ghana's John Kufuor. The house resoundingly voted for President John Kufuor.

The magnificent dinning room of the fourteenth century Draper's Hall, adjacent to the Bank of England in the heart of London was the place where the dinner marking the occasion was held.


Attended by 250 dignitaries, VIPs, and representatives of Blue Chip companies, some of whom paid £150 per head to dine, the classic setting described as tables set for kings indeed had the King of Ashanti, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, in his splendid attire accompanied by a fabulous entourage.

The horns of the 'atenteben' players set the scene for the commencement of the dinner with the host for the occasion, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, ushering in the celebrated guest, John Kufuor.


It was a proud moment for Ghana.

The Duke of Edinburgh spoke highly of the country Ghana, recounting his first ever contact with Ghana in the late 1950s and his last visit in 2007, drawing similarities and differences along the line.

He said President Kufuor was being honoured for the key role he played in conflict settlement in some parts of Africa.


He emphasised the role he had played in the growth of the Ghanaian economy, political reform, as well as social reform.

He presented President Kufuor with a crystal award and a scroll signed by her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England.

Before they sat down to a sumptuous dinner sponsored by the Royal Dutch Shell (main sponsor), British American Tobacco (BAT), Chevron and Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board, President Kufuor gave a poignant and emotional speech as he received the award.

He remembered the people of Ghana. He said he was deeply honoured and appropriately shared the Award with the people of Ghana who gave him the mandate to be the President for two terms.


 He pledged his availability to serve the world as he exits office at the end of this year.

My famous high school motto in part taught me to live pure, speak truth, right or wrong, follow the king.


 This motto has shaped my adult life to a larger extent for the better. It has taught me to say it as it is. It has taught me to be an agent of orderliness, recognise the role of an institution and respect authority wherever I find myself.

Over the last couple of years, Ghana has been in the limelight. This country has been highly rated by some big world players.


It has come to gain some respect on the international scene by weighted countries and leaders who have seen so much good in Ghana and its current leader.


They have said it as they see it. We have come this far not by an accident.

The leadership of our nation has shown diligence, hard work and focus. Individual Ghanaians around the world serving in various leadership capacities have also not let their nations down.


They continue to shine, displaying intelligence, excellence in their fields and in the event, winning respect and admiration.


Our national football team, the Black Stars has played its part to shape Ghana's image and so has the women's team, the Black Queens.

Those institutions or countries that continue to honour us — our President and our nation — have done so because they have seen something good and commendable in this our country Ghana.

Internally in Ghana, we should continue to champion the truth, for truth they say, never submerges.


It always will show up no matter how long it is suppressed. Let us be positive and begin to appreciate how far we have come in view of all the international support and recognition.


We will continue to look up to our leaders in whom we have entrusted our votes to accelerate the journey to put Ghana where it should have been after fifty one years of freedom from colonial shackles.

Chatham House members who we are told voted resoundingly for President John Kufuor had three other equally good nominees to look at.


For them, to have singled out Ghana's John Kufuor alone speaks well for us as a nation. Good things do not happen by chance.


They are earned. No matter how deep we allow ourselves to be divided and destroyed by partisan politics, to some of us, Ghana is what matters.

We see this Ghana as a jet ready to fly. It is already taxing on the tarmac. The engines are running ready for take off to the next highest level.


As a nation, we should all recognise and contribute in our small ways to get the institutions entrusted with our development agenda work and work effectively so we can hit a middle income status sooner than expected.

From now on, what is clear is that the work started by President Kufuor has gained us some international recognition.


This recognition has taken Ghana into Buckingham Palace in London, the White House in Washington, and the German corridors of the Presidency.


Our next political leader, no doubt, will build on this world recognition even stronger.

Chatham House, Ghana is humbled by the prestigious recognition of the good work of President John Kufuor.


We are confident that our next President will take us to the moon for after Buckingham Palace, the Berlin seat of the German Presidency, and the White House, where else can we head to but for the sky.


Ghana is on its way to greater heights. The sweet perfumed scent is everywhere.


By Vicky Wireko