— US Embassy Ghana (@USEmbassyGhana) February 1, 2013
Seated in between the Red, Gold, Green colors of Ghana and the United States’ 50 starred flag, was Obama’s representative in Ghana, Ambassador Gene Cretz, and not too far away from this very man who had the US Embassy under his authority was me with lots of questions in my head. Many of these questions we had sourced from BloggingGhana’s online channels as well as that of the US Embassy’s. For many people who followed, it wasn’t too surprising that the US Embassy which years ago was perceived as a ‘Fortress’ in Ghana, had opened its doors for citizens of the land to interact with its Ambassador who had spend just little over 100 days in his very first sub-Saharan territory.
From 11:15 am on a humid Friday morning, stuck in well-resourced US Embassy library we combed though the many questions that had trickled in days before and during the day. It was unfortunate we were unable to finish tackling the submissions sent in by Ghanaians online, because our guest had to be in another meeting. However the 60-minute-long engagement was enough for many of those who followed to understand the overall vision of the US in Ghana, what the ambassador wants to achieve as a leader and shed some lights on what Ghana was to expect from a nation which was yet to find out who was going to win its Super Bowl match. From the interaction we understood Ambassador Cretz likes Banku and pepper soup, a revelation which baffles me a bit because most foreigners just go for Fufu or something less daring and spicy. Of course he took opportunity of the event to clarify a controversial issue which had reared its head barely 24-hours prior to his online chat with us. He made it quite clear that there was no meeting whatsoever with the minister designate for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social protection, Nana Oye Lithur. He made it clear he did not meet Nana Oye during his trip to Ghana’s Parliament House.
After the one-hour chat with the ambassador, BloggingGhana hosted its Twitter debate and provided participants the opportunity to contribute to the submissions.
Below are three of the most important indications I picked up from my short interaction with the ambassador.
The US Embassy is getting closer to Ghanaians
Compared to people’s perceptions about the embassy years ago, today, it is seen as a more friendly unit to deal with. It is easier to see the spleen and ribs of the embassy just by visiting any of its social media channels. The ambassador in his modesty did not admit his outfit was in the forefront of social media in Ghana, even with close to 14,o00 likes, but I must commend the organisation’s approach to the use of technology and social media for its various processes. From his answers, it was clear he and his team intend to get as close to their communities as possible.
The Embassy is willing to improve
Although Ambassador Cretz gave the US-Ghana partnership a 10, he mentioned there was still a lot the two nations could do to strengthen their relationship, and on their part, they intended doing this with no interference in the latter’s internal affairs. He went on to talk about what for me was the highlight of the discussion – Introduction of activities which will see many more partnerships between entrepreneurs and businesses in both countries. Some questions about the embassy’s visa process came in from some followers on our channel.
Ghana is a model, not only in Africa, but in the world
Many a times, I hear people in the media, online and traditional praise Ghana for its democratic stability and exemplary systems of governance, I usually roll my eyes and move on. However hearing such praises from a diplomat who used to head the Libyan mission made me proud of my country.