You told me that even in ancient times, chiefs had emissaries.
You told me they were a critical part of the relations between peoples.
You told me that they brokered peace in war time and cooperation in peace time.
I too have come to know that among your people today we employ emissaries when courting a lady.
Otherwise known as the go-between or ‘betweener’, this person will normally be the son of a woman who hails from the locale of the lady-in-courtship. This, it is hoped will make for a better chance of success, as such a person will normally be considered kindred to the prospective wife.
In both cases, the chief’s emissary and the ‘betweener’, the unlaboured ground rule is that they represent the interest of the sender and acquit themselves in such manner as to maximise the gains.
Needless of mention is the fact that the emissary should very well identify with the object of the mission or better still be a firm believer in the objective.
Nyaaba, it is my belief that these are the ground rules that should inform the activities of the diplomatic envoy in modern state practice.
Diplomacy is arguably as old as humanity and though it has seen some development, it still remains, essentially, the sending of men and women of proven integrity and good judgement to foreign lands to represent a government and its people and in the same breath to secure the welfare of citizens of the sending country resident in the receiving country.
These men and women have prevented wars and secured crucial cooperation pacts over the years and have thus come to be considered as an important arm of statecraft. In furtherance of their role, all civilised countries, the world over, have agreed to a body of laws governing their functions but what is most notable is the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. This treaty spells out, among other things, the rights of diplomats, most prominent of which is diplomatic immunity. This practice guarantees that diplomats are treated like near royalty in their receiving states.
Nyaaba, you must be wondering why I am subjecting you to this crush course on diplomacy. A few days ago, Ghana’s emissary to the land that was freed by Nelson Mandela from the descendants of the Boers, made a rather undiplomatic blunder. Or was he just speaking the truth? I will be back to present you my thoughts, in a bit.
Nyaaba, I believe I told you, in one of my earlier letters that the people of this country, while collectively demonising ethnicity have acquired a new aegis, the political party and this new mode of identification is now our primary source of division. If I have not, then stand informed. The division has permeated all spheres of life. Nyaaba, even in Churches and Mosques, positions are allotted according to whose party is in power. Furthermore, the fortunes of even ethe mega televangelists rise and fall depending on whether their party is in power or not. Even in the very small rural parishes this ugly phenomenon has made its appearance and promptly installed itself. Yes, Nyaaba, it is true, for how can you be a Parish Council Chairman if you cannot make a handsome collection at service or a respectable donation at harvest?
Nyaaba, you can therefore surmise that it has also permeated the-less-divine precincts of national life. And yes we have come to accept it!
Interestingly we seem not to expect that from our diplomats, those people who are frequently selected from among party faithful, many of whom possess little relevant formal training for the job and many of whom gained prominence from purveying political garishness.
Nyaaba, so when the now not-so- honourable High Commissioner made his comments, I too was shocked but unlike many, I am not yet sure whether to join in the symphony of condemnations or to quietly shut up in admission that the man was just being honest. Maybe Ghanaians cannot deal with the truth and would rather be treated to falsehood.
Nyaaba, maybe I know why, diplomats are supposed to be diplomatic because what I seem to be hearing is that he should not have verbalised it if even he inwardly felt it. So Mr High Commissioner, why could you not have just not said this and gone about your duties in that manner anyway?
Nyaaba, I am also very vexed that this diplomatic faux-pas has once again given us the excuse to take our attention away from pertinent issues. Nyaaba, take for example the weather, which is so hot these days that one does not need a soothsayer to know that CSM will be here any moment and that we are most likely not prepared.
Nyaaba, I cannot end without warning you that in Ghana, even the colour of the sky is debatable. If you think that is ridiculous, you get two people, one each from NDC and NPP and see if they will agree on the colour the sky. If one says blue, then the other must find another colour. Everything in this country is party-coded. And you either belong to one or be allotted one, based on which position you take on an issue.
In Ghana there is no animal like neutral.
On that blatant note and until next market day,
I remain your sincerely