Saturday, December 17, 2011
Foreign Minister’s unpardonable gaffe
“The illiterate and shallow minded Negro, who can see no further than his nose is now the greatest stumbling block, in the way of the race. He tells us that we must be satisfied with our condition, and that we must not think of building up a nation of our own. He will say that we must not seek to organize ourselves racially, but we must depend on the good feelings of the other fellow for the solution to the problem that now confronts us. This is a dangerous policy, and it is my duty to warn against it. The Negro must take it upon himself to better his own condition.” – Marcus Garvey
According to a peacefmonline.com news report, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, has said his outfit cannot coerce foreign missions in Ghana to treat Ghanaians who engage their services with the necessary respect they deserve as citizens of the country.
The report was titled: “Embassies Cannot Be Forced To Respect Ghanaians – Minister.”
Here is a quote:” The Finder newspaper reported on Tuesday some inhumane conditions Ghanaians go through in their bid to acquire visa from these foreign missions. They are sometimes made to stand for long hours in fair or wet weather waiting to be attended to by officials of these embassies.
“We have handled these issues in the past, but it has always been consistent with diplomatic practices,” Alhaji Mumuni told Citi News. “We cannot order or compel, all we can do is to engage in negotiations with them. And they have been fruitful. ”
Others have questioned whether the Ghanaian Parliament was not adequately empowered to pass laws that could deal with such issues, however, the foreign affairs minister explained that diplomatic matters were handled delicately.
Alhaji Mumuni explained that some of these foreign missions enjoy some immunity underscored by certain treaty obligations making it very difficult to impose some minimum condition on them, adding that the only way to get things to change is through continuous dialogue.
He said that the surest way of dealing with the problem was “to approach these issues, as the complaints came and negotiate with the foreign embassies to achieve positive results. ”
“We must realize that our greatest enemies are not those on the outside, but those in our midst. When we recognize the enemies on the outside, and do not allow them to pass. Then we have those on the inside working with us to destroy us, without our knowing.” Marcus Garvey
I have used this column to lament the government of President John Atta Mills moribund foreign policy thrusts.
It is sad to see Ghana, the country that was previously regarded as the continent’s moral compass, and one that championed African causes reduced to mere spectator as the New Imperialists ran riot on our blessed continent.
But with people like Alhaji Mumumi at the help of affairs at our ministry of foreign affairs and regional integration (whatever that’s supposed to mean), one can begin to understand why Ghana’s voice was muted in the epochal events that happened in La Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
And with the likes of Alhaji Mumuni heading the ministry that was supposed to integrate the West Africa sub-region, little wonder that there is absolutely no movement on integration despite all the noises our leaders continue to make.
No, Mr. Minister, you got it badly wrong. We do not need negotiation to tell foreigners to treat our people with respect. And it is simply wrong for you to say that “And they have been fruitful.”
No, your negotiation (whatever you meant by that) has not been fruitful as a visit to any Western Embassy in Accra will easily attest.
No, Mr. Minister, Ghanaians do not ask for the moon when they ask that they be treated with some modicum of respect by countries that decide to set up embassies here.
And it is wrong, plain wrong for people like Alhaji Mumuni to continue to think that some people are in our country to do us some favour by their presence.
It is wrong for Ministers in the Ghana government to continue to believe that they need to negotiate in order for foreign embassies to stop treating our people with impunity and abject disrespect.
I have been to several Ghanaian embassies and missions abroad, and I have seen firsthand how a poor, HIPCed, third world country like Ghana always manages to make her embassies as attractive and as comfortable as possible.
Even in the missions that are not that palatial, decent reception arrangements are always in place, as a matter of course.
This is how it should be.
It is just simple courtesy that human beings should be treated with some degree of dignity and respect. This is what westerners appear never to understand.
We know that Europe has, due to its penchant for insane wars to maintain her ill-gotten wealth, bankrupted itself, but even then Western Embassies cannot plead poverty when to come to providing basic necessities like sitting places and conveniences.
It does not cost much to erect decent reception and provide decent furniture for clients, which is what Ghanaians that go to these embassies are.
If I go to any establishment to transact business and was made to fork out over one hundred dollars, the least I expect is to be provided a seat and treated with some courtesy. I don’t know why this is too difficult for Minister Mumuni to grasp.
The Embassies charge arms and legs for the services they provide, and we ought neither to beg nor negotiate with them in order for them to provide some very basic comforts for our people.
“If white people were dependent on others, they would not be as successful as they are today. If Japan were dependent on other countries, she would not be as successful as she is today. As long as the Negro is dependent on other groups, he will remain the lowest down.” Marcus Garvey
It is saddening and equally maddening that we have people with slavish mentality like Alhaji Mumuni as ministers in this age and time.
As someone that has spent close to three decades campaigning for African self-assertion and self-confidence, I feel totally appalled and scandalised to read the pathetic message from the foreign minister.
With the type of mindless mindset Minister Mumuni displayed, I now know why we are treated shoddily and with utter contempt when we have occasions to visit Western embassies.
Our own minister, kept at our expense, see nothing wrong in western embassies making us to line up like common cattle at auction, after they have collected huge sums of (non-refundable) fees from us!
Thanks to Wikileaks, we know that our elite love their parleys at these embassies where they are piled with expensive cocktails that never fail to loosen their tongue, in order for them to betray our secrets to foreign agents; now we have a minister who see nothing wrong in foreign embassies refusing to extend to us the most elementary of courtesies.
Those among us that have travel outside our shore know that these embassies do not do the same thing in Europe. The British will not put up embassy in Paris or the Italians in Warsaw without taken into consideration that people have to sit down and use toilets.
But when it comes to Africa, anything and everything go. After all, this is Africa! And our leaders think that the only thing we can do is to continue to beg to be treated as human beings.
Alas, the minister responsible for regional integration in Ghana appears not to know what is happening in his own backyard.
Miffed by shoddy treatments meted out to its citizens, the Nigerian government recently gave foreign embassies the marching order and asked that they speed up their visa processes, and ensure that Nigerians are issued or refused their visas in 3-days.
And here we have a minister in the Ghanaian cabinet stupidly telling us we are powerless to do anything when Westerners in our midst continue to treat us like colonial subjects, and that our only recourse is to negotiate.
“If you have no confidence in yourself, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence you have won before you’ve started.” - Marcus Garvey.
Slavery and colonialism did much to damage our people’s psyches and reduced us to the lowest of the lows, but do we need to continue to accept insult upon indignities?
Methinks that it is high time we jettison our slave and colonial mentalities. It is time we make other people realise that we are affronted whenever our dignities are insulted.
What I know is that were Ghana to set up embassy in The Hague and fail to provide comfortable reception, the Dutch visitors there will find it unacceptable and raise a ruckus.
To begin with, I believe that we will have enough respect for the Dutch people to even dream of slighting them so.
That is all, Mr. Minister, simple respect; elementary courtesy.
And Mr. Minister, next time you go on your cocktail circuits, be reminded that power is transient.
Today due to the position you hold in government, the Western embassies treat you with false respect and high protocol; in few years when you no longer hold your current post, and have occasion to go to these embassies, you will be rudely confronted with the types of indignities your compatriots are made to go through.
Today you think that such crass disrespect can be treated only with negotiation, but by then you will rue the fact that you failed to do something when you had the power.
It is then it will dawn on you that, no, Ghanaians did not ask for the moon when they asked to be treated with simple courtesies and respect.