Akwaaba, yen onua! Ambassador Andrews gets the Ghana jollof thing

Meet the latest enthusiastic convert to all things Ghanaian – Gregory Andrews, Australia’s new High Commissioner to Ghana

His first connection with the continent of Africa dates back to 1974 in Kabwe, Zambia, where he started his education. Forty-five years later, Gregory Andrews is back on the continent – but this time round not in Southern Central but West Africa – specifically Ghana.

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: as a boy

Ambassador Andrews’s first introduction for himself on social media in Ghana read: “I am proud of Australia for its commitment to helping partner countries achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“Education and children’s rights and development are important priorities for me. I had a tough and disadvantaged childhood but a good education and my mother’s support and encouragement helped me get where I am today.

“I am looking forward to working with governments, community organisations, international partners and the private sector in all nine of my countries of accreditation [Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo] to help give West African children the best possible start in their lives.”

Ambassador Andrews also acknowledged that “some of my friends and social media enthusiasts” might consider him to be the Australian version of Jon Benjamin, the former British high commissioner to Ghana.

“Jon Benamin had his fair share of love for Ghana, its people, politics and almost every aspect of the Ghanaian life.”

Benjamin was the only diplomat who could tweet and talk like no other about anything in Ghana, from education and religion to politics and music, aside from his work as a diplomat.

Jon Benjamin
Jon Benjamin

Even though he is no longer the UK envoy to Ghana, he still finds time to tweet about Ghana and to mock John Dumelo (the actor) as well as reflect on Bishop Daniel Obinim (founder of the International Godsway Church). His attachment to Ghana still shines through.

But a new version of the old Jon Benjamin is emerging in the person of Australia’s new High Commissioner to Ghana.

“I will be calling on Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, to present copies of my formal letters from the Governor General of Australia,” Andrews said, on the eve of introducing himself to the Foreign Minister.

“It’s actually kind of a big deal. It will be my first formal opportunity to say, ‘Thank you for having me,’ to the Government of Ghana. So I want to look my best!

“Thanks to Ishmael, a local barber on South Liberation Link just opposite Alliance Française d’Accra, I am confident that I will be looking the part. Ishmael gave me a terrific haircut and had no trouble at all with my non-African hair.”

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: at the barber's

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: at the barber's

Meanwhile, he has found time to tuck into a few good plates of Ghana jollof and has developed quite a taste for the stuff – never complete without a bit of chicken, of course.

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: plate of jollof

He often takes a plate or two of Ghanaian salad, too.

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: chicken and salad

After Andrews met Ms Botchwey in August he said: “I am humbled to be Australia’s High Commissioner Designate to Ghana. And what an honour it was today to meet Ghana’s Foreign Minister, the Honourable Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

“I showed my sincere thanks for the privilege of living here on Ghanaian soil. In Indigenous Australian customs, we call that an ‘acknowledgement of country’. Of course, it is also just good manners. It shows thanks and respect. That’s what my mother and grandparents taught me.

“We had a really good conversation about gender equality, economic development and investment, and our countries’ shared commitment to the United Nations.

“I’m really proud that Australia and Ghana both have strong female leaders as our foreign ministers.

“Just in case anyone is wondering, my Ghanaian caftan was made by a fabulous local seamstress named Mimi. I thank her sincerely for it and am proud to support local Ghanaian businesswomen.”

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: meeting Shirley Botchwey

He has already won the admiration of Ghanaians who have been sharing his posts freely on social media. Some of the comments on Facebook read:

“You are the next Jon Benjamin.”

“I am already in love with your vibrancy and love for the local Ghanaian market.”

“Your multicultural aroma is infectious, keep it up sir.”

“I am happy you are doing your best not just to patronise Ghanaian businesses but rather championing their cause. Keep it up. Akwaaba.”

Oh, and speaking of patronising local businesses, Ambassador Andrews has not only been patronising local goods but also aggressively promoting them.

He is seen here (below) on one of his frequent rounds, buying bread near his office and asking Ghanaians to patronise the vendor’s goods.

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: buying bread

“I am putting on a sausage-sizzle for local staff and families at my High Commission residence,” he wrote on Facebook. “There is a lovely swimming pool that the children will certainly enjoy. And something as simple as a sausage, on fresh bread with onion and tomato sauce, can really bring people together.

“Lucky for me, Agartha who I see each morning when walking Kofi and Rikka, has lovely fresh Maa Regi bread for sale.

“You can find her just up from the High Commission opposite the basket weavers on Switchback Road. Tell her Gregory sent you and you may even get a discount.”

Eye on the private sector

As Gregory Andrew wrote recently, “Australia is one of just one of ten countries globally that have retained AAA credit ratings through the global economic problems caused by #COVID19. An important reason for that is the strength and strong governance of our financial sector.

“I know Ghana has received the praises of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for its economic and financial reforms. And I admire President Nana Akufo-Addo’s commitment to a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’.

“Aid always makes an important contribution, and Australia is proud to play its part. But private sector opportunities are unlimited – from small roadside businesses to large corporations.

“Today, with the help of Geoffrey, Esther and Quincey at the Labone Branch of UBA Ghana, I opened my first Ghanaian bank account. I am pleased to know that the money in my account will be contributing to economic growth here.”

It’s a hard dog’s life

The dilemmas of a high commissioner’s life aren’t all financial.

“Ghana, I need your advice about the name of my best friend and beloved dog here, Kofi,” Andrews appealed recently.

“Some of my followers have expressed concern about his name. They’ve said culturally, dogs shouldn’t have a name like that. But others among you have said it’s OK.

“In Australia we love our dogs and call them all different names, including human ones. But I want to do the right thing here.

“What do you think? Should I change his name?

“For background, I inherited him with the name Kofi. My Ghanaian colleagues here at the High Commission tell he was brought in as an orphaned puppy on a Friday.

“That’s how Kofi got his name.”

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: Kofi and Rikka

Dream ride

On another occasion the new envoy shared his love of life out on the road. “I got to drive a real Ghanaian truck! Well OK, not really. I don’t have my truck driver’s licence. But Zakaria and Yusif did let me sit behind the wheel for a photo.

“They were delivering new locally made ‘Honeymoon Mattresses’ from Latex Foam Rubber Products Ltd.

“Everyone in my family will have a nice new bed when they arrive in Ghana after schools reopen and flights resume. I can tell you I am already getting a good night’s sleep on my mattress. It is seriously the best I have ever had. Firm, but comfortable.”

Street art buff

Andrews has also been struck by the culture and is becoming a connoisseur of Ghanaian arts and crafts. “Accra certainly has some amazing street art! This piece by Ghana Graffiti Crew just off Oxford Street is my favourite,” he writes.

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: street mural

“It shows the strength, vibrancy and determination of Africa’s women. I found it on one of my daily exercise walks with Kofi and Rikka.

“For those who might be wondering, I haven’t forgotten about Kofi’s name, it’s just that I’m still working on it.

“And in other exciting news, I expect Rikka will be having some puppies in a few weeks!”

Aussie High Commissioner Gregory Andrews: buying cloth

Clearly, having gone through his orientation, Ambassador Andrews has become an enthusiastic student of Ghana and is loving his new environment and diplomatic work. We look forward to seeing and hearing more of him.

Fred Dzakpata

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.
Follow us on Twitter: @asaaseradio995
#asaaseradio  #TVOL

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected