On August 31, 2018, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Ghana to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Frank Okyere.
In 1927, Noguchi Hideyo went to Ghana upon reaching the African continent, after three months at sea. H.E. Mr. Okyere expressed his gratitude for his discovery on the identification and vaccination for the yellow fever. Ghana has a research lab built by the Japanese for tropical disease medicines. H.E. Mr. Okyere explained that tropical diseases have been increasing in recent years due to global warming. H.E. Mr. Okyere thanks Japan for helping the infrastructural development in Ghana.
H.E. Mr. Okyere commented that he “believes in education”. He explained that “a stable country is an educated country”; education is important for good decision making and should be something everyone has access to. H.E. Mr. Okyere stated that education can prevent civil wars that are based on ideologies. In Ghana, primary to secondary level education is free. H.E. Mr. Okyere expressed that Ghana is trying to achieve the 100% literacy rate like Japan.
As the first step towards world peace, H.E. Mr. Okyere noted the importance of learning to appreciate each other. Many Ghanaian officers and peace keeping forces are working in the United Nations in pursuit of world peace. H.E. Mr. Okyere explained that there is a need for continuous interactions, through forums and compromises in the international world to achieve peace.
According to H.E. Mr. Okyere, the main cultural values of Ghanaian people include respect for the elderly, love for traditions, and peace. H.E. Mr. Okyere explained that Ghanaians value their culture through music and food, and also by wearing traditional clothes very often. H.E. Mr. Okyere also mentioned that Ghana is a peaceful nation without civil wars nor political conflicts. He conveyed that Ghana is a leading human-rights nation in Africa, as the nation has free press and no problems in its democratic elections.
Furthermore, as one main feature of Ghanaian people, H.E. Mr. Okyere commented that Ghanaian strangers are very welcoming and greeting. He explained that strangers greet each other on the streets, and even in the elevators, which is something that is rarely seen in Japan. In fact, some weeks ago in Japan, H.E. Mr. Okyere had been pleasantly surprised that a school child greeted him. H.E. Mr. Okyere believes that the Ghanaian culture of greeting is an important part of the friendship and support among the people.
Ghana is a nation full of nature. H.E. Mr. Okyere introduced that Ghana has many harmonious animals that villagers and visitors can meet. The paga crocodile, for instance, is very playful and does not bite, and even hippos peacefully visit some villages. H.E. Mr. Okyere also explained that Ghana has the highest canopy walk, highest temple, and beautiful waterfalls. H.E. Mr. Okyere also recommended visiting old slave castles built by Western nations, as some of them are still in a good state. Finally, H.E. Mr. Okyere expressed his hopes for visitors to enjoy Ghanaian food, such as fufu, which is similarly prepared to Japanese mochi, and jollof rice.
H.E. Mr. Okyere also mentioned Asante Kingdom, which has a rich tradition, with cultural aspects such as unique clothing and golden headbands. H.E. Mr. Okyere explained that in Ghana, you can find gold everywhere!
It has been four years since H.E. Mr. Okyere was appointed for his mission. H.E. Mr. Okyere, as the Ambassador of Ghana to Japan, expressed his hopes for the potential aspects Japan and Ghana can bring to each other. H.E. Mr. Okyere noted that Ghana can benefit from Japan’s management skills and technical knowhow, while Japan can gain from Ghana’s mineral resources, including bauxite (aluminum), magnesium, iron ore, lithium, oil, gas, dolomites (metals), and diamonds. H.E. Mr. Okyere aspires that through Japanese investors to Ghana, Ghana can turn its resources into products that can benefit the two countries.
H.E. Mr. Okyere explained that financial aid is a short run solution, and that he wants Ghana to move away from the begging for money, in the form of loans and grants. In other words, he hopes to see “Ghana beyond aid”. For example, schools must maintain running costs, which in the long run will only be possible through the improvement of efficiency. H.E. Mr. Okyere explained that there must be an increase in jobs for the future, as many Ghanaians leave the nation like refugees to find better income despite the absence of civil wars.
H.E. Mr. Okyere hopes that an equitable world can be met so that mass immigration, especially from developing countries to developed countries in search for jobs, will not be as prevalent as it is now. H.E. Mr. Okyere stated that because developing countries are have strong desires to catch up with developed countries, hundreds of Africans migrating Europe die every day. They migrate like refugees to Europe, where they think they can realize better lives.
H.E. Mr. Okyere noted the need for development in various places in Africa, as well as in Asia and South America as well. H.E. Mr. Okyere commented on the difficulty of the inequitable world. He explained that developing countries have little say in what the larger, influential countries do, but they should have a say for encouraging all nations to do the right thing.
Nevertheless, the world has been becoming more and more peaceful, and countries across the globe have experienced vast improvements in the quality of their lives since 1945. H.E. Mr. Okyere commented that people should be more appreciative and encouraging of peace and the opportunities for resources to be channeled to make our lives better.
H.E. Mr. Okyere believes that globalization is a “great idea”. He explained that Globalization prepares us into the 21st century, and hopes that it would lead to the betterment of the international society. H.E. Mr. Okyere used the analogy of two elephants fighting resulting in the grass suffering to exemplify the interconnectedness of the modern world. He explained that countries must look out from problems that are not directly related to them, because in one way or another, it would affect them.
As the Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Okyere expressed that he is positive Japan and Ghana will continue their good relations. Now, 44 Japanese companies are in Ghana, and his goal is to increase this number to 65. He hopes that he can meet the right people who can help investors to have the idea that Ghana is secure destination with good returns. H.E. Mr. Okyere is working hard so that more people can realize and “find Ghana worthwhile” to cooperate with.
H.E. Mr. Okyere mentioned that he had always been interested in becoming a businessman. He explained that business is a mindset ingrained in him, and is one that should be passed on to the younger generation. H.E. Mr. Okyere explained that he makes use of his knowledge in business to foster deeper relations between Ghana in Japan. H.E. Mr. Okyere commented that Japanese companies such as Honda are wanting to come to Ghana, which would be a great opportunity for both nations.
In Ghana, H.E. Mr. Okyere noted that there are various women in high level positions. In fact, there has been more women in school until the university level than men! He explained that there are no restrictions or wage differences between men and women in Ghana, and that women play a high role in Ghanaian culture.
H.E. Mr. Okyere expressed his hopes for students to open up to and appreciate the world more, as a “big place full of beautiful things”. Especially in the Japanese society, he hopes that people can be less weary of foreigners and travel more to different countries and continents.