By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
Ambassador William George Mensah Brandful joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on 17th May 1977, after graduating from the University of Ghana as a career diplomat, and rose through the ranks to become Head of Mission, in October 2008, when he was appointed the Ghana High Commissioner to Zambia, under the administration of His Excellency, J.A. Kufuor. Before then, he had done stints in Benin Republic, Mali, and Germany.
In May 2011, he was transferred to Japan as Ambassador and concurrently accredited to Singapore, under the administration of the late President Prof John Atta Mills. It was the time which coincided with the Fukushima tsunami nuclear disaster, which devastated north-eastern Japan. He therefore had to wait for some time to watch developments and the fallout from the radioactivity, before finally moving to post in Tokyo.
One area of cardinal importance during his tenure was the active promotion of the good image of Ghana as catalogued below:
1. Upon inheriting the residence which until then had been rented out from the time the Embassy closed in 1989, with overgrown and unkempt grounds, the High Commissioner undertook major gardening and landscaping works, spread over its two acre grounds, including engaging a second gardener at his personal expense for a period of two years. The grounds were subsequently used to host the Breakfast Meeting organized in honour of Ghanaian and African football legend and maestro, Abedi Pele, when he visited Zambia on the FIFA-sponsored tour to showcase the AFCON Cup in 2009; as well as the Mission?s maiden Independence Day Reception in 2010.
2. The Ambassadorcompleted arrangements for the residence to be furnished with quintessential and vintage made-in-Ghana furniture, which still decorates the Mission, and gives ambience and d?cor, lending credence and testimony to Ghanaian craftsmanship and artisanship.
3. Between the time of arrival at post in 2008and the provision of his official vehicle in February 2010, the High Commissioner used his private vehicle as the representational vehicle in a bid to save cost, the usual teething problems associated with being a pioneer, and blazing the trail.
4. On the occasion of the birthday of Ghana?s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the High Commissioner, together with his staff, donated ?Staff-autographed? portraits of President Nkrumah to the National Museum of Zambia, and to the Office of the venerated ex-President of Zambia, His Most Excellency, ex-President Kenneth David Kaunda.
5. The High Commissioner developed such close ties with H. E. Dr. Kenneth D. KAUNDA, the first president of Zambia, such that Dr Kaunda personally graced functions of the High Commission of Ghana in Zambia, and also agreed to write the foreword of the book authored by the High Commissioner, Ambassador Dr William George Mensah Brandful.
6. Again, the High Commissioner, Ambassador Brandful, on his own initiative, set up the Ghana Shop and Skills Development Centre Limited in Lusaka, Zambia, as an avenue for promoting the sale of made-in-Ghana goods in Zambia. That was done in collaboration with the Ghana Export Promotion Council, whose high-powered team visited Zambia under his tenure. The operations of the Ghana Shop led to a huge personal financial costs and loss to the High Commissioner, especially in termsof rentals, manpower, and ancillary services,which loss is yet to be made good.
7. The High Commissioner takes personal pride in the fact that he successfully introduced made-in-Ghana indigenous clothing, alcoholic beverages, cuisines, chocolate, artifacts, and jewelry to high-ranking Zambian personalities, who patronized such products.Up to today, there is a lacuna and hiatus in Zambia for such Ghanaian goods.
8. When the transfer to Japan was announced, the High Commissioner?s pending arrival in Japan was notified to the Zambian Embassy in Japan by no other person than the then President of Zambia, His Excellency, Rupiah Bwezani Banda,with the recommendation that the Zambian Embassy in Japan should extend full cooperation to the incoming Ghanaian Ambassador to Japan from Zambia, who was re-accredited to Japan.
1. The Ambassador?s first official visit following the presentation of Credentials, was to the Fukushima Prefecture where he met with the Governor on 16 June, 2011 to commiserate with the people in the wake of the March 2011 Great East Japan earthquake; followed by a visit to Inawashiro City, the birthplace of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, the iconic Japanese scientist in whose memory the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research has been established at the University of Ghana Medical School in Ghana.
2. The French-speaking Ambassador, Ambassador Brandful, engaged fully with the African Diplomatic Corps in general, the ECOWAS group of Ambassadors, and the Francophone group, in discharging his duties as Ghana?s representative to Japan. On his final recall to base, the ECOWAS group of Ambassadors collectively signed a letter of commendation to the ECOWAS headquarters, underscoring the high esteem the group held for Ghanaian Ambassador to Japan, Dr William George Mensah Brandful.
3. The Ambassador made it his business to promote excellent relations with ?Lotte Company?, the manufacturer of chocolates with the brand name, ?GHANA?, using imported cocoa beans from Ghana. When he paid a visit to the manufacturing plant on Friday, 17 February, 2012, he was informed that he was the first Ambassador of Ghana to have undertaken that initiative. Discussions were concluded to receive periodic supplies of chocolates to be distributed to the numerous groups of school-going children who paid familiarization visits to the Embassy. Similarly, contacts were established with the management of the Cocoa and Chocolate Association of Japan to discuss ways to minimize the incidence of rejection of cocoa beans imported fromGhana. The Ambassador participated fully in the activities marking the 60th Anniversary of the Cocoa and Chocolate Association of Japan.
4. The Ambassador undertook numerous speaking engagements at universities and socialclubs. The close relationship developed with the UN University in particular, (whose first Ghanaian Vice Rector in 1979 was the late erudite and accomplished intellectual colossus and titan, the late Prof Alexander Adum Kwapong of blessed memory),made it possible for the latter to offer the use of the U Thant Hall, the biggest auditorium of UNU, free of charge for the memorial event arranged in honour of our late President, Professor John Atta Mills.
5. The Ambassador actively promoted inter-cultural dialogue and activities, including hosting a reception of ?Millennium Promise Japan?, an NGO at the Residence; supporting ?Yosakoi 2012? (a cultural festival involving a joint Ghana-Japanese group of high school students); and co-arranging with ?Min-On-Concert? Japan, for the tour of the Ghana Dance Ensemble to Japan. The one-month long tour of 19 Japanese cities was fully sponsored by the inviting Japanese organization without any cost to the Ghanaian Government. Additionally, the Embassy, under the administration of the Ambassador, continued to support the annual organization by the ?Funabashi Race Track?, of the horse race event called ?Ghana Cup Race?, in honour of the country. He participated in equal measure in the sponsored ?Ghana Charity Golf Tournament?. What crime did he commit as Ambassador ?Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary?, in inverted commas, as is the wont of every patriotic bona fide accredited representative of a sovereign nation to be now persecuted, ostracized, and held at arms-length? Judge you readers and countrymen of fair mind.
6. In 2004, the Ghana Government entered into an MOU( Memorandum of Understanding) with the Tokushukai Medical Corporation (TMC) for the latter to provide Ghana with specified medical services. The MOU went dead thereafter for lack of follow up on the Ghana side. In January, 2012, the Ambassador reactivated the MOU when a delegation of the Ghana Health Service visited Japan on an unrelated project. Following intensive discussions, the TMC arranged for a 4-member medical team from Central Region, Ghana(Interbetton) Hospital to be trained in haemodialysis treatment, and they returned to Ghana to follow up with preparations to receive 10 stations of haemodialysis equipment. At the official ceremony of handing over of the machines in August 2013, the Ambassador, now retired, was invited to Chair the function at Cape Coast. As per the negotiations undertaken by the Ambassador, the Cape Coast project was meant to be a pilot project; with the ultimate aim of getting ten stations distributed to each of the nine remaining administrative regions in Ghana. (Well, readers will question whether I acted intra vires or ultra vires. It is sometimes a matter of using your initiative).
7. By the time of final departure, the Ambassador had succeeded in paying a considerable amount of the Mortgage arrears due Lotte Company, in respect of the official Residence.
8. The Ambassador, accompanied by his spouse were received in audience by Their Imperial Highnesses for the farewell call, on 26 December, 2012 following which the Ambassador left post for good on 15 January, 2013. At the farewell audience, His Majesty the Emperor was gracious enough to accept the gift offered by the departing Ambassador.
In September, 2012 when the retirement date for the Ambassador had been announced as 31 December, 2012, he opted to accept the offer from the Mizutani group of potential investors in Ghana, first introduced to the Ambassador in March, 2012, of a sponsored space to be used as a private office, post-retirement, working with the group. The Ambassador signed for the facility in his private name, with Sakaedori Maruzen Co. Ltd, the Real Estate group. For the transaction to be completed, an ID of the tenant was required. The Ambassador therefore gave out his Diplomatic ID for the purpose, which act perhaps caused the brouhaha and media kerfuffle. It was done in good faith because it is normal for every human being to plan for their retirement or have an exit plan.
When, by December 2012, there had not been any follow-up to the offer to equip the space with office material, and with the perceived lack of interest on the part of the Mizutani group to set up their investment in Ghana, the Ambassador called for the facility to be cancelled. The cancellation became effective on 28 March, 2013.
Ambassador Brandful has since 15 January, 2013 lived in retirement in Ghana.
Ambassador Brandful served Ghana with dedication, zeal and commitment during his four year term as Head of Mission in Zambia and Japan, with concurrent accreditation to Singapore.
He has achieved the record of publishing in recent times, a book reflecting his personal experiences as a Ghanaian Foreign Service Officer, the focus of which is unparalleled going back to the last thirty years or so in the life of the Foreign Ministry. (Of course, diplomatic etiquette and nuances require some reticence, but in the face of misrepresentations and distortions concerning his tenureship as Ambassador, he has no option but to set the record straight, mindful that in an informatics age, everything is possible, what with wikileaks, among others. Prudence, forthrightness, and temperance are always the cautionary words).
Ambassador Brandful therefore dissociates himself from developments that have taken place in the Ghana Embassy in Tokyo, his former post, since 15 January, 2013.