Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah
Though separated by many independence years, Ghana, 62 and Namibia, 29, share a common independence birth month: March.
Our Founder, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, declaring our Independence on March 6, 1957, said it was meaningless unless it was linked to the total liberation of the African continent.
Namibia’s first President, Dr Samuel Shafiishuna Daniel Nujoma, affectionately called the Founder, by a grateful nation, declared independence for his country on March 21, 1990. It was the last remaining African country to gain independence until South Sudan took over that accolade when it broke off from Sudan in July 2011 fulfilling Osagyefo’s independence pledge. Namibia is one country that takes her AU Membership very seriously, celebrating AU Day as a national holiday and flying the AU flag and playing the AU anthem at all state functions
I arrived in Windhoek on a cold July 2014 morning. The welcoming party from the Ghana High Commission and Namibian protocol, with diplomatic efficiency, whisked me through the airport formalities and in no time, I was on my way to take up residence at 91 Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, to represent the interests of my country and the voice of my Head of State.
As we headed towards the city – the airport being some 40 or so kilometres away – the Head of Chancery used the opportunity to start her briefing: The presentation of Letters of Commission/Credentials, the meeting with the Chief of Protocol, then the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other “Courtesies” after the presentation, which was only three days away.
My first impression of the Namibian capital, Windhoek (pronounced “Vindook”) and people was a most reassuring one. In all my African travels, I had never encountered men, not women, who looked so Ghanaian, in terms of facial and physical attributes. When later I got the opportunity to say a few words to my Namibian hosts, I made that observation to their amusement and indeed appreciation too.
My presentation of the Letters of Commission was preceded by meetings with the Namibian Chief of Protocol, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs followed by rehearsals for the presentation. Before the presentation, one is not “recognised”. You cannot drive about with your country’s flag on the car, and neither can you attend official functions. The meeting with the Foreign Minister is meant to lighten some of these restrictions with the presentation of your “Open Letters”. With that you can be reporting to your own Mission and work in the office, but nothing more; and that is why an early presentation is most desirable. Propitiously for me, I arrived on July 20th and on the 23rd, the presentation ceremony took place.
Love at first sight
I have travelled many African countries, in fact, all the sub-regions and their capitals, but it is Windhoek, capital of Namibia that I can describe as my very favourite African destination. Neat, disciplined, stickler to the rules, portable and laid back, the City of Windhoek is a gem in Africa. Until about two or so years ago, it had the enviable title of the neatest city in Africa. Kigali, Rwanda has recently edged to the top but they are fighting to regain their top position.
It is a very huge country, Ghana can fit inside her three times in terms of land mass, but in human population terms, the city of Accra alone far outnumbers the entire Namibia. A great cattle farming country, I used to joke with them that they have more cows than human beings, which is true and as you can imagine an equally great meat-eating country!
Even though Namibia is as thirsty a country as any in the world, the rules are fairly stringent and alcohol sale hours are regulated. A mark of the country’s social discipline. In every liquor shop clear signs are displayed about the times you can or cannot buy alcoholic beverages…
They do not go deliberately jumping red traffic lights or honking/tooting indiscriminately or parking wrongly or putting up buildings where they are not supposed to! Even the shanty towns around Katutura (not exactly Nima but that’s the closest approximation), display some order! Namibians love to queue and would await their turn patiently for a service. How many times have I not seen senior cabinet ministers and other high-ranking public servants waiting their turns in long queues? Fascinating country. When I was there Namibia had some top Ghanaian professionals in academia and other fields. The associate dean of the medical school was a Ghanaian; the dean of the law school was a Ghanaian and many others…
On her 29th birthday, I pay tribute to the Land of the Brave and now that Air Namibia has resumed flights to Accra, I hope Ghanaians would take advantage to visit this enchanting country to enjoy its people, flora, fauna and much more – a great destination for leisure or business.
*Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah, MOV, is a former High Commissioner of Ghana to Namibia.
2019-03-22 09:43:08 6 months ago