Chris Koney’s column: When diplomacy meets royalty:
At the beginning of the year, Enrique Escorza arrived in Ghana as the newly appointed Mexican Ambassador to Ghana. As a career diplomat from 1991, he has held various positions in Mexico and abroad with the most recent being the Deputy Head of the Mexican Embassy in the People’s Republic of China.
A few weeks ago, Ambassador Escorza made a very important trip to the Garden City of Ghana, Kumasi, which is also the capital of the Ashanti Region. There, he visited the Manhyia Palace where he paid a courtesy call on one of Ghana’s most revered opinion leaders and an eminent traditional authority, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
Instead of a quick 30-minute flight from Accra to Kumasi, Ambassador Escorza opted for a four-hour journey by road to experience first-hand the scenery of other parts of the country. He was also looking forward to witnessing activities in other communities across the country and encountering inhabitants of the countryside.
Ambassador Escorza revealed that the motivation for the courtesy call on the Asantehene was to pay homage to His Majesty, who happens to be a very important personality with an influential role in maintaining the peace and stability of the country as well as the wellbeing of his people and Ghanaians at large.
“When you read the history books on Ghana, and what the people had to endure before becoming what they are today, you clearly see the different phases, from the original owners of the land to the colonial period then the modern-day Ghana.
The importance of tradition and the role the Asantehene and chiefs of the other tribes played cannot be downplayed through the struggle. And for me, it was important to have that contact with the history and the chieftaincy institution. I do not see myself performing my role as ambassador without seeing such a great king and leader of the society a lot of people look up to,” he added.
On his impression about His Majesty, Ambassador Escorza praised Otumfuo, who also serves as the Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), for his numerous achievements in various sectors including education, health, human capital development, youth empowerment and many others.
He further disclosed that “I know the Asantehene is a very important person in the history of this country and the tremendous role he plays. Few weeks ago, I met an amazing man absolutely prepared with knowledge and an unbelievable capacity to make you feel welcomed in the Ashanti Region.
His Majesty stressed a very powerful message about our bilateral relationship and the tremendous opportunities we have here. I just didn’t meet a figure in the history of Ghana, but an active value of the Ghanaian society and I was very impressed meeting the Asantehene.”
According to Ambassador Escorza, his visit to the Asantehene was beyond just having a deeper insight into the makeup of the Asante Empire from pre-colonial to modern times and connecting with His Majesty. He further shared highlights of what he described as a very exciting and enlightening conversation with the Asantehene.
“First of all, I conveyed greetings from the staff of the embassy in Ghana as well as the good people and government of Mexico to His Royal Highness. I also assured the Asantehene that I will be performing my duties in line with always laid down principles and with respect to the Ghanaian culture.
I then touched on 60 years of bilateral relations between Ghana and Mexico. I also solicited ideas from His Majesty on how to strengthen and develop a unique relationship between the two countries and make my work in Ghana very effective. His Majesty urged me to explore the possibility of projects across various sectors that will impact on the wellbeing of the citizens and also be beneficial for both countries,” Ambassador Escorza indicated.
The Head of the Mexican mission in Ghana is positive on possible collaborations with the Manhyia Palace to create initiatives for Mexicans to be exposed to the Ghanaian culture and vice versa.
“In Mexico, we are also very proud of our history and culture. The country was built on a dream that one of the priests had and conveyed to the leaders. There are special values we both share as a people and as I listed my good intentions, His Majesty supported the initiative to bring our people, Ghanaians and Mexicans, together to know more about ourselves to explore areas of partnerships for mutual benefits,” he added.
Prior to the era of colonial rule which eventually saw the introduction of the modern-day democracy, Ghanaian communities existed and functioned with their own uniquely built system of governance. For the promotion of peace and harmony in the society, there was a very useful tool for social control mechanism, which is chieftaincy.
Traditionally, the chiefs have power and authority to control their people and therefore were accorded the respect the office deserves. Those who flouted the rules were hauled before the chief for trial and punishment. For this reason, people are forced to comport themselves and this also ensured development in the society.
On the argument of whether chiefs are still important in recent times, Ambassador Escorza believes chiefs continue to hold a symbolic cultural role in today’s democratic dispensation. Contrary to the argument by some people that democracy has encroached and weakened the importance of chiefs, he justified the relevance of chiefs citing the status of the Asantehene.
“As everyone knows, His Majesty plays an important role in Ghana. He shares his opinion on several social, cultural and economic issues and the fact is that people listen to him, from individuals to highly placed persons in society. His institutional role remains very critical and of great positive impact, something that we truly admire in a traditional leader,” he concluded.