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General News of Wednesday, 5 April 2017


'Unusual diplomat' Jon Benjamin reminisces about time in Ghana

He has contributed to Ghanaian discourse, sometimes raising eyebrows about how he casually touches on some sensitive national issues.

As British High Commissioner, Jon Benjamin prepares to leave Ghana in June, he spoke to Joy News about his time in the country.

Mr. Benjamin believes some Ghanaians take some of what he described as British humour far too seriously.

After the December 2016 election, the UK High Commissioner Jon Benjamin was forced to delete a tweet believed to have been targeted at former President John Mahama who lost the election.

Jon Benjamin tweeted that the Harmattan season had suddenly begun and wondered whether it had been inaugurated.

Although he made no mention of the President, the joke was a familiar jab at President Mahama who had been mocked on social media for a spree of project commissioning weeks to the elections.

The UK High Commissioner, who has not shied away from commenting publicly on Ghanaian politics appeared to have joined in the social media jabs and mockery.

His propensity for humour was not lost in the tweet. But it appeared to have been lost on some Ghanaians on social media.

Many on social media reacted angrily to the tweet, believing it to subtly mock President John Mahama.

The anger appeared to have had a toll on the UK High Commissioner who deleted the tweet.

During his time, Jon Benjamin gained a reputation for his tweets on issues publicly discussed. One of his favourite targets was the controversial founder of the International Godsway International Church, Bishop Daniel Obinim.

He took to twitter to mock Obinim after he was charged with physical abuse contrary to the Domestic Violence Act (732). The Bishop stoked controversy after he said in the church he could change to animals and appear in people's dreams.

But looking back at his time in the country, Mr Benjamin said although he is aware of people accusing him of unnecessarily meddling in local issues, he does not "agree with that accusation."

He explained that traditional diplomacy is mostly veiled from the public hence the need for diplomats to interact with people on social media.

Responding to suggestions that his tweets were largely politically motivated, he said, "I have put out some tweets that many people didn't like but what I don't do is going around insulting individuals by name, but what I get back is insults and some level of abuse."

The British High Commissioner who was speaking on the sidelines of a Princess Anne reception to commemorate Ghana’s 60th Independence Anniversary also endorsed his favourite Ghanaian dish, Ghana Jollof, stating it is superior to Nigeria’s.

Mr Benjamin who said he enjoys Jollof with Tilapia added, "I don't lose the opportunity to tell Nigerian friends that the Ghanaian version of Jollof is superior."