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Opinions of Monday, 5 August 2019

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

Jon Benjamin, Boris Johnson and Ghanaian trivia

Jon Benjamin (JB), a former British diplomat to Ghana, has given a Twitter mention of Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, who has served as Queen Elizabeth II’s equerry since 2017 – and social media has gone gaga.

But the tweet only confirms that on the subject of Ghana, JB dabbles in trivia as his path to relevance.

No doubt, JB is quite popular among social media fans; he was also quite vocal when he served the Queen in Ghana.

An analysis of his Twitter handle reveals these facts – JB has the flag of Ghana associated with his tag images which suggests that either he discusses Ghana as a subject or he served in Ghana, both of which are correct.

From 24 July, the day he REMINDED his fans that the Queen’s “current equerry” is of Ghanaian origin to 31 July, there was not a single day he did not tweet about Ghana; and more worryingly those mentions about Ghana were all about trivial issues; he also takes the liberty to engage in a regular banter with his Ghana base.

Interestingly, JB has been using his Twitter handle to promote the European musical tour of Wiyaala, a Grace Jones lookalike, even on Wednesday when news from the AU sponsored All Africa Music Awards that promotes African music and tourism said: “It was a hard decision for us to withdraw the awards hosting rights for the next two years (2019 and 2020 editions) from the Republic of Ghana”.

What a bombshell! But rather we got a no context post from JB that does not help anybody understand anything properly.
All that is his right of course; he and his fans are perfectly entitled to have their say.

But, some of us know the Ghana as it was, as was set on a trajectory to become great, quite apart from the ghana that JB and his Twitter fans and frenemies are portraying out there; he has at least 26K followers.

It is therefore right and just – indeed our sacred duty – that we give our account of Ghana (with a capital G!), just in case the diplomatic orientation he got skipped important perspectives. And we do not blame him at all; our ghanaian leaders are also culpable.

Let us take his tweets about Nana Aba Anamoah, Kwesi Nyantakyi and Ibrahim Sanni Darrah, and his mockery of them for football scandals, as another example. Are the trivia not acquired by consuming too much ghana TV and radio?

JB also tweets about Rev. Daniel Obinim, a prophecy giver, and John Dumelo, an actor, and parodies their faux pas.

Meanwhile JB is taken seriously in the UK; he has high assignments in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It has never been too difficult to become an expert on Africa, not so?

Now, a proper guide and background that should inform such public discourse, especially from a diplomat.

More than SIXTY years ago, the Queen had a Ghanaian equerry; he was the OXFORD PPE GRADUATE, J.B. Odunton – a soft spoken thorough gentleman.

At that time, he did not have to escort an unelected leader, a narcissist, an inveterate Trump-like truth teller and a naked peerless Brexiter…..of whom to date JB has been mute. Any reason as to why?

The ministers, ambassadors and fuel coupon/plane ticket hacks of present day ghana should see JB Odunton wearing immaculately fitting morning clothes with his homburg, leather briefcase, and rolled umbrella; certainly no wife’s fur coat for him.

When such simple didactic information eludes vociferous experts you wonder.

As my mentor has been saying, “If you have nothing important to say, just sit down and watch proceedings quietly”.

Remember empty barrels………

JB may well be a good diplomat but his penchant for what my mentor calls “one line social media debates – devoid of well written submissions” is problematic.

Surely his cognitive powers – from which we can all benefit, go beyond the 70 words per post allowed per tweet.

Should this not also be a warning for the hirelings of “big men” who are also fond of posting ghana trivia on social media?

We remain on guard.

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