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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

You Can't Eat "Potential," Mr. British High Commissioner!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
July 19, 2014

I have no doubt that the new British High Commissioner to Ghana means every word of it in principle, at least, when Mr. Jon Benjamin describes the former African colony of his country's as "a vibrant country with huge potential" (See "Ghana Is a Vibrant Country with Huge Potential - UK High Commissioner" 7/18/14). Unfortunately, we are in the twenty-first century and far more sophisticated and enlightened as a people than those toddler days when a largely culturally, intellectually and morally diffident Ghana could passively consent to every connotation and nuance of the word.

The word in question, of course, is the rather tired diplomatic adjective of "potential." It means that there is a great possibility for Ghana to remarkably advance towards a middle-income status, as the West condescendingly, even if also politely, chooses to characterize the desultory efforts of pathologically corrupt Third-World leaders to facilitate the rapid advancement of their various countries' economies.

I have absolutely no doubt that Mr. Benjamin knows fully well that such morbidly sanguine projection is a pipe-dream. It is a pipe-dream because we have been hearing this for ages; and it gets to a point when even the most cretinous among our hoodlum lot wises up to this perennially cynical, albeit quite well-crafted, charade. It is a charade because both sides of this make-believe dialogue are well aware of the fact that it is a game whose outcome ought not be necessarily what is actually desired on either side.

For starters, for anybody who has been living here in the United States for as long as I have - and I am fast closing in on my third decade - is well aware of the fact that when it comes to international politics and economics, Ghana is merely a marginal appendage in the diplomatic crosshairs of Britain. Thus Mr. Benjamin could only be joking when he asserts that Ghana's "network of relationship with the UK is second to none." This is the kind of vacuous assurance that one makes to a clinical idiot. Which is not exactly the same as yours truly saying that Mr. Benjamin may not actually be sincere about his assertion, and observation, to be certain.

He definitely may well be - at least in much the same way as a satyriatic john on the cusp of orgasm with a floozy, or even a paid slut. The fact of the matter is that the first ports of call, when it comes to relations between any country to the United Kingdom of Great Britain, which is the full-name of John Bull that the reporter either forgot or deliberately failed to capture, Ghana is the farthest blotch in the mind of the key operatives of Westminster culture. At best, Britons love Ghanaians in much the same way that a zoologist who has trained a Rhesus Monkey to acquire and readily use a couple of impressive words smugly tugs at his goatee in rapturous celebration of such "relatively epic" achievement.

Relatively epic, because that is practically the fullest extent of it all. When a real human and a kinsman appears on the scene, the game changes immediately. In other words, when it comes to Britain's relationship with its friends and relatives abroad, the key associates and allies are, of course, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy and all the other usual similar-looking suspects. This is how it has been since the cradle of humanity or, if you will, the beginning of time. And this is how it is likely to remain for the rest of time.

We know Mr. Benjamin is a well-meaning young man eagerly poised to making his mark in the august pantheon of Britain's diplomatic culture abroad and, perhaps, even at home as well. We also fully appreciate the practical limitations of diplomatic flummery.