Ghanaians Queensland | High hopes for new High Commissioner
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03 Oct High hopes for new High Commissioner

Ghana HC (1)

Mercy Debrah-Karikari

This is my first visit to Australia. I find the people warm and friendly and the natural environment beautiful. I think the land is blessed with many natural resources and for me the wonder, charm and beauty of the landscape, unique environment and the rich biodiversity simply testify to the greatness of God who is the Creator of all things. I am also impressed by the diversity of nationalities living in the country and the extent to which the Australian Government has succeeded in nurturing a multi-culturally harmonious society.

There is a relaxed and serene atmosphere for work which is attributable to a receptive Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Parliament, a friendly and closely-knit Diplomatic Corps and a traffic-free Canberra which makes life more comfortable than in most cities.
I am settling in nicely with the wonderful assistance provided by the Mission staff, colleagues in the Diplomatic Corps and friends among the Ghanaian diaspora. My husband had to leave after the presentation of my credentials to go back to Norway where he currently works as a consultant neuroradiologist. He will return to Canberra in December.

My first month has been fruitful: I have been able to present my credentials and participate in DFAT briefings and other activities of the Diplomatic Corps. I also attended the Africa Downunder Conference in Perth and met with a cross-section of Ghanaians in Perth. Finally, I have paid courtesy calls on several colleague Ambassadors and High Commissioners in Canberra. These activities have helped to open important doors of cooperation which are critical for my work.

Beginnings

Both of my parents are from the Central Region of Ghana. I began my elementary education in Tema, completing the Tema Parents Association School in 1971, and gained admission in the same year to Wesley Girls High School, Cape Coast, for my secondary education. I had two years of sixth form education at the Tema Secondary School before proceeding to the Cape Coast University where I obtained my first degree – B.A. (Hon) Arts and a Diploma in Education. I also studied for a diploma in French studies at the Universite de Haute Bretagne in Rennes, France in 1981 during my year abroad as a language student.
In 1984, I became a Teaching Assistant at the French Department of the University of Cape Coast. It was around this period that I realised that while I was ready to contribute to national development, teaching was not my calling. Meanwhile, my studies in French and the year-abroad programme had opened up new perspectives of other countries and their role in international affairs which often made me ponder Ghana’s contribution on the global scene, particularly with the hindsight of the country’s struggle for independence and support liberating the African continent.

The road to diplomacy

Against this background and during my year of national service as a Teaching Assistant at the university, I found myself among a group of student leaders seeking to make an impact on politics on campus and beyond. Partly influenced by this group, some ideals of socialism and the need to improve the lot of the poor and under-privileged in society, I was attracted by the work of the UN and began to read more on development issues, acquiring a keen interest in the UN and the need to work for a change in international relations – a change that would see, among others, poor and weak countries receive fair remuneration for their commodities, as well as receive assistance to lift themselves out of poverty. With this in mind, I applied for a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the relevant exam and interview and was offered employment in 1987.

Two years after joining the Ministry, I pursued a Master’s degree in International Affairs at the University of Ghana, Legon and have since then taken courses in diplomacy, commercial representation, economic diplomacy and human rights.

Engaging Ghanaians in Australia

My mandate includes seeking the welfare of all Ghanaians irrespective of political affiliation, ethnic and religious background. It is my hope that during my tenure, the Mission can achieve a high level of regular and meaningful dialogue and cooperation with Ghanaians in Australia. We will begin by requesting the various Ghana Associations to submit their key activities for the year to enable us incorporate them into the Mission’s annual program. This will enable me and other staff members actively participate in the activities of the Ghanaian community. Our participation will involve visits to the various cities during which we can have both face-to-face interactions and town- hall-style meetings. These meetings and radio interviews should provide appropriate fora for discussions on government policies and the general political, economic and social progress in Ghana. I will be particularly interested in receiving your views and inputs for advancing Ghana’s interests here, fostering good relations between Ghana and Australia and for growing our economy back home.

It has been a pleasure to learn from both DFAT and the Mission Staff that our compatriots are generally law-abiding and valuable members of the community. This is laudable

Challenges

A major challenge of the Mission is the lack of reliable data on Ghanaians living in Australia. I encourage all Ghanaians to register with the High Commission to assist in building a database that will enable us reach out to everyone. A reliable database is a prerequisite for the prompt delivery of consular services and formulation of appropriate policies by Government in respect of Ghanaians living abroad. It will certainly also help the Mission maintain regular interaction with the Ghanaian community. The registration form is available on the Mission’s website.

Deepening relationships

I also intend to do my utmost to fulfil my mandate of deepening the relations between Ghana and Australia, as well as our countries of concurrent accreditation for our mutual benefit. Within this context, I will seek to advance the interests of Ghana with a view to enhancing our prosperity, including through increased trade, investments and technical cooperation, establish regular interaction with the Ghanaian community to promote their welfare and interests and encourage them to contribute to the development of our nation and the promotion of a positive image of Ghana.

A call to arms

May I take this opportunity to thank all Ghanaians who have played a role in and continue to contribute to national development.

I urge Ghanaians, while helping to build this society, to also pool your resources together to work for the good of Ghana through the promotion of our trade, tourism, investments and industry. On my part, I pledge my full cooperation in the endeavour to promote our mutual interests and uphold the name of Ghana.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity, through this newsletter, to introduce myself to our community in Queensland and elsewhere. May God establish the work of our hands and bless our homeland. Long live Queensland, long live Australia and long live Ghana.

High Commissioner’s profile

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