The ‘Kaya’ Diplomat
The ‘Kaya’ Diplomat

The ‘Kaya’ Diplomat

Author: Ambassador Kwame A. Tenkorang
Pages: 330
Publishers: Digi Books Ghana Limited
Distribution: University of Ghana Bookshop
Price: GH¢200
Reviewer: Nii Addokwei Moffatt

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Ambassador Kwame A. Tenkorang’s story is an account of events and episodes that he encountered in his 41 years as a Foreign Service Officer.

He explains that such a story coincides with the life and service of other high-ranking personalities who played a role or directed Foreign Policy of Ghana, as their lives crossed.

These interactions, he further states, play a major role in developments of his career, fashioning the Diplomat that he became.

In the Foreword to the The ‘Kaya’ Diplomat, with the subtitle, Diary Notes of a Ghanaian Diplomat another Diplomat and Journalist, Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, points out that diplomats, by the nature of their work, become not only witnesses to history, but in many instances participants in the very knotty and complicated dynamics that define international affairs and the destiny of nations.

Ambassador Blay-Amihere makes it clear that those diplomats who worked in the higher echelons of the  Foreign Service were privileged to have rich and rare perspectives of the workings of the service to share when they decided to write their memoirs.

Distinguished

Ambassador Tenkorang is one of such individuals who has had a long distinguished diplomatic life that saw him travel all over the world and in the course of his career, working closely with two Heads of State, Presidents Evans John Atta-Mills and John Dramani Mahama.

He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ghana as a young service officer in 1976, and by dint of hard work, he rose through the ranks from an A5 Foreign Service Officer to A1, the top as an Ambassador having served in many capacities within the Ghana Foreign Service, both at home and abroad, ending his career in the service as a Director of State Protocol.

There is no doubt that when you have a passion for an activity, you are likely to excel in that endeavour. It’s no wonder, therefore, that we have this entertaining book by Amb. Tenkorang, who tells us that when he was a young man, he liked to tell stories and also write them.

He said Literature was his favourite subject in school, and he loved reading the assigned literature books; that love is seen as he chips in a quote here and there in the book, The ‘Kaya’ Diplomat, where appropriate in his discussions.

According to him, he even tried his hands on what he considered poetry, but never got anywhere with it.

Ambassador Tenkorang had contemplated becoming a journalist, but as fate would have it, he ended up becoming a diplomat. I would not be the one to tell you the circumstances that led to that. He tells it his way and even lets us know why he chose the title The ‘Kaya’ Diplomat.

Story

The story, written in a simple down-to-earth language, is captured in Seven Chapters under various topics beginning with The ‘Kaya’ Diplomat in Chapter One, where he explains how he came by the title of this book. 

For those of you who have heard the word Kaya and don’t know what it means, this book gives you a detailed meaning of the word, including the very famous phrase Konongo Kaya, which has come to signify selfishness and the negative connotation of one who wants everything for himself and no one else. Even though the one cannot undertake the chore or activity, he/she would not allow any other person to attempt it. The origin of Konongo Kaya has been provided.

How the author came by the title of this book is quite hilarious and I would not want to spoil the fun by attempting to narrate it. In the same chapter and the next, he tells us about his career beginnings and one cannot help but smile as the story, beautifully woven, and stringed together in a simple style that carries the reader along, tells us about his national service days, Kilometre 101, student politics and so on.

Book of history

The ‘Kaya’ Diplomat is a book of history and the happenings during the Acheampong, Rawlings era, and Presidents Limann, Kufour, Atta-Mills and Mahama eras all find a place in the book, and readers not too old at those times would find enough information to recollect.

Kalabule, the floggings and the subsequent preparations for constitutional rule are pieced together with Ambassador Tenkorang’s juicy stories about his career as a foreign officer.

His opinion of Parliament, where he was seconded at one time, is quite interesting. According to him, “Parliament was not a big deal. To some extent, it was almost theatrical at times, with more posturing than serious work apart from book keeping. For anyone listening to reports of proceedings in parliament, the impression was that of a serious institution doing serious work.”

However, he says, his own assessment was completely different. “It appeared to me that members were there principally to play to the gallery for the sake of fame, with an eye on the next election. 

Student

You will find Amb. Tenkorang’s time as a student in Nairobi and his Liberian friend, Gbarwou’s wicked cooking, the Okat, Abo and Monica triangle during the Rawlings era, among other things, also very interesting. 

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I am sure that if I was young, the author’s experiences would have inspired me enough to want to work with the Foreign Service. Such rich experience is rare and not many people have had such experiences and enjoyed them to the maximum as has Ambassador Tenkorang.

You must pick a copy of this book (hard copy) and read about all the wonderful things in this work that I could not talk about for lack of space. I have not touched on things that happened in the Kufour era, such as “Stray dogs, Roads and the Chinese, “Eminent person” about Rawlings and his visit to Botswana through Adis Ababa, and, of course, the betrayal of Joseph Attah.

Then there is the Atta-Mills and John Mahama era, with so much to be shared. But, alas, not enough space to say it the way reading it yourself would do. Interesting stuff. 

Dear reader, pick a copy; for it is surely a must-read that would have you extremely fulfilled. 


Reviewer’s E-mail:- [email protected]

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