The entrance of the British Council
The entrance of the British Council

Why this ‘entrance exam’ at the British Council gate?

A question for the British Council (BC), please: Does the Council now require attendees at events held there to pass a sort of ‘entrance examination’ before they’re allowed to enter the premises?

My experience there in the afternoon of Thursday, April 13, 2023, is the reason for my question.

I arrived at the British Council, Accra, in an Uber car to attend a magazine launch at 4 p.m.

As expected, a security man immediately started doing a security check on the car as we waited for the gate to be opened.

Through the gate, I could see that there was a group of drummers waiting in front of the reception, and the place was bustling with activity.

To my surprise, a uniformed woman security officer appeared and asked the driver what I was coming to do there, or words to that effect.

She also came round to the window of the back seat where I was sitting to repeat her question to me.

I told her that I found her question strange.

“Isn’t a magazine launch taking place here? Isn’t this an events venue?”

Despite the curious question, I would have understood her if there were many halls there and so she wanted to know where to direct me; or if there had been no activity there that afternoon.

But that was not the situation.

Visibly annoyed, she retorted, “Madam, take your time!”

I repeated that I found her question strange.

When the security check was over, I was expecting the gate to be opened, but she then told her colleague not to open it because I would have to get down and enter through the small gate.

I asked her “So is that my punishment?”

I repeated that question two more times before she curtly told her colleague to open the gate.

After I alighted at the entrance, a few minutes later, I saw at the gate a colleague, Kofi Yeboah, General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association, one of the launch hosts, getting out of a car.

After what appeared to be an exchange with the security woman, he walked in through the small gate.

Mr Yeboah explained that the woman had refused to allow the Yango (a ride-hailing car, like Uber) to enter the premises because Yangos were not allowed in.

His explanation that the driver was only dropping him off had no effect.

When the driver pointed out that he had seen an Uber entering, which only annoyed her more, Mr Yeboah said,

“She responded rudely …she was not courteous at all,” adding that he cautioned her about her attitude.

“I felt compelled to tell her to mind her choice of words. I think that is her nature.”

Ironically, Mr Yeboah, the Associate Editor of the magazine being launched, Media and Communications Review, was one of the organisers of the function and they had paid for the use of the BC hall.

It’s a long time since I entered the British Council premises, so I don’t know what their recent experiences have been, necessitating such a poor attitude at their gate.

If ride-hailing cars are not to enter their premises, why were we not told immediately we turned into the driveway?

Why were security checks being carried out on the Uber if the car would not be allowed in?

And, how reasonable is it that people who pay to use the BC hall are not allowed to enter the place in a ride-hailing car?

Furthermore, why should a guest at an event venue be subjected to a ‘what have you come here for’ query?

Are the gate persons not made aware of events taking place there?

Are they not expected to be polite to visitors?

At the very least, civility is expected from personnel linked with such a prestigious venue.

One wonders how many other visitors have suffered similar discourtesy at the British Council gate. 

Ajoa Yeboah-Afari (Ms), Dansoman Estate, Accra.    

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