“The President, John Dramani Mahama, has nominated Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare as Minister-designate for the newly created Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts”.
As soon as this announcement hit the airwaves, flood of questions began to flow from all quarters.
“Who is Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare? What does she do? Is she an arts and tourism person? Can she do the job?”
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These were some of the questions that filled the air following the presidential statement a few weeks ago.
But when she took her turn before the Vetting Committee of Parliament to be scrutinised before being approved as the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, more facts about Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, began to emerge – she is a 30-something-year-old mother of freshly born twins, wife and lawyer.
Her performance at the vetting undoubtedly depicted her as a brainy lady, who was full of confidence.
Last week, The Mirror visited her at her office at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts to interact with her generally, and also seek some answers to the specific questions that some members of the public, especially players in tourism, arts and culture had asked about her and the new ministry following her nomination.
“Madam, please what is your response to those who have said that the new ministry, which you head, is too loaded as the name indicates?” The Mirror asked.
“Well, I believe that tourism, culture and the creative arts complement one another so it is laudable that they have been brought together,” she said without blinking her eyes.
She explained, for instance, that festivals, which are cultural events attract local and international tourists and are also driven by creative arts products such as music, dancing etc. “So you see, tourism, culture and creative arts run together,” she underscored.
For those who wanted to know whether she had had anything to do with tourism, culture or the arts, the free-smiling minister said she was a lover of the arts and had indeed worked on a television project, “Court Precision,” which was a drama programme aimed at offering the public some legal education. She also enjoys travelling, which had exposed her to the essence and challenges of tourism.
And for someone who hails from the culturally rich Brong Ahafo Region and having worked in the Ashanti Region, which is a culture heat-beat of Africa, she knows the importance and role of culture in national development.
So talking to Mrs Ofosu-Agyare, one gets the positive impression that she is not in a wonderland at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts although she has spent much of her professional life working as a lawyer.
Sharing some ideas on how she was going to help the tourism, culture and creative arts sectors, Mrs Ofosu-Agyare said she was not going to rely solely on the central government for funds to push through her programmes.
“If well catered for, the tourism, culture and creative arts sectors can help reduce poverty and redistribute wealth. We will not necessarily wait for funding from the Central Government. We will raise sponsorships for our programmes and also sensitise the people to the need to own the projects that this ministry will roll out in the coming years,” she said.
She said she had begun holding meetings with all the stakeholders in the industry with the view to addressing all concerns and getting all hands on deck. For instance, the tourism authority has a board, the culture sector has a board and there is the need to set up a board for the creative arts industry to give them policy direction.
The minister said she would promote inter-ministerial collaborations to ensure that the new ministry worked closely with relevant ministries to achieve the tourism, culture and creative arts projections in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government’s “Better Ghana Agenda”.
For instance, I will liaise with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to introduce “Wednesday Wear” in addition to the existing “Friday Wear”, with the view to ultimately making made-in-Ghana clothing “Every Day Wear”. This, she said, would create jobs and spread wealth.
With money from the Tourism Development Fund, the ministry will improve existing tourist centres across the country. “In this regard, my team and I will embark on a tour of the country to get the true state of affairs”.
She was sure that the outlook of tourism, culture and creative arts in Ghana was bright, since the country had a conducive political environment for the promotion of the sectors.
After speaking for about 30 minutes, it was quite clear that the new minister had some good ideas, which if well operationalised, could yield some positive results.
But who at all is Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare? She was until recently, the Legal Aid Officer at the Legal Aid Scheme in the Ashanti Region. She is married to Mr Lawrence Ofosu-Agyare, the Health Services Administrator at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
She is the third of 10 female children born to Mr I.K. Adjei-Mensah, a former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister and Member of Parliament for Techiman South and Mrs Margaret Adjei-Mensah.
The minister is so fond of her siblings that she insisted that The Mirror mentions them all - Theresa Boakye, Margaret Agyei-Baafi, Alice Osei Okrah, Augusta Oppong, Susana Boakye and Vera Omani Agyekum (all Mrs). The others are Perpetual Agyei-Mensah, Barbara Agyei-Mensah and Portia Agyei-Mensah.
Growing up, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare saw the importance of education and spared no effort to climb higher on the educational ladder. She holds a Bachelor of Law, LLB (Hons) from the University of Ghana, Legon and a Qualifying Certificate in Law from the Ghana School of Law.
She is also a product of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Kumasi where she studied and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences. She was also at the St Monica’s Secondary School, Mampong, Ashanti Region, where she studied for the Ordinary and Advanced Level Certificates.
Mrs Ofosu-Agyare is a partner at the Holy Trinity Chambers, Kumasi and a board member of the Multi Trust Financial Services, Kumasi and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR). She is a member of the Ghana Bar Association.
She loves listening to music, watching movies and reading. And if you wish to put a smile on her face, simply put a bowl of fufu with hot light soup made with chicken before her and play some smooth highlife tunes. What happens next? Your guess is as good as mine.
Story by William A. Asiedu/Mirror