Announcement

NOTICE ON VISA ARRANGEMENTS FOR YEAR OF RETURN

“THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA HAS INTRODUCED NEW MEASURES THAT WOULD ENABLE VISITORS TRAVELLING TO GHANA DURING THE YEAR OF RETURN TO OBTAIN VISA-ON-ARRIVAL.

TRAVELLERS ARE, HOWEVER, TO NOTE THAT THE FIRST OPTION WOULD BE TO OBTAIN VISAS FROM GHANA MISSIONS IN THEIR COUNTRIES OF RESIDENCE.

THE NEW ARRANGEMENTS ARE EXPECTED TO SIMPLIFY CHECK-IN PROCEDURES FOR BOARDING PASSENGERS AND EASE THE BURDEN ON TRAVELLERS WHO ARE UNABLE TO OBTAIN GHANAIAN VISAS IN THEIR COUNTRIES OF RESIDENCE.

THE NEW ARRANGEMENTS ARE VALID TILL JANUARY 2020.”

NEW VISA ARRANGEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A. SINGLE ENTRY THREE (3) MONTHS-SIXTY DOLLARS (US$60)
B. MULTIPLE ENTRE FIVE (5) YEARS-ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS(US$100)
C. EXPEDITED PROCESSING OF VISAS SHOULD BE REFLECTED AS OPTIONAL FEATURE

ARTICLES

Letter from Windhoek
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, September 2014

Love at first sight
“As I approached him with my Letters of Commission and my predecessor’s Letter of Recall, President Pohamba looked at me and said ‘Awaaba’. I was so taken by surprise that my tongue could not come up with the correct Akan response and all I could manage was ‘Medaase’!”

I arrived in Windhoek on a cold July morning. Though I had been warned to expect very low temperatures, it being winter in southern Africa, I had completely underrated the warning and so was hit hard in the face by a chill that nearly flew me back to Accra! There was no frost but the dry cold I felt was more biting than many of the winters I had experienced before in freezing Europe. This was Africa and yet the temperature was telling me a different story.

I was most embarrassed, fearing that the welcoming party from the Ghana High Commission and Namibian Protocol would notice my shivers and ineffective attempt to hide my quivering lips and chattering teeth! With diplomatic efficiency, they whisked me through the airport formalities and in no time, I was on my way to take up residence in Windhoek on Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, to represent the interests of my country and the voice of my Head of State.

As we headed towards the city – the airport being some 40 or so kilometers away – the Head of Chancery used the opportunity to start her briefing: The presentation of Letters of Commission/Credentials, the meeting with the Chief of Protocol, then the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other Courtesy Calls after the presentation, which was only three days away.

It all seemed so unreal. A few hours earlier, I was in Accra, another ordinary Ghanaian citizen and here I was, now representing the honour and dignity of my country, and being accorded all the privileges reserved for very important people, representing my President.
I squirmed inwardly, not finding the words to exactly describe my emotions: fright and pride jostling for supremacy within me all the while. But the vast expanses of hills and open fields soon engaged my interest and I spent much of the drive enjoying the un-spoilt landscape of the outskirts of Windhoek.

My first impression of the Namibian capital, Windhoek (pronounced “Vindook”) and people, was a most reassuring one. In all my African travels, I had never encountered people who looked so Ghanaian, in terms of facial and physical attributes. When later I got the opportunity to say a few words to my Namibian hosts, I made that observation to their amusement and indeed appreciation too.

The average man on the street may not know that there are rules to the conduct of diplomatic representation, which have to be strictly observed to the letter, in short, Protocol.

I remember when the President’s nominations became public knowledge and my name was included in the list, many people kept asking me when I would be leaving. Very little is known of the Vienna Conventions, the international agreements regulating diplomatic relations among states parties. From the time of a government’s nomination of an envoy, to the time that envoy assumes office can take anything from two to twelve months! I had to wait for about three months for my clearance to take up residence in Windhoek.

My presentation of the Letters of Commission was preceded by meetings with the Namibian Chief of Protocol, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs followed by rehearsals for the presentation. Before the presentation, one is not “recognized”. You cannot drive about with your country’s flag on the car, and neither can you attend official functions. The meeting with the Foreign Minister is meant to lighten some of these restrictions with the presentation of your “Open Letters”. With that you can be reporting to your own Mission and work in the office, but nothing more; and that is why an early presentation is most desirable. Propitiously for me, I arrived on the 20th of July and on the 23rd, the presentation ceremony took place.

State ceremonies are often very solemn and dignified affairs and none more so than the Presentation of Credentials or Commissions. One may note the slight difference between the two here: An envoy from a Commonwealth country accredited to another Commonwealth country is a High Commissioner and presents Letters of Commission, whereas the rest are Ambassadors and present Letters of Credentials. I therefore went with my Letters of Commission, duly signed by President John Dramani Mahama and presented them to his Namibian counterpart, President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Another important document is the Letter of Recall of my predecessor – H.E. Major General S.A. Odotei in this case.

Six other envoys were presenting their letters that day: from The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, The Kingdom of Thailand, The Kingdom of Lesotho, The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, The Republic of Sudan and the Republic of Burkina Faso. These were all seasoned diplomats with residence in Pretoria, South Africa, but it fell on me, the novice, to present my letters first and also respond to the President’s remarks/toast – again, another manifestation of the rules… Because I am resident, I take precedence over the others, no matter how senior they are to me in diplomatic practice.

The presentation went very well, without any hitch but as I approached him with my Letters of Commission and my predecessor’s Letter of Recall, President Pohamba looked at me and said ‘Akwaaba’. I was so taken by surprise that my tongue could not come up with the correct Twi Akan response and all I could manage was ‘Medaase’!” Love at first sight may be an over-used cliché but its import never diminishes and that’s how I can describe my first impression.