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[2014.12.16]  Mad Men, Mad Women, Personal & Commercial Branding ...read more »
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[2013.03.10] Ghana – The Great And The Good
All ears pricked up as our tour guide spoke in a soft, hushed voice.

“That’s my father,” he said, proudly pointing to a black and white photo hanging in Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in the capital, Accra.

Our companion wasn’t your typical well-versed guide around former President Nkrumah’s Mausoleum. He was a tribal Chief, Nii Lante Obetsebi-Lamptey. And the gentleman in the photo was indeed his father, Emmanuel Odarkwei Obetsebi-Lamptey – one of “The Big Six” politicians alongside Nkrumah who valiantly fought for and won Ghana’s independence from Britain in 1957.

Distinguished features recognisable from the country’s banknotes and a statue we’d just passed on the roundabout named after him at Independence Square, Emmanuel Lamptey was found dead in a prison cell in 1963 after suffering a savage beating and acid attack, believed to have been ordered by Nkrumah himself.

Universally applauded for winning independence for the West African colony known as the Gold Coast, Nkrumah’s swearing in as first President of the new republic rapidly unravelled to reveal a dark character harbouring paranoid delusions that Lamptey and the rest of his cadre were out to oust him.

Having dined and discoursed with Heads of State and political leaders from Britain and China to Moscow and the US, jet-setting Nkrumah was overthrown in a 1966 military coup, and exiled to Guinea before undergoing skin cancer treatment in Romania. He died there in 1972 and his body flown back to Ghana for burial.

Showing no hint of malice, Chief Lamptey explained that Nkrumah’s Mausoleum is testament to a man who had garnered respect leading calls for Pan-African Unity, yet squandered the good faith of his people having failed to address their needs.

In recounting the birth of his nation, all the more poignant while resurrecting painful memories of his father, Chief Lamptey endowed us with a tangible, privileged view of history. He’s gratified playing a role in what is now a fully-fledged modern metropolis replete with the trappings of commercial development and high-minded construction, yet not so modern as to divest itself of its tribal traditions and customs.

Displaying the discreet ankle bracelet and brightly coloured sandals worn by one in his position – chiefs are chosen by a regional Queen Mother and tribal leaders to serve their communities in a legal and social capacity – he escorted us a short distance through the Ministries area to Jamestown, east of the Korle Lagoon in Accra’s historic fishing district, framed by James Fort and Lighthouse. Pride of place with its enviable seafront view stands Ga Mantse Palace, official residence of the Paramount Chief, where we arrived to catch a glimpse of a community case hearing in session.

Visiting the nearby John Wesley Methodist Church (one of our group worshipped there with her family at just a year old!), we heard bongo drums beating back home in Britain that Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson was an early candidate for Pope. A sign of high ambition destined for this golden coastal nation.
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