For a typical diplomat, the highest ranking representative of a specific country abroad, many will expect that he or she rides in the most expensive cars, eat at luxurious restaurants, be surrounded by heavy security and have less or no engagement whatsoever with the ordinary citizen of the host country.
But this is not the case with Gregory Andrews, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana. The situation with the envoy happens to be a different one because he is not one to be seen in jackets, three-piece suits, etc and in high powered delegation with bodyguards and convoy.
He is regularly seen in simple t-shirts and African print apparels, visiting small Ghanaian shops and touring some streets of Accra with his dogs, Kofi and Rikka.
Looks like Ghana has been lucky with some of these foreign diplomats as the story of former UK High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin comes to mind.
While on his diplomatic mission in Ghana, Jon Benjamin had so much interest in even the trivial issues. He was described by many as ‘controversial’ due to his regular commentaries on trendy Ghanaian topics. He joined social media trolls to mock Founder and Leader of International God’s Way Church, Daniel Obinim over the famous ‘Obinim stickers miracles’.
Recently, after news broke that Bishop Obinim was arrested by the police, the former UK diplomat tweeted, “I understand he’s being visited by his legal representatives, Messrs Nimokafui and Ayantafri. Or maybe he can turn into a snake and slither out of the police station?”
Jon Benjamin also gave Ghanaian actor and Politician, John Dumelo, a hard time with his jovial tweets on the V8 saga. He reminded Ghanaians of the V8 issue in a congratulatory message to the actor who was elected NDC Ayawaso West Wuogon Parliamentary Candidate for the 2020 elections. “@johndumelo1 – ayekooo paaaa for your nomination, the first step on a long political journey to becoming Ghana’s President – some time around the year 20V8,” Jon Benjamin said in tweet after the NDC Ayawaso West Wuogon primaries.
Like Jon Benjamin, Australia’s Gregory Andrews has become popular albeit not as controversial as Mr Benjamin.
The Australian High Commissioner to Ghana has gotten a lot of people talking with some comparing him to Ghanaian Ministers and politicians. Some Ghanaians are overwhelmed by the envoy’s interest in promoting small businesses and his involvement in social activities which is unlike “our own politicians”.
Freelance journalist, Selorm Helen took time off to have a brief discussion with the High Commissioner about why he is so different from all the other diplomats who are currently in Ghana or have ever been in Ghana to purposely represent their countries interests.
Ambassador Gregory Andrews has visited at least two local barbershops to get his hair trimmed, gotten his African print fabrics and shirts from roadside vendors at Osu in Accra and engaged in gardening at home with his ‘ordinary’ Ghanaian neighbours.
The latest act by the diplomat which appears to have placed many in awe of him is his decision to clean a rather filthy beach in Accra Ghana, Laboma Beach. Mr Andrews did not supervise the exercise, as many ‘big men’ and ‘big women’ in Ghana do but actually took off his boots on a rainy Saturday morning (September 19, 2020) to harvest plastic waste from a stagnant water body and cleaned the shores of the beach.
Watch the video below of how he drenched himself in the rain while cleaning Laboma Beach on World Clean-up Day 2020.
Why would such a ‘powerful’ man be involved in such menial things? Many have asked and wondered. Well, Selorm Helen asked a similar question and the Diplomat had a pretty interesting answer to provide.
According to him, while many may think he is just trying to make an impression and get people say he is a “nice guy,” this has been his way of life for decades now.
He said back in Australia, he would go grocery shopping, do the cooking and sometimes even do laundry for the entire household.
“I never really thought of myself as humble actually because in Australia I go to the local hairdresser. In Australia I do the washing and I cook dinner half the time and so I’m really doing what I’ve been doing in Australia,” he said.
Ambassador Gregory adds that he is a feminist with his greatest priority as the representative of the Australian Government being the promotion of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 5.
The Commissioner explained that gender equality – women and girls’ empowerment is necessary for a sustainable world, adding that he will ensure every girl has equal opportunities as their male counterparts.
“I call myself a feminist and people will say why are you a feminist? You are a man, and I say I’m a feminist because I want my daughter to have the same aspiration and opportunities as my son and I want all girls on earth to have the same opportunities and aspirations as every boy,” he stressed.
He also opened up on why he loves Ghana and black people in general. Catch up with the Australian High Commissioner in the video below