I thought the Elephant was obvious. But I could’nt make out the Lion in Ghana’s political history, so I delved deep into Kabral Blay-Amihere’s Between the Lion and the Elephant t to discover the mystery of the Lion. But the lion and elephant Blay-Amihere, who is a columnist for this magazine, refers to in his memoir of his time as an Africa diplomat are beyond Ghana’s political theatre. I will not give away my hard work of probing his book, but I will be generous to give clues: the Lion and the Elephant have connections with explorers and colonial masters.
In the first part of Blay-Amihere’s book, he embarks on a journey of discovery as a new diplomat in post-war Sierra-Leone. What may strike a chord for Ghanaians is the history that Sierra Leone shares with this country: prior to his exile in the Seychelles, King Prempeh I, spent four years in Sierra Leone . He joins the strands between the Ashantis and Maroons of Freetown who have historical roots in the Caribbean.
In the first few chapters Blay-Amihere goes to great lengths to establish his political leanings which were different from the government that appointed him. He also discusses what journalism and diplomacy have in common.
He takes sides on the perception that his appointment as a diplomat was an attempt by the then new government of John Kufuor to weaken the media. “The appointment of other professionals such as doctors and engineers was not seen as a loss to their professions,” he said of the perception of his appointment. He also reveals that at the time of his appointment, he had mentally come to the end of his career as a journalist and had been offered a line for a new adventure. The part of the his book mainly dwells on his work and experiences in Sierra Leaone, while the second part centres around his second station as a diplomat– Cote I’voire.
He devotes a whole chapter to President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire in an attempt to unravel his complexities and political survival. “My first impression of him is that he will be nice to know socially but as with all politicians their acts in the political arena could be something else,” he said of his initial contact with Gbagbo. Blay-Amihere’s book is certainly a handbook for diplomats and will also be useful for anyone interested in the history, the national psyche and the general business environment in the countries of Sierra Leone and Cote I’voire.
Although Blay-Amihere has done a thorough job documenting his experiences as a diplomat and that diplomacy comes through in his writing. He walks the middle ground and staves off controversy in most parts of the book.