Friday, April 27, 2007

Has Kofi Annan lost the plot?

It seems like it is not only Nigeria bigwigs who like the idea of celebrating national identity by no other means more than by blowing lorry loads of dosh on bringing oyinbo artistes over instead of hiring locals (guess who I'm talking about?). It seems like Kofi Annan still has traces of UN profligacy in his system. JG reports on what happened earlier this week in Accra:

On Monday 23 April, as part of the Ghana@50 celebrations, the orchestra from La Scala performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Accra.

Details are emerging from, for example, The Daily Guide and the BBC (see below) about the genesis, cost and impact of this ‘cultural exchange’. For example, it seems that the idea of flying the 180-strong orchestra from Milan to Accra for the single performance began with a ‘casual invitation to Daniel Barenboim in New York last December by Ghana's highest-profile international figure, Kofi Annan.’ David Willey, reporting for the BBC, added that when it came to taking plans forward ‘The president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, and the Mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, also helped.’

So the Airbus was chartered and the hotels were booked; papers were put in order and Kofi Annan’s ‘dream came true’: La Scala went to Accra. The tickets for the performance in the National Theatre were, it seems, mostly given away, and, according to The Daily Guide, ‘Members of the diplomatic community were copiously represented’ in the audience.

Apparently, ‘a few hundred’ tickets were on sale at $30 to $50 each, a price which, Willey appropriately remarked, was ‘well beyond the reach of the pockets of the average Ghanaian.’ Reports indicate that not all the seats were filled.

For some the performance was followed by ‘a post-concert party in Accra's State Banqueting Hall’. There, according to the BBC reporter, ‘Annan was beaming’. He is quoted as saying: ‘In international affairs, you have to learn how to create pillars and foundations in order to realise dreams.’

This is very true, and I only hope that in future Annan consults widely with those who have been erecting pillars and digging foundations before deciding which dreams should be realised.

Willey put the cost of chartering the Airbus at $500,000 and appropriately asks ‘was it really worth it?’ Presumably Milan took care of many of the bills, but one wonders how far income from ticket sales covered the tabs picked up in Accra. For example, it would be good to know the budgetary allocation used to pay for the ‘post-concert party’ and to ask if the whole event was an appropriate part of Ghana@50? So far, I have found no evidence in the Ghanaian press on-line that relevant questions are being asked.

All Africa
Ghana Base


Anonymous,  2:09 pm  

I would have expected more of Kofi Annan.......

How much of the money would have been used to rescue the child slaves in Ghana?

Saw a documentary by Rageh Omaar on the BBC, Oprah Show, Guardian newspaper etc (all these items can be googled - child slavery in Ghana)

I have many Ghanian friends who are so angry with the regime and goings on in Ghana that the rest of us do not know about.

Priorities - nil

Shame on Kofi Annan. I do not begrudge him pampering himself, he earned it. But isn't this taking elitism too far

Anonymous,  3:17 pm  

but anon and jeremy be careful some might say that Africa and African deserves this. they will say, why should it only be Europeans who can listen to classical music? They will tell you that Africans should be able to listen to 180 piece imported bands from Europe.

Of course, they are absolutely right. Africans should. But when only a very small section of Africans are able to enjoy this then it becomes very disturbing and distasteful. Surely, Annan and co could have made this more democratic - have ghanaians of all class enjoy this great tradition. have a live, public screening of the event so that different sections of Ghanians can benefit from it. then all the money spent would have been well worth it. But just for a small diplomatic core, it is rather extravagant methink!


My Talking Beginnings 9:50 pm  

Since when was lascala for the average everywhere????

Pseudo-Independence 9:26 am  

$500,000 for the world’s greatest orchestra, first visit to sub-s-africa.

for ghana, i dont see why not.

i think Kofi Annan has the right idea

Jeremy 10:07 am  
This comment has been removed by the author.

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