Lieutenant-Colonel Timothy Ba-Taa-Banah, Head of security, Tema port.
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us your connection with France?
I was born in a missionary camp where there were French priests and sisters with whom I got to learn how to speak French. I studied French in school and even taught French during my National Service. Within the army I was sent to places such as DRC, Rwanda and Ivory Coast, all francophone countries, and I took part in the 2010 session of the Ecole de guerre (“War School”) in Paris.
What was your reaction when you found out you were going to France, and once you had arrived?
I had visited Europe before -Spain, Germany and Switzerland, so I was really glad to have the opportunity to visit France. I had learnt French history in school but now I had the chance to visit historic places such as the Saint-Gildard chapel in Nevers, Lisieux in Normandy, and Montmartre in Paris.
How has your experience in France been beneficial?
Professionally speaking, since only high potential soldiers are selected to join the Ecole de guerre, my diploma is highly recognized. The skills I developed there are really valuable for inter-agency work, and enable me to work excellently even when under pressure. I can also easily communicate in numerous exchanges with landlocked countries as part of my work is in Tema, and accords me a somewhat diplomatic skill. I also try to create an atmosphere of brotherliness, that the French motto promotes, amongst senior officers in Ghana.
What are your views on France as a country?
One really experiences the true meaning of liberty, and travelling around the country is a real pleasure as the French are very hospitable. I was surprised by the contrast between my preconception about the country, stories I had heard about the cities and the reality. I still got to visit around fifty cathedrals including the ones in Nice and Chartres!
What is your opinion on relations with France and the French language here in Ghana?
The Ghanaian authorities should be inspired by France to ensure equal opportunities with regards to education, health or enrolling in the army, regardless of one’s region, otherwise sentiments of division might occur, potentially creating conflicts. Everyone must be given an opportunity which has to be seized by the individual. I also appreciate the work of the Alliance Française, however its programmes should be accessible in all parts of the country, especially in Wa. We must raise awareness among students and soldiers about the importance of learning French in order to work for the African Union, the ECOWAS or the UNO.
Any final words?
The Ecole de guerre trains military experts, which I am proud to part of, however for political stability, our societies must also be able to understand each other, which means that the learning of French and foreign cultures is integral in the region.