National day with emotional farewell

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Ambassador Hege Hertzberg is due to end her term in Ghana in the end of June. During the celebrations of Norway’s National Day this week, she bid farewell to Norwegian citizens, friends and partners in government, business and the diplomatic corps.

“In a few weeks, we will leave Ghana after four eventful, demanding, inspiring and magic years,” Ambassador Hertzberg said in her speech at the official reception on May 16th.  “These four years have taken us all over Ghana, and also to large parts of West Africa, as I have been lucky enough to serve as ambassador to nine countries in the region.”

“I followed the Ebola from the scary beginning of the outbreak, to the joyous celebration of its end. I held my breath during several terror attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire. I saw the people of Burkina Faso raise and make a text book example on how to oust a dictator and create a democracy. I saw the same thing in the Gambia,” she reiterated.

Official reception

About 200 guests turned up in the residence for the official reception on the evening of the 16th. It turned out to be an enjoyable event, with Norwegian salmon and good friends. A small drizzle could not spoil the fun.

The Ambassador commended Ghana for its democracy, going back to the way the “Pink Sheets”-case was handled. “Last year I watched the well managed elections in December, and then the smooth transfer of power in January. My respect for the democratic institutions in this country is high.”

Summing up her achievements, she mentioned Norway’s main cooperation with Ghana on oil and gas, both through aid and through commercial cooperation. “The embassy has also supported various projects concerning health, environment, gay rights and women’s rights. But to me, the biggest achievement is that we have convinced the Norwegian investment fund Norfund to open an office in Accra and start investing in West Africa.”

Ambassador Hertzberg went on to list the things she would miss the most, and the things she would not miss, after leaving her posting in Ghana.

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon Mr Habib Tijani, was head of the government delegation and conveyed greeting on the Norwegian National Day.

Traditional celebration with Norwegians

The actual day, the 17th of May, the Ambassador and her husband hosted a full day of celebrations for citizens in her residence in Accra. As custom demands, the day started with the hoisting of the flag, before Ghana Army Band took the guest on a parade in the neighbourhood.

After the parade the guests settled poolside for a small program, before diving into a traditional Norwegian 17th. Of May lunch buffet. In the afternoon, there were games for children, hot dogs and ice creams. 88 adults and about 27 children attended this years event.

9th grade student at Lincoln School, Viktoria Svane, was the official 17th of May speaker at the event. She congratulated everyone and reiterated the history of the National Day, celebrating independence from Denmark and a new constitution in 1814. She also compared Norway and Ghana and found a few similarities.

“Ghana is one of Africa's best countries to live in. Here it is peaceful. Both countries have a lot of fish and oil. Many foreigners come to live here, to create a better life for themselves. This is how it is in Norway as well. And Norway and Ghana are working together to create peace and development in many other countries.”

“We who live abroad may be a little extra home sick on May 17th. Therefore it is nice to be here at the embassy today. It's a little piece of Norway, after all!” she said, before asking the guests to make sure they got themselves another ice cream.

Speech by HE Ms Hege Hertzberg

Speech by Ms Viktoria Svane (in Norwegian)