Magazine article New African

'Our Long Presence in Ghana Has Made Us Part of Its History': Lebanon's Charge D'affaires in Ghana, Ahmad H. Soueidan (Pictured below), Traces the History of the Lebanese Community in the Country and How It Has Impacted on Its Economic Development

Magazine article New African

'Our Long Presence in Ghana Has Made Us Part of Its History': Lebanon's Charge D'affaires in Ghana, Ahmad H. Soueidan (Pictured below), Traces the History of the Lebanese Community in the Country and How It Has Impacted on Its Economic Development

Article excerpt

Q Some Lebanese families in Ghana have been here for three or four generations; what are the historical routes of the Lebanese community in the country?

Who are the oldest families? A: The Lebanese presence in Ghana dates back to 1884; this is what the records say. They came to this country on their way to Latin America where we have a big population. For one reason or another, those people were dropped on the coast here. For some time some of them thought they were in Latin America but then they discovered they were actually in Africa. That is how it started; and they continued living in this country. They worked hard and managed to have some successes in business. They married and raised children here. Other Lebanese people joined them later.

The records show that the first Lebanese to come to Ghana was Melhem Shbib, in 1884. But many others came after five or six years, and they are amongst the oldest families, such as the Kalmoni family, Azar, Ashkar, Fattal, the Fakhrys, the Dakmak and Laba Captain; just to mention a few.

Q: How would you describe the relationship between Ghana and Lebanon and what is the embassy doing to tighten it?

A: Ghanaians and Lebanese started their relations long before the modern states of Lebanon and Ghana came into being. It is a very close relationship dating back more than 100 years. It is a relationship between the peoples themselves; they were living together, marrying from each side, and enjoying success together.

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The Lebanese participated in the economic development of Ghana and are part of its society too. Many of them even consider themselves to be more Ghanaian than Lebanese. So it is a very strong relationship because it started between the peoples themselves with no official mediation and long before the diplomatic relations between the two countries started.

Q: Which are the key sectors that the Lebanese community has invested in and what is the current trend?

A: Well, globally the Lebanese are known to be good traders and messengers of peace and culture. However in Ghana, in the early 1980s, most of the Lebanese shifted towards various industries in conformity with the policy of the then government. They are still running these industries (plastics, automobile, ICT etc) which constitute the backbone of the Ghanaian economy.

Q: What are the current plans and objectives of the embassy?

A: We are trying to build on the long-standing relationship between the Lebanese and Ghanaians, and to develop the bilateral relations between the two governments. In fact, there is a lot to come in various fields. …

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