Two Ghanaians have been awarded the French national order of merit, the second highest national order in France for their distinguished efforts in the exercise of their duties in public, civil and private life as well as the promotion of the learning of French and French interest around the world.
The two are Madam Lillian Osae-Kwapong, former board chair of Alliance Francaise in Accra (AF Accra) and Mr. Mawuli Ababio, a Ghanaian business mogul.
French National Order of Merit
In her statement before presenting the awards on behalf of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, French Ambassador to Ghana, her excellency, Anne-Sophie AVE, indicated that the medal of Merit is a star with six double branches enameled in blue, topped by a clasp made of intertwined oak leaves. The oak the Ambassador says “is a symbol of justice in France”.
“The centre of the star surrounded by intertwined laurel leaves (symbol of arts and literature); the central disc features the effigy of the French Republic”.
“Truth is that the national orders reflect the dynamism of society, by congratulating and rewarding citizens who have taken individual, innovative initiatives or have contributed to France’s influence in serving the community; they recognize the diversity of society, its cultures, origins, generations and different sectors of economic activity”.
“Unlike the Legion of Honour, National order of Merit was opened to women since its creation. In some exceptional cases, the Merit can be awarded to a foreigner, as it is the case today” Ambassador Anne-Sophie AVE said.
President Akufo-Addo who graced the award ceremony held at the residence of the French embassy on the 17th of June 2021, with his presence, congratulated the awardees for their exceptional service that has caught the eye of the French government.
Anne-Sophie AVE before presenting Madam Lillian Osae-Kwapong with her award said from a very early age she fell in love with the French language. she learnt it in Côte d’Ivoire where she spent part of her early days. Madam Osae-Kwapong ambassador Anne-Sophie said in the early 1980s, got in touch with the Alliance Française, the little “enclave” of French culture in Accra and worked with them at promoting the French language and the Francophone world.
‘You created and took part in events promoting the French language and the Francophone culture in Ghana. You even moved the Alliance to its current location in 1994. No wonder you were the chairperson of the board of Alliance Française several times between 1999 and 2019. You dedicated over 20 years of your life to the Alliance Française and the development of French in Ghana” Anne-Sophie AVE said concerning madam Lillian Osae-Kwapong.
In her eulogy of Mr. Mawuli Ababio, the French ambassador said in the year 2000, Mr. Ababio became vice-president of the France-Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GFCCI, forerunner of the current Franco-Ghanaian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CCIFG) until 2004. He also organized and accompanied President Kufuor to France for a state visit in 2005.
She added that Mr. Ababio has tight business relations with a number of French companies, to whom he provided consultancy like Lagardère Travel, or represented in Ghana like F.-C. Oberthur, Gemalto or Edifice Capital or the board of whom he served as a member like TOTAL Energie and Société générale.
“And what’s more, how do you still find time to actively work with the Alliance Française since you kindly accepted, in 2019, to take over the chairmanship of the board after Lillian” Ambassador Anne-Sophie AVE further about the award recipient, Mr. Mawuli Ababio.
The two award recipients after the presentation took turns to register their appreciation to the French government for the honour done them. They also expressed their thanks to the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for being present to witness the presentation ceremony.