Monday, March 7, 2022

‘The goal is to impact women more positively’

Patricia Dzifa Mensah-Larkai

   When it is 9 a.m. in Chicago it is 3 p.m. in West Africa. A fact I learned Friday, chatting with Patricia Dzifa Mensah-Larkai, an administrator at the Ghana Boundary Commission, which tries to keep that nation’s borders and internal boundaries where they are supposed to be and settle disputes.
     “Most Ghanaians speak or understand nine major languages,” she said, ticking them off: Twi, Fante, Akuapem, Ewe, and such. “That doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. Not everyone is able to understand all the different languages.”
     Mensah-Larkai also speaks French and English, which is how we could communicate. As to why we were talking, thank Toastmasters International, which sent an email introducing “five inspirational females” to commemorate International Women’s Day, which is Tuesday. The holiday was established by the United Nations in 1975 to “honor the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.”
     Toastmasters held their 87th international convention in Chicago in 2018. Regular readers might recall I went and discovered a touchingly sincere, upbeat global organization that seems to exist on a plane apart from the grim chaos of daily life, which goes double for both International Women’s Day and the UN.
     That could be reason to either embrace them or ignore them. I chose the former, asking to speak with the inspirational female in Africa because, really, how often do you get the chance?
     “I love to empower women, in terms of giving value, making sure the skills are God-given, not just on certificates but putting them into practice,” Mensah-Larkai said. “To say, ‘I’m not going to settle for less. I’m going to work and try, not to attain the average, but always strive for excellence.’ To ask myself, ‘What I can do better?’ and then look for the answer.”
     She grew up in metropolitan Accra, a city of 4 million people, in what we’d consider a cop family — her grandfather was a police officer, as was her mother. Her father — both her parents are deceased — was career military.
     I wondered how the public and law enforcement get along in Ghana.

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