My MBE: a wait and then a weight

Saturday, 05 November 2016

'My friends don't believe me when I say that we are going to see the Queen'. The words of the my eldest son.

As my appointment date at the Palace drew ever closer, my home has been a melting pot of emotions and feelings. Tension. Pressure. Excitement. Joy. These emotions have been magnified in the hearts of my children, all three buzzing about their business in eager anticipation of Thursday, 27 October 2016. My children had earlier told me about how that excitement had set their school communities ablaze. Their friends had caught fire with visions of the royalty and pomp. And although their minds were racing, my eldest son reported that his friends still didn't quite believe him!

To be honest, even now – months after I received the notice that few are privileged to ever receive – I find myself in exactly the same position as those friends of my children. I am still pinching myself.

Ten years ago, five years ago, even at the start of this year, if you had told me that I, Dentaa Amoateng, born in Juaso, Ghana, would one day find herself in the same corridors of power which once reigned over the place of my birth, that I would stand in that opulent and world-renowned residence of Queen Elizabeth II receiving one of the highest honours that can be bestowed upon a member of the Commonwealth, I would've chastised you for having the sheer audacity to tell me such a lie. And yet here I am, having lived in the audacity of my dreams. Here I am, having experienced the reality of those far-flung fairy tales of visiting the Queen's palace.

Here I am, holding my dreams in the palm of my hand.

Holding that pendant in my hand, I feel its weight. Not just its literal weight – that's probably the most insignificant thing about it. Holding it, I feel the sheer weight of the award, the sheer gravity of the recognition bestowed upon me. It is this which remains something I simply struggle put into words. But I must try.

One thing I must make clear, is that awards such as this are not earned alone. Left to me and my own devices, I would never have got anywhere close to this MBE.

My GUBA family – the GUBA Enterprise universe which consists of the GUBA Awards, Foundation, Expo and Careers Fair teams – have dragged me to this place of achievement. To my team, please know that I am the sum of your parts.

Every drop of your blood, sweat, and tears, every second of your time, and every joule of your energy coalesced into this moment.

The greatest powers in the land have seen our work and deemed it worthy of recognition. This victory is our victory. This MBE is our time in the sun.

Dentaa with her MBE and family

When I stood before royalty in Buckhingham Palace, please understand that I was not standing there alone. Yes, my precious mother, my wonderful children, and my incredible husband were there in person to support. But I stood with each and every one you there with me in spirit. All the encouragers. All the supporters. All the workers. Everybody who has believed in the dream. Everybody who has put in the miles to make Ghana and Africa as a whole stand tall. The celebrities and the stars who work among us in plain view. This award is for everybody who has contributed to the GUBA journey so far.

I would argue that the weight of this MBE goes even further than that. GUBA started as a way to recognise the positive contributions that a particular community of immigrants and descendants of immigrants have made to UK life, culture, and its economy. Yes, GUBA has recognised the high-flying entrepreneurs, the flamboyant footballers, and the fearless philanthropists, but it's also about the ambitious students, the hardworking doctors and nurses, the teachers, bus drivers, and community stalwarts who all play vital roles in the fabric of British society. This MBE is also for you.

Ghanaians form just one of many communities in the UK, so to honour me for recognising the contribution all the above make to UK society is an admission that what we bring and what we do is valued from the very top. And whilst I'm unashamedly pro-Ghana, this rhetoric should be extended to other diaspora communities – Nigerians, Polish, Indians, Italians, and countless others.

2016 will go down as the year where discord on the issue of Britain's current and future relationship with foreigners seldom left the headlines.

In spite of this, the Queen herself, through honouring me has added weight to the idea that Britain should and does value the Great Britain that we have all helped to create. 

This MBE is ours. This is for all of us. This is for Ghana. This is for Mama Africa. This is for people from all over the world who through being here have really put the 'Great' into Great Britain. 

God bless you, and congratulations to you all.

Dentaa with MBE outside Buckingham Palace