Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Understanding the "Kiss Good Bye" affair

A Touch Of Nokoko By Kofi Akumanyi

I have sat back in the past few weeks and thoroughly enjoyed the tit-for-tat game over spies between the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom.

Various commentators have written on the merits and demerits of the whole spy scandal and erudite analysis produced on why the West German intelligence, for instance, failed to anticipate the defection to the East of their man.

Now that Mr Gordievsky has quietly settled into a comfortable British country house and the scandal appears to have subsided, I would like to submit that another bombshell is in the works which is guaranteed to shake the whole world to its very earthquake ridden foundation. How do I know, you may rightly ask?

My contacts in the murky world of espionage inform me that the lull is aimed at enticing all the remaining KGB and CIA spies masquerading as businessmen and what-not into a false sense of security. The timing could not be more appropriate since Christmas is just a couple of months away. They also told me to expect another set of expulsions primed for just before Christmas designed to completely ruin the Christmas festivities for all involved.

While we wait for that, there are a few knotty issues that I would like to share with you on the whole East-West spy-catching competition.

In the first place do General Secretary Gorbachev and Prime Minister Thatcher really have to go through all this agonising and nerve racking role of expulsions when they both know that spying is part and parcel of diplomacy?

Answer: Spying, for all its worth, is a serious business even if it is difficult for some people to know exactly what they are spying on. The KGB is as active as the CIA in each other's areas of influence and for as long as inter- national relations operate, spying will go on.

The recent CIA case in Ghana may go down in the history of spying as one of the classics in the mode of "The spy who loved me".

The day Miss Scranage met handsome Michael Agbotui Sousoudis her days as CIA operative in Ghana were seriously numbered. Miss Scranage claims Mr Sousoudis, her lover, used threats and intimidation to extract classified information from her which he, in turn, passed on to the Ghanaian authorities. The strange aspect of this particular case is that when the Americans arrested Mr Sousoudis and Miss Scranage they put them both before court instead of the normal practice of expelling non-nationals. The experts explain that poor Sousoudis is not a diplomat accredited to the United States of America but a businessman as he himself admitted. Why in the name of all the gods at once Captain (rtd) Kojo Tsikata did not catch on to this simple process of converting the private businessman into one attached to the Ghana Embassy in Washington, as the British and the Soviet Union do, must be an indication of the lack of sophistication of our spying network and profession.

However, for the Americans and to some extent the Soviets, the art of spying has been elevated to the state- of-the-art level, which, thanks to the all-pervading Western film industry, and indeed the media, we have all faithfully assimilated.
"Simple" as our Peace Corp teacher became affectionately known in the school, was collecting data on the kids to be fed into the central computer at the CIA headquarters in Washington.
In spite of the glamorous image of spies portrayed through the James Bond movies in which, side by side with 007 grave-yard humour, panache, and gadgets that can do almost anything, I got to know early in life (even before James Bond became a household name) that spies come in all sorts of packages. This fact has been reinforced in Africa, or at least in Ghana, where the spy-tag can be slapped on anybody on the slightest suspicion.

In the early sixties America unloaded an arsenal of men and women teachers and technical staff on Africa, but to many of us at the time these people for all intents and purposes, were not what they seemed to be.

Officially, the American Peace Corps personnel were sent to Africa in their numbers to help the development process during the Kennedy era fostering closer cooperation with African countries emerging from colonialism.

For some reason or the other, I and my school-mates thought it was good fun to accuse our teachers of being CIA agents in disguise.

One particular episode needs to told. An American Peace Corps mathematics teacher of our Form 3 class, we all believed with unalloyed simplicity, was a spy through and through. It was for the simple reason that he seemed not to know the first thing about the subject he was supposed to teach. Almost invariably he always got muddled up as he walked through an example of a theorem and was working on the blackboard. Whenever that happened he appealed to the best mathematician in the class to help him out. Having finally got t answer right he would say in a low voice to the class "SIMPLE?" which we all responded equally loud "SURE!".

Well, having determined that he did not know enough mathematics to teach a Form Three class we concluded that the only reason the Peace Corp Organisation sent him to Ghana was to gather information. As to what sort of information we never got close enough to find out, until last week.

Some twenty long years after the event and following the recent CIA activities in Ghana, I think I can make an educated guess at what our suspected CIA agent in the role of a math teacher was doing.

The CIA, working on the premise that Ghana at the time with Kwame Nkrumah as our leader would go places, decided to "catch 'em young' that is, the future leaders of the country, in their net. So "Simple" as our Peace Corp teacher became affectionately known in the school, was collecting data on the kids to be fed into the central computer at the CIA headquarters in Washington.

What the CIA has been doing with all the highly classified information collected about my school mates' school report in the sixties, I have been told rather laconically, is very explosive. Your guess, this time, is as good as mine!

talking drums 1985-10-07 Nigeria at 25 - A nation in a hurry