Mike Bennett: Temple had great second career

February 13, 2014 

Early in my career in the U.S. Foreign Service while serving as Branch Public Affairs Officer in Kumasi, Ghana, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of assisting Ambassador Shirley Temple Black in presenting a small collection of donated band instruments to the students at Prempeh College in Kumasi (a boys secondary school). After she delivered brief remarks, the local press approached the stage for a photo. She discreetly leaned over and whispered to me: “Let’s give them something useable – why don’t you pick up the trumpet and play something, and then I’ll grab the trombone and pretend to play with you?”

As soon as I started playing “Charge,” she took the trombone and, with exaggeratedly puffed-out cheeks, blew a few notes. Sure enough, that photo ran on the front page of the next day’s “Pioneer” (Kumasi’s daily newspaper).

Later that day, I accompanied her for an official visit with the Asantehene (paramount Chief of the Ashanti). She was extremely professional, articulate and persuasive in expressing the views of the U.S. government on matters of concern to both us and the then military dictatorship ruling Ghana. How fortunate we all are to have been represented overseas by this outstanding public servant!

Mike Bennett


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