On the 23rd of May 1983, 20 Ghanaians from different parts of the country, met at the house of Enoch Ablorh, who had summoned them to discuss the formation of a union of all Ghanaians in Stockholm. That was a time when there were only a few Africans in Stockholm, and still fewer Ghanaians. It was a time when you nodded to any black man you met on the street. The discussions went well and Ghana Union, as we know it today, was born. Among those present on that day were, Anthony Turkson, Suberu Salaam, Cecilia Ashun, Clementina Mensah and Emmanuel Wiafe. These became the founding fathers and mothers of the union. Ato Ocran was elected to head a committee to draw a constitution for the union. Suberu Salaam became the first president. He headed the union in the first three years. He was later to become a very frequent president and, in some years, the only one available to save the union from extinction.
Twenty three years is a long time and the union has passed through many difficulties. It has also celebrated some stunning successes. In the 80s members took part in demonstrations, seminars, tv appearances and the like to protest against apartheid and other wrongs being done in some African countries.
The union was also involved in a number of projects in the motherland. The biggest of these was the building of a senior secondary school block at Asonomaso in the Ashanti Region of Ghana in 1994. Stephen Owusu was the then president and motivator of the project. The block was put up and equipped in record time with a generous grant from Sida. The union matched up the Sida aid with its own funds and organised the local effort. The secondary school is still functioning today. Stephen Owusu's tenure as president also saw the participation in the then Stockholm Water Festival of four Ghanaian youth under the age of 16 and an adult brought in with the sponsorship of Globetree Foundation. The Ghanaian youth were the only ones coming from an Africa county and placed third in the drama on water competition involving 50 countries.
The union's greatest activities remained those performed in our adopted land. Many of these were done through the various organs of the union. There is the Agoroma cultural troupe that plays at functions all over Stockholm and beyond spreading the culture of the motherland. The Youth wing makes sure that our children born here get together and acquaint themselves with some aspects of the culture of the motherland. The Women's Association organises the women to engage in activities that are particularly geared towards womanhood and discusses problems plaguing African women in Sweden. The women's day celebration has become an essential part of the calendar of the union. The parent union itself takes responsibility for organising the Independence Day celebrations that fall on or around March 6. 1994 saw the biggest of such celebrations which brought together the largest gathering of Africans in Stockholm at one function. That record is yet to be broken. Each year, the union organises a Christmas party for those members who have no place to go. These parties have grown to attract other non-union members and Africans who are warmly welcome on a cold wintry Stockholm night. The union also takes active part in the activities of Afris, the umbrella organisation of African unions in Stockholm. Some of the most active presidents that organisation has had have come from the Ghana union. Afris has been involved in spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS in the African community and Ghana Union has played a leading role in these activities.
For several years, the union run a quarterly newsletter The Linguist (formerly known as The Ghanaian Conscience) which reported issues in the Ghanaian community in Stockholm and news from the motherland of interest to those of us here. Today, the internet is widely available and this has made the publication of this newsletter unnecessary. The union now has its own website (where you are reading this now). Everything you need to know will be on this site.
The union got funding for the last two general elections in Sweden to run a campaign to urge people of foreign origin, especially Africans, to take part in the political process and cast their votes. Funding was also provided recently for the study of the conditions of returnees in the Ghana aimed at helping those of us still here who are considering a move back to the motherland to make an informed decision.
On an individual basis, the union has helped many of its members in various ways. It contributes to births, bereavements, sickness, birthday celebrations and any other activity concerning members that requires them to feel they belong to a larger family that cares. Ghana Union may not organise a funeral, but whoever does so will have the full support of the union.
Today, the union has been in existence for the past 24 years. This makes it one of the oldest African unions in Stockholm. It has weathered many storms but the challenges ahead are still great. The union needs to attract new members as the generation that founded it is getting old and some of the active members have returned to the motherland. The union also needs to involve itself in more practical activities. Having survived that long, there is no reason why it won't continue. There is a new executive in place headed by Micah Kissi who has pledged to lead the union in new directions. One of the challenges is to forge greater cooperation with the other Ghanaian associations in Stockholm. This is already bearing fruit as can be witnessed by the recent highly successful events marking Ghana's Golden Jubilee organised jointly by all the associations of Ghanaians in Stockholm. We hope that such cooperation will continue and the union will reach higher heights in the future.
Long live the Ghana Union.