Goals for Ghana
J.E. Atta Mills, a 2004 presidential candidate in Ghana, shared his vision of the democratic future of his country with a crowd of about 40 central Illinois residents Saturday.
Mills, the candidate of Ghana's National Democratic Congress Party, was in Springfield to speak to members of the Ghana Association of Central Illinois and Chicago's NDC chapter at Springfield's Indian Recreation Center, 2940 Peoria Road.
"My hope is for us in Africa to take our future in our own hands," Mills said. "I am making a commitment to our nation."
The event was scheduled to commemorate Ghana's 46th anniversary of independence from Great Britain.
"We talk about democracy so much here that it is good for someone from a government in Africa to share with us their form of democracy," said Kwabena Adomako, one of the event's organizers. "He didn't come in here and make a lot of promises of things he will do. He realizes that for change to happen we need to all come together."
Mills, dressed in a flowing white robe with gold embroidery down the front, spoke after a fund-raising dinner that raised more than $2,000 for his campaign - a lot considering the campaign coffer is empty, he said.
"Finance for the NDC has always proved to be a problem," Mills said. "I know God always makes a way, but He helps those who help themselves."
The four-hour-long event was filled with singing, dancing and a mood of celebration.
"It is nice to be in this beautiful city and see all these Africans together," Mills said after his address. "Until now I always thought Chicago was the capital of Illinois."
A number of those in attendance were members of the Ghana Association or other African countries' associations.
During his address, Mills called out to his "African brothers and sisters" telling them that they can't rely on anyone else to develop and rebuild Ghana and the rest of Africa, only themselves.
Mills served as vice president of the country for four years and said he realizes its biggest problem - the economy. He said the majority of the people of Ghana are poor - some struggling to find just one meal a day.
"People find it difficult to pay for transportation," Mills said. "People find it difficult to get adequate medical care. It is a big problem."
He said the things bringing down the Ghana government, currently led by the New Patriotic Party, are greed and arrogance. The two pillars Mills thinks will help him rebuild the country with the NDC are truth and humility.
"We have to change things for the better," he said. "We are people. We have resources to improve things."
The audience rose to their feet chanting "NDC," clapping, cheering and waving scarves of the party's flag in the air. When the Ghana National Anthem was played, everyone sang and danced to the upbeat rhythm.
Annette Teiko, whose husband is a member of the Ghana Association, said she learned quite a bit from Mills' presentation.
"It was interesting to hear how he plans to bring Africa's government up to par with America's," she said.
Her husband, Joseph Teiko, said Mills' appearance in Springfield meant a lot to the large Africa population of central Illinois and Springfield residents alike.
"It exposes others to the culture, economy and geography of another country - Ghana," he said.