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Diaspora (Canada) | Feb 6, 2005

EDITORIAL - New Ghana Union Executive of Toronto Must get to Work

Ghanaian News Canada

Sunday January 30 saw the election of yet another Executive Committee for the still-born Ghanaian Community Organization of Toronto known as Ghana Union. This Organization was inaugurated in 1999 amid all the fanfare and high expectations. It was the culmination of many years of hard work on the part of the former Honorary Consul General of Ghana in Toronto, Dr. La Kumi and other elders in the community who had put together a group of dedicated community members to draw up a structure for the Organization including a constitution. This initiative was taken by those concerned community members with the strong conviction that Toronto, home to the largest Ghanaian community in Canada, needed a strong Umbrella Organization.

When the former Executive of Ghana Union took over power in 1999, expectations for a quick take-off were very high. The Executive, led by the community's top academic Professor George Sefa Dei, came to office five years ago with a lot of goodwill from the community. They tried to do their best, but in the end, the community has very little or nothing to show for the many years of work they put in. We recognize the fact that community work is a difficult undertaking. The expectations are high and chances for success are sometimes slim against the background of differing views, expectations and hopes. The countless number of splinter ethnic, social and neighborhood organizations and Church groupings have not made the work of a Central Community body any easier.

This however should not be an excuse for doing nothing or failing to achieve results. The politics of the Ghanaian Community in Toronto is very complex. And so are the problems. We also recognize the fact that an Umbrella Community Organization cannot solve all these problems or a greater part of them overnight. But it can do something. Precious time was lost during the life of the last Executive Committee's mandate in chasing the elusive goal of community unity and the pursuit of a Community Center. Laudable though these goals are, we have had the opportunity at The Ghanaian News to caution that "unity" in that sense of the word in our community is an unattainable goal. How do you bring together the hundreds of ethnic associations to pursue a common goal? And how do you convince the hundreds of religious leaders to come together for the common community good?

We believe in working within the community's diversity to achieve results around issues that are common to the diverse groupings. In the course of time, many of these groups will see the need to channel their energies through the central umbrella organization when they see results. It should not be the other way round of achieving unity before embarking on projects. Whenever we have dared to point these issues out as our modest contribution to the development of our community, the old executive had always misinterpreted our motives and actions. But we have been proven right on many occasions. In the end, the activities of the Ghana Union only centered around organizing Ghana's Independence and Republic days on March 6 and July 1st.

As we welcome yet another executive committee into office, we wish to caution them that they are taking office in the face of extreme frustration among community members on the lack of action and results on the critical issues facing the community. What they need to do is to have a real vision and a concrete action plan that they can get the community to debate on. Celebrating national anniversaries are important but more and more need to be done. The community is teething with problems among our youth, education and job training, integration problems, family problems and if proper planning and the researching for resources is undertaken, the acquisition of the much sought-after and coveted community center.

We wish to caution the new executive against any signs of complacency and arrogance. They were elected by the community to serve and to lead. But they need to listen to advice from the community too. Our role at The Ghanaian News as the mouthpiece of the community is to publicize the feelings and concerns of the community. And offer our constructive advise whenever we deem it necessary. That is our commitment and responsibility and we will never shirk or shy away from that. We hope that the new executive recognize the enormity of the task and believe that they are up to it. Their work should not be limited to national anniversaries alone. There is work to be done. And they must get to work immediately. Another failure or inaction will not be excusable. We shall be watching!!

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