The Association of Northern Ghanaians of Georgia (ANGG) celebrated an unprecedented Damba festival in Atlanta last Saturday May 6th, 2017 which brought all Ghanaians living in Georgia and other states together to observe this special occasion in a grand style. “Celebrating Northern Ghana for Peace and Development” was the theme for this year’s Damba festival.
In attendance were Nananom, traditional chiefs and Queen mothers, representing the various Ghanaian communities in Georgia, the former mayor of Macon Georgia, Clearance Jack Ellis and Joe H. Beasley, President, African Ascension, and Joe Beasley Foundation. The program was hosted by Chief Bin Issahaku who welcomed everybody to the festival and was gratified by the huge turnout for his maiden Damba festival after becoming the chief of the three northern regions in Georgia. The crowd was electrified with performances by Wuza Wuza USA, a northern cultural group based in the United States. They entertained the crowd with acts such as Bamaya, Jara, Takai and dances from the Upper East and Upper West regions.
Special guest for the occasion was Dr. Abdul Nashiru Issahaku, pioneer and a leading member of the northern community in Atlanta who is also the former governor of the Bank of Ghana. In his keynote address, Dr. Issahaku said that he was glad to be part of this occasion and wish that he could be part of it every year. He said it reminded him of being home because the cultural representation was so overwhelming and he was proud to be a northerner to be back in the US celebrating Damba with Ghanaian Americans. Dr. Issahaku recalled that several years ago when they celebrated Damba, they were just a handful of northerners in Atlanta and they had to celebrate it in Louisville Kentucky as a result of the Louisville – Tamale sister city relationship. He expressed delight that the population of northerners in Atlanta now has quadrupled and said it is a remarkable achievement to have a chief who represents all the three northern regions and we were all gathered here in unity which is the true spirit of Damba. “You know, we have a rich culture, a culture that penetrates everywhere and an identity that class other cultures to the admiration of many and when it is well organized and in unity as it is done tonight by Ghanaian Americans, it is simply mesmerizing” he noted.
Dr. Issahaku underscored that we live in a global economy today and we have to sell our identity to the rest of the world because that is how we can attract the world to our country to support development activities. He assured that culture has contributed to a positive change and development in Ghana and urged the audience to see themselves as ambassadors of Ghana and continue to use occasions like this to project our identity which will also send strong signals to the rest of the world that we value our beliefs and who we are as a people. He finally called on all northerners living in America or in the diaspora to let their stay be as “productive as possible so that when you come back home, you can contribute in developing and alleviating poverty in the north which is the poorest part of our country Ghana.”
Damba is a dance festival which is celebrated annually by the chiefs and people of all the three northern regions of Ghana and has a long standing history. It has no boundaries and cuts across all religions, tribes and ethnic groups in northern Ghana. The organizers decided to have Damba because it serves as a bond that will bring the people of our community together, give our children who were born here in the United States the unique opportunity to learn the northern culture and to entertain our guests.