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17.03.2006 Diaspora (Italy)

Ghana’s Independence Day in Italy

By Reggie Tagoe in Modena
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Ghanaians in Italy celebrated Ghana's Independence Day with marks and trappings of the country's heritage.

The Council of Ghana Nationals Association in Italy (COGNAI) in conjunction with Ghanacoop, a Ghanaian entity in Italy, hosted a big one-day event in the Italian northern city, Modena, where Ghanacoop is based.

An extraordinary number of Ghanaians in various parts of Italy were in the industrial city to have fun and participate in the celebration. The organisers has shifted activities of the celebration which should have been held on Ghana's actual day of Independence, 6th March (a Monday) to 11th March (a Saturday) to enable many Ghanaians to participate. And yes indeed, they came in their numbers from Vicenza, Pordenone, Udine, Parma, Ancona and other cities to be part of the occasion. The Italian public and some organisations were also present.

The day's activities included sports, speeches, traditional dancing and musical concert. Among distinguished personalities present were, Emilio Sabattini – President of Modena Province, Francesco Falcone - Representative of Italy's Trade Union (CISL) and President of the Confederation of Cooperatives in Modena - Gaeto De Vinco.

Conspicuously absent was Ghana's Ambassador to Italy, Dr. Kofi Dsane-Selby. No reason was given for the absence of His Excellency or a representative of the Ghana Mission in Rome. Many believed the presence of the Ambassador or his representative would have added more grace to the occasion. Notwithstanding, participants soaked themselves in every part of the interesting programme.

Modena football team won the soccer tournament coming up top among strong competing teams from Pordenone, Reggio Emilia, Vicenza, Parma and others. The afternoon and evening part of the programme attracted more people. Evelyn Sarpong, spotting a traditional 'kaba' dress made from a copy of 'kente' (traditional cloth) led participants with the singing of the Ghana National Anthem which received a large applause followed by speeches and a poem. Gaeto De Vinco commended the good work Ghanacoop has started in Italy and says his outfit would assist them in development projects in Ghana. Francesco Falcone (CISL, Modena) told the gathering with the kind of strong spirit Ghanaians in Italy are showing they are able to integrate well into the Italian society and his management would give them all the necessary support. A video documentary of the geography, culture, traditions of the people in Ghana coupled with Ghanaians resident in Italy – their marriage life, church activities and scenes from their jobs was given some coverage.

The event that took centre stages on the day was a mock-up traditional durbar of the chief and people of Ghana displayed by a group of Ghanaians in Udine. Djane William ('Udinehene' or Udine King) with Wusua Osei ('Ohemaa' or Queen) sat in state to receive homage from his people. The chief and his subjects, servants came in amidst traditional drumming and dancing.

The colourful ceremony gave images of a local scene in Ghana's culture. The 40minutes show received a massive applause. Sheila Doku, Kwabena Kodua and Lydia Elijah clad in traditional attire danced infront of the King and his subjects and held the audience on their feet for several minutes with amazing display of feet work on the dancing floor. Kwesi Poku (Okyeame) threw himself into the excitement exhibiting his skill in the 'kete' and 'adowa' dance as the King raised his arm to acknowledge the cheers of the participants. Some Italians at the function joined in the dance with a standing ovation. Most of the Ghanaian youth born in Italy and never caught a glimpse of such event sat absolutely astounded giving glances at their mates with smiles.

The day's activities ended with a musical concert. Ghana's top notch musicians, Miss Bell and Castro were expected to make an appearance but their tight engagements took them elsewhere. Nonetheless, the local gospel singers - Rita Mensah, Mary Osei, Rita Baidoo, Ghanaians made in Italy 'Hiplife' singers and a couple of Italian musicians - didn't disappoint, they gave an impressive performance to the packed audience. -