His Excellency Fritz Poku, Ambassador of the Republic of Ghana to the United States, Mrs. Nana Efua Salvo Poku, distinguished guests, members of the Diplomatic Corps, honorable representatives of member organizations of the Council of Ghanaian Associations, Ex-officios, Nananom, fellow Ghanaians and friends of Ghana:
I am delighted and honored that you have chosen to spend this evening with us as we celebrate the 49th anniversary of Ghana's independence. As we celebrate and enjoy our independence, let us also reflect on the responsibilities of freedom and nationalism. With that in mind, let us remember those Ghanaians who paved the way for our independence and freedom—through determination and self sacrifice.
The Council remains strong, united and supportive of organizations which cater to the needs of Ghanaians here and at home. In April 2005, COGA participated in an Immigration Outreach for Africans living in Baltimore, Maryland. This program assisted Ghanaians and other Africans with refugee issues, citizenship, and entrepreneurial affairs. The Council also participated in the “African Voices” program sponsored by Trans-Africa Forum and hosted by Danny Glover.
I am proud to report that last year through the combined efforts of fund-raisers, corporate sponsorships, the individual contributions of active COGA members , advertisers and gracious friends, the Council was able to collectively donate approximately $100,000 in goods and services to Ghana. Through the efforts of several member associations of COGA, North American Airlines shall soon begin “direct flights” from Thurgood Marshall/BWI Airport to Accra and other West African countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen, a portion of tonight's proceeds will go toward the dedicated athletes of the Black Stars soccer team to encourage their efforts in bringing the World Cup to a new home in Ghana. Through your contributions, we are able to continue to serve the people of Ghana and the Children's Education Fund here in the United States. Ghanaian children are invited to participate in the “annual essay competition” with awards given to winners during the annual Unity Picnic in August.
Plans are underway for several events over the next few months that will further solidify COGA's service efforts to the community. The Embassy through the Council shall call town-meetings for all Ghanaians to learn about developments in Ghana. We also support His Excellency's initiative to establish a database for all Ghanaians living in the United States. The Council's relationship with the Embassy remains cordial and mutually supportive.
I encourage all those who are not yet members of any Ghanaian association to join one, and the Council is once again inviting Ghanaian associations in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area to apply to become members of the Council.
At this time I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to our major sponsors, our advertisers, our specially-invited guests, the member organizations of the Council, COGA executive committee and Ex-officios. My special thanks go to our Ambassador and his wife for coming to chair this function, the Independence Dance Committee, chaired by Rowina Moses-Wadie, our emcees Maxwell Prempeh and Asamoah Bandah and all of you who came to support us. May God Bless You All.
LONG LIVE GHANA! LONG LIVE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!