As a prelude to Ghana's 50th Independence anniversary next year, NCOGA once again, put on a great show during the 49th Independence Anniversary in the Langston Hughes Auditorium at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on Saturday March 4, 2006. The elegance and success of the evening has been seen by all as a good precursor to the golden jubilee next year.
The festivities began with prayers from a cross section of the religious entities in Ghana. Traditional libation was poured by Nii Akotwer Glover, a High Priest of the Ga Tribe. He invoked the ancestors to safeguard the audience at the event, and also help Ghana overcome adversity. He then called on the spirits to help unify the young nation.
Imam Baba Gambo, the Chief Imam of Yankasa Association followed with Islamic prayers, and Reverend Darko, the Chairman of the Ghana Council of Pastors with Christian prayers.
Ms. Helen Diane Foster, New York City Council member for the 16th District in the Bronx, arguably the district with the largest Ghanaian population in the city thanked NCOGA for the invitation, and intimated that although she had never visited Ghana, she had heard enough to make her feel like she knows our Country. She added that her father, who accompanied her to the event, had known Kwame Nkrumah, the architect of Ghana's Independence, during his days in Harlem, and that her mother had attended his funeral. She reiterated her office's open door policy, and asked Ghanaians not to hesitate to come to her for help. She then presented a New York City Council proclamation honoring the Council for its efforts in helping Ghanaians.
One of the highlights of the celebration was the movie “Freedom Forever” which highlighted the events leading up to the Independence Day. It should be noted that last year, the Council presented “The Rise of Nationalism – Ghana”, another film which detailed the struggle to Independence. “Freedom Forever” could be viewed as the sequel.
It was clearly one of the most enjoyable moments during the celebration.
After the film, the United Volta Cultural Group, led by Mr. Mikoku, delighted the audience with spectacular “agbadza” and “Borborbor” dance. This was followed by a speech by Mr. Luther Gatling, the President of 100 Black Men, and also the founder of Budget and Credit Counseling Service, popularly known as BUCCS. He called on the Ghanaian community to seek alliances with the African American community, because, according to him, when Black people unite, no force in the world could challenge them.
In continuing with the tradition of showcasing the rich and diverse Ghanaian culture, the Ghanaian Association of Westchester Youth Cultural Group delighted the audience with some “adowa” dance, representing the Akan culture.
Dr. Rashida Ismaili Abubakar, a retired professor living in Harlem, who helped the Council to secure the Schomburg for the event, thanked the Council for putting together a successful event. She stated that the event surpassed her expectations, and she called on the Council to continue to excel. She also asked Africans to do their best to ensure that children in Africa do not go hungry.
Dr. Vivian Windley, speaking on behalf of the Schomburg, thanked NCOGA for bringing the celebration back to Harlem. She recalled the importance of the Pan African Movement led by Dr.W.E.B. DuBois, George Padmore, Marcus Garvey, and Kwame Nkrumah, to name a few, in helping Ghana achieve her independence. Ironically, the same architect, Max Bond, who designed the new wing of the Schomburg, also designed the Library at the University of Ghana, Legon, at the behest of Kwame Nkrumah. Thus, Harlem and the Schomburg have significant ties to Ghana. The keynote speaker, His Excellency Obeng Gyan Busia, the Consul General of Ghana to the United States, praised NCOGA for organizing such a great event and called on Ghanaians to strive to get the best that America has to offer, so that they can go back and contribute to the development of Ghana.
NCOGA would like to thank the following for their sponsorship; Emirates Airline, who donated two tickets for auction, Moneygram, Schwartz Pharma. We thank Dr. Dodoo, George Ntim of Marriot Marquis Hotel, Shekem ur Shekem, King of the Ausar Auset Society, his Queen and the members of his society. We also extend our sincere appreciation to the press such as Kenton Kirby of The Caribbean Life, Donovan Gopie, The Amsterdam News, WKCR 89.9 FM, Dondoweb and Dondo Magazine, Mr. Hamilton of the Pan-African Foundation, Mr. Willie Walker of The Harlem State Building, Mr. Leslie Wyche from 100 Black Men, The Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Dr Ketosugbo, Lance P. Ogiste, Special Counsel to the Brooklyn District Attorney, Marlene Melton of the Nubian Women Circle, Siddique Wai of the African Union Congress, Dr. Abaynesh Asrat, as well as all the other dignitaries.
Special thanks to the performers Adehye Cultural Group, United Volta Cultural Group, and Westchester Youth Cultural Group, Nii Akotwer Glover, Imam Baba Gambo, Reverend Darko, Oko Nyarko, Tafa, The Schomburg, Damond Haynes and Diane Alleyne, both of the Schomburg, Olivia who sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and Anita Baidoo whi performed Ghana's National anthem. We also extend many thanks to the Ghanaian community for their support and we hope to have a bigger and better celebration next year when Ghana turns fifty years old.