The Council of Ewe Associations of North America (CEANA) celebrated their 20th annual convention from August 30 to September 2, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois. The theme for the Convention was “Building Educational Infrastructure for the youth, women’s health and nutrition in Eweland”. This theme was chosen to enable the CEANA Council deliberate on the educational and healthcare issues facing Eweland. The focus of the 2013 convention was to raise funds for the Tanyigbe School project, and award scholarships to students in Ghana, Togo and Benin.
The convention activities started with the arrival and registration of guests on Thursday, August 29, 2013. In the morning of Friday, August 30, the CEANA Council held a meeting of delegates drawn from the 15 CEANA member Associations from cities across the United States and Canada. Mr. MacGeoffrey Kutor, the President of CEANA, and Mr. William Adzimahe, Executive Director, opened the Council meeting with a welcome message to the delegates.
The morning’s business included a review of the organization’s activities for the past year, and approval of a program and budget for the next year. Friday evening continued with a special dinner reception organized by the CEANA 2013 Organizing Committee for the leadership of CEANA. Later in the evening the teeming guests were treated to a cultural performance from the Ewe Associations of Chicago and Washington DC. The performances were led by Mr. Eseli Normanyo-Nutakor, and Torgbui Gideon Foli Amenyo III, a traditional leader and renowned professor of Ewe culture in the US.
The CEANA General Conference started on Saturday morning with an introduction of the three invited speakers, namely, Dr. Padmore Agbemabiase, a professor of English, Education, African-American and African Studies, and a renowned Ghanaian poet, playwright and scholar; Dr. Prosper Doamekpor, youth development specialist for extension programs at Tuskegee University; and Dr. Cyril G. K. Fayose, President of Evangelical Presbyterian University College (EPUC) in Ho.
In their addresses, the speakers expressed concern for the deteriorating levels of literacy, poor funding for basic education, and gender disparities in school enrolment and allocation of healthcare resources in Eweland, Dr. Doamekpor provided a compelling strategy for encouraging positive youth development in order to increase competencies needed for youth development. Dr. Agbemabiase stressed the importance of girl child education, and also recommended action for gender parity in the school districts of Eweland. Dr. Fayose outlined the pioneering role that the E.P. University College is playing in the Volta Region toward the provision of tertiary education for the youth. He appealed to competent lecturers in the Diaspora to make their skills available to the college.
The Saturday evening banquet was presided over by two of Eweland’s experienced MCs, Mr. Mawuli Agbenu of New York and Mr. Steve Dei of Chicago. The evening commenced with the arrival of dignitaries, followed by intricately adorned traditional leaders who displayed the rich Ewe culture. The chiefs were led in procession by the Volta Ensemble cultural group from Washington, D.C. in a performance that showcased the unique cultural dances of Eweland. The keynote speaker for the banquet was his Excellency the Ambassador of Ghana to the United States, Mr. Ohene Agyekum. Mr. Agyekum praised and encouraged CEANA to continue to strive to improve the lives of people back home through physical projects and other educational and social initiatives. The highlight of the evening, the annual Star Fundraiser, drew contributions and pledges from the 400 banquet attendants. The impetus for the 2013 fundraiser was the completion of a JSS classroom block that CEANA had approved the previous year.
The landmark event of the 2013 CEANA Convention was the inauguration of Dr. Peter Nat Abotchie as the first elected CEANA President with a 3-year mandate to lead the organization, under the newly amended CEANA Constitution. Dr. Abotchie acknowledged delegates for the honor bestowed upon him and pledged to work with the CEANA Council to move the organization’s agenda forward. Late in the evening, the honor and mandate to host the 2014 convention was bestowed on Mr. Divine Klutsey, the President of the Ewe Association of Colorado. Mr. Klutsey, who also serves as the CEANA vice president, pledged to work diligently with the President to achieve the goals set for the 2014 convention which is scheduled for Labor Day Weekend in Denver, Colorado. Sunday’s activities unfolded with the annual CEANA convention non-denominational church service officiated by Rev. Dzifanu Agbenya, Rev. Dr. Dorothy Akoto, and Rev. Victoria Esinu Vitashie. Shortly after the service guests and convention organizers converged on Grant Park for the much anticipated CEANA Picnic. Various dishes from Ghana, Togo and Benin were served at the park, in an atmosphere filled with merry making and agbadza and borborbor tunes. Sunday’s activities were capped with misegli loo, a rendition of an old cultural pastime of evening story-telling.
On Monday, September 2, 2013, convention delegates and guests returned to their various home destinations across North America, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Europe with a renewed sense of unity, friendship and purpose, At the end of deliberations, the CEANA Council of Representatives;
1. Resolved to complete the Tanyigbe School Project by 2014. 2. Approved scholarship awards to deserving students in Ghana, Togo and Benin. 3. Elected a new CEANA President to a term of 3 years. 4. Approved Ewe Association of Colorado as the hosts of the 21st Annual CEANA Convention in 2014.
The current President of CEANA, Dr. Abotchie, members of the CEANA Council, and the Secretariat are grateful to all delegates, convention attendees and friends of CEANA for making the Chicago Convention a success. Special appreciation goes to the outgoing President of CEANA & President of the Ewe Association of Chicago, Mr. MacGeoffrey Kutor, and the membership of the Ewe Association of Chicago, for organizing the 2013 CEANA Convention. Photo coverage by Mr. CNN of 3G Media Inc. and Selassie Hadzide for sankofaonline.com.
Visit www.ceanaonline.org for more information.