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The GNC overcomes Financial Challenges as Ghanafest 09 falls into the History Books.

Ghanafest 2009 will go into the history books as one of the best organized events by the Ghana National Council of Metropolitan Chicago (GNC), as the cash strap organization put everything in place to move the celebrations from a free cultural exposition for attendees to a paid one proficiently. Early reports indicate that the experiment was a success. The organizers have promised a transparent accounting of all proceeds to the community.

The fence and white ticket boots that greeted attendees for the first time did not deter them as they were more than willing to pay the token $5.00 gate fee to enjoy another day of rich African arts and culture with their families and friends. The fee was a milestone and watershed in the history of the GNC.

Although Ghanaians in Chicago are thousands of miles away from home, in a different environment altogether, they still cherish their rich cultural heritage by working tirelessly to institute Ghanafest as an important annual event to showcase Ghana’s cultural diversities which bring Ghanaians together as one people!

The crowd was as diverse as the many Ghanaian cultural exhibitions on display. There were members of the Ghanaian community in Chicago and its environs; they form the majority of the attendees , African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians, and people from Ghana, Europe, a couple from Australia and others. The Washington Park was transformed into a crowded African village, depicting large numbers of people of diverse races wearing Ghanaian paraphernalia, and assortment of Ghanaian food at the food court! African Arts and artifacts were not in short supply! The royal court depict chiefs, queens , linguists (with their tall staffs) and members of their royal entourages showcasing elegant African dresses from the tribes in the south of Ghana to the north. The traditional smock of Northern Ghana to the array of Kente clothes of the mid and southern Ghanaian tribes were on display as the chiefs , queens linguists and members of their royal courts bring out the best in their royal wardrobes on this occasion. The Chiefs’ and queens’ adorn in Gold nuggets and ornaments were beautiful to watch as they perform their procession with grace, majesty and dignity to traditional drumming and or music.

The Fante Benevolent Society stole the show this year when the group presented acrobatic dancers in colorful clothing and regalia, with hooded masks to match!

The expected history around the attendance of the first Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Mrs. Naadu Mills, to Ghanafest 2009 did not materialize due to a last minute glitch unknown to the organizers. Also, the Minister of chieftaincy and Culture, Mr. Alexander Asum-Ahensah , broke the tradition of his predecessor, Mr. Sampson K. Boafo , when he failed to make an appearance at the largest Ghanaian cultural festival in the Diaspora. He notified the organizers at the last minute that he will attend the festival but did not attend. Mr.Albert Abongo , the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing who was in Chicago to attend a convention organized by members of the Bonaboto organization, came in handy to grace to celebrations. He thanked the organizers of Ghanafest for showcasing the culture of Ghana on such a grand scale and urge them to continue the good work.

In his welcome address, the president of the Ghana National Council of Metropolitan Chicago, Mr. John Henry Assabill, reinforced his plea to the Ghanaian community to assist the GNC in the transition of Ghanafest from a free entry to a paid one. He said this was necessary to offset the mounting cost and dwindling of revenue sources of the festival. “To leave a lasting cultural heritage for our children and the next generations of Ghanaians in Chicago, we don’t have a choice than to institute the fee to save Ghanafest from extinction!” John Henry Assabill noted to his audience.

In conclusion, the president of the GNC, John Henry Assabill, extended the support of the GNC and the Ghanaian Community in Chicago, to the City of Chicago and the Chicago Olympic Committee in their bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

The main sponsors of the event were Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria Financial Services, African Spectrum, ANNAKKA Enterprise, Ghanaweb , Bedzra Consultant LLC and 3 G Inc. ( who brought to you the vivid pictures of the festival) .

A participant from Alexandria, Virginia summarized his family’s experience at Ghanafest last year when he told this reporter that “the deeply unexpected resonant of Ghanafest is that, it keep playing over and over again on ones memories after the lyrics of the rich cultural music and dancing has long died down on the festival grounds”

For Video and high resolution Pictures of Ghanafest 2009, please contact anomantu@msn.com.

Bedzra Consultant LLC has produced a commemorative photo book of Ghanafest 2009 for collectors. Contact bedzraconsultantllc@aol.com for more information.

Source: Bedzra Consultant LLC.

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