Mr. Chairman, Invited Guests, Nananom, fellow Ghanaians, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Ghana National Council, GNC, and the Ghanaian community, I warmly welcome you to the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations of Ghana in Chicago!
First of all, I would like to give thanks to God for the blessings bestowed on Ghana and all here tonight to celebrate Ghana@50. Let me also thank my able executive body for the hard work they put into fulfilling their responsibilities and the personal sacrifice they have endured over the past two years to keep the GNC moving forward. I am humbled and greatly honored to serve with you.
I thank the Ghana@50 planning committee for putting up a wonderful program which started with a concert, a church service and last night a symposium and youth night, and culminating in tonight’s grand finale!
Finally, I would like to thank all the participants of the Ghana@50 celebrations. Without you it would not have been possible. I especially recognize your sacrifice by donating $100.00 to the Ghana National Council to cater for all the activities of the celebrations. And for our special guests, thank you is hardly enough to show how appreciative we are, for taking time off your busy schedules to be at this historic event. We are really honored by your presence.
The first president and leader of the Republic of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed Ghana’s Independence 50 years ago with the words:
“We in Ghana prefer self-government with danger, to servitude in tranquility;” and turning to all people from all nationalities he said, ““We face neither East nor West ; we face Forward” because “It is far better to be free to govern or misgovern yourself than to be governed by anybody else.”
“The Independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of Africa”
50 years ago, Dr. Nkrumah set a goal to free his country from the clutches of colonialism. He succeeded. His success let out a wave of freedom not only for Ghanaians, but for black people across the continent of Africa and beyond! In a sense he fulfilled a dream for all black people. Today, I challenge you with the question: What is your vision for the community you live in or for our country! When Osagyefo Dr. Nkrumah set his eyes on the bigger picture to free Ghana, there were many Ghanaians who set their eyes on personal visions such as training to be a mechanic, a lawyer, an engineer, a medical doctor, a teacher, a fisherman, a farmer ,a nurse, politician or sell at Makola! No vision was too big or too small. Many of the women at Makola, you and I know, balance their book better than some of the accountants the country has spent money to train! Those days some of our country men and women even volunteered in community outreach programs to serve the poor without any personal benefit or gain. Those were all good visions that eventually moved our country forward. In short, the quest for national or community building was and is a collective enterprise that needs many talents and each talent is vital to the overall progress of a community and a Nation.
During Dr. Nkrumah’s time, there were a few “educated” Ghanaians who fought to destroy any meaningful development project Dr. Nkrumah initiated. They fought against the establishment of Akosombo Dam, Tema Motor way, and many other vital projects! Those were the vision of his adversaries- they intentionally decided to oppose and obstruct any project Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah initiated! But as an astute leader he stuck with his plans and today, the energy from Akosombo lights up the whole of Ghana and its neighbors and those institutions he built has served our country men and women and other Africans tremendously.
I pose the question again: What is your vision?
Ladies and gentlemen, as a people, we need to define clearly what we are about and put in structures that would evaluate our mission and work towards the achievement of our vision for the development of our community and country. Each member of our community has something to contribute, no matter how big or small that contribution would be. What matters is that collective strength and our personal vision should and must merge and lead to a greater good. Constructive criticism is welcome for progress but, opposition to any meaningful progress in our community or country for its own sake is detrimental to our growth.
Ladies and Gentlemen, two years ago when you reposed your trust in us to help move the community forward, we humbly accepted the challenge and did our best by re-evaluating old ideas and brought in new ones.
We initiated Town-hall meetings and youth programs in the community. Our finances and accounting systems have been more transparent. We have consistently made profit on Ghanafest and the Independence Anniversary celebrations. We were successful in attracting new sponsors for our programs. Western Union honored our achievements by presenting the GNC with an award. We have won tremendous recognition from Ghanaian and other communities across the Globe. We continue to attract new sponsors, the latest being Delta Airlines. These were all achieved by marketing the GNC differently.
It is said that those who do not learn from history continue the mistakes of the past. We tried to avoid those mistakes. Today, we are still faced with many challenges. Though our challenges are formidable, so are our strengths.Ghanaians and for that matter Africans have always been a restless, questing and hopeful people. We must bring to our community today the vision and will of those who fought to free our country and keep the flame alive; the aspirations that made our forbearers sacrifice their blood that we may have justice and be free to rule ourselves.
Our future is at stake, ladies and gentlemen.
May I ask you to pause for a moment with me and ponder over what will happen to the next generations of our children here in Chicago, if we do not put in place structures that will bring them together when we are no more? I shudder to think of what the Ghanaian immigrant child will say and how our community will look like! They will be the generations whose faces we cannot yet see, whose names we may never know, say or hear, but will depend on our actions today. Our identity as a people will be lost and our community as we know it today will be wiped off if we do not lay that solid foundation! That is the stark reality!
Ask yourself if your actions or inactions prepare the future for that generation? Are your talents and skills directed towards addressing our community’s problems or are they used to creating more problems? I leave you with that final thought.
My fellow Ghanaians, let us begin with energy and hope, with faith and discipline, work until our work is done. The scripture says, “And let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not.”
From this joyful celebration, we hear a call to service in the valley and on the mountain.
We have heard the trumpets. And now, each in our own, and with God’s help, must answer the call!
We wish you memorable Golden Jubilee celebrations!
Forward Ever, Backward Never.
Reuben C. Hadzide
President-GNC. (2005 to 2007)