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Ewe culture at on display at the Convention of Ewe Associations of North America (CEANA )

20th Annual CEANA Convention in Chicago Shines!

Source: African Spectrum.

The event had had a prelude in December of last year when the Ewe Association of Chicago had their annual Christmas Dinner. The 20th anniversary of the Council of The Ewe Association of North America (CEANA) 2013 opened and finished in grand style. Held at the prestigious McCormick Place Hyatt Regency, the four-day event featured every aspect of CEANA was about. CEANA is a conglomeration of the citizenry of the Ewe people in Ghana, Togo and Benin.

Founded 20 years ago by a few individuals “with the objective of harnessing the technological, intellectual and the socio-economic benefits of North America and Eweland,” says Mr. Clement Timpo, Chairman of the Organizing Committee.

Originally, the former president of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Jerry John Rawlings had been slated as the guest of honor but could not attend due to unforeseen occurrence that arose. Ghana’s Ambassador to the US, Hon. Daniel Ohene Agyekum replaced him.

The event started on Thursday, August 29 with the arrival and registration of guests at the convention center. Health care stations set purposely for the screening of members provided a place for all or those who felt they needed to check their vitals.

More guests arrived on the following day. A youth training center and a rehearsal space had been prepared at the site and the youth who remained an integral part of the convention no doubt took advantage of the situation and immersed themselves into programs arranged for them.

The first official meeting followed breakfast where a welcome address given by the national president Mr. MacGeoffery Kutor welcomed patrons to the Windy City while outlining the program for the event. A roll call by the Secretariat determined that all members local, out-of-state made it to the convention. The president later introduced members of the Council of Representatives (COR).

Having completed an elementary school building in Sovie in the Kpandu district in the Volta Region, CEANA are in the middle of completing another building in the Tangyibe-Anyigbe school project in Ho municipal district. Other issues pertaining to the goals of the association including the current financial report, the scholarship program that has so far awarded grants to students in Ghana and Togo and have started one with the Republic of Benin this year were deliberated. In addition, it is on record that CEANA have donated about 3.4 million dollars’ worth of medical equipment to nine hospitals in the region.

On this day during the meeting, the Electoral Commission elected a new president in the person of Mr. Peter Abotchie of Houston. After the meeting, first timers in the Windy City got the opportunity to cruise on a boat and surveyed Chicago’s mesmerizing skyline. Later that day, a VIP reception and dinner took place paving way for the next day’s festivities.

Saturday’s event left no room for a break. Starting promptly at 8:00 am, the meeting emceed by Mr. Steve Dei and Mr. Mawuli Agbenu intended to fund raise and charter the course of what the convention sought to accomplish. The president, Mr. Kutor once again welcomed patrons. Thereafter, the youth specialist, Dr. Prosper Doamekpor of Tuskegee University made a presentation targeting the youth and their roles in the association. Dr. Doamekpor encouraged the youth to participate for they are the leaders of the future. Rev. Dr. Cyril G. K. Fayose, president of the EP University College in Ho, Ghana also made a presentation covering his role in the organization back home and abroad.

The Tanyigbe-Anyigbe school project’s fundraising phase officiated by Kobla Agbano and assisted by Daa Ama Oklu, Prince Gbeklui and Kofi Nfodjo brought in the much needed funding to continue the building in Ho. The morning gathering and meeting climaxed with a performance by the prominent Ghana poet, playwright, scholar and professor and Tric-C Metro Campus, Dr. Enyonam Padmore Agbemabiese.

Ms. Barbara Amyedewo shortly introduced emcees Steve Dei and Mawuli Agbeni. The renditions of the national anthems of Ghana, Togo, Benin, Canada and the US played thus beginning a night filled with nostalgia. During the fundraising gala later that evening, the crowd of 600 witnessed a variety of entertainment by the youth and old alike. Rev. Dr. Mrs. Dorothy Akoto, Professor of Bible, Culture and Hermeneutics opened the ceremony officially with an inspirational prayer to mark the commencement of the program. The MC introduced the chairman for the event Mr. Clement Timpo who reiterated the story of the formation of CEANA and the path they have traveled over the years.

The Chairman welcomed the audience and dinner commenced while the cultural display and other matters accompanied the banquet. In between speeches the Boboobo and Agbaja dancers, comprised mainly of the youth, displayed their unique and choreographed dancing. There would be a cultural interlude that involved drumming and dancing followed by the procession of Chiefs and Queen mothers led by Togbe Venya I, the chief of the Ewe Association of Chicago. Dr. a Kobla Dotse assisted by Dumega Francis Woyome performed the traditional libation.

After dinner, the guest speaker Ambassador Agyekum delivered his keynote address where he appealed to the audience to be flexible in terms of donations and briefly expounded on CEANA and their accomplishments over the years. He ended by speaking fluent Ewe much to the applause of amazed patrons. Later the presidential handover ceremony commenced and the new president Mr. Botchie after being introduced gave the impression that he was ready for the challenging tasks ahead. After all had been said and done, DJ Master Pee who had been longing all night to display his talent in spinning hits proved to be one of Chicago’s best.

Sunday opened with a nondenominational Thanksgiving Church Service at the convention center. Officiated by Rev. Dzifanu Agbenya and Rev. Akoto, the service focused on God’s presence during the convention period and praises were exalted in his name. The crowd later locomoted to Calumet City to the Forest Preserve located at 159th and Torrence Ave. The park transformed to a mini Ghanaian ground whereby the Ewe culture, goals and values would be displayed to the highest form. Healthcare stations set up for the occasion screened patrons that felt like being checked out. Food, music, dancing and of course executives deliberating about next year’s convention to be held in Denver, Colorado dominated their discussions. In the meantime, the CEANA convention bus, parked on the festival grounds and ready to commute patrons to anywhere including both Chicago airports. Overall, organizers could not have been elated about the triumph in executing such a mammoth feat. Colorado executives have their hands full come next year. Below are some of the pictures at the convention.