The Council of Ewe Associations of North America (CEANA) held its 30th Annual Convention from August 31st to September 3rd, 2023, at the Atlanta Airport Marriott Hotel, 4711 Best Road, Atlanta, GA 30337, under the theme, “Empowering our Youth Towards Innovative Entrepreneurship in Transformational Agriculture”.
This year’s Convention was hosted by the Ewe Association of Georgia (EWAGA) under the presidency of Dr. Kojo Akabua. The event was attended by over one thousand (1,000) guests from the USA, Canada, Europe, Ghana, Togo, and Benin, and was watched by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide on social media outlets such as CEANA’s YouTube/Facebook pages, and other media platforms.
This year’s annual fundraising to support CEANA to complete a 3 Junior Secondary School (JSS) Classromm Block at Peki-Dzake, a construction of a kindergarten building at Dodome-Awiasu and a Computer Library in the Greater Kloto area in Togo, was very successful. Over $160,000 was raised.
Members of all the twenty (20) constituent Associations of CEANA, including members of the newly admitted Ewe United Association of Arizona, graced the occasion.
On the arrival day, Thursday, August 31st, guests were welcomed with dinner after which they were treated to Old School 70s, 80s music and dance.
The Convention officially opened on Friday morning, September 1st, with a board meeting of the CEANA Council of Representatives (COR). Dr. Tsatsu E. Nyamadi, President of CEANA, chaired this meeting and all the weekend’s events. The morning’s official business included a review of operations for the past year and plans for the next year. The CEANA budget was presented by the CEANA Executives to COR and was approved. The COR also formally voted to admit Ewe United Association of Arizona as its 20th CEANA member association.
Shortly after the board meeting, many families went on excursion to the Georgia Aquarium, Martin Luther King Jr. Museum, and the Coca Cola center. Friday evening was capped with well-choreographed Ewe cultural performances and drama, by the group, ‘The Voice’, performed by members of EWAGA.
On Saturday morning, September 2nd, a procession of delegates and guests from the various Associations were ushered into a general conference, amidst jubilation and celebration. Thereafter, the Mayor of Atlanta, the Honorable Andres Dickens, welcomed the guests to his City through a recorded video. He stressed the cordial relationship between the City of Atlanta and the African diaspora and praised CEANA for the good work they are doing in the development of the youth as well as in undertaking development projects in Ghana, Togo and Benin.
This year’s CEANA Convention was chaired by Togbe Nutefeworla I of Awudome, the Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana.
It was the first time a CEANA Convention had a Chairman and Guest of Honor. Also, in attendance were Honorable Dr. Archibald Yao Letsa, the Volta Regional Minister of Ghana, and the following Members of the Parliament of Ghana: Honorable Emmanuel Bedzrah (Ho West), who doubles as the Chairman of the Volta Region Caucus in Parliament, Honorable Nelson-Rockson Dafeamekpor (South Dayi), Honorable Della Sowah (Kpando), and Honorable Joycelyn Tetteh (North Dayi).
Honorable Kofi Attor, the Chief of Staff of the Speaker, was also in attendance. Others were Honorable Winney Dogbatse, Mayor of Kpalime Togo, Honorable Adjo Agbaglo, Mayor of Kɔvie in Togo, the VDF Executive Director, Mr. Dan Agboka-Dzegede, as well as a representative of Agbesinyala Association of Benin.
Dr. Kojo Akabua introduced Togbe Nutefeworla, the Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament of Ghana, as the Guest of Honor and Chairman of the Convention. He identified his humility and affable nature as qualities that made him unbeatable as a Member of Parliament in his home constituency. Those were the same qualities that endeared him to the Chiefs and people of Awudome in the Volta Region who installed him as Togbe Nutefeworla I of Awudome Traditional area. Although he decided to retire from Parliament after winning so many elections, the Members of Parliament made him Speaker of Parliament when his Party, the NDC, did not have a majority in Parliament.
Dr. Kojo Akabua later gave his welcome address in which he welcomed and thanked the guests for coming to Atlanta. He thanked the members of EWAGA for the hard work they put in in organizing the Convention, and he recognized the founding members of EWAGA and CEANA and noted that CEANA as an organization was registered in Atlanta. He touched briefly on the issues of youth unemployment in Ghana, Togo and Benin. He concluded by inviting all guests to visit Atlanta again.
Togbe Nutefeworla I graciously responded to the introduction in the affirmative and that he was delighted to be invited for the first time in the 30 years of CEANA Conventions and to be the Chairman for the Convention, a first for CEANA. He echoed the theme of the Convention by saying that Africa must do everything possible to introduce a lot more innovation into agriculture and to empower the youth to pursue entrepreneurship in the sector. Agriculture, the Chairman noted, should not be for only the aged but the large army of youth in our countries can succeed in agriculture with the right technology.
The chairman concluded his remarks by saying that empowering the youth in agriculture via innovation and entrepreneurship requires a holistic approach that addresses modernization of agriculture, education, access to resources, policy support, and cultural attitudes. He went on further by re-iterating his point that providing the necessary tools, knowledge, and opportunities, young people can become active contributors to a sustainable agricultural sector in Africa.
CEANA President, Dr. Tsatsu E. Nyamadi, then took the helms of affairs and delivered the State of CEANA address.
The President congratulated all the 20 Ewe Associations for their unity, zeal, determination, and purpose that have kept the CEANA organization alive and thriving wonderfully all these years. Dr. Nyamadi praised all the donors for the following projects that have been recently completed: a landmark Pedestrian foot bridge at Agordoe and a four (4) unit residential Nurses staff quarters at Adutor health Center, both in Ghana. He also thanked all for their tremendous support for the ongoing CEANA projects.
The president also noted that the CEANA scholarship to students in Ghana, Togo, and Benin every year has been one of the successful programs. Over 300 scholarships have been awarded to-date and that the president informed all that one such scholarship recipient, a female, was one of the engineers on the Agordoe bridge project.
Professor Lydia Aziato, Vice Chancellor of University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) spoke of the state of the university, its financial constraints and the needed support to serve a larger applicant pull. Prof Aziato said CEANA can strive for a partnership with the University, which could inure huge benefits to the Eweland.
Mr. Tsoenam Akpeloo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SUKU Technologies and Greater Accra Chairman of Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI) also spoke. He provided the audience with great reasons why we should invest in the Volta Region. Among them are: The Region is a strong resource pool, a cohesive private sector, stable democratic climate, and an educated workforce. In a riveting presentation, he named the following areas as potential sectors for investment: tourism, agriculture, technology & employment, and micro-finance.
Honorable Dr. Letsa spoke on the need for multi-stakeholder involvement in our insatiable quest to build a resolute preventive healthcare system.
He dwelt on the lack of adequate modern educational resources necessary for the proper education of the youth of Eweland. He commended CEANA for its bold attempts in addressing some of the necessary needs of the Eweland. He used the occasion to invite all to the upcoming Volta Fair to be held at Ho from November 26th to December 10th 2024 and invited all present to attend.
Togbe Agbelom, Chief of Salo/Nana Ofei Asamani I, Nkosuohene of Akwamu Traditional Area, who is also the CEANA representative in Ghana praised CEANA for its team spirit and togetherness from all Ewes across the USA and Canada and their resolve to help in the development of Eweland. He urged other Ewes across the world to emulate what CEANA is doing.
Mrs. Beatrice Jones-Mensah Tayui, Founder and CEO of Cybele Energy Global and Cybele Energy Ghana Limited, was the Keynote Speaker for this year’s convention. Mrs. Beatrice Jones-Mensah Tayui is a seasoned CEO, leading and operating cutting-edge businesses on the international landscape with a focus on oil and gas in Sub Saharan Africa. She delivered the Keynote address, under the theme “Empowering our Youth Towards Innovative Entrepreneurship In Transformational Agriculture”. She also commended CEANA for the developmental projects constructed thus far in the Eweland across Ghana and Togo, in addition to the high school classroom block currently under construction at Peki-Dzake and the other two projects earmarked for construction at Dodome Awiasu and Greater Kloto.
The Keynote Speaker went on further and noted the awarding of scholarship to needy students in Togo, Benin, and Ghana for over 30 years as noteworthy. She also noted that CEANA has consistently done all these things mostly through its membership contributions, however CEANA does not appear to be in touch with the benevolence of the “shakers and movers” in our society. By this, the Keynote Speaker added that CEANA will have to rethink its approach to either market itself better to attract funding sources in support of its programs and activities.
She added that many of these philanthropists are our own sons and daughters, and all CEANA must do is to make the right contacts. In a special appeal to the youth, Mrs. Beatrice Jones-Mensah Tayui said, “We are all leaders in various capacities, but we need humility and integrity to achieve our goals”.
Mrs. Jones-Mensah Tayui drew an uninterrupted attention of the audience till the end, with a standing ovation at the conclusion of her speech. She also donated $10,000 to match that of Rt. Hon. Alban SK Bagbin to support CEANA.
The Saturday evening banquet showcased the unique and dignified procession of our traditional Chiefs and Queens from the various areas of Eweland into the Banquet Hall, with drumming and dancing. The CEANA signature annual fundraiser and solicitation for the CEANA StarFund Club, which followed the dinner, drew a lot of contributions and pledges from guests in attendance and those participating virtually.
The newly introduced Associations’ Challenge competition was fierce as all the CEANA affiliate associations came prepared to outdo each other. It began with $1,500 donation by Novisi Assoc of New England, it then went up to $2,000 donation by Novinyo Habobor of Delaware Valley, after that all the other Associations increased their group donations, until the Ewe Association of Chicago raised the bar to $7,500, which was immediately countered by the Ewe Association of Greater Boston with $8,000. The Ewe Association of Washington DC Metro Inc challenged Boston with $10,000, and it became a two-association showdown.
Boston ended up second with $11,250 cash donation but they had to throw in the towel when the Ewe Association of Washinton DC Metro Inc upped their game and raised the bar to $12,500. Thus, The Ewe Association of Washington DC Metro Inc., the winner of last year’s competition, retained their much-fought-for first place, with a jaw-dropping trophy to show for it. Boston put Washington and the rest of the Associations on notice to be prepared for Denver, Colorado, next year where the 2024 CEANA Convention will be held. It looks like we will occasion a fierce competition to win the Associations’ Challenge Cup in 2024.
The evening was rounded off with an award of plaques in recognition of the work done by recipients to promote the objectives of CEANA, and the official transfer of the mandate to the Ewe Association of Colorado to host the next Convention in Denver, Colorado. Mr. Cornelius Ackumey, the President of the Ewe Association of Colorado, was announced as the next 2nd Vice President of CEANA.
A well-attended non-denominational church service was held on Sunday morning. The service was officiated by a team of clergy led by Rev. Martin Osae of the Ghanaian Community Presbyterian Church USA in Irving, TX. In attendance were Rev. Steller Sekyere of Grace Presbyterian Church Houston, Texas, Prof. Samuel Nyamuame of Binghamton University, Rev. Charity Goh of Global Evangelical Church, Glory Chapel, New York, Rev. Brite Donkor of Koinonia Church, Arlington, Texas, Rev. Ernest Borney and Cecilia Borney of The Word In Prayer Church, Atlanta, Georgia, Rev. Dr. Jane Mensah of Christ Pathway Church Int. Atlanta, Georgia, Rev. Thompson Amesedzi of Global Evangelical Church, Silver Springs, Maryland, and Rev. MacGodswill Smith Dogbey of Charismatic Evangelistic Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.
The sermon was delivered by Rev. Ernest Borney on the subject, “Standing in the Gap to Build”. He entreated Ewes not to stand and watch others do the work of developing Eweland for them, but to also get involved and contribute their widow’s mite towards the development of our Eweland.
In the afternoon, the Convention guests converged at the picnic grounds in Jonesboro for the CEANA Convention Cookout, which featured dishes from Eweland amid agbadza, Ewe highlife, and borborbor tunes.
Sunday evening was crowned with another signature event – “Mise Gli Loo – Toli Night,” a rendition of a cultural pastime of evening storytelling and a scintillating Jazz Night, another first for CEANA Conventions.
On Monday, September 4, 2023, Convention delegates and guests departed to their various home destinations across North America, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Europe with a renewed sense of unity, friendship, and purpose.
Mr. Steve Dei (PRO) was the Master of the Ceremony (MC) for the convention programs. CEANA RADIO/TV provided Live streaming, media, and video. Photography coverage was provided by Sankofa Media of Chicago, the Hododuio Show, Chatting with Nicole, Avenor Media in support of the Convention.
The following resolutions/actions were adopted as part of the Convention:
1. Approval of Ewe Association of Denver, as the host of the 2024 CEANA Convention.
2. Approval of the 2023/2024 Financial Budget.
3. Approval of the Ewe Association of Arizona as the 20th CEANA Member Association.