The Ghana Festival-New York was launched for the first time in Ghana at Bay View Valley near Atomic Junction, Haatso in Accra.
Although the festival in the last 12 years has stately represented the Ghanaian culture and heritage in New York in the United States (U.S.), it would be the first time the organizers are bringing the enthusiasm close to the motherland.
The April 30th launching represented a long-reflected plan of the organizers to involve the locals in the festival’s promotion of the country’s cultural legacy. The launch according to attendees “thrilled all expectations”, rousing further interest in the festival’s actual shindigs held every August.
The event is organized annually by the National Ghana Parade Council (NGPC), formed by its founders from Ghanaian communities in the U.S. states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut who banded together to float the organization. Their vision birthed the annual ‘Ghana Festival-New York.’ Every year in the summer, the Ghana Festival-New York resonates a grand ceremony in Crotona Park in the Bronx, in New York City.
At the launching in Accra, president of the NGPC and executive of the Ghana Festival-New York, Catherine Cudjoe, widely recognized as Keymama, was commended for her efforts for bringing the communities together through her selfless work in the Diaspora and Ghana — she received honourary and colorful glass beads.
The beads were worn around her neck and wrists by the representative of the Ga-Dangme Council of Chiefs. The gesture signified royalty and a commendation of her high status as a figure leading the advancement of the Ghanaian heritage.
According to the organisers, beads represent a unique part of the Ghanaian culture, and the beads presented to Keymama were “made of recycled glass. The glass that could have gone to pollute the environment, (but) Ghanaians creatively transformed it into this colourful beads, and they are an expression of wealth, longevity, victory and position in life.”
Dignitaries who were present at the festival, included King of the Dormaa State, Osagyefo Agyemang Badu II, who was the Keynote Speaker for the outstanding event. Another invitee, a special guest of honour for the event, Oboade Notse King Prof. Odaifio Welentsi III, Nungua Shitse/Mantse (event Chairman) & Vice President of Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs. The event also featured well-known Ghanaian performers such as Wiyaala, Ayigbe Edem, BigTwins, and Kofi Flair, among others.
“As I go to America, I’m going to do what I love to do most, sing, dance, entertain people and showcase Ghana unapologetically,” said Wiyaala, the Afro-pop singer and songwriter at the event as she announced that she would be performing at the festival’s August showdown.
The singer also made revealed that the event would be her first performance in the United States expressing her appreciation, “it’s my first time going to America, if you didn’t know, now everybody knows” she said at an excited crowd. “I’m a typical Ghana girl, and for me it’s really inspiring, it tells me that you all see me, you appreciate what I do, so I’m very happy to be part of this event.”
The festival has for over a decade bolstered nothing short of unity, building capacity, producing feasible ideas and mobilizing funds to assist Ghana’s development efforts. The event in the diaspora annually attracts throngs of people from all over the U.S. and the world, among them, are foreign-direct-investors and culture lovers.
One of Ghana’s illustrious cultural dance groups, BigTwin Africa made an on-stage appearance and speech extolling the organizers of the event and Keymama threw a cloud of cheers in the audience. “We see what Keymama is doing for the community, if we have more people like Keymama, Ghana will change.”
Culture remains a central theme in the festival, especially in a way that will incite the younger generation. “Please speak your native tongue with your children, otherwise you will have no history and you will have no background,” said Keymama as she asserted that culture remains alive through its language.
According to Arakunrin Lekan, a managing editor with theafricandream, one of the event’s sponsors, “we are very excited to be part of this event, we’ve supported it over the years and have seen it thrive and have a positive impact. So becoming partners was a naturally progressive step, and we can’t wait to share with New York and all that Ghana has to offer Africans and the world…”
Following the launching, the festival will be celebrated on August 13th, in New York, U.S.. This 2022 would be the festival’s 13th annual public installation of celebrating Ghanaian culture and heritage.