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Feature Article of Saturday, 10 March 2012

Columnist: Anor, Ofori G.

One of a Kind Independence Celebration in New York

The metropolis of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey on Saturday March 3 saw a celebration, the like of which has not been seen in the area for some time. It was the National Council of Ghanaian Associations’ (NCOGA) annual gala event commemorating Ghana’s independence. This year’s was the 55th edition of the historic milestone.

Several hundreds of patrons, unofficially tagged at about 400, gathered at the Polonaise Center in the city of Yonkers, just outside of the fabled bogey down boro of Bronx, NY.

Ghana’s Ambassador to the United Nations His Excellency Ambassador Kandar topped the list of VIPS that attended. When the Ambassador addressed the gathering, he challenged and urged Ghanaian citizens in the Diaspora to “make tangible contribution to Ghana’s growth and development ……endeavor to send at least one investment in whichever sector, that will improve the wellbeing of our people”. He reaffirmed the government’s determination to build “a good nation where peace, security, and prosperity thrive”. New York City Council member representing the district with the largest concentration of Ghanaians in the United States, Ms Dianne Foster, sent a message to wish the community “peaceful coexistence, better lives, political equality and economic emancipation” for all.

The heavily patronized event saw six college freshmen of Ghanaian origins receiving scholarship awards from the Council. Crystal Akwada (SUNY Albany), Josephine Hesse (CUNY Bronx), Emmanuel Amoyaw (CUNY City College) Akosua Mensah (Penn State) Joana Hesse (CUNY Bronx) and Lydia Agyepong (Syracuse University) went into the records as the NCOGA Scholarship Class of 2012. They join an alumnus of 22 winners of the prestigious award.

This was followed by ceremonies that included bestowing farewell honors on the outgoing Executive Secretary General Ms Ivy Quarshie and her deputy Hajia Ramatu, both of whom had completed their tour of duty. In her farewell address, Ms Quarshie ran a gamut of successes that had occasioned the period of her administration. She thanked her benefactors and supporters and wished the in coming administration well. Thereafter, the two were presented with NCOGA Service Awards which are bestowed on retiring members of the Council. Other awards presented to deserving individuals included Community Service Awards: Dr Twum Boafo, Rev. Yaw Asiedu and Dr Bola Omotosho, a highly accomplished physician, community organizer and entrepreneur. Humanitarian Awards went to Dr Susan Fuhrman, President of Columbia Teachers College, Dr Catherine J. Crowley, Ms Marian Baigorri and Dean Thomas James all of Teacher’s College.

Red carpet moment of the day belonged to members of the incoming Council administration led by the new Secretary General G. Ofori Anor. The cheer and wave that greeted them spoke to the expectations and hope held in the man and his team. They were introduced and sworn to oath of offices administered by Dr Victor Essien, chair of NCOGA’s Board of Directors.

But the night really belonged to the teeming crowd of proud and decent Ghanaians who had come to serenade their country’s birthday. All sectors of the community were represented. They came dressed festively, they chatted excitedly, danced zestfully to the musical spins of DJ extraordinaire Katabo, dined and wined with the fervor of Father Bacchus himself.

The venue’s location, the hall’s ambiance, a hassle-free parking facility and an unseasonably gorgeous weather all jelled perfectly to enable NCOGA put up a show that will surely be talked about for a long time to come.

The stage is set for an even grander celebration next year when it would be 56 years that and our beloved country became free forever!!!

NCOGA Secretariat New York March 2012

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