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Diasporian News of Saturday, 12 May 2007

Source: Matthew Kuofie

Ghana@50: USA and Ghana Students Celebrate

In 1957, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah invited Martin Luther King Jr. to join in the celebration of Ghana's independence from Britain rule to become a new nation. In his autobiography, King wrote about how the event inspired him:

“I thought that this event, the birth of this new nation, would give impetus to oppressed peoples all over the world. I thought it would have worldwide implications and repercussions-not only for Asia and Africa, but also for America. I thought Ghana would become a symbol of hope for hundreds and thousands of oppressed peoples all over the world as they struggled for freedom. The birth of this new nation renewed my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice… This gave new hope to me in the struggle for freedom.”

In the same spirit of brotherhood and as part of the this year long recognition of Ghana’s 50th anniversary of freedom from Britain, the students of Kormantse, Central Region, Ghana invited their fellow students at Fresno, California, USA to join in the celebration.

The caption of their celebration is Ghana @ 50: African Heritage Decathlon 2007. The decathlon started in March 2007. Students aged twelve to seventeen, from Fresno, California, USA, sent e-mails introducing themselves to students who live in Kormantse. The Kormantse students responded. A video coverage of Kormantse was recorded and sent to Fresno; some scenes include the chief’s palace, Fort Amsterdam, an interview of students and the elders about education, the fishing industry and Ghana’s freedom. The students in both Fresno and Kormantse have been researching about African Americans in science, mathematics, medicine, and invention. They are learning facts that can help build their personal esteem, give them confidence to do better in their academic courses and on standardized tests, to improve the condition of their communities and to prepare themselves to serve as; positive, effective, contributing citizens.

The decathlon activities will come to an end on Wednesday, May 16, 2007 when over 600 Ghanaian and American students, their parents and public officials will participate in an African Heritage Decathlon Conference. The theme of the conference is Exploit Knowledge. Reject Defamation. Invent a Brighter Future.

The students have been divided into teams and will endeavor to find solutions to some problems that both the Kormantse and Fresno students have in common; some of which emerged during the slave trade and colonization. They will use computer and video technology in communicating with each other during the conference. Some parents, educators, health and business practitioners, political leaders will present ideas that will motivate the students. Dr. James E. Walton, Chair of the English department at California State University Fresno is a keynote speaker. Chief/Nana Brempong Otu of Nkum Kormantse will also be a keynote speaker. The venue of the Fresno conference is Edison High School. The venues of the Kormantse side are the Nkum Chief’s Palace and two Internet cafés in Cape Coast, Ghana.

The conference organizers will give awards to winning teams and outstanding individuals who learn and produce exhibits that best demonstrate the conference priorities which are to help the students dream of great possibilities, to determine a future that they can manage, to recognize that by combining sankofa with reading, thinking, goal-setting, and determination they make a difference in their own lives, their communities, and the world at large.

The organizers believe that just as Nkrumah and King inspired and encouraged each other so will the Kormantse and Fresno students build a bond of mutual respect and motivate each group to achieve high dreams.

The students in Fresno and Kormantse who are participating in this program were initially identified as ones who lack the opportunity or have lost hope for extended education, and that they need high doses of self-esteem and encouragement to access education. The organizers wish to cause change and create a thirst in the students and their parents for education, and provision for those who aspire to attend the university. The organizers also intend to provide a kind of Africentric curriculum which brings Africans and African Americans back together again through cooperative reading. Information technology is a very important component in this educational process. Through the use of information technology the students have already moved themselves into a new century of knowledge, which makes it easier and cost effective, blending the old with the new, developing technical skills, dispelling stereotypical images on both sides, and building good relationships.

Ms. Agnes Arthur a lecture at OLA Training College, Cape Coast, Ghana is the Ghana decathon chairperson, Chief Prof. Matthew Kuofie, Enyi Oma I of Abia State, Nigeria, is the decathlon liaison, and Mrs. Phyllis Brown, CEO and Founder of Etta's Place, which is an adult learning center based in Fresno, California, USA, is the general decathlon chairperson.

With the support of Principal Rick Lopez of Edison High School, Fresno, Nana Brempong -Otu, and sponsors that include Etta's Place; Global Strategic Management Incorporated, and Dr. James E. Walton the African Heritage Decathlon is bound for success for this and in years to come.

For more information, visit the conference website: http://gsmi-usa.com/Conf_African_Heritage_Decathlon.aspx

Future phase I projects include 1) building a school house for these children that will be near their homes, 2) having an exchange program whereby students in Kormantse will visit Fresno for part of their high school and/or university education--likewise Fresno students will come to Ghana, and 3) having economic development projects aside from the fishing industry in Kormantse.

The phase I projects are estimated to cost $500,000 (half a million US dollars). Etta's Place and Global Strategic Management Incorporated are providing the funding.

If you are interested in partnering with us in the future projects or just participating in the May 16 conference, please contact:

Ms. Agnes Naomi Arthur at naomearthur@yahoo.com

Mrs. Phyllis Brown at pjb36@cvip.net