Dr. Kofi A. Boateng, Mount Vernon, NY has a population of 67,000 and is strategically located just north of New York City via the Bronx. The population is predominantly African-American and its mayor, Mr. Ernest Davis, does not hesitate to show his affinity for Africa and for Ghana in particular. As such, he has established a sister-city relationship with Cape Coast. An architect, he dreams of building affordable housing in Ghana, starting in the Central Region. His enthusiasm has encouraged his councilman Yuhanna Edwards to begin a program to build libraries in Ghana. A long-time Mount Vernon resident, Rabbi Malevi, has partnered with fellow African-Americans to build high quality hotels in Cape Coast and Elmina. Against this background, the request by the Executive Secretary General of the New York City based National Council of Ghanaian Associations (NCOGA), Mr. Ofori Anor, for Mount Vernon to host a Ghanaian cultural event on Saturday August 9, 2014 was welcomed by the City with wide open arms.
To ensure a full range of cultural display, Simpson Afriyie, the self-styled Prince of Africa, came fully dressed to match any King in Ghana complete with a palanquin, drums, dancers, and hired Mexicans to carry him and his drums in the parade through the city. Not to be outdone, Togbe Sefordzi, Togbe Kedzeiezor, Mama Mawutor Akabua, and Togbe Setranah, all of the United Volta Association, were serenaded by lively festival tunes as they marched. Brong Ahafo was well represented by the Gyasehene of Mim, Nana Oseadeeyo Brobbey, Nana Kwadwo Amponsah, Nana Yaa Asiria Yeboa and Naana Ama Saa of Sunyani Fiapre. The Ada area was brought alive by Nana Tsiakuor Osusey Akwerh and Nene Teye Dake l of Ada Okorpi Akpee; and so was Okuapeman by Nana Debrah Dwamenah ll. Nana Amo Agyepong of the Bronx and Otumfuo’s Safiasehene did their best to hold the fort, since the Asantefuohene of New York City and his entire retinue were conspicuously absent. Thanks to Nana Kufuor from Ghana who made a fully-clad showing to pour the libation prior to the parade. Did I say that Mayor Davis is 73 years old? You could not tell by the briskness of his walk through several stretches of the city streets in the colorful and musical parade. He kept going while the Ghana chiefs were worrying about their kyawkyaw (traditional sandals).
The parade was welcomed to Hartley Park by the drum beats of Okyeremah Asante. The good Mayor stayed with his Ghanaian friends from 10:00am until 5:00pm, and did not leave without showing off some adowa dance steps he picked up in Ghana. It was fitting for the event, the first of its kind, to be graced by Consul General Joseph Okun and several Ghanaian dignitaries. The Special Assistant to the Mayor, Shari Harris, did a masterful job keeping everything to order, even trying to get Ghanaians to overcome their penchant to be late. The event was co-sponsored by Thirst for Water, also led by a Ghanaian, Ulric Kelly. At a time when war is ravaging the world, and good news is getting scarcer by the second, for a few hours, it was simply golden to see a good side of Ghana, and a union of African-Americans and Africans led by Ghanaians. It will only get better in 2015. Thanks to all who helped to make this show a success, especially to NCOGA member, Mr. Ernest Amoyaw, and to the Deputy Executive Secretary, Mr. Patrick Gyan, who stepped up when things were looking bleak. Let us all learn from what could have been done better and do it well in 2015 for mother Ghana. For once there was no NPP, no NDC, no Asante, no Eve, no Ga, no etc- only Ghanaians, at their collective best.