By Ernest Kanjo & Okon Ekpenyong
Over 10,000 people are expected to converge on Columbus from August 5-7 this year to witness and take part in the maiden edition of the Ohio Ghana Festival. The cultural and business event wrapped in the framework of a sister cities rapport between Ghana’s capital, Accra and Ohio’s chief city, Columbus, will be a meeting point for people from several nationalities, joining Ghanaian sons and daughters in savoring the cultural prowess of the West African nation.
Highlighting the scope of the festival to include culturally proneactivities, entertainment and business interaction at the media launch which constituted the first phase of the festival, Saturday, the project manager, Rev. Samuel Sarkodee insisted that Ohio Ghana Festival will be mutually beneficial to Accra and Columbus.
“Finding this common ground between our sister cities will create a better future for our younger ones,” he pointed out.
To the Executive Director of Sister Cities International, the marriage between Ghana’s capital and Ohio’s main city, which is not new, must be consolidated so that our children’s children can live it and enjoy every benefit that comes along with the relationship. Jayme Staley lauded Ghanaians in Columbus for showing an unrelentless commitment to this Accra-Columbus rapport.
“I can’t wait to go with you come August the 5th,” she said, anxiously looking forward to being part of the event.
On his part, the Director of Regional Partnerships at the City of Columbus Mayor’s Office, Schadek, speaking so emotionally, described Ghanaians living in the city as a special community. Schadek, who was conferred the name Ghanaian traditional name of Kwame by the assembly, and clad in a batakari, Ghanaian traditional regalia, invited the people of the West African nation to embrace Columbus as home.
Meanwhile, religious organizations, including over 50 churches operating in Columbus, have thrown their lots behind the Ohio Ghana festival.
“We have been providing guidance and advice to the organizers of the festival because we cherish this relationship between Accra and Columbus and we think it is good thing for this long-awaited event to happen,” said Apostle Prince Bonsu.
He continued: “The Church will continue to pray for the festival, so Ghana can bring its rich culture here and share it with the great people of Columbus.”
Successive speakers at the media launch of the maiden edition of the Ohio Ghana Festival mentioned the promotion of the overall black heritage, as a salient point in the holding of the cultural and business come-together. Trapped in an uncontrollable wave of emotions amid an irresistible display of unity among festival promoters and guests to the launch, the Chair of Milo-Grogan Recreation Center, venue of the event, Charles Thompkins, proclaimed his infinite love for the people of Ghana.
“This is some great thing we’ve been missing,” said the African American, referring to the fireworks of singing, dancing, and use of the mother tongue, displayed in the hall. Thompkins, almost succumbing to tears, requested hugs from the people whom he insisted had been exemplary in soul-warming.
Speaking earlier, Dr Edwina Teye justified the project by explaining that it was normal that the Ghanaian community in Ohio, reciprocally embrace a country and city that have received them with open hands.
“We understand the benefits of building great relationships,” she indicated.
Sponsored principally by Adonko Bitters Limited and placed under the theme; “Our Culture, Our tradition, Our Heritage, the Columbus Way”, the Ohio Ghana Festival 2023 will bring together musicians, traditional dance groups and choreographers, fashion designers, traditional food chefs, media practitioners, writers, and companies. It will comprise of a welcome night, symposia/investment forums, the grand festival, thanksgiving service and a tour of Columbus. The media launch was also powered by Afro614 MultiMedia, one of the sponsors of the festival, run from Columbus.
“We are expecting to see visitors to the event, start making trips to Ghana after the Ohio Ghana Festival 2023,” the coordinatorof the media launch, Nana Ama Afrifah said.
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