BUS hosts African speakers

Bryan Wroten

Nana Kodwo Eduakwa V, chief of Atonkwa Village in Ghana, right, and Nana Kwa Kra Kwamia, director of the Ashe Center in Cleveland and consultant to the Pan-African department, spoke to Black United Students last night in Oscar Ritchie Hall. Eduakwa spoke

Credit: Steve Schirra


The proper response is “Amee.”

This is the protocol for call and response.

Protocol, tradition and returning to Africa were the topics of discussion for four speakers hosted by Black United Students and the Pan-African department following the BUS meeting.

Mwatabu Okantah, assistant professor and director of the Center of Pan-African Culture, introduced the speakers and moderated the discussion. He said it is not enough for black students to just see pictures, videos or DVDs of Africa. He said they need to visit Africa because no matter where they live, they are African people.

“Africa is a living place,” Okantah said, “and there is so much happening there that will not appear in mainstream media.”

Chairperson for Pan-African Studies Deirdre Badejo spoke of her personal experience visiting and studying in Africa.

She said her travels “opened the African world for me. It put me in contact with the people of our heritage.”

While in Ghana, Badejo said she learned the importance of personal roles. Further stressing the significance of roles and protocol was Nana Akua Kyerewaa Opokuwaa, Queen Mother and Akwamuhema of Edina Traditional Area in Ghana.

Author of Akan Protocol: Remembering the Traditions of our Ancestors, Opokuwaa explained her transition from Garden State native to Queen Mother.

“I was born in New Jersey and realized my ancestry was in Ghana,” she said.

She said the Akan, her people, migrated from Egypt through the Congo to the west coast of Africa. She said Ghana was the primary place where slave traders brought African people, kings, queens, chiefs and priests to send them to the New World.

“It’s a very important place. My family is there,” she said. “My family claimed me and put me in my rightful position as a queen there.”

She told the students everyone in a society is important. She said kings, chiefs, queen mothers, shoemakers and drummers all have a place.

“Each is as important as the next,” she said. “It’s like the five fingers on your hand. If you lose one, you have to compensate.”

Following Opokuwaa was Nana Kwa Kra Kwamina, Tufohene, or chief legal adviser, of Atonkwa Village. He told the students they need to take charge of their own lives.

“You have to create the world you feel like you want to live in,” he said. “If you’re not into shaping, it is going to be shaped for you and you are going to have to fit into it.”

However, to achieve this, he said students must work together for it. He said every person in Ghana is involved in their society.

“There are no lazy people in Ghana,” he said. “You don’t see anyone kickin’ it on the corner. There are no excuses. No late homework, no ‘I got tired and fell asleep,’ everything gets done because the order depends on it.”

Nana Kodwo Eduakwa V, chief of Atonkwa Village and Akwamuhene of Edina Traditional Area, honored the audience by speaking to them directly.

He said it is true that there are no lazy people in Ghana. He said there is no running water through his land. He said when the people wake up, the first thing they need is water, and they walk and carry the water back to their homes.

“It is a problem, but it doesn’t tear us down,” he said.

One of the purposes of the speeches was to get students interested in a trip to Ghana to help the people there learn technology. Eduakwa V said his village is the first to have a computer center, but they need help. The trip would take 15 students over a five week period during the summer.

“We are going to benefit from your technology,” he said. “You will be toughened to face any situation.”

During the BUS meeting, president Matthew Cox discussed plans for the Renaissance Ball and the need for academic affairs and treasury officers. He also told them of plans for donations for hurricane relief and collected ideas for future speakers.

Contact religion and minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].