Report from Ghana Visit 2008
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Written by Elizabeth Doucette

Students in Ghana Computer Classroom
BLACK HISTORY

Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail members are back from their first group tour to Ghana in West Africa. The trip coincided with the grand opening of a new Digital Learning Center created by co-operation of the Portsmouth-Greater Accra Sister City Connection. Read more.

 

 

 

New Hampshire Brings Computers to Africa

Ghana Tour 2008 was organized by Valerie Cunningham, president of the Black Heritage Trail, and Elizabeth Doucette, chair of the Sister City Connection. The group of twelve travelers spent two-weeks touring Ghana in January. Another tour will be planned for next year.

Described as "the trip of a lifetime," highlights of this tour included Ghana’s National Museum, the W.E.B. Dubois Institute & Mausoleum, and Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial, all in the capital city of Accra, the Dagbe Institute of Traditional Drumming and Dance in the Volta region, and the infamous Elmina Slave Trading Fort at Cape Coast.

Computer center in Ghana courtesy of NH Black Heritage Volunteers, Liz DOucette photo

Deep personal experiences came from reflecting on the historical connections of New Hampshire and Ghana during the centuries of slave trading across the Atlantic and, in recent times, the personal relationships that have been nurtured through cultural exchanges.

In late 2003, after several seacoast-area residents had traveled to Ghana, local blues man T.J. Wheeler was able to realize his long-held dream of establishing a Sister City relationship in Ghana. This was made possible through personal connections with the two villages of Aburi and Kitasi.

Former Mayor Eileen Foley, Portsmouth’s Ambassador, along with representatives of several civic local organizations and interested people from Portsmouth and neighboring communities presented the idea to the Portsmouth City Council and received their official approval for establishing a sister city connection in Ghana. Wheeler was able to deliver a proclamation to the Ghanaian villages and they, too, accepted the proposal to form an official sister city relationship.

The capital city of Accra has over 1.5 million people, more than the population of entire state of New Hampshire, making Portsmouth’s connection to these villages a more appropriate match than with the entire metropolitan area of Accra.

The intention of members of the Portsmouth-Greater Accra Sister City Connection is to co-sponsor exchanges of individuals in order to explore and learn more about the many historic connections between the two cities. The public is welcome to work with the Sister City Connection to help build strong cultural and business relationships.

During the January visit to Ghana, several people representing the Sister City Connection met with two chieftains, Nana Kwame Takyi, the tribal king of Aburi/Agyementi, and Nana Ampoma, king of Kitasi. In September of 2005, the two kings had visited New Hampshire as guests of the Sister City Connection and the Black Heritage Trail in honor or the Trail’s tenth anniversary.

Ghana computer lab in operation/ Liz Doucette photo 

During the Chieftains’ visit to New Hampshire in 2005 we learned that their school and library needed computers. With the help of ITExpiditors and Walsh Transportation Group, the two New Hampshire businesses that donated and delivered the hardware, the people of Nana Takyi's community built the Digital Learning Center at the school in Agyementi. The new computer center has a technician and a manager who will schedule the public to use the computers after school hours.

Valerie Cunningham and Elizabeth Doucette were "enstooled" and given traditional names in a solemn ceremony led by Nana Takyi. They also were honored guests at the grand opening celebration for the Learning Center. A traditional offering of libation to the ancestors was followed by drumming and dancing, and after speeches from several officials including Ghana’s Minister of Education, the cheering adults and children rushed forward to see inside the Digital Learning Center for the first time.