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A Perspective from Chicago


On the occasion of CEANA’s 20th anniversary, it is necessary to revisit the presentation of its history from a different perspective, the Chicago Perspective!

A historical narrative of CEANA has been beautifully written by two outstanding members of our Ewe community of North America, Mr. Gordon Sabblah and Mr. Cudjoe Dorkeno. Their rendition has covered all relevant aspects of CEANA’s formation, however, gaps in the genesis of CEANA’s history, often ignored and yet significant, must be inserted to complete the documentation more accurately, which is the intention behind this write-up, “Tracing the Beginning History of CEANA”.

Several years ago, beginning in the early 90’s, there was a great deal of camaraderie among us, Ewes in North America. We would travel by road when invited to Washington DC, New York or Atlanta to attend funerals or outdoorings. It was therefore no wonder that in 1993, at the invitation of the Volta Club of Washington D.C., to their 10th anniversary celebration the idea of Ewes in North America unifying under one banner to help with the socio-economic development of Eweland was launched. This idea was started at an evening welcoming cocktail and dinner reception, hosted by Mr. William Ayenson in his home to welcome those of us who had travelled from afar to Washington D.C. for the 10th anniversary celebration of the Volta Club of Washington D.C.

At this cocktail and dinner reception, after the usual exchanges of greetings, pleasantries, and other social conversations about several innocuous issues, the discussions focused on the economic devastation in Ghana at the time, and the Volta Region in particular. There were no visible economic or industrial infrastructures in existence in many areas of the Volta region. Young kids who had left school could not find jobs, resulting in most migrating to Accra, the capital city of Ghana in search of non -existent jobs, thus putting tremendous pressure on the government. We talked about how lucky some of us in the Diaspora were despite our individual struggles for economic survival. The realization then sank in that despite our individual economic struggles, our situation relative to those at home was better and thus a need to share our good fortune with those at home.

One talking point led to another. Mr. Ayenson eloquently briefed us about the attempt that was made in the past between Ewes in New York and Washington, D.C to form an umbrella United Ewe Associations in the United States without much success. An umbrella organization, the united Volta Organization (UVO) was actually formed. This organization existed for some time, and then collapsed and became inactive. It finally dawned on us that we could not ignore the suffering and plight of our brethrens at home under those depressing and devastating economic calamities of the time. History and the spirit of our ancestors would not be kind to us. It was our civic responsibility to help by channeling some of the economic benefits of North America to those we had left behind. This was the motivating factor that necessitated our efforts to once again try and coalesce under one umbrella organization to help in relieving some of the economic pains of the time at home.

The next day, more focused meetings and discussions were held that culminated in the formation of the umbrella organization to help with the socio-economic development of the Volta Region of Ghana. Initially, the focus was on the Volta Region of Ghana, because the organizations present at the meetings in Washington D.C. were Ghanaian Associations. Three years later, at the Atlanta convention in 1996, Togo and Benin were ushered into the structure.

Meetings were arranged at the beginning to discuss the framework and the modus operandi for the new organization being envisaged. The first meeting was arranged at the Howard University Hotel, Washington, D.C. on September 3rd 1993, under the chairmanship of Mr. William Ayenson. There were four Ewe associations in Washington, D.C for the celebration, namely, the Milenovisi Habobo of the Metropolitan Chicago, the Volta Club of Washington, D.C., the United Volta Association of New York, and the Ewe Association of Georgia, Atlanta. The associations were represented by the following delegates;

  • Atlanta; Mr. Kofi Afeku, Mr. Christian Adedze and Rev. Jonny Akoto
  • Chicago: Togbe Venya 1, Mr. Clement Timpo, and Mr. Kudjo Adigbi
  • New York: Togbe Kofi Tsai1 and Mr. Julius Cobblah
  • Washington, D.C.: Mr. William Ayenson and Mr. David Aku

Mr. Ayenson, the chairman, again narrated the history of the previous attempts at forming a united Ewe organization, which could embrace all Ewe associations in the United States. He noted how in July of 1984, in search of the dream to unite all Ewe Association in North America, two associations, the Ewe United Club of New York and the Volta Club of Washington, D.C. came together to form the United Volta Organization (UVO). It was hoped the UVO would metamorphose into a core organization around which other Ewe associations would revolve. The stated goals of the UVO then were to;

  1. Bring together or unite all Ewe associations or organizations in the United States under one umbrella.
  2. Promote and assist in the Socio-Economic and Cultural development of our homeland, Eweland; i.e., Ewes of the Volta Region of Ghana, Togo and Benin.

At the Howard University Hotel meeting, the decision before the delegates was whether to resurrect the dormant UVO organization or create an entirely new umbrella organization. The consensus opinion was the creation of an entirely new umbrella organization. The Howard University Hotel meeting also created an ad hoc committee, made up of the leaders of the delegates and charged it with the responsibility of writing a new constitution and deciding on the structure for this new organization. Due to time limitation, no substantive agreement on the structure or framework for this new organization was reached before our departure from Washington, D.C. However, since Chicago had informed the gathering of its impending 21st anniversary celebration, and had also extended verbal invitations to all to attend, a motion was made and then tabled and unanimously adopted to continue with the committee’s deliberations in Chicago.

There was a euphoric feeling among us after our departure from Washington, D.C., that we were on the right path. To put it into proper perspective, one of our outstanding members, Mr. Kudjo Adigbli, currently residing in Ghana, borrowed the bylaws of the Volta Club, the Unity Club of New York and the inactive UVO for study. Upon our arrival in Chicago, Mr. Adigbli worked tirelessly and was in constant communication with New York and Washington D.C. to assemble a constitutional frame-work for the proposed organization, even though at the time there was little knowledge about the direction or the form the proposals would take.

The following year, 1994, nothing substantially happened on the proposals in Chicago despite the constant communication between Chicago, New York, Washington, and Atlanta. The focus in 1994 in Chicago was the planning of the 21st anniversary celebration of the Milenovisi Habobo of Chicago. In 1995, as part of the Milenovisi Habobo of Metropolitan Chicago’s planned 21st anniversary celebrations, major Ewe Associations in North American were invited to Chicago. In attendance were the Volta Club of Washington DC, the Unity Club of New York (now the United Volta Association of Bronx., New York), the Ewe Association of Georgia, Atlanta, the Ewe Habobo of South California, the Ewe-Canadian Cultural Organization of Ontario, Canada, the Ewe Multicultural Association of Ontario, Canada, and the Ewe Association of Houston, Texas. The celebrations of Milenovisi Habobo of Chicago’s 21st anniversary was therefore the launching pad for the new United Ewe Organization, we today call the Council of Ewe Associations of North America (CEANA).

The Chicago, 1995, 21st Anniversary Celebration activities started with a Saturday morning and afternoon general delegates meeting, Saturday evening Dinner Dance, Sunday morning Church Service, and a Sunday afternoon picnic, finally culminating with the Sunday evening “Misegli” section. Since the formation of CEANA, this format has become the standard convention format for all CEANA Conventions.

At the Saturday, 1995, Chicago general assembly meeting, several names were suggested for the new organization, however, the name Council of Ewe Associations of North America (CEANA), which was proposed by the Ewe Multicultural Association of Ontario, Canada, was accepted unanimously, and adopted. The general assembly also decided on two important issues: 1. The Ewe Association of Georgia, Atlanta to be given the opportunity to host the first CEANA convention in 1996, and 2. the creation of a permanent Secretariat with interim officers to be appointed for the secretariat.

Following several votes the choice for the permanent site for the new CEANA Secretariat was between Chicago, and Atlanta. To facilitate a smooth planning of the first CEANA convention, the Ewe Association of Georgia, Atlanta was unanimously chosen as the permanent site. The first permanent secretariat of CEANA was therefore established in Atlanta, with the president of the Ewe Association of Atlanta, Mr. Kofi Afeku chosen as CEANA’s first president. Atlanta was also charged with the responsibility of drafting a permanent constitution and getting it ready for promulgation. It also was at the Atlanta convention that CEANA was officially inaugurated.

Recounted  by Clement D. Timpo; Chicago, Illinois

A Perspective from Atlanta


The Ewe Association of Georgia was formed in November 1993. During the labor- day week end of 1994, the association sent a delegation of four association members to represent it at the 10th anniversary celebration of the existence of the Volta Club of Washington D.C.  The delegation was led Mr. Christian Adedze, Secretary of the association. The other members were the late Bobby Nyaku, Public Relations Officer, the Rev. Johnny Akoto and Miss Celestine Campbell. Two other associations were also present. Milenorvisi  Association of Chicago; and the United Volta Association of New York. A meeting held at the Howard University Hotel, led by Mr. Ayenson , president of Volta Club aided by his vice Mr. David Aku.

In attendance as official representatives for their respective associations were Mr. Christian Adedze and Rev. Johnny Akoto, for Atlanta, Mr. Timpo and Togbui Wenya for Chicago and Mr. Julius Kobla and Togbui Kofi Tsai ofr New York. Mr. Ayenson, host of the meeting broached the subject of the formation of an umbrella organization for all Ewe Associations in North America. He recounted the history of the formation an earlier organization, namely United Volta Organization between the two associations of Washington D.C. and New York. UVO became defunct principally because of competition for leadership position between the two associations. Mr. Ayenson was of the view that a new umbrella organization should be created with expanded membership of new associations. The idea was accepted by the leaders of all the four associations present. The Atlanta Association suggested the umbrella association should not be limited to the Volta Region alone. It must   cover the whole Eweland. This was suggested because the Atlanta association included Ewes and assimilated Ewes from Togo, Benin and Ghana. The Constitution of U.V.O. was to be a basis for writing a new constitution for the nascent umbrella organization. This then was the beginning of what would later be named CEANA.  At this meeting Chicago invited the other associations to attend its 20th anniversary and continue the work on the new umbrella organization.

The labor-day weekend of 1995 saw the presence of the following associations to continue the deliberations on the new umbrella organization. Milenorvsi association of Chicago, Volta Club  of Washington DC , United Volta Association of New York, Ewe association of Georgia, Ewe Habobo of Southern California, Ewe Canadian Cultural Organization of Ontario (ECCOO), and an individual ,  Ewe Association of Houston. The deliberations centered on three main issues; the adoption of a name for the organization, the completion of a new constitution and its adoption, and finally the establishment of a Secretariat and or officers of the organization.

After several suggestions, the name, “Council of Ewe Associations of North America” suggested by ECCOO was accepted as the Name for the new organization. Next the issue of the constitution could not be resolved and was postponed to the next meeting which was to take place the next labor-day weekend, 1996,  in Atlanta, GA . The important issue for the location of the secretariat of the organization and the election of officers of the organization, became a problem as it was evident that New York, Washington DC, and Chicago were vying seriously for the location of the secretariat. To resolve this issue, Atlanta was  asked to host the Secretariat. Atlanta was tasked to incorporate CEANA, obtain 501 C-3 status and also work on the constitution under the Chairmanship of Dr. Dan Morvey.

Our association hosted the 1996 convention of CEANA. In attendance were Ewe Association of Georgia, Volta Club of Washington DC, United Volta Association of New York, Milenorvsi Association of Chicago, Ewe Canadian Cultural Organization of Ontario, Ewe Habobo of Southern California, Ewe Association of Dallas, Ewe association of Houston, Ewe Multicultural Association of Ontario and Ewe Association of Arkansas and Mississippi. The draft Constitution for CEANA was ready at this convention paving the way for the Incorporation of CEANA.

Before the 1997 Convention in Toronto, CEANA was incorporated in Georgia thus giving a legal basis for the umbrella organization. Atlanta was elected to host the first Secretariat of Ceana. By Early 1999, Ceana obtained its (501C-3) status as a non-profit charitable organization registered with the IRS.

Recounted by Mary Narnor;  Atlanta Georgia