As a volunteer for ABANTU, the day provided me with a window into the history of the organization and enlightened me on just how much ABANTU has accomplished in a mere decade. I'll give you a summary of the day in pictures. It will read just like a children's storybook only without the condescending tone.
No anniversary in Ghana would be complete without some branded collectors items.
Stylish bracelets available in black and yellow, ABANTU's colours. All the staff were advised to wear these colours to the event. Most of us looked gorgeous, others, myself included, bordered on looking like honeybees.
Gertrude, my post-Ellen supervisor, pins an ABANTU pin on an attendee.
ABANTU's donation box. The organization must have made a great impression over the years as this box was pretty full at the end of the day.
Adusei and Auntie Grace waiting for the crowds to show at registration.
Ms. Hilary Gbedemah, an absolute natural on the mic, was the emcee for the day. She has chaired and hosted many of ABANTU's conferences and events throughout my time at the organization. Definitely the funniest Ghanaian in town. Here, she has just finished asking the attendees to look at the conference agenda, look at the person to your left, and say to them: "we are here for the whooooooollleee day." Whenever energy was low in the room, Gbedemah was sure to remind us that we can't lose steam now, 'cause we're here for the whooooooolllllleeee day.
Meet Ms. Hamida Harrison, Programme Manager of ABANTU and one of the strongest women I have ever met. She's nicknamed "International Woman" by staff both because her work has taken her all around the globe but also because of her tendency to interrupt meetings to answer long-distance calls. The nickname sounds a lot better when my coworker, Joan, says it in a zealous cheering voice -"EEN TA NA SHIONAL WO MAN!"
Professor Takiywaa Manuh, the Chairperson of ABANTU's Board of Directors, acted as chairperson for the event. Expressed her deep sense of pride in ABANTU's work and commended Dr. Rose for her leadership.
Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, Director of ABANTU's West African Regional Office, welcoming participants. Everyone was so proud of her work with ABANTU and was sure to let her know at the event.
Mr. Kwasi Gyan Apenteng, the Programme Coordinator for Cultural Initiatives Suppose Programme, was invited to speak about the changes in Ghana with regards to gender equity and women's rights over the past ten years.
Ms. Grace Yeaney, Exec. Director of Women's Movement for Sustainable Development. She is based in Liberia and thus offered a her own narrative of what Liberia has seen over the past ten years with regards to women's rights and equality. She assured us that even though Liberia is the first African country to have a democratically-elected female president, women are still at a large disadvantage given that the country is still recovering from a civil war.
Professor Takiywaa Manuh chairing a panel discussion on the presentations.
Attendee who obviously got the "yellow" memo.
Celebration!! ABANTU and its supporters cheer Ghandi's famous saying "be the change you wish to see."
ABANTU and their supporters. Everyone's so happy!! And not just because lunch is about to be served...Though that may have something to do with it.
Lots of hugs and smiles that day.
Dr. Rose interviewed by the press.
Attendees watching a photo slideshow of ABANTU over the years.
Attendee that sat next to me. Every time an obroni would appear in the slideshow her and her friend would point and asked if I can see myself in the photo. "You are there!" she would say. And I would tell her it wasn't me... until the time finally came that I was in a picture.
Lizzy and Rafkatu, the lovely National Service Students working at ABANTU who put up with every Ghana-related question I have. In exchange, I try to explain a few things about white people. Hard to speak for all of them though...
Priscilla, another National Service Student, giving a sneaky smile. Priscilla also doubles as my Twi teacher and cultural guide. Again, in exchange I provide a bit of insight into the odd ways of the west.
Alfreida, one of the student interns at ABANTU this summer. She's handing out the ABANTU @ 10 souvenir book which was used to raise money for the organization. Student interns who come back to volunteer for ABANTU's programs or just to visit are so common that the organization has given them the nickname "Abantulettes"
Afua holding the money-bag, as an auctioneer auctions off ABANTU's souvenir book for generous donations. The highest bid? 1000 GHC!! Not bloody bad.
Gracie, another Abantulette (and this one is full of personality, let me tell you) hands out the souvenir book to the highest bidders.
Hilary and a woman from an organization that works closely with ABANTU dance to encourage people to donate.
Awards ready to be handed out
Hajia Bilkisu Yussif, Board Member for ABANTU's country office in Kaduna, Nigeria, accepts an award for her commitment to advancing gender equity in Nigeria.
Veronica Mba, an amazing woman - the first ever blind woman to be elected to the District Assembly in Ghana. She has participated in ABANTU's capacity-building programs for women running for district assembly positions.
Jacob, ABANTU's Security Officer, is awarded for his hard work in protecting us at the ABANTU office!
Adusei, Support Services Officer for ABANTU, humbly accepts an award for his hard work.
Auntie Grace gets an award for her amazing work as ABANTU's Administrative Assistant. The place couldn't run without her.
Auntie Hamida, a.k.a. "International Woman", also receives an award for her hard work at ABANTU.
ABANTU Staff: Joan, Follie, Afua and Gertrude
Dancing ensues after the WHOOOLLEEE day has come to and end. National Service Students join the party.
Back home, it might take a bit of effort to get a guy on the dancefloor (well, maybe not the guys I hang out with), but here in Ghana - men are the first to leap at the opportunity to show off their moves. Here Marfo and Jacob, usually very shy and quiet, come alive with some Hi life beats.
Musician, Gonje and his band, provide live music for the crowd.
Adusei and Mabel get down.
Obroni finally makes it on the other side of the camera.