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Diasporian News Sat, 10 Jan 2009

Ghanaians in Italy - Looking back 2008 (Part II)

In my first part of this article under review of the year 2008, about the Ghana community in Italy, I walked through some of their events, achievements and difficulties. There was brief mentioning of Ghana’s 51 years of Independence celebration in Italy hosted by the Council of Ghana Nationals Association in Italy (COGNAI), the first ever Ghanaians Conference in the Italian city Turin viewed by many as a great success and difficulties that confronts their community in Italy on documentation at the Ghana Embassy in Rome and Italy’s Consulate Office in Accra.

In this second part, I will take you through some of the other developments that took place and the very sad moments.

Through the efforts of COGNAI, Ghana Real Estate Developers held an exhibition in Vicenza during the year which accomplished some success. The number of participants, including Italians, exceeded expectation and it was an event that demonstrated how far Ghanaians have come in building quality houses compared to those in Europe or elsewhere.

Ghanacoop, an established business entity born out of the Ghana Nationals Association in the city Modena, continued to make progress importing fruits from Ghana – pineapples, mangoes, pawpaw etc. – to Italy, supplying megastores and supermarkets like Nordi Conad, Coop Estense and GS Carrefour whilst exporting Italian wine, pasta and ham to Ghana. This co-operative body, with its business running into millions of euros, have shown that with dedication and hard work even hard grounds for immigrants in a country like Italy can be broken. When I visited their office in Modena last year it was business as usual and some of the staff, including Italians, work extra hours staying late to keep their work load going. There was a strong sense of commitment and its President, Thomas McCarthy, made me understand it has been relentless efforts that has made Ghanacoop stand where it is today. International media house, CNN, and Italy’s national TV station, Rai One, have run documentary programs on its activities and they have been invited to International Conferences in Europe and the US. What is also outstanding is the manner they are contributing to development projects in some communities in Ghana providing social amenities like electricity, water and hospital equipments. My latest information is, they are on a project of building a photo voltaic plant for some villages in Ghana.

Talk about religion and Ghanaian churches in Italy are spreading out in an increasing manner which baffles belief and that raises some serious questions. Are all of them in it for the good of spreading the WORD of God or for individual gains? Information I gathered indicates there are more than 80 Ghanaians churches in one city alone. There is nothing wrong when the WORD of God is being spread along to win more souls into His Kingdom. My problem is, anyone at all who jumps out with some knowledge of the Bible goes to open a church with all sorts of titles attached to their names - Prophet, Prophetess, Bishop, Reverend, you name them - demeaning the essence of church in our society. Frankly speaking, most of them need proper education in these Ministries and I commend the efforts by one of these churches for establishing a Bible College to train its Pastors. I hope such an idea is emulated by the others that have not taken such steps to bring some sanity in this area - God is certainly watching us.

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Ghanaians again scored another first among the immigrants’ communities in Italy with the establishment of two Radio Stations in Italy, Gye Nyame Radio and Shepherd Radio. If you consider the hurdles between setting up such an establishment and Italian laws on immigrants then you will come to realise and appreciate the work which these Ghanaians who own these stations have done. The two stations, all based in the city Vicenza, have been featuring educative programs on social matters (among them marriage issues and youths programs), immigration laws in Italy, news and program on Africa with special focus on Ghana and the Ghanaian music on its airwaves coupled with phone-in calls on some of its programs has become an added joy for many Ghanaians in Italy. My advice to Presenters of these media houses is to get some education on the job under their armpit, media broadcasting or for that matter journalism is much deeper than what they consider it to be.

Talking about entertainment here brings to mind also Ghanaians Showtime on stage presenters in Italy. Arguably, Eddie Osei Bonsu (‘Eddie - the Finest’, but he prefers to be known by his ‘Akan’ heritage: Kofi Osei Bonsu) is the best Showtime presenter on stage among Ghanaians in Italy. My worry is, it appears there are no substitutes of his calibre now and I expect the Ghanaian youths in the country wishing to be in this field to start learning the ropes. And whilst we are still at it on entertainment, Anane Frimpong (Frimprince), a Ghanaians Show Producer in Italy have managed to bring some of the current crop of artistes into the limelight. Gospel artistes like Robert Psalmpong, Anita Obeng among others have all shown their talent under his working experience. The youths are also having their excitement of the glamour here and the likes of Cash Moe, Sanahene are coming out as good performers carving a name for themselves in showbiz.

It’s amazing how the Miss Ghana in Italy beauty pageant has caught up well not only within the Ghanaians communities but also among other nationals in Italy. The third edition of the contest in Brescia, organised by COGNAI, attracted a massive turn out and once again brought to the fore in addition to all its trappings the Ghanaian costume, music and dance. Some didn’t agree with the decision on the winner, Cindy Kuffour, but she appeared to have more of the qualities the judges were looking for compared to the other contestants. At the end of the day what matters is to see what the youths can provide in terms of their talents and they exhibited that. Kudos to COGNAI for the picturesque scenes at the event and the fans made a lot of difference.

The year didn’t end without sad incidents and the brutal murder of six Ghanaians in a shop at Castle Vultorno in Naples left many Ghanaians dumbfounded. It’s the first time a vicious act of such nature has happened to Ghanaians in Italy and hope the authorities will bring to book all those involved in this heinous crime. Stories on brutal attacks on Ghanaians in Italy didn’t end there and the manner six Italian policemen mistook 22-year-old Emmanuel Bonsu Foster as a ‘drug pusher’ and gave him severe beatings for over fours hours with the victim eventually ending up to be operated on his left eye really left a sour taste and very sad memories.

Whilst those sad memories keep coming back it should not deflate the efforts to climb higher on the progress ladder. The story about Ghanaians community in Italy is changing with each passing year and they cannot be labelled as in the past. Among the progress being made their children are now enrolling in Universities and other higher Institutions of learning trying to get some proper education under their belt. It won’t be too long when the doctors, architects, engineers and other professionals in their midst will start rolling out of the line. -

Source: Reggie Tagoe