[Drum Troup from the village of Berekuso play before the celebration began]
Ghanaians have a wonderful way of celebrating important events. It is part of the culture to mark a day and come together at an important milestone, invite a lot of people, dress up, give speeches, and have snacks. And of course, no Ghanaian celebration would be complete without drumming and dancing, and the chief in attendance. Such was the launch of the engineering program on October 3, 2015.
The official launch of the engineering program and inauguration of the engineering building came about a month after our first engineering students matriculated into Ashesi and about four months after our first official use of the building. We put aside all other things to celebrate the hard work that led up to engineering at Ashesi.
[The Inauguration begins]
The day also included the Friends of Ashesi, which is an annual trip organized and hosted by Ashesi for friends and donors. It’s an easy way to see some of Ghana and a lot of Ashesi, since everything but the flights (and things like passports and shots) is organized by Ashesi Foundation staff. (Aside: it happens each fall if anyone is interested!). We had some personal friends in the Friends of Ashesi trip this year, John and Christie Fisher.
[John and Christie at Holy Trinity where we worshiped in a most interesting way]
The Fishers arrived the week before, a day before most of the other annual trip participants, so we saw them fresh off the overseas flight, plus during several of the group events during the week leading up to the inauguration. They were also very kind to bring us lots of American goodies: footballs, vacuum packed smoked brisket and BBQ sauce, tortillas, some teas, and a mini fridge than runs off the car adapter, but I digress.
[Friends of Ashesi Tour, 2015]
The engineering inauguration was held in the University’s courtyard with an audience full of students, faculty, staff, and mostly outside friends of Ashesi, including those from the annual trip, but also including alumni and ambassadors, friends from local and multinational industries, University-related guests from other organizations, and local supporters of the Ashesi mission. Berekuso’s chief was also in attendance with his entourage.
[Arrival of the chief’s Oykeame/Linguist (carrying the staff)]
[dancing for Odeefoo Oteng Korankyi II (seated, 4th from left), Chief of Berekuso]
As the chief arrived, he paraded around the front of the gathering as is custom, so that all could wave their greetings. Then a period of drumming and dancing ensued, in celebration of the day and of the chief, within whose district Ashesi lays and who has ceremonial oversight of Ashesi. I was sitting next to Fred, our new Dean of Engineering up on the podium, and he explained how the dances being danced indicated that dancer’s position in the chief’s council. For example, the Oykeame dance illustrated that he was the speaker for the chief, while others’ dances spoke to their roles – pointing to the sky, the ground, the people around, as they danced in celebration. Afterward, the formal part of the program began.
[Patrick, Nana (the Chief), and the Vice President of Ghana]
An alumna and member of the Ashesi board was the MC. We were honored to have His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana Kwesi Amissah-Arthur in attendance, who gave a speech that really honored Ashesi, the remarkable accomplishments Ashesi has made to date, and how if any University could provide a world-class engineering education in Ghana, it would be Ashesi. Then came a speech by U.S. astronaut Dr. Bobby Satcher, who flew in just for Ashesi’s engineering launch. He told some interesting and inspiring anecdotes about flying in the space shuttle. Next up, a student did an original reading, then the stage contingent went to cut the ceremonial ribbon in front of the building, and President Patrick gave a tour through the engineering building and labs to the Vice President, Chief Nana, and Bobby Satcher, which ended in a large reception. It was a great day!
[Sunset on the new Engineering Block]
photos 2,3,5 and last: Ashesi.edu.gh