Travelling to Ghana three times annually for the past 16 years has become routine for Jamaican-born community worker and Centre for Addiction & Mental Health Diversity Programs supervisor, Paul Kafele.
“That African country holds a special place in my heart,” the former Jamaican Canadian Association executive director told Share shortly before being presented with a Special award at the 10th annual Ghanaian-Canadian ‘Celebration of Excellence’ gala last Saturday night. “As someone coming from the Caribbean, in terms of our cultural and historical roots, when I look at the cultural and social practices, the communal organizing and the value system in Ghana, it is very consistent with how we traditionally practice those things in the Caribbean region.
“That’s why I have such a strong affinity for Ghana as home and I am so committed to working with young people and children there. It’s a lifelong commitment that I have made.”
Kafele founded the Yensomu Youth & Community Development organization that supports youth development initiatives and he takes groups of young African-Canadians every two years to the West African country to participate in some of his organization’s projects in rural Ghanaian communities.
Last October, Kafele was enstooled as Chief of Youth Development for the Manya Krobo Traditional Area in eastern Ghana and conferred with the title Nene Kwesi Detse I. In his new capacity, he coordinated the collection and delivery of 10 computers for the Manyo Krobo secondary schools and he organized and funded a planning and action forum during his last trip in July.
Presented by The Ghanaian News, the annual awards celebrate community accomplishments.
Awards were presented to 25 outstanding individuals, including veteran Toronto police officer, Constable Ojo Tewogbade.
“This award is very special,” said Tewogbade, who has been a police officer for 31 years. He came to Canada from Nigeria in 1972. “There were eight children in my family and my parents were poor and could not send us to school. That was why I ended up on the street doing odd jobs. I lived in cardboard boxes on the street before I was rescued by a Ghanaian couple who took me into their home and provided for me for four years up until 1968. Had it not been for them, I would not be where I am today.”
Tewogbade’s community contributions have been substantial and far-reaching. He has been actively involved in the Toronto Police 13 Division annual Christmas dinner for the needy, the Camp Jumoke walk-a-thon for sickle cell research and the Meals on Wheels program for the elderly. He also lectures to new immigrants on the ills of domestic violence and spearheads initiatives that have paved the way for computer access to young people in three Toronto police divisions.
Four years ago, he made history by becoming the first constable to be recognized with a Police Leadership Forum award, presented annually since 1999 to a Canadian police officer who fosters awareness and an understanding of the changing leadership roles and recognizes ethical and exemplary performance in policing.
Tewogbade, who donated a kidney to his daughter in 2007, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and is an ordained minister.
Professional Excellence awards were presented to York University Professor Emeritus Dr. Ato Sekyi-Otu, clinical director and part-time lecturer Dr. Albert Gyimah and environmental consultant Frederick Boakye.
Calgary-based teacher and hairstylist Beatrice Twumasi and real estate agent John Anati were recognized with Business awards while Pascalle Sogo, Andy Kusi-Appiah, Margaret Adu-Nyarko, Samuel Kofi-Asanti, Stephen Adjekumhene, Frederick Tay, Felicia Morris and Gerald Arhin were honoured for community service.
Adowa Cultural Dance Troupe founder Nana Kumankamah and Ebenezer Adiyiah, who organized Ghanaian cultural dance and drumming events at Shoreham Public School, were recognized for their cultural contributions, actor and York University student Quincy Takyi received an Entertainment award and York University Fine Arts graduate Rachel Sully was honoured for excellence in Gospel Music. The soloist has two gospel albums.
Third-year university students Jessica Acquaye (University of Toronto) and Michael Dapaah (Trent University) received Academic awards, Felix Appiah-Korang was honoured for his contribution to hip hop music and husband and wife Rev. Benjamin and Ama Owusu, who founded the Families of Today for Tomorrow ministry eight years ago, were presented with a Gospel Outreach award.
National 100-metre sprint champion Samuel Effah, whose 10.06 secs. run in a meet in Florida last July is Canada’s fourth fastest time in the event, was honoured for his accomplishments in track and field.
Born in Canada in 1988 to Ghanaian immigrants, Effah is a marketing student at the University of Calgary business school and captain of the Dinos track team. He also volunteers on campus, doing promotional work for the Development Disabilities Resource Centre.
Effah will represent Canada in the 100-metre and 4 x100-metre relay races at next month’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.