Home Mamaga Ngoyi Nyonufiaga Akosua I Speeches RECEPTION AT ALAVANYO 2003

First I would like to say how happy and pleased I am to be back here in Alavanyo. Almost a whole year has gone by since my last visit and many of you will be wondering why I have not returned before now. There are many reasons for this, both pleasant and not so pleasant ones.

The pleasant reasons include the fact that last year a large publishing house asked me to put my story about my connections with Alavanyo to paper. This has meanwhile resulted in a book with almost four hundred pages in which I tell the readers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland how my fate brought me here to you. I am also reporting about my work as Queen Mother in Germany and in Ghana and about the organisation that we have founded, namely the Alavanyo NGO, that is to help to support my efforts for making development here.  The writing of this book has taken up much of my time, in particular because in Germany I am a normal working woman with a daily working time of about 10 hours. I know that many of the women here have much longer and more tedious working days but life here, in its old traditions – and that is the particularly wonderful part about it – seems considerably more stress-free than ours.

One of the most important sections of the book is aimed at achieving a better understanding of the people of Alavanyo in our part of the world, at introducing the old traditions. This chapter was especially difficult for me as an European citizen. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Togbega Atakora VII. for his support. In long conversations and at the same time consulting English literature, he gave me a closer insight into this early history and the old traditions.

One of the less pleasant reasons for my having to postpone my spring visit was that I, like all of us here, was confronted with war at the beginning of this year. However, this war had two aspects for me. On the one hand I heard with great dismay that here in Alavanyo the old conflicts with the Nkonyas had flared up again and many people had lost their lives. On the other hand the war in Iraq also broke out. Now you may think that Iraq is as far away for us Germans as Alavanyo is, but this war led to a serious crisis in the European economy. After the 11th September 2001 there was already a great recession noticeable which then reached its climax in the Iraq war and from which the European economy has still not recovered so far. This crisis also hit my company, meaning that the work load in comparison to previous years was doubled, whereas the profits were reduced by more than half. And that crisis is still continuing.

I was very grieved to hear that the people in Alavanyo were in a state of war and that there had been great losses. In my capacity as Queen of Development I was particularly sad that a real war had actually developed from the tribal conflicts. And I did try to help. Amongst other things, as you know, I got in touch with the President and begged him for help for the Alavanyos. I would have gladly come personally to have talks with the Nkonyas, but I was advised against this.

Fortunately, with the help of the government, the war came to an end. But this does not mean that the cause has been eliminated once and for all. So I will also be taking the opportunity of my stay here to look deeper into the reasons for these disputes about land. Because, as long as the reasons are not finally remedied, meaning an acceptable, diplomatic solution made possible for both sides, the conflicts will always flare up again and again. This fact is a step backwards and something that is not compatible with my efforts for development.
Please let me take this chance to express my sincerest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives, many of them I even knew personally. For example the spokesman of Togbega Atakora VII, who, since I have been coming to Alavanyo, has been always with me and  Agbe, the father of Titus, the young boy we took to hospital in Korle Bu. In Germany we always stand up to commemorate the victims of wars and so I would like to ask you to stand up for a moment’s silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

Thank you.

Dear friends, after our tribute to the deceased, we now have every reason to rejoice. As many of you perhaps do not yet know, I have a double function as far as Alavanyo is concerned. On the one hand you have been chosen me to become your Queen of Development. On the other, I am the President of the organisation we have founded in Germany, the Alavanyo NGO, whose aim it is to help the people here to live in better conditions.

Better living conditions – what do we really mean by that? From our – the European - point of view, this means in the first instance the fight against illness and disease, because health is the basis of our daily lives. This is why we wish to provide Alavanyo with clean water, since contaminated water is the cause of many diseases. For this project we have now collected the first 15,000 Euro. Once we know exactly how much it will cost to supply to all the villages and how much the government is prepared to contribute towards this, we will try to raise the required funds.

A further project that we have already begun, is to help sick people. As part of this work we have had three tumours removed and will continue to work on providing help for other sick people.

An old proverb says : „In a healthy body lives a healthy mind“. In order to educate the healthy mind, we need schools, teaching material and funds for the poorest children and orphans, so that they too can attend school. To be able to do this we have set up a system of sponsorships but this is still in its early stages yet.

On various occasions the Music Group has asked me for instruments. Normally our organisation works only for general welfare. But in this case we have decided to make an exception. In Alavanyo there have always been good musicians who are well-known beyond the boundaries of this region. In our eyes it is much more important to upkeep the old traditions and support them than to concern oneself with modern technology and its partly dubious forms of entertainment. It is especially important to encourage children and young people to maintain these traditions. So we are making it a condition for handing over these instruments that the young people should also be allowed to learn on them in order to encourage the next generation of young musicians. And perhaps one day Alavanyo will be well-known, like it used to be, as the home of one of the most popular music groups in Ghana.

Even if I am here with you as Queen of Development, I would still like to make the differences clear between development and development (one kind of development and another). That is a matter of great concern to me.

An old Ewe proverb says: „If you always look up to the heavens, you will never find anything on the earth“. I say: The earth is here and now. The earth, mine too, is here in Alavanyo. I need the heavens in order to dream. But I need no television in order to see.

I can remember an old incident concerning the great ruler To. He took his hunting hat (Adaloglo) off, scopped up some water with it and drank it. Squatting on the floor he look up to the sky and said: „Miano fii kpo, Adabanyo“, which translated means: „Let us risk settling here. It could prove to be successful.“

Just like To many years ago, I have also settled here now. How successful it will be, we can only all experience together. For in order to be successful we must work together. Help to help oneself – that is the target of my work as Queen of Development and of the work of our organisation, the Alavanyo NGO. There is no point in just bringing money here. The money must help to earn money and to improve the living conditions here. And to do so, we need your help. Only then can we be successful together.

Thank you for giving me your kind attention. God bless you, God bless Ghana.