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Obama praised at African festival in Canada

By  | 17 August 2008 at 21:50 | 1606 views

James Atebe was born in Kenya and came to Canada more than 30 years ago at the age of 19 with 10 dollars in his pocket. Today, he is the mayor of Mission district, a suburb a few miles from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

James was the guest speaker Saturday August 16, at the opening ceremony of the 7th annual Afrikadey festival in Burnaby. The theme for this year’s festival is "African/Black Contributions to BC: Past, Present and Future." The theme, according to the organizers, is in recognition of the 150th anniversary of BC and it’s intended to highlight African or Black Canadian contributions to the province. It features African or Black Canadians from the days of the founding father of BC, Sir James Douglas, down to Emery Barnes and Daniel Igali who have made significant contributions to BC and Canada.

And of course people like James Atebe, the guest speaker. He is famous for another thing: he shared a room with Canada’s current Prime Minister Stephen Harper when both of them were university students in Alberta.

In his remarks, Atebe praised black trailblazers in the province like Sir James Douglas, Emery Barnes and Rosemary Brown. He was also full of praise for senator Barack Obama of the United States for having the courage to present himself as a candidate for the United States presidency. He called on fellow Africans to emulate Obama and try to make a difference in whatever they do. Atebe also announced that he was proud to share the same country and the same continent with Obama, whose father was from Kenya.

Pastor Paul Ndukwe, the interim chairman of the newly registered association, the United African Communities of BC, spoke briefly about that organization’s history and proudly displayed its registration certificate, accompanied by thunderous applause. He emphasized the need for unity among the various African communities because, according to him, an individual fighting for himself will get individual benefits but a group fighting together will get group benefits, which can be more extensive and more meaningful.

Other speakers at the well attended ceremony were Jane Stark, the BC Green Party leader, member of parliament Peter Julian(NDP), MLA Raj Chouhan (NDP), Acting Burnaby mayor Garth Evans, Winnie Cheung, Director of International Engagement, University of British Columbia, Emmanuel Onukwulu, president of the Nigerian association, Leiman Cooper, secretary of the Liberian association and Dr. Charles Quist-Adade, president of the Ghana association.

Photo: Mayor James Atebe.

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