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African king pays royal visit to Patagonia

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Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 10:00 pm

No one could remember an African king paying a visit to the small town of Patagonia.

But on Saturday, Nana Otimpong Otibribi, chief-king of the Baika people in the Buem Traditional Area of Ghana, traveled with his entourage from Tucson to promote causes including diabetes awareness and educational improvement.

Otibribi’s first stop was the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center where he learned about dietary measures that can help prevent and possibly cure diabetes, a problem in Ghana.

“They had singing and drumming and a huge meal,” said John Arnold, whose non-profit organization Project PPEP (Portable, Practical, Education Preparation) has been working with Otibribi to promote education in Ghana. “It was a wonderful outpouring.”

Arnold said a number of young people also put on a concert, singing traditional African songs.

In order to get a feel for the community Otibribi was treated to a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Patagonia, where people waved from their homes and even followed on bicycle.

“Everybody seemed real excited, though they may not have realized what was going on,” Arnold said jokingly.

Feels at home

The carriage ride eventually ended at Grayce’s Candle Shop where Otibribi met with locals and granted an interview to The Weekly Bulletin.

Otibribi said the peaceful atmosphere of the small town reminded him of the village he was from in Ghana.

“I would like to live here because it is very quiet,” he said, adding that he had wanted to go to the Labor Day Rodeo in Sonoita but didn’t know if he would make it.

Like many West Africans, Arnold said, Otibribi obtained a visa in order to learn more about the fields of health care and education. He ended up in Tucson. However, when the chief-king of the Baika people – a relative of Otibribi – died, a selection committee in his village in Ghana voted to appoint Otibribi to take the throne.

After returning to Africa for the coronation process, Otibribi returned to Tucson to fulfill his health care obligations. He will return to Ghana in December.

“I’m a father to the very youngest and the very oldest in my kingdom,” he said referring to his responsibilities.

Poverty eradication

In the meantime Otibribi will continue to promote the “Ghana Project,” a non-profit organization formed in 2009 with a mission to assist rural communities in Ghana and help eradicate poverty through education. One of its main objectives is to provide learning materials for rural communities and rebuild school structures.

“They have no toilets, they have no kitchen, they have no security, no electricity but they have 500 young boys and girls living in the school,” said Arnold, who spent two years working to get them essentials such as electric generators through Project PPEP.

“The government won’t even participate,” he added.

For more information, visit the organization’s website at www.ghanaproject.org.

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