Mr. Mohammed Habibu Tijani, a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has hailed Ghana’s selection as Honouree Country of Memphis in May International Festival (MIMIF).
He noted that Ghana was selected out of 24 countries to be Honouree Country for the 44th edition of MIMIF.
“This means that for the whole month of May, Ghana will be projected and afforded the opportunity to promote her rich arts and culture, tourism, cuisine, investment opportunities and Made-in-Ghana products in the city of Memphis (in the United States),” Mr Tijani remarked during a press briefing on the MIMIF in Accra.
The press briefing was attended by an advanced team of a 10-member delegation out of the expected 44 from the city of Memphis, Tennessee, United States, led by Mr William Weaver, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of MIMIF.
The other members of the delegation include Mr Charles Ewig, Board Chairman; Mr Randy Blevins, Programme Director; Mr Lee Harris, Shelby County Mayor and Mr Mickell Lowery, Shelby County Commissioner.
The rest are Madam Tami Sawyer, also a Shelby County Commissioner; Mr Michaell Rallings, Memphis Police Director; and Mr Jin Cai, Vice President/International Business Development of Greater Memphis Chamber.
The MIMIF was initiated in 1973 and the first country to be saluted was Japan in 1977.
The Festival was instituted by Memphis’ city officials to resuscitate the image of their city after the assignation of Dr Martin Luther King.
Thus far, it has played host to 38 countries; out of which six have been African – Egypt (1981), Kenya (1989), the Ivory Coast (1994), Morocco (1999), South Africa (2004) and Tunisia (2010).
Ghana will, therefore, be the seventh African country and the second West African country to be given a country salute during this Festival.
Mr Tijani said Ghana’s selection as the Honouree County was attributed to its stable democracy, strong economic outlook and her rich arts and culture.
“Ghana is also hailed as the golden country of West Africa by the Festival organisers,” he said.
He said as part of Honouree Country requirement, Ghana was expected to participate in a series of events forming part of the Festival celebration.
“It is my belief that this Festival will offer Ghana a huge opportunity to showcase her rich arts and culture, cuisines, art, sports, economy, education, fashion, music and theatrical performance,” he said.
He said the organisers of the Festival have recognised the creative abilities of some of young Ghanaian music talents and has selected Sarkodie and Stonebwoy to perform at the Beale Street Music Festival; stating that work was also in progress to select a highlife musician to perform as well.
Mr said 10 students from some second-cycle institutions in Ghana would take part in the festival’s award-winning International Student Exchange Programme in Memphis.
Dr Iddi Ziblim, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, who recalled that Ghana last year celebrated a very successful “Year of Return” and that this year it was observing the “Beyond the Return”, said the MIMIF with the collaboration with Ghana was a very opportune time for the country.
He said the Festival offers enormous opportunities for especially Ghana’s musicians and the entire cultural troupe who would have the opportunity to showcase their artistic skills and talents.
Mr Weaver said: “We, Memphinians are very excited to host the country of Ghana. We love the richness of their culture.”
“The Memphinians have being more cited about celebrating Ghana. This is probably going to be one of the biggest celebrations for the city and for the country of Ghana.”
Nana Dr Appiagyei Dankawoso I, President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Ghana was ready for business.
He said Ghana was the gateway to Africa; adding that Ghana was currently hosting the African Continental Free Trade Area.