Members of the Mbo-Munyang Development Association will visit the Tifton community next week for their national convention, and they're inviting the Tifton community to join them for a fun celebration and "a taste of Africa and southern hospitality."
Dr. Esendugue Greg Fonsah, professor and Extension economist (fruits, vegetables and pecans) at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus, is hosting the convention, which will be held July 18-20. At a City Council meeting in January, he informed council members about the event.
Fonsah, who's the chief of the Nshimbeng village in Cameroon, Africa, said his people, who are living all across the United States, have a Mbo-Munyang National Convention each year. They usually have it in bigger cities. Last year, it was held in Houston, Texas. However, after suggesting Tifton to the board, Fonsah said the unanimous decision was to come visit the chief's "palace (his home)" over the other choice, Boston. He said this is the first time that they have held the convention in a small city.
Fonsah and his family came to Tifton in 2001 after UGA hired him. Prior to that, he was living in Hawaii from 1999 to 2001. He recently received the 2014 Award of Excellence, Senior Extension Scientist, at the annual UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Tifton Campus Awards Ceremony. In 2005, Fonsah received the President's Volunteer Service Award from the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, where he dedicated at least 4,000 hours of volunteer work.
"I volunteer all around the world," he said.
Fonsah said the Mbo-Munyang (which means siblings from the Mbo tribe) gives back. They're a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all donations and sponsorships are tax deductible. He said they are required by law to have at least one board meeting each year. Since they are spread all over the United States, they hold their board meeting during the annual national convention.
The following is a schedule of events for July 18-20:
- On July 18 from 6 to 6:45 p.m., everyone is invited to enjoy free food, drinks, music, etc. at the Gateway Park in downtown Tifton. From 7 to 11 p.m. at the Tift Theatre, there will be traditional dances by several groups, including Nuestro Folklore Mexican Dance Group, J.J. African American Dance Exhibition Group and the Tifton Housing Authority Dance Group, and an African fashion show. The night will end with the Mbo-Munyang Dance Group from Cameroon. This is also free to the public.
- On July 19, a soccer tournament will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the E.B. Hamilton Complex, located at 3199 E.B. Hamilton Drive. The cost is $250 per team. Visit http://benaorca.wix.com/mbo-munyang-convene to register or contact Fonsah at 229-392-1238. The deadline is July 13. Also, those interested in golfing or learning how to golf can register online. This activity will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Forest Lake Golf Course.
A 30-60 minute tour will take place at 8 a.m. at the Future Farmstead by NESPAL, a state of the art facility being constructed by the UGA Tifton Campus. Another tour of the Georgia Museum of Agriculture will take place at 2 p.m. Those interested can register online.
Starting at 7 p.m., the Fundraising Gala Night will be held at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. Dinner by BJ Smith Catering will be served at 8:15 p.m. Several activities are planned for the night. Welcome speeches will be given by Mayor Jamie Cater, Tift County Commission Chairman Grady Thompson and Dr. Joe West, UGA Tifton Campus professor and assistant dean. In addition, there will be speeches by the Cameroon Embassy, Fonsah, Sophia Pinnock from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and Evelyne Nki, president of Mbo-Munyang. The night will conclude with dancing at 10:30 p.m.
- On July 20, from 9 a.m. to noon, the Worship Mbo-Munyang Group will perform at Our Divine Saviour Catholic Church. A cookout will then be held from noon to 5 p.m. at Fonsah's house.
Fonsah says Mbo-Munyang's objective is to raise funds to educate the children of the Mbo tribes of Cameroon. To make a donation or be a sponsor of the 2014 Mbo-Munyang National Convention or to register for the Gala, tours, golfing and soccer team, visit http://benaorca.wix.com/mbo-munyang-convene.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.