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On August 11, the first SGI West Africa General Meeting was held at the National Theatre in Accra, Republic of Ghana. The meeting was attended by some 2,200 members from Ghana and 13 other countries in the region. Abla Dzifa Gomashie, Ghana's Deputy Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, attended the meeting, and President of the Republic of Ghana John Dramani Mahama and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent messages to mark the occasion.
The meeting began with a choral performance by women's group members and the reading in English and French of Mr. Ikeda's message, in which he acknowledged the four decades of friendship between the SGI and the Republic of Ghana and expressed his gratitude for the dedicated efforts of the members.
Quoting a passage from Nichiren's letter "The Three Kinds of Treasure" which states, "The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being (WND-I, p.852)," Mr. Ikeda explained that "only through your actions and behavior as an individual who practices this great philosophy can you impart hope to people and society." He further expressed his hope for the participants to treasure everyone they meet and advance together in harmonious unity for the peace and prosperity of the entire continent of Africa.
In President Mahama's message, introduced by Ms. Gomashie, he acknowledged the Buddhist principles of cause and effect and the oneness of self and environment, emphasizing, "If we want to transform our country, then we, the individuals must change our hearts, mindset and attitude because whatever it is, the result will be seen manifesting in our lives and environment." The President also urged the SGI representatives in attendance to rededicate their efforts and work harder in their chosen fields for the betterment of Ghana and Africa as a whole.
At the meeting, Sintim-Aboagye Dolittle Kwaku was newly appointed SGI-Ghana General Director. SGI Advisor to Ghana Bobson Godonu, SGI-Togo Chairperson Dr. Ida Gbodossou-Adjevi and SGI-Cameroon General Director Claire Dikongue were also appointed SGI advisors to West Africa.
The historic gathering concluded with a mini cultural festival, featuring SGI youth performances and the Ghana Dance Ensemble.
On August 10, the eve of the general meeting, representatives of SGI West Africa also attended a Buddhist study session, where they shared reports on the kinds of study activities taking place in their countries and renewed their determination to deepen their understanding of Nichiren Buddhism.
[Adapted from a report from SGI-Ghana and an article in the August 18, 2013, issue of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of SGI-Ghana and Seikyo Shimbun]
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