OROKO CULTURAL ASSOCIATION-USA
Itongi Basusu Isa Ritaka
2505 Greenes Lane
Virtual Convention 2020
General Assembly Meeting Minutes
The 2020 national convention was held virtually, which also marks the first time in history whereby the people of Oroko USA and around the world will be celebrating the national convention in this kind of a setting, which was as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which has had a devastating consequence on our health , socio-economic and cultural way of life since the beginning of the year 2020. The virtual convention was marked by performances of our Oroko Artists on our Friday cultural night, right away from Cameroon as well as presentations by health and economic experts on the ways to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus and to cope economically during this time. Some of these virtual events or performances are available on our Oroko USA website where members can go and see or refresh their memory for this first in a lifetime experience.
The general assembly meeting was opened only to Oroko USA registered members, and it began at 6.39 p.m ET. The opening prayers was done by Tata Dr.Charles Misori. It was moderated by Iya Gwendoline Forseh and Tata Victor Nanje. This was followed by opening remarks from the National President Iya Dr. Clementine Ebenye Nanje. She began the meeting by thanking all the participants of the virtual convention general assembly meeting for making it a success. She continued by saying that since she took the mantle of leadership of Oroko USA, members have shown her their support and that the unity of our Oroko nation lies in our togetherness to support one another. She expressed her gratitude to the technical team, the Public Relations Officer Tata Victor Nanje as well as the entire executive of Oroko USA for making the 2020 virtual convention a success.
The National President proceeded by outlining some of the achievements of her administration such the reinstallation of our 501(c) (3) status which was lost before she took office, the humanitarian assistance projects carried out by her administration which include the Cholera outbreak relief program in Idabato in Ndian Division as well as the Face Mask project which is aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Oroko land.
After the National President’s remarks, the Secretary General was called to present the 2019 general assembly meeting minutes which was adopted after some minor corrections.
This was followed by presentation of our financial report by the Financial Secretary Iya Caroline Pufong alongside the National Treasurer Iya Naomi Ebile. The Financial Secretary mentioned that it took them too much time to come up with the financial report because of too many activities of the 2019 national convention in Atlanta. She said the national was supposed to honor only things that were allocated to be carry out by the national, but this was not the case, because of some discrepancies between the hosting chapter and the national which was concluded to be due to the absence of the Public Relations Officer during the 2019 convention.
The National Treasurer on her part mentioned that since they have been entrusted with the financial burden of the association, they expect that all financial transactions should go directly to Financial Secretary or the Treasurer in order to reduce the burden of trying the reconciled the budget at the end of each convention. The Financial Secretary continued by saying that we have 78 registered members, but our E-group has more 100 members. She urges the National President to try and make sure that those who are not registered members of Oroko USA should be removed from the E-group.
Tata Jackson Nanje also drew the attention of the Financial Secretary by saying that, she should consider given out receipts for people who pay their registration or donations, so that they can use it to file for taxes. This came as a result of the fact that Iya Kristy Nanje of Georgia chapter alluded to the fact that some people pledge during the 2019 convention in Atlanta, but have not fulfilled their pledge. Tata Chief Victor Ngomo Obie also mentioned that there is a video showing people who pledged, and he was asked to provide the video if available.
The meeting proceeded with the presentation of the Face Mask project by the Treasurer Iya Naomi Ebile, who also helped in the coordination of the project. She mentioned that the Face Mask project was a success, and that most of the face masks produced were already been distributed in their various locations and that there are some videos which were sent out by the Public Relations Officer to back that claim. The details of the Face Mask project will be uploaded on our Oroko USA website.
Tata Dr.Stanley Ati, express his gratitude by thanking the Oroko USA executive for executing the face mask project. On his part, the Deputy Secretary General Tata Betrand Etukeni asked whether the distribution of the face mask was beyond areas which were not accessible by car? The Treasurer replied that the distribution has been via Oroko community groups located in the Meme and Ndian division area in most cases accessible by car.
The Social Secretary Tata Paddy Ndole also mentioned that we should keep all our project reports in order to use them to seek for future financial assistance from donor organizations.
Still on projects, the National President mentioned that she received a video and letter for the Cholera relief project which was carried out with the help of the delegate of public health in the south west region, Dr. Ebongo Zacheus. On this point, Iya Diale Fomukong mentioned that, the government of Cameroon should have been the one to first intervene in the Cholera outbreak and to provide the needed humanitarian relief rather than Oroko USA, working in partnership with the government. However, the National President mentioned that we wanted to work with Dr. Ebongo Zacheus since he was a son of the soil and also vested with the knowledge on how the humanitarian relief package provided by Oroko USA could be distributed to reach the target population since this was an emergency program.
The National President also talked about the Helping Hand project she has put in place to help people who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. She mentioned that the funds for the helping hand project will be available only for registered Oroko USA members and will also serve as an incentive to belong to Oroko USA. She mentioned that a committee will be created to oversee the Helping Hand project and will determine the criteria for eligibility as time goes on. Tata Jackson Nanje weighed in by suggesting that the committee can be run by the board of directors. On his part, Tata Bruna Elibe who is the Secretary General of the Georgia chapter also mentioned that the board of directors can start running the helping hand project, then later we can appoint other people to oversee the running of affairs in the program. The National President said as of now, she has about three beneficiaries of the Helping Hand program.
Tata Rudolf Nabola also weighed in by saying that, Covid-19 should not be something anybody should shy off if contracted, because no one is immune from getting the disease irrespective of taking the necessary precautions, one can still be diagnosed with the disease.
Iya Diale Fomukong alongside Tata Jackson Nanje, presented the Oroko global scholarship program. She mentioned that Late Rev. Dr. Sam Esale has opted to deposit $50 every month for the scholarship program till 2023. On their part, Tata Dr. Fred Bebe and Tata Paddy Ndole also opted to be donors to the Oroko global scholarship program as well.
On his part, Tata Dr.Fred Bebe also presented his project on the Economic and Socio-cultural crisis impact on the Oroko people. The aim of the project was the planning of a post war reconstruction. Because of time constrain, the general assembly meeting was adjourned in order to proceed with the gala night and it was scheduled to resume on Sunday, September 6th, 2020 at 2.30 p.m ET.
In the wake of Sunday, September 6th, 2020, we learned that one of members Tata Rev.Dr. Sam Esale who presided the opening prayer for our cultural night has passed away suddenly. This led to the adjournment of the meeting to a later date. An extraordinary general assembly meeting was later slated to take place on Saturday, October 3rd, 2020. The extraordinary general assembly meeting was chaired by the Vice President Tata Mosongo Nanje, which proceeded with the various chapters given their chapter reports. Due to the nature of the virtual convention, chapters were advised to submit their conventions speeches, since some presidents may not be present at the time they will be called. The National President mentioned earlier on in a communique that no chapter will present their report if their president is not on the floor. The chapter report began with the Washington DC chapter president Tata Mosongo Nanje who is also the Vice President of OCA-USA presenting their report. He mentioned that; as of today, they have a total of 34 registered members, much higher than their enrollment last year. They had three in person meetings at the beginning of the year before the COVID19 pandemic set in. Thereafter they switched first to conference calls and then zoom, but they never skipped their monthly meetings. He said this year started with much more enthusiasm and expectations, as they were looking forward to hosting this year’s OCA-USA annual convention. But thanks to the Coronavirus, that was not to be. It is said that “men plan but God disposes.” However, his members have remained devoted and the DC chapter still hopes to be the host of the 2021 OCA-USA annual convention, God’s willing.
He said they have not been able to do much in terms of meeting activities, due to the pandemic, but the spirit of togetherness is still alive.
This year, like last year, they have not registered any major tragic events. He mentioned that their emergency fund is still active. His members have expressed the wish to have this scheme expanded to the national level, especially when it comes to the death of a member, such that the bereaved family can conveniently bury their loved ones either here or in Cameroon. This proposal was tabled to the national executive for debate and hopefully we can deliberate on it and reach a compromise today. He said they also thought there should be a better and more collective way to have chapter members pay their annual registration fee to OCA-USA as opposed to individual registration. That proposal too is open for debate. He said they have maintained their voluntary savings fund, which they started since February 2016. The fund keeps growing and they are now brainstorming on how to invest.
They plan to keep trying to create awareness within our Oroko people in the D.C, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) metro area so that they can see the importance of belonging to their chapter meeting. He said if you have any relations or persons you know living in the metro area please let them have their contact so that they can invite them. He mentioned that his administration has laid a solid base for the Oroko DC chapter. It is his hope that their numbers will keep swelling such that come next year, 2021 it will be a very vibrant chapter that will be welcoming OCA-USA to the DC, Maryland and Virginia metro area.
This was followed by presentation by the New York/New Jersey chapter, with Iya Florence Misodi serving as the acting president. She mentioned that their chapter have decided to extend their hands to register friends and families of Orokans who which to be part of their association, and by so doing their enrollment increased to 16 registered members. She said their meetings are held bi-monthly which is done by audio conference call due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said five of their members lost their love ones during the year. She mentioned that Mr&Mrs Tambe lost their daughter, Tata Mesheck Mufanjo lost the father and sister, Tata Diony and Iya Sally Diony lost their brother, Iya Graciana lost the brother and Iya Asumpta lost her brother. She also mentioned that some of their members suffered from Covid-19, and they almost lost one member but by the grace of God she recovered.
This was followed by presentation from Boston chapter president Tata Janarius Nanje who mentioned that, due to the coronavirus pandemic they have been unable to have their monthly meetings but by 2021, the Boston chapter will encourage all their members to pay their national registration.
This was followed by presentation from the Minnesota chapter president Tata Thomas Elangwe, who mentioned that they have had an attendance rate of about 20 to 21 members and he want to seize this opportunity to thank OCA-USA for using their zoom ID for organizing their virtual monthly meetings.
This was followed by presentation from the Colorado chapter president Iya Gwendoline Forseh who was also the moderator. She gave the floor to her representative Tata Edward Sakwe who began by thanking the national for organizing a virtual convention which he says was a success. He said due to the coronavirus pandemic they have been unable to have monthly meetings, but they are planning to come to the national convention by next year. The president Iya Gwendoline Forseh also mentioned that their chapter was able to raise some money for the death ceremony of Late Rev.Dr.Sam Esale. This was followed by presentation from the Dallas chapter president Tata Winston Okole. He mentioned that: Oroko Dallas since our last convention has been growing from strength to strength. After returning home from the last convention with their trophy for best dance presentation, they came back to Dallas happily hoping to end the year 2019 in grand style and enter 2020 with a lot of promising ideas. So, they ended the year with an end of year party where every member return home with a bag of rice as Christmas gift for their hard work during the year all paid for from chapter coffers.
As they began 2020 with a great spirit to make it another great year, then came Covid-19. All our engagements were put on hold. To help cope with the Covid-19, Oroko Dallas came up with a rule that any member who was affected with the virus will receive a token from the coffers and receive help in cash or kind from members. They created a Covid-19 coordination committee to help the executive manage the activities towards helping the affected member. He said they have not been affected by the virus as of today October 3rd, 2020. All their meetings since March of this year have been held virtually.
He mentioned that their membership dropped from 28 to 14 members in January 2020 because they activated the rule of expulsion of members who were not up to date with their financial obligations in 2019. This included paying of contributions to support each other and paying their sinking fund as stipulated in the constitution. This number is back to 26 as of today and all our debts for those who return have been collected.
He said due to some irregularities, the members of Oroko Dallas were not getting their monthly financial report from their financial secretary during their monthly meetings as stipulated in their bylaws. This had been going on for over 9 months and they had no option than to activate their audit department to probe into their finances. They notice a lot of discrepancies with what they thought was their actual account balance and what was in the account. They suspended their financial secretary. As of today, they have a little over $8000 as their account balance.
He said they were a little late in their ability to carry out the face mask project for our people back home like the national did. They have task their committee in charge of this project to come up with something else that they can do to help our people back home.
He said they had five members who lost love ones with one that happened last week in Cameroon and the corpse is still in the Mortuary. They also had two new babies. He mentioned that he has been in power for four years and by their constitution, this is his last year. They will be having their elections at the end of this year for him to give a chance for someone else to come in with their ideas on how to move their chapter forward.
He thanked everyone for giving him the opportunity to present their chapter report. He hopes that by next year when we meet again, Covid-19 will be history and Oroko Dallas will be back to retain its trophy as best dance chapter. He said they intend to keep it for at least 3 years.
This was followed by presentation from the Georgia chapter president Iya Hannah Aboko. She mentioned that the Georgia chapter is strong with about 52 registered members with monthly meetings held every last Saturday of the month, which due to the coronavirus pandemic has been held virtually. She thanked the National President for sending the Georgia chapter their check of the convention proceeds. She called for a minute of silence to honor one of her members who passed on to the Lord, Late Rev.Dr. Sam Esale.
The Chicago chapter president submitted their chapter report but since he was not on the floor their report could not be read per the National President’s instruction via her communique. So, their report says; MEMBERSHIP: The Chicago Chapter has made no gains or losses in membership for the year 2020. The Exco still remains the same since the birth of the Chapter in 2018.
There have been no challenges for this chapter since the beginning of the year except for COVID-19. Consequently, there have been no activities for the year except checking on one another. All withheld activities will be revisited and resumed as COVID-19 in our area begins to trend down.
REGISTRATION AND FINANCE:
Due to the cancellation of the physical National Convention, the collection of annual dues, both for National and Chapter were slowed down. The Chapter is still committed and pursuing the payment of these dues as expected. The other chapter presidents were absent during the presentation of chapter reports and therefore we did not have a report from them neither did they submit any report to the Secretary General to be included in the minutes.
The meeting proceeded with appraisal of projected for approval. Three projects or program were set for appraisal which include, the life insurance plan for Oroko USA presented by Tata Thomas Elangwe of Minnesota and Tata Musongo Nanje of Geogia, the Oroko Global Scholarship program presented by Iya Diale Fomukong of New Mexico and Planning for post-war reconstruction program presented by Tata Dr.Fred Bebe of the Tri-states area, following the economic and sociocultural crisis impact on the Oroko people. On his part, Tata Chief Raphael Esemoto weighed in on how to raise funds for reconstruction, citing what he already mentioned in 2019 convention in Atlanta for the need for some Oroko people to come together to set aside funds which can be used for development and preservation of our land. Iya Victorine Fojungo also weighed in to ask, what will be the next step in the implementation of these lofty projects? Because they sound good on paper but how can these projects be realized. On that note, Tata Edward Sakwe also weighed in to suggest that the general assembly should try and meet once a month because meeting once a year is not feasible for us to realize our projects.
However, it should be noted that, these projects outlined did not come to any substantial conclusion because more work needed to be done to explain in detail what each project entails. It was suggested that a follow up meeting with the national executive and the future board of directors will help to address some of these concerns. The meeting proceeded with the selection of members who will serve at the constitutional review committee following the amendment of the Oroko USA constitution. Members who opted to be part of this committee include: Tata Musongo Nanje, Iya Caroline Pufong, Tata Adolf Ebile, Tata Paddy Ndole, Tata James Namata, Tata Jackson Nanje , Iya Josephine Mukete and Tata Dr. Charles Misori.
Thereafter, there was an election of members of the board of directors of Oroko USA. The elected members of the board include; Tata Dr. Fred Bebe, Iya Florence Misodi, Tata Chief Nambili Namongo, Tata Louis Etongwe, Tata Chief Raphael Esemoto, Tata Janarius Nanje, Tata Dr. Stanley Ati who was later replaced by Tata Adolphus Ati, Iya Cecilia Odihe and Iya Diale Fomukong. The meeting was adjourned at 11.30 p.m ET.
Tata Emmanuel Ikoe