Special ceremony held to make Peter Sheehan a chief of Mafi-Wudukpo, a rural community located within the North Tongu District of the Volta region of Ghana.
On July 8, 2010, Peter Sheehan, 34, of Chicago IL., was officially made chief of Mafi-Wudukpo, a village in Ghana. Peter accepted the new moniker Torgbui Nubueke I (New Dawn) from Torgbui Torbo Dakpui III and an assortment of Ghanaian elders, welcoming him as a chief of the agrarian village located in south eastern Ghana.
Peter, and his wife Colleen Sheehan, 29, a senior associate producer at Oprah Winfrey Show, were in Ghana with Globe Aware (www.globeaware.org) on a one-week volunteer vacation, July 3-9, 2010. Colleen taught in the village while Peter helped construct sanitation facilities, including digging trenches, laying conduits, drainage, and mixing concrete.
"I tried my best to be the first to the job site every day and I always tried to keep busy in order to quickly earn the trust and respect of the people since verbal communication was difficult," explains Peter. "Chief Torgbui Torbo Dakpui III and the elders would be at the worksite all day, observing the progress. The chief eventually invited me to sit and talk and we discussed a wide variety of topics. He is a very interesting man because he is only 30 years old but he has been chief for 12 years."
On July 8 and the day before Peter and Colleen were to leave, their Globe Aware guide notified Peter that the chief had decided to make him a chief. A formal ceremony was held that day.
Peter was dressed in a traditional robe, provided special beads, special sandals and two girls were assigned to follow and fan Peter as he made a formal entrance before the entire village.
"I quickly realized that this was not simple gesture. This was no joke and this was real," relates Peter." I remember thinking to myself that I had better be attentive, very present in the moment and pay attention to every detail."
"During the ceremony my translator was explaining that the chief felt that the fact two Americans came all this way to help his village marked a new era for the region, hence, " new dawn' became my honorary name." Adds Peter, "The chief explained that my wife would be crowned " Queen Mother' on our next visit since tradition dictates both ceremonies cannot be held on the same day."
Peter received a plot of land to build on and he also received a ram during the ceremony.
"Living in the village we were able to overcome the language barrier by communicating through active participation and working within their environment," says Peter. "While I am proud of what were able to accomplish, we are now absolutely committed to ensure that this is just the very beginning of the work we will do for our new family in Mafi-Wudukpo."
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