The well-known Germany-based, Ghanaian chief was bestowed with a very special honour recently, as the south-western city of Ludwigshafen awarded him one of its most prestigious honours, the Coat of Arms plaque.
“I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Mr Céphas Bansah for his charitable and voluntary work in Ludwigshafen and to honour him with the coat of arms of the city of Ludwigshafen am Rhein,” Lord Mayor Jutta Steinruck said at the award ceremony.
Ms Steinruck (a member of the SPD) described Bansah as “an extraordinary personality from the middle of Ludwigshafen society”. Popularly called König Bansah in the German media, Togbe Ngoryifia Céphas Kosi Bansah, who is Ngoryifia (“developmental chief”) of his native Gbi Traditional area of Hohoe in Ghana, was honoured for his many years of volunteer work in Ghana and Ludwigshafen.
The coat of arms of the city shield is a special honour. It is awarded for extraordinary and long-standing volunteer work “approximately once every two years”, as the city’s protocol chief, Marcel Jurkat, declared at the ceremony.
Bansah, who runs a car repair workshop in the city, is a well-regarded personality in Germany and he appears in sumptuous African robes and gold jewellery at official functions.
At the ceremony in the city hall of Ludwigshafen, the mayor narrated in a witty way how she met the Ghanaian chief for the first time.
“First, I stood in front of a locked door when I wanted to congratulate him on his birthday. He was shopping at Aldi. I was lucky at the second attempt, and I was even allowed to sit on the throne.”
“In 1970 I came to Ludwigshafen,” said Bansah. “I was sent here by my grandfather. First, I completed an apprenticeship as an agricultural machinery mechanic, then as a Master Craftsman for agricultural machinery and then as mechanic for vehicles.”
Under difficult conditions, the African chief opened a car workshop in the city. It took a while for German clients to accept him and have faith in his skills. Today he employs four technicians and four trainees.
“Ludwigshafen and I – that’s like a long marriage,” he said at the ceremony. Since his installation as a chief in Hohoe Gbi on 16 April 1992, he has had to devote much time and resources to the development of the town in eastern Ghana.
Thanks to Skype, WhatsApp and e-mail, the 70-year-old maintains an active contact with the 206,000-inhabitant town from Ludwigshafen. He is also often in Ghana, where he supports his people in many ways, building schools and hospitals, among others.
Despite his commitment to his people in Ghana, Bansah also volunteers in his adopted hometown of Ludwigshafen. For example, “Mit Rad und Tat” (a bicycle repair initiative), which supports refugees, has its headquarters in his workshop. “Yes, Ludwigshafen has also become my home. The people have helped me so much, so you have to give something back,” said the chief.