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Ghana Honors 91 Year Old Elyse White
as an Ashante Queen

Elyse White, who lives and works in Harlem, New York was 'enstooled' at the American Travel Market in Orlando just prior to her 90th birthday. The event was part of a gala Africa Night, hosted by Ghana Airways and the Ghana Ministry of Tourism. One of ATA's most exciting and youngest-thinking members, Elise is a personal friend of our Associate Editor Muguette Goufrani, who first met her at the ATA Biannual EcoTourism Symposium in Marrakech, Morocco, 1996. Since then, we've enjoyed being in her company at an exciting series of events in Africa, and as her guest while in New York. Elise is a founding member of the Africa Travel Association, and has attended all ATA World Congresses in its 24 years of operation. Elyse's experience of being honored by Ghanaians as a Queen of Africa is reflected in her own words. "The news came to me as a complete surprise, when I received the phone message from the Africa Travel Association, "Elise, you are to be enstooled as a Ghanian Queen Mother! The ceremony will take place in Orlando, Florida."

My answer was one of complete bewilderment. " What does that mean? What do I do ?" I did not want to appear ungrateful. I knew that this was one of the highest honors that could be bestowed upon a non Ghanian. Puzzled, I wondered out loud," Do I deserve it?" I spoke to my daughter Carol later and told her the news.
Her reply. " Mother, you have certainly shown your dedication to Africa. How many African countries have you visited?"
"Why 25 ", I replied, " and I have taken groups to Africa."
"Indeed you have mother and I know what difficulties that entailed; complaining clients when hotel facilities were not up to standard ... your dismay when airlines in Africa canceled flights unexpectedly, "and dozens of others incidents. Then, remember the awards you have won from the Africa Travel Association as cofounder, and mentor. And haven't you attended all 23 of their yearly conferences held in Africa?

" Yes. I had to agree. Africa had been an important part of my life
since 1976, my friends asked me "What is so special about Africa?"
I thought about the primeval instinct aroused at seeing a pride of lions, mother and cubs, awakening from their sleep on the plains of Kenya: a leopard high in a tree devouring his night's kill, or the majestic giraffe, head held high cropping his breakfast from a tree. Or the gathering of elephants, impala, zebras and others animals at the water hole, or the sight of and enraged elephant, when intruders passed too close by her and her calf and her primeval rage as her ears flapped, her eyes narrowed and her bellowing trumpeting could be heard for miles; or the crossing over the stream of thousands of a wart hogs, sometimes followed closely by an anticipatory predator, and some falling to a watery grave in the rushing waters, or the sight of thousands of flamingos in Kenya, forming a pink cloud. Or the emotion engendered by the rhythmic dancers of Ghana, young women swaying to an inner beat, or the Massai, blanket draped over one shoulder, leaping high in the air, spear in hand. Then the earnest pleas of the ministers and heads of stage as they addressed our conferences for recognition of the goals and hopes of these so called "Third World" Countries, as they struggled against poverty, crime and diseases; or the warm acceptance by the people." I would accept with humility the crown with would align me with Mother Africa."

From NYATA Newsletter
The Life and Times of Elyse White
Last summer, Elise White wore a red patent leather bikini to the beach. Her retort to people's disbelief that n eighty-nine old woman could do such a thing?-- A shrug of the shoulders and a simple "why not?" It has been this kind of unyielding attitude that has helped Mrs. White live a long and fulfilling life. In celebration of African Heritage Month, the City College of New York, Office of Academic Advising presented "the life of Elise White"

Mrs. White was born on October 1, 1908 in Roanoke, Virginia. She earned her bachelor's degree, cum laude, from Howard University in 1930. Mrs. White went on to achieve her post baccalaureate degree from Catholic and American Universities. After the Great Depression, Mrs. White worked as a social investigator for the New York City Department of Welfare. Later, she worked at several New York City hospitals as a medical social worker. In 1960, she began yet another career as a teacher with the New York City Board of Education. And at the age of sixty-one, Elise White left the Board of Education to become a travel Agent/consultant, a career that she is still pursuing at the age of ninety. She has visited over twenty-five countries in Africa and more than eighty countries worldwide. Recently "enstooled" as an honorary Ashante Queen Mother by the Government of Ghana, she was honored for helping to bridge the geographical and cultural boundaries that separate Africans. An active member in many civic and cultural organizations, Mrs. White encourages all to be perseverance and to never stop having goals and aspirations.

Item on Joseph Ankumah of Ghana
personal biographies.

Associate Editor/ Publisher Muguette Goufrani is producing a special "Africa Travel Personalities Section" for the ATA 2000 Congress in Addis Ababa. If you have items on this topic, fax them to Muguette at 604-681-6595 or e-mail


ATA Head Office: 347 Fifth Avenue, Suite 610, New York, NY 10016
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