A Jamaican country girl whose father died when she was only about six years old, and whose mother taught her “to whom much is given, much is expected”, was named Developmental Queen Mother of the Central Region of Ghana for her philanthropic work in the motherland.
Lorna Mae Johnson, who is Jamaica’s honorary consul in Los Angeles, California, and the Democratic Party’s deputy treasurer, was crowned Queen Ghana’s historic Year of Return celebration on December 29.
Hundreds of blacks from all over the world flocked the West African country for the 400th anniversary event highlighting the period when the first slaves were taken against their will to America.
Johnson was recognised for her philanthropic work globally and business acumen in helping in the development of approximately 80 villages. During the three-day ceremony, she was given the new name – Nana Ama Boafowaa. “Ama is the day I was born, Saturday, and Boafowaa means help,” Johnson told Outlook from her home in Los Angeles.
CARRIED THROUGH THE VILLAGE
Like a queen, during the ritual, Johnson was carried through the village on the shoulders of the males, presented to the chiefs and queen mothers, then confined for 24 hours.
“On the final day, I was carried through the town with a few thousand village people and official marching and some people by the wayside. I had to do a special dance, waving hand kerchief and throwing candies to onlookers,” she explained, giving Outlook an insight into what many have described as a powerful embodiment of the Year of Return.
Johnson had been reunited with the continent of Africa as queen, and having dedicated her life to empowering women, Iris Ackah, an attorney-at-law, in her celebration of the honour, lauded the Jamaican as ‘Boss Queen Millionaire’. “She has sponsored and reared the potential of disadvantaged women worldwide. She is a total inspiration to my soul, and a true example of black excellence that should be emulated and celebrated.”
The goat-skin rug that was placed under Johnson’s feet, and the special stool she was placed to sit on during the ceremony will be etched in her memories for the rest of her life, she told Outlook.
“I was their first Developmental Queen for the area,” she beamed, adding that the next day she was hosted by the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, at his residence, with the likes of Boris Kodjoe (whose father is Ghanaian) and his wife, Nicole Ari Parker, Naomi Campbell (model), Rapper Ludacris, and Tina Knowles, Beyoncé’s mother.
“Ringing in the New Year in Ghana was a ton of fun and being honoured and crowned as Developmental Queen during the Year of Return was truly humbling and amazing. My greatest goal in life is to impact lives around the world, particularly women and girls and to be honoured and crowned by the motherland for doing something I enjoy is just priceless,” she admitted.
Johnson, a former track star, was appointed by President Obama to his advisory committee for the Performing Arts at the Kennedy Centre in 2014. Her focus was ensuring the Democratic National Party was fiscally responsible, with special spotlight on taking care of the grassroots.
As a nurse mid-wife, nurse practitioner, Johnson is the founding partner, administrative director and chief financial officer of the Advanced Family Care Medical Group, a multi-service practice in women’s, paediatric and family medicine.
Founded in 1995, Advanced Family Care Medical Group is an inner-city medical clinic which provides critical services to thousands of families in the underserved communities of the Los Angeles area. Johnson is a real estate investor, and has served as president of the local chamber of commerce in LA.
Developing a successful practice was a long, tough journey for Johnson who, after graduating as a nurse in Canada, left for the USA with $100 in her purse. Her persistence and dream to become a healthcare advocate enabled her to achieve her childhood dream.
The former Hayes Primary School student, who spent one year at Vere Technical before migrating to Canada, also served on the National Finance Committee for President Barack Obama and was a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
She helped to raise close to US$1 million for Clinton and $2 million for President Obama, respectively, a role she played by targeting Democrats overseas.
“I did this in collaboration with a team that included actor George Clooney, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and designers Anna Wintour and Tom Ford,” she acknowledged with pride.
Her latest accolade is just that … the latest. There is far more in the pipeline of success for this queen mother of a woman.
Author: Janet Silvera - Senior Gleaner