A United States based Ghanaian cultural non-profit International Center for African Culture and Arts (ICACA) was in the news in America as the main facilitator for an all day Cultural Orientation programme for selected members of the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Restoration Cultural Academy community in New York.
In our conversation with the President of the KUSUM AGORO Multicultural Arts Project (KAMAP) the division responsible for the project, Mr. Harold Akyeampong, an ethnomusicologist, lecturer and cultural educator said, the orientation was a preparation for the community in preparation for the Internationally known annual DANCE AFRICA festival. A total African and Black Diaspora Arts, Music and Culture celebration under the artistic direction of cultural impresario Baba Chuck Davis, hosted by the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. According to him and the consultant for this programme, Ms. Patricia Hall, the DANCE AFRICA programme is a sold out celebration and attracts celebrants from all over America and beyond. He said, the New York version takes place during the Memorial Day Weekend. The attraction for this year is a Ghanaian based performing arts company, AMAMMRE MMA DANCE COMPANY OF ACCRA which is visiting New York for the first time as Ghana's cultural ambassadors.
In our discussion, Mr. Akyeampong shared with us a note his outfit prepared for the orientation, a one page note. He explained that "Americans have no time to read lengthy pages".
Ghana General Introduction:
Ghana is an English speaking nation in the Western part of Africa. It is bordered to the East by the Republic of Togo, the West by La Cote D'Ivoire (aka Ivory Coast), the North by Burkina Faso and the South by the sea known as the Gulf of Guinea. Ghana like most African countries was colonized by the British and it won its Independence as a free nation on 6th March, 1957. It has a lot of natural resources such as Gold, Diamond and Oil.
Geographically, Ghana is divided into 10 main regions with many districts for administrative purposes. It has a population of about 24.5 million and has numerous ethnic groupings each with its unique culture and language.
Music and Dance:
The Music and Dances of Ghana are diverse corresponding to its many ethnic groupings. The sound and movements varies from ethnic group and region. They are mainly divided into two main regions for the purposes of aesthetics and performance classifications. The South region which comprises mostly the Akan States, the Ga-Adangbe, the Ewe and the Nzema make use of percussion instruments such as Atumpan, Talking Drums, Atsimemevu, Bomaa etc.. While the Northern sector uses Aerophones, Chordophones and idiophones such as the Goje, Xylophones, and Castanets. Generally,Ghanaian music incorporates several distinct types of musical instruments, many of which are in an ensemble setting: .Almost all the music making has its corresponding dances which are organized as community events and activity for all occasions.
Among the popular music and dances are Kpanlogo, Kundum, Kadodo,Apatampa, Adowa,Kete, Nwomkro, Fontonfrom,Kpatsa, Gota, Asafo,Agbadza, Agbekor, Fume Fume, Otu, Kple,Akom,Asafo, Bamaaya, Jira, Takai, Gota, Borborbor, Bawa,Epirede,Mpintsin,Akosua Tuntum,Oge,Gome,etc.
ADOWA:Is a royal court dance of the Ashantis adopted by many community groups. It is a very expressive dance.
ATSIAGBEKOR, a special war dance performed by the Anlo-Ewe people of Ghana. Originally known as ATAMGA which meant "the Oath" the dance movement relive historical military exploits and warfare details passed on through oral tradition. The name change to AGBEKOR meaning our lives are safe reflects the later relative peace in the community. Later Atsia was added to the name and it became known as ATSIAGBEKOR...meaning stylised agbekor.
BAWA also called BEWAA is a recreational dance of the Youth of Dagara community in the Upper West region of Ghana. This dance comes with many expressive movements.
BAMAAYA: A dance of the Dagomba people of the Northern region of Ghana means the river valley is wet. Originally a religious dance, it now functions as social dance. The dance involves a lot of waist movements:
FUMEFUME Is a an original choreographed Ga Adangbe ceremonial dance with a lot of expressive movements created and made popular by Mustapha Tetteh Addy and his Krokrobite Folk Music Centre.
KPANLOGO Music and Dance: Is a recreational music and dance by the Ga-Adangbe people of Accra, the capital. Movements in the dance reflects themes such as Social Issues, Politics,Expression of human Feelings ie. Love and other Topical issues:
KPATSA:Is a principal traditional entertainment music and dance of the Dangbe community of Ghana.The dance is said to be imitating the uneven movements of “mmoatia” (dwarfs)
KUNDUM: Is a religious ceremonial music and dance of the Nzema and Ahanta community of the Western region of Ghana.
TAKAI is a recreational circle dance of the Dagomba people. It is performed during funerals and festivals.
For Further Reading: Visit: http://www.icacaonline.org