The Lost Fishermen, a famous Ghanaian folk opera, which astonished audiences in Europe and Russia nearly 20 years ago, was the toast of a near full-house audience at the National Theatre last week.
Written by the acclaimed Ghanaian playwright, sculptor and composer, Saka Acquaye, the play further reinforced the splendor of Ga traditions and culture, which were recently showcased during the funeral rites of the late Ga Mantse, Boni Nii Amugi II.
The two-hour production managed to bring nostalgic feelings to the elderly members of the audience with its raw acting, engaging scenes and sequences that revealed the creative power and potential of Saka Acquaye and the technical crew.
Indeed, The Lost Fishermen momentarily transfered the crowd to a strange island where it reveals in artistic detail, the deep communal spirit, religious harmony/conflict, respect for elders and constant enactment of rituals as well as direct supernatural interventions in the lives of the residents.
The piece is rich with magnificent singing, poetry, theatre and creative dances that effectively narrate the pathetic and humorous story of Kotey (Nii Odoi Mensah) and the problems he created for Chief Nii Amasa (Solomon Sampah) and his clansmen.
Through appealing dialogues and special effects, the consequences of disregarding social norms and customs are made vivid as one calamity follows the other – mainly due to the intrigues of Kotey, who managed to convince a fishing crew to break a taboo.
With its colourful costumes, loud African drumming, appropriate scenography and powerful messages on culture that remain relevant, The Lost Fishermen is a great work of art – it is masterful, compelling, entertaining and educative.
It could be a classic performance for the Ghana @ 50 celebrations.
Educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and Charles Morris Price School (both in the United States), Saka Acquaye, who is in his eighties has carved a niche for himself as a great sculptor.
His works include the bust of J.B. Danquah, (Danquah Circle, Accra), Guggisberg Monument, (Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra), Guggisberg/Fraser/Aggrey Bust (Achimota School, Accra) and others in the United States.
In the field of music, his career is equally impressive – he is the founder of Black Beats Band and the African Ensemble, which was based in the United States.
He later directed the famous Ga folk group Wulomei for nine years. His compositions for the group became instant hits.
Saka Acquaye also made a mark as a dramatist. Undeniably, he has several plays to his credit. These include Hintin Hintin, Obadzen Goes to Town, The Old Witch, Sasabonsam and many others which continue to entertain theater lovers.
Techinical crew for the production, which had over 80 performers include Nii Addokwei Moffat (Director), J.C. Abbey (Props), J. Arku/Eddie Blavo (Lighting), Roland Adom (Stage Manager), Emmary Brown (Techinical Director), George Dizkunu (Sound/Choreography), Nii Dortey (Music Director), Afari Aboagye (Producer) and William Hisir Quaye (Executive Director).
Ministry of Tourism and Disaporan Relations, Akra Kushite Production Company, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, Akosombo Textiles Ltd, Goil and Media Magique sponsored the production of The Lost Fishermen.
Story by John Owoo