Being a star infront of your dentist
2016 - 60th birthday concert in Baden
We are there as a surprise for the wife of a dentist, who was working for Africa. As we arrived in Baden the daughter came and told us, please try to stay away from the audience, because my mother doesn't know you are here. We want to see her in the hall with a beaming in her face, because she loves African music.
In the hall the buffet was upstairs and the concert will then take place in the downstairs. That is how the whole thing began.
as we are on the stage I can see somebody was beaming from far. We sang a happy birthday song with the audience and her family used that possibility to present the gift on the stage. As she came to the stage, you can see and feel her good mood to have us there. After receiving her gift, she thanked us for being there. We made her feel as if she would still be in Africa.
As I always present my birthday gift as a workshop, I did the same at this party. I wanted 10 family members to take part in the workshop as a gift for the lady. The request was open so nobody was willing to come. As you know, everytime people are panicking at the beginning, because none of them have taken part in African percussion and they are afraid to be embarrassed infront ot their family.
So the son in law of the lady went round and picked people by himself. As they sat on the drums, there was one chair left and one drum. Now the lady made an announcement that there is man going to Ghana with his son on the next morning. So she would love that man to take part. I trained with them and then performed a short piece for the lady. The audience was thrilled.
After the show as they were introducing the musicians to the audience and they reached my turn and introduced me as a Ghanaian living in the littel village of Sins. One table was applausing and chearing so strong, everybody was watching the table and saying, yes he is from your village.
The husband of the lady came to the stage and said that all the audience are dentists and here with their wives. The dentist from your village is also here.
After the show I went to their table and greet them. I saw them and knew this is our family dentist who is known by my wifes family since long time, even before I came to the village.
This is were my motto comes in: Music brings energy, energy brings happyness.
Donnerstag, 7. Juli 2016
The taste of being a star - Zanzibar
Zanzibar and the 60th birthday concert
In January 2016 we performed in Oberfrick at a 60th birthday celebration. The house we played in belongs to the shooting club of the region and this was also the title of the house. These circumstances took us alomst an hour to believe that this is where we are playing.
As a Ghanaian having no connection to gunhouses, I was shocked driving there. The road was tiny and rough and it was the only road leading to this place. We had to follow the signboards. What helped us to believe that this is where we will perform was special wood torched which you can see from far. That gave me courage to drive closer. As I arrived there I didn't part next to the house, I left my car on the street. Then I walked closer to the house and I saw two women standing infront of the door. They saw I was suspicious and they are laughing. I got closer and one asked me:"Are you Mr. Donkor?" and I said: "Yes!" They told me to park well, because the event is in the house and the woman was the one who is celebrating her birthday and contacted me weeks before.
We got inside and prepared for our performance and started punctually.
I started with telling jokes of how we came to this house with suspicious feelings.
Then we wanted to present a gift to the lady celebrating. The gift was a game like a workshop. We got some women and men taking part, brought them to the stage and practiced. We then presented together a show, which was realy great and funny. This took fears from the other audience and in the end everybody wanted to try the drums. This kept the party so dynamic till the end.
Then we found out in the brake, there is a musician from Zanzibar in the audience and we asked him to jam with us. We took the audience by surprise, because they didn't know that he is a musician. The party took the direction to a fabulous mood.
This confirmed my motto again - music brings energy and energy brings happyness.
Mittwoch, 6. Juli 2016
Music journey from Africa to Europe
Concert in Pratteln, Feuerwehrmagazin: January 2016
Just arriving from Ghana around 10 a.m. and teaching from 1 - 6p.m. at the musicschool Frick, I went to perform on the concert in Pratteln in the evening. The event was for the firemen organisation of the City of Pratteln.
I was still full of music from Ghana, where we had the christmas and new year celebrations. We played there from traditional to all kinds of modern music and we played for many hours nonstop. So this was still in me and inspired me to get the strength and energy to make this nonstop music journey.
At the concert I joined in the group of Heiri and his friends as a percussionist. The style we played took me back to Africa. I enjoyed it and really gave them the groove of a collection of rhythms.It was a very dynamic concert, swiss and african musicians mixed.
It confirmed my motto: music gives energy, energy brings happyness
Sonntag, 13. März 2016
Missing your hero: Prof. Francis Nii-Yartey
Entering January 2016 with the lost of a very big icon of Ghana, was a sad moment for a lot of artists.
Prof. Francis Nii-Yartey was a big inspiration of my intire life.
Where I always remember him was, when he choreographed a program for our president J.J. Rawlings.
He invited some groups of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, of which he selected the artists to perform at the Accra sportsstadion for the president.
We started the rehearsal at trade fair in Accra and continued in Accra Sportsstadion, where we then supposed to perform.
As everybody knows, when joung people meet, there is a certain kind of competition specially among the boys to show yoursself and feel big infront of the girls.
This behavour became a bad luck to me. We decided to run infront of the crowd on the sportstrack of the stadion. I was about to win the race, missed my step and fell, slided over the pavement and part of my skin on my shoulder was rubbed off. I was send to the stadion clinic for treatment. On my way going I felt so sorry for myself to do such a foolish mistake, because I like to watch Prof Nii-Yartey when he was teaching the dance ensemble in Legon and I thought in that moment I blowed the chance to work among in his project.
After my treatment they brought me back to him. I was so scarred, because I thought now he is going to be annoyed with me and tell me off. But he just watched me, shaked his head and said: „ hmm! Go and join your group.“
At this moment I was confused. I don’t know if I should feel happy or what is coming next.
On the next day coming to the rehearsal, I didn’t know what I shall expect. I am a drummer, so I was among the drummgroup. We were playing a piece on the Fontomfrom drum, which Big Boy was teaching us. I felt so difficult, because the wound has been dried. The Fontomfrom drum has been carried and we were playing it, so the hands are always rised up in the air. I felt a lot of pain, but I didn’t want to give up, because I wanted to play in that program.
After the rehearsal days, they started to share the costume to those, who are going to be among the program. We had different coulors of costumes. I was very tensed, I thought because of my wound I will not get a costume and therefore I will not be among the performance.
The sad part will be, the program will be on the TV, which everybody is looking forward to see us. Specially the people in Nima, who always saw us joining the bus to the reahearsal.
We stand in line to get the costumes and when it was my turn, Prof. Nii Yartey asked me to step aside. I could’t show my tears, I swallow it and said to myself: „ You see how stupid you are to get such a chance an blow it up.“ I don’t know what to do to myself as I was standing aside. I gave a lot of advice to myself while I was standing there and a lot of artist passed by and get their costumes.
But Professor is a Professor. I would have been so happy, if he would have shouted on me on the first day and really put me off and send me home, than let me rehearsal till the end and let me stand here now.
At the end those who were selected got their costumes and we have to stand by groups. I was still without costume so I cannot join my group. He watched me and said: „Hey Red, which group do you belong to?“ I responded : « Kusum Gboo dance ensemble »
He then shaked his head the same again and made : „hmm!“
He started to speak to the groups about the performance. Then he said good bye to all the participants and wishing them all the best for the performance.
The groups started to go and wait for their buses. I was still there discussing with my group how disappointed I am, but it is my own fault. I will learn from this.
I just finished speaking this and turned my self to walk to the bus and I saw Prof. Nii-Yartey throw a costume to me. I hold the costume as if I should run with it. I hold it an stand there like a statue, because I thought it is a mistake. He then said: „you are a drummer, join the yellow costumes!“ In this moment I want to hold my screeming until I will reach inside the bus, but I could not make it. I screemed and I think all the artists could hear it.
Till now everything I do, I always remember him. I used a lot of what I learned form him in my teaching in schools.
May Prof. Nii-Yartey’s soul rest in peace.
We will never forget your beautyful and charming choreographing.
Dienstag, 2. Februar 2016
Music on christmas took all my pain away
A report from Eguafo, near Elmina in the Central Region of Ghana in West Africa
Since I was born and grew up in Accra. I often visit my village Eguafo in the Central region of Ghana. I never got a chance to spent the christmas in Eguafo till this christmas 2015 together with friends from Germany.
On the 24th night it looked like nobody nows what to do in the village, so we the artists invited our Sankofa group, who based in Eguafo, to come and play. In the end it became very dynamic and interesting. A lot of people joined in and we decided then to make a little parade with traditional music and dance through the village. Every street we reached, we got more people. Before we reached our starting point again, it was about three o`clock in the morning. The German friends got tired and went to sleep a bit.
The nice part about it was, I thought everybody will also go home and sleep, but the youngsters among wanted the music to continue. So I really used that opportunity to sing some old songs of the village, which I have heard since I was ten years old.
It happened that most of them never heard those songs. I have to teach them the songs and we performed it. After a few hours they knew a lot of olden time songs. They decided to parade throught the village again, because they felt proud to demonstrate those old songs. Sometimes the elder people passed by and joined in. And many people started to remember traditional musicians from the village, who passed away. They started to appreciate them. They said: « You boys remind us of the bosue group. » And as an artist I felt so happy, to perform in my village and wake up almost forgotten music and its musicians. That gave me strength to continue playing the leading drum with devotion.
Those who are good in percussion instruments of the Sankofa group, asked a permission to go home around 4.30 in the morning. Which I was then happy about, because my hands were really hurting. Playing from 10 pm til 4.30 am… that is long.
The music entered some of the youngsters so much, although the Sankofa drumers have left, that they always told me:“ Bra Kofi, let`s continue!“ There we started again. They sang some songs, which were also new to me and I have to learn it from them. One of the village boys is calling himself after „Shatta Wale“. This name is known in Ghana for a Rap musician, who is based in Accra. This guy who named himself after Shatta used the old songs he just learned from me a few hours ago and transformed it into Rap. We were then only few people and I am the only percussionist left. I have to form the rhythm and create some to fit into the Rap music. It was so beautiful.
Around 6 am we were done. My hands were pumping as if somebody would messure my blood pressure.
As everybody left, I couldn`t get up from the chair anymore, I was so tired and dozed on the chair. Those who got up in the morning, started to laugh about me, that made me wake up.
I then had to orginize the afternoon of 25th, the big day. Quickly showerd and hit the road.
The food was ready and we all were eating as usual on christmas day. Then we visited family members.
Funny was, every family house I enterd asked me:“ Who were those people, who played music till day break? Are they your people from Accra? Where did they learn those songs?“
So I called the names of the people who took part from Eguafo and they were all surprised. And I revealed myself to be to one leading the group through the village with those songs.
That of course spread in the village like a rumor. I arrived in the house and found myself in the middle of youngsters, who also learned the songs we sang yesterday. They tought it to others and they wanted us to performe. I just didn’t want to think about my hands.
They brought the drums and the music started. We played till 5 pm. Then I couldn`t continue anymore. So I told them just to parade by themselves to enjoy the 25th.
That is the first time I enjoyed my village since I have been visiting the village as a child. I heard a lot of traditional music in Accra, Nima, but in the village Eguafo it was were I, at the age of 10, joined a group of elders, known as « bosue ». Through this experience I always return to Eguafo, where my parents came from.
That is were my motto was confirmed : « Music brings energy, energy brings happyness ! »
Montag, 5. Oktober 2015
African week in ISB Aesch Basel, Switzerland
Percussions, dance, drama, storytelling, african village and market scene. For many years we are working with ISB grade 5. We really work with them on the african field. We teach them traditional songs and its dances. This year we were four teachers working with 85 children.
As we do it every year in the beginning we take away the shyness and bring them the motiviation to participate. You will see them realizing their improve and every day it goes further and further. The reason why we like to work with ISB grade 5 is, the children always knew the group of last year grade 5 and make a competition out of it to perform better and show it to the grade 4 and the whole school. That’s how we do the workshop every year. This give us, the teachers also the possibility to work with them without hesitating.
This year I was teaching them a story about a boy from Eguafo, who has difficulties in his family. But he always tries to solve the problem by himself and support the family additional. Their farm was not functioning well and the parents have problems to feed their children. He always went to the city to shine shoes and bring the money to the parents. Additional he had to go to school. He did that for many years with the help of the teachers. He studied good in the school and that helped him not to do much homework, so he had enough time to go and work. He always gave appreciation and thanks to his teachers.
I saw that this story touched the teachers in the ISB very much. Additional they performed a drama about elders in Eguafo. How they take care of the community, how to solve problems and how to organize them to do the community work. They have the youth, who voted themselves to help the children for homework and other activities.
All these dramas is to show that everything you do in this life, you need a support and help and then you can work as a team and achieve it. And this is where our motto came in: no stress, no panic, freedom but concentration. Music brings energy, energy brings happyness.
This year the teachers of ISB wanted to take part of the show. We worked with them for 90 minutes and you can see that they are looking forward to stand infront of their pupils to show them how much interest and talent they also have in music and dance. We tried to push them a bit harder and they did their best and we had a nice dance together. The pupils didn’t know about the teachers show. So it was a big surprise. It was thrilling and with our support they gave all.
Every year we the teachers performed, but only the grade 5 teachers and sometimes the director of the school as well. This year almost all the teachers took part in the workshop and the performance. It was so beautyful and we are looking forward to meet them next year.
This is unit work.
Freitag, 4. September 2015
Benefit concert with Aaron Bebe: August 2015
A great performance was the concert with Ghanaian musicans and swiss musicians combined. We used bell, Kpanlogo drums, gome, seprewa, imbira, guitar, saxophon and bass. The atmosphere was very good, both from the musicians and the audience. The concert was a benefit for supporting Aarons son for his operation in Zürich. The mood of the little boy was making everybody additional happy. Coinsidently it was also his birthday. Chris got 5 years old. The concert was really dynamic and the music travelled with the audience. The whole concert hall sounded like we are in Ghana, but we were in Untersiggenthal in Switzerland. Additional there were balafon players using the Ghanian traditional xylofon who also increased the mood with their energetic playing. In the end all of us came together and we had a very nice jam session.
Just a few weeks later in the same month I was playing with another percussion group, known as kobolo drummers. It was an open air festival. As we arrived I saw a lot of people watching me with a big smile and friendlyness. I thought it was because I was wearing a Ghanain T-shirt. A group of young people came to me and they said we were watching you playing recently. I asked them where this was and they said it was in Untersiggenthal on the benefit concert. Not knowing most of the audience which watched the concert with Aaron, was at the festival. So I found out that this village we were playing belonged to Obersiggenthal. This time the style we were going to play was more traditional with different sorts of percussion instruments as Sogo, Kidi, Kaganu, Kpanlogo, Marakash, bell and Kroboto. It was a great audience which gave us a lot of energy and cheering. The concert kept going on good and good and good. Our energy kept on increasing.
Music brings energy, energy brings happyness and happyness can lead you inbetween two villages like Obersiggenthal and Untersiggenthal.