Freitag, 19. Oktober 2012

Showers of rhythms

With this story anybody at all knows me in Nima, knows how I live. So I was so scarred and feeling shy of where I should enter with my friend. Hamid enjoyed Nima so much, that he even didn’t realise that there are drops of rain.

It started raining. I woke up, sitting down on the mat, but Hamid was fast a sleep. It reach a place, that the roof of our littel shelter could not stand the rain anymore, so it started to drop on us. That is where Hamid woke up and also sat on his mat. He did not say anything, but just watched me. I just wanted to turn everything to fun way and told him:“Did you see how it can also rain in Ghana?“ sometimes the rain comes with wind and you can hear on the roofingsheet, that thre are a lot of rhythms which you cannot describe. I wanted to make everything funny so that we can stay there for longer. I started to speak about the rhythms oft he rain drops: „This rhythm fits to Fumefume!“ then you can hear the wind blowing and it was changing to another rhythm: „This is Kpanlogo“ and I kept on mentioning a lot of rhythms until the rain would just stop and we can continue sleeping. But the floor could not take the water anymore, it turn to mud. The water began to flow the shelter. There was no possiblity anymore than packing the mat and go inside. I did so and run to the room. Hamid followed me. Both of us stand in the room and Hamid could see that there is no place for him. - I don’t know what to do.

My mother got up, my father also. They don’t know what to do and my father wanted to mention his name and said.“ Emid. Come and sleep on the bed.“ I know where I can lay my mat in the room to sleep. Hamid said then „ thank you Daddy!“ jumped on the bed and slept immediatly. I was not asleep and saw my mum and my dad standing in the room around 2 o’clock in the morning, till I fell asleep. I didn’t know how they made it til the next morning. I woke up and heard the first prayers of the moslems, which was my alarm clock to catch the first bus. I immediatly started to wake Hamid up for us to leave. Hamid got up, saying good buy to my mum and my dad. I didn’t know what to say to them and I just said: “I am going back to the school“. Hamid took a packed of Zigarets out of his pocket and gave it to my father. It was still raining, but not so much anymore.

On our way to the bus stop, we got a vehicel, going to Caneshie. We sat in the bus, I don’t know if I should feel embarrased or I should just think it was an adventure.

Around 6.30 in the morning we were back to the academy. The programm as usual continued around 8 o’clock.

This was a story I never shared with anybody in my life till today.

After I left AAMA I went back to Nima. Back to my root and my group. Business as usual began. From rehearsals to rehearsals with Kusumgboo dance ensemble. As I came back I was so interesting with art.

One day Mr. Tyson from the art Center of Ghana came to our training gound and watched our rehearsal. After he left, the leader called all of us and told us, we have a performance next week Friday in the Novotel and Sunday in the Academy A.A.M.A.

I was very happy about, because now I am going to perform with my team there. We decided to performe on this day the dance drama: „Together we build“. In this drama I was palying the main role. It is about two families who are fighting about one land. I love this drama very much, because there is a lot of emotions in and it has a happy end. So on that day in the Academy I gave all my power. In the brake time the leader of the group told me, that I have to perform with Mustapha Tettey‘s group Obonu. I was happy an dshocked at the same time and asked: „What I didn’t have a rehearsal with them?“ But the leader said: „But they chose you to go and play with them!“ as I was in the academy, I often watch the rehearsals of Obonu to prepare their tours. I know how powerfull and dynamic they are. They have a lot of brakes in the rhythms, which makes the music special. That is their style of playing. I had to go and play the bell. That means I have to keep the timing and drive the music. I was shaking, because the little mistake I will do and fall out of the rhythm, I think I will not find my way back and I will then destroy their whole show.

Suddenly they called me. As I was there I shaked hands with all of them. I was standing there dreaming, really scarred to go to the stage with them. By then I wear the costume and saw that now I have no other possibility than be strong and play with them. As usual before they go to the stage, they have chanting songs with other percussion instruments. This was helping me a lot to vanish the scare in me.

We went and start the performance. Finished it without mistake. I could feel how they accept me in their music. I enjoyed it so much. As an artist if you entertain the audience and also enjoy the music – this is great, beautyful, enormous, you cannot name it. We got a huge applause and cheering. The same way we came in, we went out of the stage and went closer to the audience, walked inbetween the people and chanted with songs and percussion instruments. In that moment I was so proud and happy of myself. As we went backstage, removing the costume, they said thanks to me and I responded back: „Thanks to you!“

I went back to my group for the second part of the performance. In the dressing room, they started to laugh at me and made a lot of teasing – but positive. They then told me, that they saw me smiling so much: „You really take part inside their show. Do you think you are Mustapha?“ we are all laughing and I was so happy that day. -That’s how I got to know Obonu.

Donnerstag, 11. Oktober 2012

How to share your Opinion with the world

How to teach,what I have learned and experienced in my life as a traditional artist, was the difficulty. I found through the Acloa dance company my solution with A.A.M.A (Academy of African Music and Art). This academy is located near Accra about 25 km on the Winneba road, near the Kokrobite beach. This place opened my eye to know, who I am and what I can achieve. With this I found my opportunity to lead my life. All what I learned in life, I have to now proof it in the academy. With the help of Akloa dance ensemble, I got a better understanding of art in the Academy.

The academy gave me an opportunity to understand how you can share your oppinions with other students from all over the world. Additional I meet famous artists from Ghana and abroad. Thanks goes here to Amono, Freddy and Lae. Last but not least to the owner of the academy: Mustapha Tettey Addy – our hero.

The academy gave me improvement to get to know a lot of students from all over the world and their aim. I meet a few students, whith whome sometimes I shared my daily life with. Some of them appreciated where I was born and they were eager for visiting the place.

One day I meet a student called Hamid, he was there in the academy with his sisters. Hamid became my close friend and he always asked me when he could come and see Nima, my area. He heard about Nima from me, as a place full of art and music, so he always wanted to see it. As we are all busy in the academy, we cannot just leave.

One day we got our free time and I invited him to come with me to Nima.

We left in the evening around 6 o’clock. By then it was not easy to get to Accra in time, because of traffic. So we arrived around 8 o’clock. We were lucky that on this day there were a lot of activies going on. We arrived with trotro in Nima. Immediatly we heard music from Northern Ghana. They held a calabash which was filled with seeds and shaked it around with two hands. This was amazing for Hamid to see, while he was just dropping out from the Trotro. I approached one oft he followers of the musicians and they said, that they were goin to a funeral in mamobi. They showed me the place where the funeral is going to be. They are going to pass my area in Nima and we follow them up until we reached our place.

In Nima the people were at this time not used to see foreigners from outside of Africa.So our arriving in Nima was a big boost in my side. Everybody wanted to speak to my friend Hamid. Through speaking with a lot of people we got an idea where traditional music is going on today. I knew all the corners they meant. So within two hours he saw a lot of different sort of traditional music.

That reminded me of my friend Scott, who was my first european student in Nima. With him I got a lot of credibility and appearance in everywhere I am. I end up introducing Scott in Nima as my brother. As I mentioned in my blog that Nima is full of Immigrants from Africa and anything can happen. To make him safe was to introduce him as my familymember. That showed as usual that if anything happen to him, will happen to my family. I quite remember sometimes if he comes to Nima, mothers , fathers and children, brothers and sisters informed me: „ Your brother is around, I saw him looking for you.“ Sometimes I got confused and didn’t know exactly who they meant. I have only one real brother who is known as Accraman and in my oppinion not looking for me. So I also asked them: „Who do you mean?“ and they will say: „ The white man!“ and I quickly remember that it is Scott. I then run to the area and I find him nearby either in a drinking spot or in my area know as trafalgar square. In Ghana we chose a lot of areas oft he world, US or Great Britain, which non of us has travelled to the place, but we took it to be a symbol of our area. If you arrive in Ghana, Accra, Nima and you mention that you want to go to „California“ everybody knows where you want to go. If you mentione „Bronx“ everybody knows where you want to go. Even if you want to go to Bankok or Russia, everybody knows where you want to go. Nima is full of places all over the world. That is how we lead our territory to be known fast. If they mentioned „your brother the white man“ then I knew it is Scott. I looked for him and found him among a lot of my friends. So Hamid had to face the same things like Scott.

In that night I brought Hamid form the academy to Nima and everybody in Nima we meet, was calling him Scott. Then he will tell them: „I am not Scott, I am Hamid.“

Because he is also white, they didn’t watch the difference of the person they just called him also Scott. Me and Hamid had a good time in Nima. But the bad thing was, that we room around so much that it was too late and we could not get a vehicel back in the same night to the Academy. So I decided that we should sleep in my parents house and take the first bus to the academy in the next early morning.

By then I stay with my parents in Nima. Just in a one room flat in a compound house. Hamid enjoyed Nima so much, he did not think of where he is going to stay. I brought him home, waked up my parents to say hello to him and there he found out, that the whole family just lived in one room.

After my parents and compound people wellcomed him, everybody went back to his room. Hamid said: „ I would like to drink some tea.“ I took him to the main street. Where a lady works from 6 to 6 in the morning and sells tea, hot choclate, bread and eggs. You can request as much as you want. Hamid invited me and we enjoyed in the middle of the night tea, bread and egg. This was just close to my compound and we headed then to the house. I went and took one big mat from the room and told Hamid to sleep outside and enjoy the fresh air of the night. Alhtough it was raining season, I was happy the sky was clear at that moment, because I don’t know where I should place Hamid in that one room flat, where already my three sisters, cousins, nephews, my mother and father were sleeping.

A friend of us, known as Baba, whose mother has a local restaurant in a compound, had a shelter. I decided to sleep under the shelter. Because I know they will come there 5 o’clock in the morning. By then we should have left already, because we have to catch the first bus. We just layed down the mat, slept about one hour. Then all of a a sudden I heard the rain dropping on the roofing sheets, which sounded like a rhythm in my sleeping. I got up in my dream and saw that it is going to rain. I was praying to god that it should not rain, because I don’t know where we are going to fit in the room with my parents. But a heavy tropical rain started.


How we survived I will tell you next week.
Koria Peter John Kofi Donkor