Freitag, 30. Dezember 2016

A wonderful cultural journey through time

A wonderful cultural journey through time 

100 years Anniversary:
organisation god helps Uganda in Zizers, Switzerland

September 2016

On this festival we supported Uganda. We are there as the African presenters. There were a lot of activities on this festival. Bookwriters were there to give speaches and other organisations had their stands on the festival place.
We had the African stand.
From 9 am. till 6 pm. we offered every 45 minutes a workshop and presented a concert. Aaron and me started the day with a show to announce the starting workshop.
After two workshops, we got people lining up to take part in the next round. This kept going on till the evening. The workshops and concerts had its own story to tell.
 In the afternoon we got half an hour brake and we used that opportunity to watch around on the festival.
Every stand you go had its own history to tell. You can see pictures and working tools of 100 years ago being used in Zizers / Chur. You can follow the production of the farmers of the area, such as seeing the cornmill, cider press or snaps distillery. We had possibility to try some of them by ourselves.
We visited also a stand where they dressed you up to look like the people 100 years ago. A lot of families dressed up like this with their children and took pictures in black and white with that old type of camera. And the studio looked also like 100 years ago, with its chairs, cupboards and room items. This was really fascinating. Suddenly as we were watching them, some of the workers there started smiling at us, talking to eachother. We got closer and they said, they want to show us a picture. We saw then old pictures of Africans who visited the Swiss friends 100 years ago in this village. Such a surprise! We were the only two Africans in that Moment on this stand. So we use that possibility to play a bit a theatre. Aaron should dress like those Africans 100 years ago in Zizers and I will come as a musician friend who visited him in that time. After they dressed Aaron up and me standing next to him in African dresses, with a talking drum under my armpit, waiting for taking picture, people started to gather and watch us. I think it really looked to them like a cultural journey through time.
After taking the picture, a lot of people asked to take pictures with us. We nearly missed our next round of giving workshop. Suddenly we saw the organiser walking towards us: „ people are waiting for you!“ Aaron undressed fast and we quickly went to our stand, 10 minutes late, but they were still waiting for us. The workshopo went on successfull and we had a good show.
 Finishing and to pack the drums was another surprise. We found out, the Swiss working there, were all relatives. Since generations they had contact and exchanges with African people. Everybody who helped us there, was telling us a story about where they have been in Africa. Some where also in Ghana before and many of them still live in African countries and just came for the festival.

The wonderful cultural journey through time brings the motto : music is energy – energy gives happyness. 

Donnerstag, 29. Dezember 2016

Celebrating Ghana and Africa

Celebrating Ghana and Africa: 6th August 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

There were a lot of programs going on, which was fascinating me so much on this day.
They trained the children, who live in Geneva the traditional dances from Ghana and let them perform. They really took the show very seriously and gave all their energie. Our group wings of a dove percussion power was supporting them with the music.
A wonderful fashionshow was also part of the program an they showed beautiful african dresses, designed by a Ghanaian, who lives in Geneva.
We also had to lead the chief and queenmother with music on stage. It really felt like we are performing in Ghana. The Ghanaian Ambassador arrived and we welcomed him with music.
There you could feel good energy in the place. Wings of a dove was cooling the whole place with a nice percussion and flute music. We played very old songs from Ghana and you can see the elders, who knew those songs were singing it together with the flute.
Smiling was in everybodys faces. The children felt so exiting and were walking around happy.
We catched the mood and put up a very nice performance. Additional the acrobatic show was very fascinating and surprising for everybody. The cheering and applause was going high.

This brings me to my motto : Music is energy - energy brings happyness. 

Sonntag, 4. September 2016

Lyca TV programm 2016 Zürich

 For launching Lyca TV in Zürich we took part on the intercultural programm. There were a lot of groups from different countries, such of India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Switzerland, Burkina Faso and we presented Ghana. The act was very dynamic and all the groups on the stage gave their best. The Braziliens showed their beautyful costumes and performed a very nice dance. The Indians changed the atmosphere with their own costumes and their dance. After the Swiss breakdancers took over and blast the whole place with their dance and styles. The Capoeira group performed and cooled first the place down slowly and also then came up with their thrilling magical fighting dance and kicked the audience on their feet again. 

We took then over and came in with a powerful dance from Ghana called Takaj, in which we used our beautyfull smock costume. If you swing this dress through the dance it opens and the show becomes very impressive. We drawed the attention of the audience so that the whole place was quite watching the movement of the dress in the rhythm. The dancers could feel this atmosphere and gave more power to it. The more power they gave, the more the dresses opened and responded to the movement. It is a harmonical combination inbetween the drumrhythm and the dancemovement with the smock.
We then surprised them with our acrobatic display, which brought the audience back to the shouting out loud atmosphere and enjoying the show. 
The group from Burkina Faso also came in with their dynamic djembe playing and singing. They took the audience surprise from beginning and really take them into the music journey further into Africa. The audience followed the journey, felt the music and all of them were catched by the mood of dancing wild towards the rhythm.

The  whole place was from beginning till the end dynamic and cheering, which confirmed my motto again:   Music is energy - energy brings happyness. 

Donnerstag, 14. Juli 2016

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 ! »