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.