Notes from Ghana #13

Hi All,

Sorry for not posting for a few days.  We took our three day trip to the Cape Coast area, so that’s why you have not been hearing from us (although I know several of the kids got in touch through the internet cafe at our hotel, in between looking at weaver birds and crocodiles…). So we owe you a few details about the amazing time we have been having. Let’s start with where we left off…a trip to the very traditional and always inspiring village of Dzogadze.

…a collective post from chaperones Evie, Jenni and Lynn

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE?

Last Saturday was an extraordinary day. Just breathtaking.

We prepared for the much anticipated performance at the neighbouring village of Dzogadze (Kwasi’s mother’s village were he did much of his drumming training as a young boy). Everyone emerged from the Kathy Armstrong Lodge to “oohhs and aahhs” decked in their new Ghanaian finery. Each of us had carefully chosen our own beautifully rich fabrics. Tailored to fit, everyone looked suitably dressy for the occasion. We were about to witness a performance of Atsiagbekor, the piece we have been learning, to be performed by our teachers, Ledzi and Oliver.

We are experiencing a different sense of time here, and this day was no exception as we had our usual wait in the bus to leave for the nearby Dzogadze. Forty-five minutes later, we were zooming down narrow red country lanes. As we approached, we could see the village children bouncing with excitement. We were welcomed as honoured guests to this tiny humble hamlet. A procession of dancers and drummers led us through the village to sit and be greeted by the elders. Once again we were awed by the honour that was bestowed upon us. As guests of Kwasi, who grew up in Dzogadze, we were welcomed like family. Formal and gracious words of welcome and gratitude were exchanged, as were the traditional offering of local spirits (akpoteshie or distilled palm sap). After a prayer and libation offering we were led back through the village to settle under the protection of a large shade tree. And here the real joy and excitement began.

The rest of the village settled to the right and to the left of us. There we all sat, collectively anticipating as the men and women of Dzogadze – young and old – promised to dazzle us with their dancing and singing traditions. The male dancers clustered in the shade of the lush trees as their sisters sang them forward. Lithe and agile, their bodies swooped and swirled with strength and beauty, telling the story of battle, cued by the hypnotic beating of drums and bells and encouraged by the chorus of female voices beckoning them onward with courage. Slow and fast Atsiagbekor took the first full hour…amazing really, and then they continued with renditions of Gadzo, Brejete music, Adzogbo, and Kete.

The make-up of Dzogadze’s performing troupes – Brim Shi Brim, Gadzo and the others – reflected what we have observed many times since we arrived at Dagbamete – Ghanaians value the inclusion of all – young and old, black and white. The performance groups included not only the village’s best adult dancers, but also their best young dancers. They were every bit as serious and focused as the adults. The drummers also included young and old – each as fierce, focused and integral as the other. The chorus of villagers formed a tight cluster to the right of the drummers, singing with joyous abandon between each of the individual pieces. A few of the older women would break from the circle and begin to dance. It was not long before they invited many of us up to dance with them, two at a time. These beautiful women must have been in their sixties or seventies. Yet they had the stamina and joy of the young, and were so generous to ensure that we all had a turn up dancing with them. It ended with a playful community dance for all of us to join in, Ghanaians and Canadians laughing and dancing together.

This whole day was one of rapture. The vigour, energy, grace and exuberance of the dancers left us all enrapt. We were shaking our heads in astonishment throughout the three hours of non-stop dancing, singing and drumming, performed with generosity of spirit and a deep sense of pride.

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11 Responses to Notes from Ghana #13

  1. Vicky says:

    Your description is wonderfully vivid….I’m so happy for you all. I could hardly wait the time since the last post…but to read one now,so full of excitement and appreciation is a relief and a joy. Please tell all three of my boys I love them and I am counting down till I can hug them again!

  2. Tyse says:

    Hope you are having a great time. I really miss you, Emily.

    From Tyse

  3. Jan Downing says:

    What a fabulous description of your last few days. Thank you for keeping us posted – you are our lifeline. Give Hudson a big squeeze and whisper in his ear that I love him.

  4. Aunt Rita says:

    Hello Willow! I wish I were there with you. I can’t wait to hear of your wonderful adventures but mostly I want to join you in drumming!
    lots of love from Rita

  5. Chris says:

    Sounds like you are having just one experience of a lifetime after another!

    I love the colour of the soil. It reminds me of the east coast of Canada. It also sets off the gorgeous colours of the traditional fabrics so beautifully!

    You are lucky to have such cool temperatures in Ghana. It was 34 degrees here today – 44 with the humidex.

  6. Dev says:

    Wonderful photos, great descriptions of your adventure, nice to see all the smiles.

  7. Duncan, Mac and Gav says:

    Wow, love the group shot with all the assorted colours and happy smiles! We hope someone is getting some video, keen to see all this dancing! To Ben and Jen, Ottawa U eng and sci camp is going well, but bet it is as hot here as it is there! And we have quite the story about the Bluesfest… sending love and can’t wait to see you guys soon!

  8. Madelaine Mageau says:

    This is all so heartwarming: what an unforgettable time you are all having. I can’t wait now to hear more from the lips of my two girls! I’m off to Montreal tomorrow for two weeks so will miss reading the last entries if you have time for more.
    Madelaine

  9. Tiffany says:

    It’s so exciting to see you all there. The pictures and postings have definitely kept us feeling connected with all of you and have created a buzz here in Ottawa. Everywhere we go, family members and friends tell us that they read the blog every day and that they can’t stop talking about all of you. Everyone is very impressed with the detailed postings, how happy everyone sounds and what a fantastic experience this is for all of you. All the hard work was definitely worth it. We feel privileged to be a part of such a great group of people. Thanks to everyone for making this experience of a lifetime a reality. Sending hugs to everyone and a big hug to Emily.
    Tiffany

  10. Duncan, Mac and Gav says:

    hey its gav i just wanted to say hi to ben and jenni (mom) and i hope your having a greattime in ghana cant wait till u get back
    bye

  11. Susan Morrison - Grammy says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts and I am learning a little about Ghana through your comment of exciting adventures – I am so thrilled for everyone!! Please pass on my very best wishes and love to Emily. annot wait to see you and wishing you a safe journey home!!

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