Notes from Ghana #17

So now that we are back in Ottawa, I will continue to try to fill in the gaps from some of our adventures, knowing full well that you really can’t communicate the complexity of sensory and emotional experiences we all had. Rather than go back chronologically, I will just add new posts so you don’t have to go searching.  The time thing,  as you have been reading, is really insignificant anyway.  Here are some thoughts about a musical event:

Community Drumming Space


On the edge of the village is an area known as the community drumming space. There is an amazing canopy of trees under which  benches are set up for any community events. These can be funerals, wake-keepings, general social meetings and in our case, a burial ceremony. Its a fantastic natural room, very cool and breezy with a palpable buzz of energy whether there is a small group gathered, or a few hundred.

We did not have many formal performances scheduled for the Youth but we always hope there is an opportunity for something to happen in this space. Last Thursday, we were able to perform at and witness a burial ceremony of a soul that passed on outside of  Ghana and needed to be repatriated. We met the elders and several people of the community there around 4 o’clock. (Like many afternoon activities we had been waiting some time for it to start having been told that it would be “after lunch”, or even better, “any moment from now” our new favourite saying.  We waited for a while on the benches with no shortage of friends beside us.

Even though people in the village may know something is happening, it takes a little music and dance to get their attention and in this case it was US who provided the impetus to get people arriving.  We performed a gumboot dance (in flip flops on the village soil….not exactly the foots stomping sounds usual to that style but it was greatly admired anyway, as it is not familiar to most Ghanaians.)

We also played, danced and sang a Bobobo and parent Claire easily stepped in to fill the role of a missing dancer. (You’ll notice from the photos that a few kids were not up for this event…we had already had a full-on ceremony in the morning complete with early morning fantas and akpoteshie tastings -yes even the kids if they so desired- so we were  a little smaller in numbers) .

Then Kwasi began to play a gankogui and his son Kwadzo an axatse and some women began to clap sing a women’s song that was sooo beautiful. Some incredible cross rhythms in a 12/8 feel. I did not have my good video camera there but took this rather surreal  vignette…. (still trying to load)

The ceremony went on very simply but beautifully to place something personal of the deceased’s in a small box wrapped in traditional cloth. After some libation pouring and prayers for the elders, we all walked down the road to the cemetery where the small box was laid to rest in the ground. It was really quite lovely to think of this person’s spirit getting a chance to rest in Dagbamete accompanied by such thoughtfulness, reverence and music.

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One Response to Notes from Ghana #17

  1. Savannah says:

    That trip sounds so cool! I love music from Ghana and I really want to go there sometime! I was at CME 2009!!

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