What a kick off ! In the space of two days Baobab Community launched ourselves into the new season! Tuesday was a fantastic lunchtime event on Parliament Hill supporting the upcoming Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Montreal. One.org along with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna hosted a reception that Baobab Youth were invited to perform at. Special visiting guests mother/daughter activists from Kenya spoke compellingly about their work with HIV/Aids and women’s rights. A real honour to be there.
That evening, Baobab Community convened our 2016-17 Board members for the first meeting of the season. A big welcome to new members Cathy Sandiford and Sam Bonti-Ankomah. Thanks to hip Board member Ann Maloney for her large-group selfie skills ;) Other members for this year include chair Evie Gray, Tanis Stoliar, Kerry Gogush Cule, myself (ex officio) and Nadine Powers (not pictured). We are grateful for their efforts towards Baobab Community’s efforts!
On Wednesday, we had our first Baobab Youth rehearsal of the season, followed by a special informal performance at the Art & Rhythm Vernissage with the gorgeous sculptures by Zimbabwean Chaka Chikodzi. Chaka even jammed with us on one of our pieces, using a marimba he made himself.
We had some fabulous Ethiopian food by Sheba’s Cove on Wellington West, and played a few of our pieces. The event was host by Clare’s family and the setting was beautiful. Welcome to our new Baobab members! Thanks to Kerry & David & Megan & Kathy for pics ! I think we are ready for the year!
Our annual Rhythm Trek Camp was a blast! We had 17 campers, 5 amazing volunteers and 5 artistic staff this year! Thanks to the Nepean-Kanata Rotary Club for their generous contribution towards the camp! We did some Tokwoe stick drumming that I led, some Fume Fume hand drumming with Dominic Donkor, dancing & singing for both, which we performed for family and friends on the Thursday. We also played some fun games left by our awesome volunteers Rory S., Quinn, Ioyan, Emma and Kevin. We had a photo workshop from Kate Settle of Beehive Studios, that turned out some fantastic work that the kids took home at the end of the week. Here are a few pics courtesy of Kevin, Rory, Liz & myself.
I had to leave camp a day early this year but the group was under the great direction of Rory Magill for cooking and the special Ghana lunch celebration. The afternoon was a wonderful Brazilian drumming workshop with Liz Hanson, who recently moved to Ottawa from Brooklyn. We are lucky to have had them both! In Liz’s words here is how the last day went:
Today was very smooth! Rory made great food and this kids really loved it! They drummed hard all afternoon and learned so so fast. Basically they learned the whole samba arrangement, traded parts and we had time to add the hip hop part too. They put the rhythms together faster than anyone! I never had so many kids with so much experience.
We did a go around at the beginning where they said their names and what they love about music and their responses were so unique! We did some games…had the lunch, drummed snack drummed. Then we did a closing, highlight from the week, highlight from today and word of farewell.
A truly fun week and a fantastic way to close out our 20th Anniversary year!
Thanks to everyone for your contributions to make the final 20th celebration so successful and meaningful. The Baobab Youth Performers did a stellar artistic job on their own and with co-performers by their side! A memorable piece was Bell Forest in the sloping garden at twilight :) Close to 20 alumnae came to rehearsal and performed in Kpanlogo and Gahu like they had not ever left the group! Several of them gave terrific introductions to pieces, including their favourite memories. A few made moving remarks about their time in the group and the importance of this music and dance during adolescence. What a gift to hear that! Kudos to alumnus Ben Holland for all his hard work in tracking down former members through facebook and other means…his list had over 110 names! Our excellent guest artists for the weekend Kwasi Dunyo, Dominic Donkor, & Prosper Adjetey continue to inspire us and are a longtime part of our history. They have been coaching myself and members of the group for many years both here and in Ghana. A special moment came when graduating member Oliver was playing lead drum in Danse Guerriere, a piece introduced to us by Prosper and Dominic several years back. A the end of the piece, Dominic spontaneously ran out an gave Oliver hug of congratulations for such a great job on a difficult part!
The generous use of the Sher family home and garden was perfect for the concert, fitting everyone in but keeping an intimate feel. Robin Burgener did a great job setting the mood with twinkly lights and sound system.
Special thanks to Ian Holland for the two amazing slide shows that kept everyone mesmerized and either laughing or crying. Also to Rory Magill for cooking delicious food for the party on Friday and the Dunyos all weekend. Our house was a revolving restaurant with a lot of laughter and chaos. Good friends Lois McGrath and Andi Murphy for housing guest overflow. Baobab parents helped out enormously with baking, admin, drum movement and silent auction tasks.
Our Board of Directors Evie , Erica, Nadine, Abby, Ann, Emily, Tanis worked tirelessly all season to realize the Anniversary plan we conceived a year ago. In particular for this weekend, a big shout out to Kerry who pulled all the threads together in a calm and creative manner. It was really a team effort with a GREAT team!
The Ghanaian Adinkra symbol “Sankofa” teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Saying good bye to current grads Emily, Oliver, Patty & Jona was very difficult but it was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate all they have contributed to the Tree! Lots more pics on our facebook page.
Can’t just wait to see what the next few years of Baobab Community will bring!
What a great success this past weekend was! So many wonderful people, having so much fun with Ghanaian music, dance and food! We must first thank the Baobab Board of Directors who did an outstanding job of pulling all the elements together. Evie Gray, Abby Forson, Ann Maloney, Kerry Gogush-Cule, Tanis Stoliar, Emily Klein, Nadine Powers and our chair, Erica Sher.
In attendance at the concert Saturday night was the new Ghana High Commissioner, His Excellency Dr. Sulley Gariba, the Deputy High Commissioner, Mrs. Florence Akonor, President of the Ghana Association of Ottawa, Mr. Bismark Otoo and many more members of the Ghanaian community of Ottawa who are friends to Baobab. Also wonderful to see so many alumnae and families in the audience!
Baobab alumnus Ben Holland (ROOTS, Youth and currently Carleton WARE) gave a funny and moving account of his 15 year involvement with this music and dance and a tribute to Baobab and my patience as a teacher ;). Our guest artist for the weekend Nani Agbeli, was a perfect choice for inspiring performers, audience members and students at the public workshops with his incredible, magnetic performance and teaching skills. The Ghanaian dinner at the end of the weekend was a tribute to the richness of the culture and the connections we make stronger through our collective love of the music and dance. Akpe kakakakaka to all! Photos courtesy of Ian Holland, Kathy Armstrong & jp Simbandumwe.
This Fall’s ROOTS class was the largest we have had in a while. Great kids who work well together and did some amazing drumming and singing, which they showcased last night at our end of term open house. They also worked with Maureen Clarke to produce some great Ghanaian Adinkra art. The symbols were chosen to represent the kids’ thoughts about participating in drumming: leadership, abundance, strength & humility, friendship and peace & harmony. Once joined together, it became a colourful group piece which they gifted to the whole Baobab Community. We will happily and proudly display it at our 20th Anniversary Events this year! Yay ROOTS! Next session begins in January.