Saturday, December 22, 2007

Griot's Journey Poster

My favorite poster (and also DVD cover) by far: The Griot's Journey. The DVD is available, check out Soon the book "African Legends" will accompany this amazing storytelling/ black history/African cultural resource. A Canada Council for the Arts grant was accessed for this Performance-DVD project. God bless Canada!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Recent Favourite Poster

What do you do with the poster once the event is over? Answer: Blog it! One thing we are dramatically short of is photographs for our December 16th event. I hope someone from the audience sends me one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CHRISTMAS BASKET -Afehyiapa Basket

The very first photo of our Sunday event is in. It is a beautiful Ghanaian-Canadian basket of goodness for Christmas which was tastefully put together by Dorothy Odartey-Wellington, professor of Spanish at the University of Guelph and donated for the Northern Ghana Benefit 'An African Christmas Celebration. ' The basket held a wooden African mask, an inviting red-orange drink, cakes by Dorothy( Ghana style) and the best milk chocolate bars and chocolate drink made from the finest cocoa, Ghana's own Golden Tree brand. The basket was won at a bid of $70! I have said to Dorothy: here's an alternative business idea for her, when she wearies of teaching Spanish at university. We thank all the bidders and wish everyone a Happy Christmas and the best of the New Year. Afehyiapa!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tomorrow We Dance

photo by Anuta of Translucence, Guelph.
Tomorrow, December 16th, we dance to celebrate Christmas in warmth, with the community of friends in Guelph and to give a small gift to people faraway!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The River and the Path

wading across the floods
There's an Akan proverb which says:
"The River crosses the Path; The Path crosses the River-which of these is the elder? The Path crosses the River; the River crosses the Path- which of these is older? We cut the Path to cross the River but the River is from long, long ago."
My take: We can choose wisely where to place the path, so long as we are aware of the River and the area of its overflow.
We have chosen to make a pathway of relief through celebration. You can help make this path across the river! You can help to make a bridge!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Celebrate Generousity!

A performance of River Bride by Adwoa Badoe's class of dance students
When I was growing up in Ghana, we didn't believe in Santa and it wasn't because we didn't want to, but we had no fire places with chimney entries to let him through! Santa was only ever at the Kingsway Store, and he was black. Besides he had very little to give for the price one paid for the short miniature train ride which one took across the department store floor. This did not agree with the books we read where Santa was Caucasian, and rode reindeer accross the sky. Yet his songs found their way across the ocean to our homes and schools and we learned to sing them. Still, Christmas was fun for the new clothes we received and the few toys we got but particularly for the food we ate: jolof rice with beef, chicken light soup, spicy goat meat- stewed or fried and fufu, gari-foto, fried ripe plantains and custard-and-cake. My mother made the best European desserts at Christmas! There was that thing she call "Blancmange", I have never seen it anywhere else! Then there were the bands of masqueraders, as though we were mixed up between Christmas and Mardi Gras, and visitors coming in and out all day, bringing good wishes for the year end, and the old Huntley and Palmers gem biscuits with or without the frosting on the top, which we ate and strung together for necklaces and tree decorations. In spite of Santa's absence, Christmas was good and filled with generousity and we sang of Jesus all season long! This Christmas I am looking out for fun and rest and recreation. We want to celebrate the year end with greetings of Afehyiapa, literally a good meeting of the ends of the year, as though time was a circle which began and ended at the same point. We now translate this greeting as "Happy New Year!" We want to remember the generousity of God and in so doing motivate ourselves to be generous to people. This is why in celebrating an African Christmas at the GYMC on 16th December, we give a gift to some others to make both ends of the year meet well, for them and for us too.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


"Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub."

My anatomy teacher, Mr. Ramaswamy, was completely befuddled by the nonsensical English nursery rhymes they were forced to learn in India. Befuddling perhaps to the adult mind searching for meaning in words but not to the child who hears the rhythm inside the words and the music within the rhymes.

" Trick-a true-too, three in a canoe." (This one is mine, stretched to the these men were who rowed a canoe accross a flooded field.) I wonder if these three are farmers, going to look at their wasted fields, or relief workers going to help, or stranded victims being rowed to safety or perhaps journalists looking for a story. Maybe they are fishermen looking for a river. In any case it must have been the safest way to travel , with broken bridges and washed out roads. At least they would arrive safe and dry.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

In Just TEN Days- HOMES

flooded house credited to Ghana Web
The homes of the poor may be constructed without complexity, using the commonest cheapest materials, earth! But it still takes effort and skill to build! And for those who live there with the fewest of possessions, there is still the pride of ownership of a piece of God's earth and the sense of security and belonging which bind a household together. A home is where life begins, food is shared, stories are told and dreams dreamt at night for the better tomorrows just around the bend of the horizon. .....Perhaps, there will be a good harvest and God willing, the children will be healthy, some money may be saved toward the next year and those dreams of a new house built of cement with a shiny aluminum roof, may find the magic to come to life.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


A cornfield is devasted after the September floods of Northern Ghana.

The expectation of the children, when they open hands and mouths to be fed, is among the most basic of needs. Food is the first inspiration for human activity, the primal urge to rise, search, gather, farm, emigrate and... fight. It is the primary impulse of the infant who finds her mama's breast with closed eyes and whose thirst is quenched and hunger fed, by the one activity of nursing. Food determines survival, growth, health, security, opportunity, possibility, dreams and vision. Food reassures the individual and the community of the love of God and that of their fellow man. A self sustaining people gain in confidence and self respect . They expect more of themselves because they are assured of their place in nature and their equality with all other people.
In many areas of the world the acquisition of a well balanced diet is no small feat. Even in places where food production is subsidized and food is abundant, there are some who starve and many who eat poorly. Sometimes people spend much money to eat substandard fare leading to the unprecedented rise in obesity, in wealthy nations. Starvation may kill faster than overeating. In the end, food and a well balanced diet is a basic human right which must be won for humanity!
I have heard parents cry foul when children leave food uneaten on their plates. "Think of all those hungry people in Africa!" They say. I say, don't just think of all those hungry people and gripe about a little wasted food on a plate, "Feed someone somewhere and better still help someone to feed themselves." What does food mean to you?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Fifteen More Days to Our Benefit for Northern Ghana friends from northern Ghana holding a drumming party for me in Accra....

In September, floods ravaged the Northern and Upper regions of Ghana as well as Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso opened up sluice gates to a dam built on the Volta River, further flooding the region. More than twenty people died and 300000 people were displaced as their homes were swept away. Nine or more bridges were lost and the roads all but dissolved under the rising waters. The Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana, areas which are drier than most parts of Ghana, received about half of it's annual rain fall in those few days of incessant and heavy rains. Cropped fields were swept away and people fled here and there to join already overcrowded families living in difficult situations. The aftermath of such floods include water born diseases such as dysentery and cholera which can spread so quickly among vulnerable societies, not to mention malaria of the drug resistant types which is already endemic in Ghana. Then there are the mental health and emotional concerns for those with so little who have lost everything, for up to 80 percent of the people in this area earn less than $1.00 a day.

It is several months since the disaster itself but responses and actions tend to be more hesistant and difficult to achieve in certain places, and even in the USA where Katrina spilled her waters a while ago, we saw the helplessness of the mighty USA. The thing about disaster is that, while it is so devastating, it gives the worldwide community a chance to embrace a certain part of the world, if only for a short time. And within this embrace, if it is done with the right spirit, is the culture of our communal worldwide healing as humanity.