Thursday, February 28, 2008


Tokwe is one of the very first traditional Ghanaian dances I learned at about age eleven and a half, at the University of Ghana. No, I was not a child genius, my secondary school, Achimota, was close enough to the university that our club could take lessons, some afternoons, at the School of Performing Arts. Tokwe is a coming-of-age dance of the people of the GA-Adangbe traditional area. The dance is characterised by abrupt changes. The rhythm song alternates between two patterns so that the dance is punctuated by intermittent staccato hip-shaking, foot-shuffling, 360 degree turns. I plan on teaching Tokwe next session and combining it with the other Ga-Adangbe dance, Kpatsa which is another precocious youth dance. Here are the Southern Volta Association dancers exiting the stage after their version of Tokwe.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Afri-Canadians Celebrate in Kitchener

The way We Ewes do it!
On Saturday, we all gathered at the Rotunda of the City Hall in Kitchener for the African Canadian celebration of Black History Month. Outside, the Serbians were peacefully protesting the independence of Kosovo with flags unfurled. They sent us flowers as our event began. If you have never been to this event, you'd do well to go next year. It gets better every year- great food, great culture/s, great company, camaraderie and Africans decked out in fashionable attire- But for the fact that it is held indoors, it would be another great 'durbar' (gahthering) called by an African king!

Although this event is minus palanquins, chieftain litters and umbrellas, all the same it calls for royalty and this time, we had none less than the mayor of Kitchener, the MP of Kitchener -Waterloo, two MPPs and the commissioner of Citizenship and Immigration of KW. Each delivered a speech of releveance, inclusion and support. The leaders of KW did themselves proud.

This time around, I gave the keynote speech, ten minutes exactly, on "Re-inventing yourself in a new environment" . I think ,I look re-invented don't you?:) I borrowed a line from the Disney commercial which boasts the cutest little boy saying, "You can do whatever you want!" Of course (from my perspective and considerable experience), with much effort, focus and determination or, and this is true too, just purely by chance! Some people are lucky, or if you are so inclined...blessed! (It is far better to be blessed!) In any case my aim was to motivate and encourage. After my speech, four panelists gave us the indepth on their experiences.... 'win big, or moderately', each and everyone of them had to overcome great obstacles. The moral.... if you want to immigrate to Canada, do it when you're young and single and can return to school and work nights, while you have no children to care for....! This is serious advice from me and them. I think we should ask Canada Immigration to post that on their website. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

The performing group from the Southern Volta Association, gave a vibrant show of drum music and dance. The multi-generational group rendered an authentic feel of the Ewe culture of Ghana, at the end of which we all joined in with the GOTA dance and Agbadza.

I must mention the great food by the great cooks in the community, the smooth MC of the event and the drum solo of Gerima Harvey Fletcher, my friend in rhythm. A happy shout out to Phyllis Peprah who works incredibly hard for the success of this event, to Albert Soga and his family, to Atsu, Mike and Gustav, Evelyn, Emefa, Sena and Edem Quist. Here's a photo from Esther. This is how we do the Agbadza!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

While We Wait.......

fancy shirt, Fule!! Fule is the director of percussion for JIWANI
So I'm waiting for photos of the Song of Wagadu: Song of Africa show. In the meantime, I have been out and about doing Blck History presentations particularly in schools. I also presented at the "Reading for the Love of it," conference 2008, where I made three interesting connections. First is Michelle Muir a Spoken Word Artist and Storyteller who took the time to come to my workshop, even though she was presenting. I am hoping to make connections there for future events. Then I met two authors, Eric Walters and Chris Dinsdale and Chris' wife Amanda. Eric Walters is a prolific Canadian writer whose books often make it to award lists for Young Adult novels in Canada. He tells me he has a lot of nterest in Kenya. Then there is Chris who teaches in New Market whose book has been nominated for Red Maple. I hope he wins the top spot!

Yes I'm still waiting for the pictures of my show and also the CD of the epic telling by the same name: Song of Wagadu: Song of Africa but today I was in New Central P.S. in Oakville for what I call "The Celebration Workshop". What a blast! The students from grade 6-8 were engaged, energetic and enthusiastic. We even had some parent participants. I was wondering whether to tease you with my new CD cover design but am thinking I'll stay with another post-show photo of Esther ( from Uganda ) and Fule. It is so nice to make a new friend and we hope to stay connected. We knew some great Ugandans in the UK when we were younger. Shout out to Lucy Lutara, Grace and Lincoln.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Song, The Dream

Dreams came true as Gerima played solos next to Njacko
Soon I will have photos of the February 9th event, Song of Wagadu: Song of Africa. My evening went very well, with a full house on a snowy cold night. What can I say? I am filled with gratitude. I am truly grateful to all who came to celebrate the night with me from Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and as far as Toronto! I am winding down from the night and must soon plan to release the CD of the stories. I will keep you posted when that happens but now I must prepare to speed through February, giving all sorts of performances and workshops. May the days be bright and the winds tame. May our tires grip the road and safe transport be ours during the month of February!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Song of Africa

I am getting excited! Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter, Thana of the Guelph Mercury, concerning my show, Song of Wagadu: Song of Africa. I am feeling the tropics in my blood inspite of the snow. Talking about snow, last friday which was the first of February, a winter storm blew over much of Ontario. I had to cancel an engagement in Alliston to stay safe. It was the same evening Phil Bast, journalist, came to shoot a video report of our practice. What a night! We were not sure of anything, who would make practice, if Phil could brave the weather. In the end he did brave the weather, a number of us could make the practice but the studio was closed: SNOW DAY! Stress! Solutions!

We ended up practicing at our church on Watson Street and Phil shot the video which you can find at

Please note: that was a practice. The show will be so colourful!!!


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Song of Wagadu- The Ancient

Angela Abrokwa-Ampadu will perform as Wagadu's Western face, Agada! Agada is red for the unbroken bloodline with the ancestors!

Identity roots anchor Angela firmly within the cultures of Africa, as far as she is from the land of her birth.
Within identity lies strength, whether its is ancient, or whether it is created within recent memory. The strength of identity is proportional to its acceptance by the majority and the power and frequency of reinforcements, over time and ages.
This is the task of the 'griots' or the 'jeliw' who motivate and invigorate contemporary generations in continuity with the past. The story is alive, it lives in the retelling; it lives with each new deed and personality, worthy of note. It is the people who make the story. It is the story which makes the people. The story grows longer with the passing of the days.
May you live within our story. May our story live in you.
pssst: You don't want to miss our show! Feb 9th 2008