Category Archives: Events

Comments on gigs I’ve attended or plan on attending.

Happening Today: the Accra Theatre Workshop Takes on Wole Soyinka’s ‘Ake’

AkeI recently decided to only take on DJ gigs that challenge me in some way. Tonight’s challenge? Provide a sophisticated afrobeat/afrohouse soundscape that Long John will freestyle to either on his trumpet or saxophone. All to accompany a play celebrating the 80th birthday of Wole Soyinka, based on his childhood memoirs. That’s all.

Challenge accepted.

Event: The Day the Stories Took Over Accra

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Seen the full schedule for the Accra Theatre Workshop‘s Storytelling Marathon today at the Nubuke Foundation and there’s something in there for everyone in the family. In case anyone’s interested, I’ll be taking part in two interesting events.

The Flash Fiction Workshop (10.00 am)

Nkenten collaborates with Flash Fiction GH and the Ashesi Storytellers Club on a morning session of readings from some of the rising stars of Ghanaian flash fiction, who will be training the audience in how to write their own flash fiction pieces.

The Nkenten Discussion: ‘Telling Tales: Are Our Stories Really Telling Our Story?’ (2.00 pm)

Yours truly will moderate a discussion featuring storytellers across different media – literature, music, video, photography, blogs, etc – on how well Ghanaian & African artists are representing Africa’s myriad stories in their work.

Invited guests include Dr. Sionne Neeley (co-founder of AccraDotAlt), Mamle Kabu (writer), Paa Koti (Twitter troublemaker), Kajsa Hallberg-Adu (blogger/lecturer), Kinna Likimani (educationist/blogger), Ghalileo (musician/artist), Wanlov the Kubolor (musician), Eli Tetteh (writer/communications specialist), Seton Nicholas (photographer), David Edem Dotse (writer/musician), Jonathan Dotse (writer), Joseph Oduro-Frimpong (cultural critic/lecturer), Nina Chachu (librarian) and more.

One Night. Three Events.

You just can’t win.

I sometimes catch myself complaining that there isn’t enough going on in Accra; that any city really worth its wahala should offer more events and things to do. We should be spoilt for choice.

Well, be careful what you wish for. It seems the Universe is going to have a good laugh at my expense today as I spend my time trying to figure out how to be in three places at once:

Paapa’s ‘Songs for Kukua Decoded’ Concert

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Yup: Paapa is going to be revealing the hidden meanings to the lyrics from his album, ‘Songs for Kukua’. Rumor has it that Kukua is a reference to… Well, how about you come down and find out.

Going to be tricky leaving this one, seeing as Paapa persuaded me to DJ.

In case you haven’t heard any music from this gifted singer, check this out:

More info over at Accra[dot]alt.

Song of the Pharoah: a Modern African Play by Mohammed Ben Abdallah

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Arguably our finest living playwright, Mohammed Ben Abdallah will be premiering an excerpt from his new play, ‘Song of the Pharoah’ at the National Theatre tonight as part of the PANAFEST program:

‘Song of the Pharoah is a major new musical-dance drama that tells a story of love, incest, and betrayal, and of political and religious transformation in ancient Egypt.  It is a modern staged play that combines Ghanaian traditional musical and dance forms with an eclectic, creative blend of styles from Egypt and across Africa. The play mixes dramatic stage acting with various musical and dance forms. The story focuses on the rise and fall of the enlightened Pharaoh Akhenaten who ruled Egypt during a time of growth and artistic flourishing. It also tells the tale of his love for his beautiful wife Nefertiti and the family betrayals that shaped their rule and changed the history of Egypt and the modern world.”

I attended a rehearsal at the invitation of Jesse Shipley earlier this week and while I didn’t get the chance to see the bits involving betrayal, I certainly got an eyeful of love and incest. Dramatic stuff indeed.

It will be on at the National Theatre at 7pm tonight, while the play will premiere in its entirety on 12 September, and thereafter show on the 13th, 26th, & 27th of the same month.

Efya @ Republic Bar & Grill

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Ahem.

So my favourite Ghanaian singer will be taking over my favourite bar in Accra tonight, apparently with the assistance of ‘airbrushable models’.

Yes… airbrushable models.

I don’t even know what that means, but it for damn sure sounds… well… interesting. These people seem to think that the picture above is the cover of her new album. Maybe she’ll let us all know.

Either way, the Republic still offers both the best drinks and the best vibe in town, and Efya is excellent live. I’ve been seeing less and less of her out about town, which (I hope) means that her album will be dropping soon. Or maybe she’s just doing more gigs abroad, like this:

Either way, I’m happy. Now I just need to figure out how to make it to all three of these events…

Event/Co-Sign: A New Image Through An African Lens

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Over the past few years, young Africans privileged enough to find themselves online have started not only consuming content, but also putting content online. To my mind, this is a good thing: the more of our own stories (please note the use of the plural here; stories) we put out there, the less likely it is that others will concoct any for us. More importantly however, we will get to know ourselves and each other a little better, and build the networks we need to in order to build this little continent of ours.

There is an event happening this Friday, organized by a team called AADAT! exploring how African photographers are actively taking charge of how their continent and its people are portrayed.

Panelists include Omar Victor Diop, Delphine Fawundu-Buford, alongside Ghana’s very own Nana Kofi Acquah, Sharifah IssakaOfoe Amegavie, and Laura Asimeng.

The forum will be hosted on Google + livestreamed on Friday, and also livetweeted through @aadatart. The great thing about this event is that you can participate.

If there any questions about the topic that you would like to have answered by the panel on the topic, all you have to do is:

a. Tweet your questions today at AADAT @aadatart (or send them through the AADAT Tumblr Ask Box: http://bit.ly/18WrUmu)

b. Tweet them during the discussion, as @aadatart will be livetweeting the whole thing.

Besides the photographers – each of whom I’ve been a fan of for awhile (except Diop, who I’m just discovering) – I will be following this event because of the involvement of two of my favourite young Ghanaians: Sharon Obuobi & Deborah Frimpong.

Sharon has been championing African art for while now in the form of ‘Auburn Butterfly’, an arts blog I follow that seems to have metamorphosed into AADAT!

Deborah, on the other hand, writes one of my favourite Tumblrs, Bittersweet, where she expresses some of the most intelligent opinions on life and faith that I’ve heard from any young Ghanaian.

Both are cool human beings very worth following.

Event: Living the Hiplife

ImageLet’s get this show on the road… and what better way to do so than with a party. Of sorts.

  • What: The launch of the book, Living the Hiplife – Celebrity & Enterpreneuship in Ghanaian Popular Music
  • Where: Grandpappaz (next to Rockstone’s Office)
  • When: Thursday, 11th April at 6pm
  • How (Much): Zero Ghana Cedis for your pocket
  • Why? Well… read on:

I completely missed the boat on early hiplife. I simply wasn’t around when it happened. I remember coming to Ghana on holiday sometime in the ’90s and hearing Reggie Rockstone for the first time. I think the song was called ‘Plan B’ (the one where he impersonates a car horn…) Loved it, but as a DJ, I have this huge gaping hole when it comes to old school hiplife.

*Enter Jesse Shipley from stage left*

So, it turns out that instead of simply listening and dancing to the music, ONE person set about documenting it. I heard of the documentary, ‘Living the Hiplife’ almost as soon as I moved back to Ghana (wow. Almost a decade now).

I was lucky enough to meet the man behind the documentary – Jesse Weaver Shipley – the other day. Quite an honour: when Dr. Esi Ansah suggested to me a few years ago that I switch over to academia (as it was the only thing that would allow me to do all the different things I wanted to do… and make a living), she used Jesse as an example. An Associate Professor at Haverford College in the US, Jesse is also a filmmaker, writer, and ethnographer.

He recently turned the documentary into a book: ‘Living the Hiplife – Celebrity & Enterpreneuship in Ghanaian Popular Music’. The good news is he’s launching it this Thursday (11th April; 6pm) – where else but at the house that Rockstone built: Grandpappaz, next to Rockstone’s Office.

It’s basically an historical and social account of hiplife, from the 1990s until today, featuring an all-star cast that includes Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Reggie Rockstone, Panji, Hammer, Obrafour, VIP, Tic Tac, Sidney, Buk Bak, Okyeame Kwame, Tinny, and Abrewa Nana as well as newer stars like D Black, R2Bees, Samini, M3nsa, Wanlov, M.anifest, Efya, Edem, Mzbel, Sarkodie, and Kwaw Kese.

I’m a popular culture fiend, so I’ll definitely be there. I hear he’ll have a few exclusive signed copies and besides showing the documentary, there will be DVDs too. All that and some of the aforementioned GHelebrities will be there. Plus my old office-mate from Joy FM, Bra DJ Black (naturally, on the wheels of steel).

Hope you can make it too.

Event: The Chale Wote Street Art Festival

It’s ba-ack!

Goes down tomorrow. It will be my first one, since I was away last year in London (spending quality time with family and friends).

I’ll be there tomorrow though, DJing on behalf of DUST LYVE with some of my favourite DJs in Accra.

Come out and enjoy something a little bit different (bring the family too).

Oh, and in case you need ‘em, here are some directions.

Live Music Alert: Blitz & Les Nubians… In Accra.

No matter how hard your single jammed last year or how tenaciously your auto-tune anthems clung to the Billboard charts… if you can’t ascend that stage and leave it sufficiently scorched, you’re not taking my ticket money…” – Eli Tetteh, “Rhymes & Rip Offs“, DUST Magazine (March 2011)

Hiplife is moving away from the days of “Yo! Mic check one two! DJ! Play the next track! Track three! Track three…! ” Many artists are still complacent though, relying on people knowing their songs at live performances. Why not give the people a little bit more though?

The performers I respect the most are those who are able to mount a stage and get you moving to the songs you don’t know. It’s a rare gift but – besides having amazing music – a large part of it is to do with showmanship, and it requires a little bit more than what may have worked for you during Records Night at your old boarding school. If you pull it off though? Even those who don’t know you or your music will be scrambling out of your concert to buy it.

My father says Ghanaian music changed completely after Geraldino Pino and his band came to town. Pino was a Sierra Leonean musician who was playing around the same time as Fela Kuti. I was once told that he invented the afrobeat sound that Fela would later perfect, but Dele Sosimi corrected my misconception. Pino did, at the very least though, influence Fela on his journey to become (in my eyes) Africa’s greatest ever musician.

Dad tells me that Pino played his first ever Ghanaian shows in Kumasi. Few really knew who he was initially. However, his band were so good that, by the time he got to Accra, hype had preceded him and tickets were completely sold out.

His Accra performances lived up to the hype and, afterwards, secondary schools across the country lined up to form school bands trying to emulate Pino’s James-Brown-Meets-African sound. The way Dad tells it, those performances changed the face of music in Ghana.

Enter Blitz the Ambassador, Les Nubians and VIP from stage left.

This Saturday, Blitz the Ambassador will be playing Alliance Francaise. Right here in Accra. I’m pretty sure it’s for only five cedis too [CORRECTION: turns out it's GHc8... still pretty damn cheap though]. Friends of mine who have seem them play abroad tell me that Blitz and his boys are incredible live performers. His album (which I have already raved about on this blog) struck an amazing balance between hiphop and classic Ghanaian highlife. It already sounds live and so it should be quite an experience hearing his band, the Embassy Ensemble, playing it gani-gani.

Accra is already experiencing a bit of a live music resurrection so I am not expecting a revolution. It would however be cool if kids are inspired by Blitz’s particular blend of hiphop and highlife to experiment more with older, less-synthesized highlife. I’m not saying that everyone should start sounding old school. There are several ways to flip it though. Kweku Anansi and DJ Juls are two of my favourite Ghanaian producers and both make amazing beats that sound both fresh and classic.

Blitz will be joined onstage by Afro neo-soul sirens, Les Nubians (who also feature on his album), the Grammy Award nominated duo best known here for ‘Makeda‘ and their remake of Sade’s ‘Sweetest Taboo‘ (featuring the Roots), as well as ‘Temperature Rising‘ (which featured Talib Kweli). Topping it all off are Blitz’ old friends (back from when he was called Bazaar), VIP. The boys from Nima have been killing it since their recent return to the music scene. I saw them perform ‘I Think I Like Am‘ on Big Brother and their energy was crazy.

All that. For only eight cedis. Chale, Saturday night at Alliance may be one for the history books.

See you there.

Event: Africa Day

It’s Africa Union Day (or African Liberation Day) today and I’ve decided to work from home – Joy FM staff often have to go to work on holidays. I have the luxury of being able to work wherever there is an internet connection though…

… and besides: it’s a holiday. I love the fact that we have so many holidays in Ghana.

For AU Day this year, we in Ghana are celebrating what would have been Kwame Nkrumah’s centenary and there has been a raft of events around this theme.

Seems many people didn’t know about last night’s Independence Square concert featuring the likes of VIP, Amandzeba, as well as headliners Baaba Maal and  Richard Bona – one of the best African artists alive, in my personal opinion. I hear Femi Kuti couldn’t make it because he didn’t get paid in advance (Ghanaian artists, take note).

Anyway, my friend Nana Akua slipped me the schedule for the rest of the celebrations. Some plays will be happening at the National Theatre @ 6.30 pm for the next few nights. I caught the first showing of ‘Nkrumah Ni…‘ and really enjoyed it: well played and thought-provoking.

25th May: ‘The Fall of Kumbi‘ by Mohammed ben-Abdallah
Performed by the National Theatre Players

26th May: ‘Nkrumah-ni… Africa-ni!‘ by Femi Osofisan
Performed by Abibigromma (School of Performing Arts, Legon)

27th May: ‘The Fall of Kumbi‘ by Mohammed ben-Abdallah
Performed by the National Theatre Players

Today’s celebrations look like this:

WREATH-LAYING AND FLAG-RAISING CEREMONY @ Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (8.30 – 10.00 am)

KWAME NKRUMAH CENTENARY COLLOQUIUM (cont’d) @ Accra International Conference Centre (11.00am – 5.00pm)

11.00am        SESSION 5:     AFRICAN UNITY AND BEYOND
Presenters:

  • Ama Biney, “The Contribution of Kwame Nkrumah to Pan-Africanism and Internationalism, and its Contemporary Relevance”
  • Issa Shivji, “Kwame Nkrumah’s thought in the evolution of Pan-African Ideology”
  • Horace Campbell, “Towards an Africa without Borders in the 21st century: The Inspiration of Kwame Nkrumah”

1.00pm    Lunch
2.00pm    ROUNDTABLE 2: SESSION WITH VETERAN FREEDOM FIGHTERS
4.00pm    CLOSING CEREMONY

Statement of the Colloquium

  • Yao Graham, Member of the Kwame Nkrumah Centenary Colloquium Planning Committee

Closing Address

  • His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana

Oh, and in July…

6–8th July: ‘Children of The Land‘ and ‘In the High Court of Cosmic Justice
Dramatization of Poetry

Hope there’s something in there for your enjoyment.

>Film: FESPACO

>Two years ago, my best friend told me she was heading off on a bus full of fellow academics to Burkina Faso to watch the latest films our continent has to offer. I was gutted I could not go (work…) and told her I would make the trip to the next FESPACO two years later. Didn’t happen (work…), so here’s a report from the ever-reliable Beeb instead.

I miss African cinema.

No offence to Nollywood, Egya Koo and friends but I wish there was a balance here between the mini-series that pass for movies these days and more artistic African fare by directors like Kwaw Ansah and the late great Ousmane Sembene (or the recent FESPACO winners who represent the next generation). Launches of the latter used to be major events back when I was in Mfansipim. Today I find it shocking that I am more likely to find rubbish like Beyonce and Rihanna or mediocre titles from Hollywood here in Ghana than I am to find Tsotsi, the first African film to score big at the Oscars. I am still in shock that people thought Beyonce was good enough to warrant a part half, much less parts 2 and 3. A series of childish and unimaginative catfights between two spoilt, noveau-riche, wannabe-Nollywood Ghanaian girls, Beyonce was not clever, artistic or entertaining.

Two more years and counting…