Ghana 2015, Week One: Nketia Festschrift & Akwasidae Festival

 Presenting a gift to the Queen Mother of the Ashanti King's Fontomfrom drum ensemble. 

Presenting a gift to the Queen Mother of the Ashanti King's Fontomfrom drum ensemble. 

Greetings from Ghana! After a great year in Boston teaching at Brandeis University, working as a T.A. to Professor Attah Poku at Tufts, and studying ethnomusicology under David Locke, I have finally returned to Kumasi. This summer, I am spending seven weeks with Prof. Poku conducting research on Kete, including interviews, recording sessions, and field trips to visit Kete groups in remote parts of the Ashanti Region. Big thanks to the Tufts University Graduate Student Research Competition for funding a portion of my summer research.

I arrived in Accra late on Monday, June 29th, exhausted after a four day stopover to visit my friends Elana and Francis in the Netherlands. I spent some time sifting through the Nketia Archives at Legon, then on Thursday, July 2nd, I visited the University of Ghana again to attend the book launch for Discourses in African Musicology: J.H. Kwabena Nketia Festschrift, edited by Kwasi Ampene, the book in which my article “Kete for the International Percussion Community” was recently published. The event, hosted by the Institute of African Studies, featured a performance by the Ghana Dance Ensemble and a speech from the 94-year-old titan of African ethnomusicology, Prof. J.H. Kwabena Nketia.

The day after the book launch, I caught a bus to Kumasi, where I was greeted by many old friends who I’d missed over the past year. On Saturday, we met at the Centre for National Culture to give a private performance to visiting dignitaries from a diverse group of nations including Germany, Japan, and Angola. I enjoyed catching up and playing together with my old teacher royal hartigan, who has been in Kumasi this past year on a Fulbright. On Sunday, Attah and I joined the Cultural Centre to perform at the Akwasidae Festival at Manhyia Palace. Continuing my tradition of bringing custom clothes for the groups I play with, this year, I presented “Manhyia Palace Fontomfrom” shorts to the King’s Fontomfrom group to wear underneath their traditional Ashanti cloth.