Thursday, 9 May 2013

Urban Theatre, Music & Dance


The advantage of coming to Ghana fairly often is you get a sense of what is and what isn't possible to accomplish in a day (and if I may say so, what is and isn't possible to accomplish in a lifetime).

Yesterday I pushed the limits of the schedule a little but we managed it, even through the crazy traffic and rainstorm in Accra. After our Ewe language lesson in the morning we hopped into a tro tro and headed for the Osu Children's Library...the original library started by inspirational Canadian Kathy Knowles. This has become the amazing charitable organization Osu Children’s Library Fund; there are six libraries in Accra and many, many more dotted around the country. We were given a tour of the small library built from a shipping container, and a talk by the head librarian Joana. This was in preparation for the afternoon performance we were going to, which was to take place in another of the OCLF locations, the large library and performing arts centre in Nima, a section of Accra with many Northerners living in it. These libraries are the hub of their neighbourhoods, offering literacy classes for adults, reading sessions for the local children and other community activities.




On our way to Nima we stopped for a short shopping time in a fair trade store that supports the S.O.S. Children’s Villages. Lots and lots of great beads and various handicrafts from co-ops here in Ghana.



We arrived at the Nima Library and were met by our host, Martin Legend, the director and playwright for the youth culture centre attached to the library.  Its an amazing building and compound in an economically disadvantaged area of Accra, offering arts programming to many, many children as well as leadership and mentoring opportunities for older youth. We watched an INCREDIBLY engaging theatre/dance/music presentation which involved an original play of Martin’s, on the topic of disability, told through the metaphoric lens of tradition and magic. The simple sets, costumes, quality of performances, staging and sheer numbers of performers from ages 7-15 was mind-boggling!






At the end of the two hour performance, we presented Martin and the Nima troupe with a monetary honorarium/donation from Carleton University, as well as a couple of duffel bags of donated items collected by our students,  for both the performers and the library. The presentation was followed by an unexpected and seriously amazing hip hop dance segment by some of the young men . (trying to load video but not able to yet...)





We stuck around for a great chat and exchange with performers, as well as a few photos. 

Anyone that doubts arts education keeps kids on a positive track and leads them to self-discovery and expression should witness what goes on here on a daily basis. 
Are the librairies a catalyst for the arts or is the arts programming here a catalyst for literacy? Words cannot express the emotions from all sides following this very special afternoon. -Kathy



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