Monday, 26 November 2012

Adowa - Dance Gestures; to support African Dance Workshops for Schools

I have done quite a few dance workshops in schools lately and as always it’s great to share. However, I am aware that within a short timespan it can be difficult to explain the intricacies of the dance. So I thought I would try to put something down on paper, to support my African workshops for schools and for a wider audience who may be interested. In Ghana, we are blessed with many traditional dances and their accompanying rhythms like Adowa, Kpalogo, Apatampa, Damba, Agbaza, Borborbor. Performances are a conversation between the musicians and the dancers with teasing and humour being part of the process. The dances are traditional and as such as often performed at events such as festivals, durbars, naming ceremonies, puberty rites and funerals. Perhaps one of the most famous dances is Adowa, from the Ashanti region. The Adowa dance is full of intricate graceful walking movements and hand gestures coupled with subtle bowing and twisting of the body. The gestures that are made while dancing Adowa have specific meanings. Many of them relate to sorrow as the dance is common at funerals but also statements of power, as it is common at Durbars. A fist pounding action that stays constant with the drums and then a finger slap means that you are one and loved. The motion of clenching your fists over your stomach with your arms crossed says, “I am an orphan” because no one is there to provide for you anymore. Putting your arms out and then pointing to yourself means that everything is yours, possibility is still there, and that you will get through this time. A handclasp behind the back says, “I am lonely,” or “I have lost a loved one.” Tapping and swinging your hands also signifies the pain the dancer is expressing. Dancer flexes left hand to the left and right hand to the right and brings both arms to the chest crossed. This gesture is interpreted as The whole land is under my control (symbol of authority- danced by Chiefs unless dance by a dance group) Dancer wails and flexes both hands up and forward slightly apart. This gesture means I am pitifully left alone. Dancer forms a closed ring with the middle finger and thumb. This means Are you married? Dancer puts index finger in mouth. This gesture means Admiration of the beauty of female dance partner. Dancer brings one hand into an upward facing palm in an up and down consistent movement. This is interpreted as Please forgive me. Please follow these links to find out more about African Dance workshops or African Drumming workshops for groups. We can also provide an African Street Band Keya Bobo to perform music for all of the above dances.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Moving Forwrd

Well Kwame and Kwajo enjoyed their return trip to Ghana - a lightening visit to see the land and loved ones. We remain committed to returning and building a wonderful eco village - we just need to save some cash!

Kwames drumming workshops have really taken off - we hope to get a few more gallery shows this year as well. We will be starting a new blog to cover this soon - this week alone he has a couple of lessons, youth group and drumming at a school in Northam Southampton. Now he just needs time to paint - check it all out at

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Kwame is doing a lot of workshops lately which is great. One of the most rewarding things in Ghana was showing one of his workshops, on the laptop, to the kids in Buipe. It was so wonderful to see these children get such a pride boost from realising children halfway round the world were learning about them and their culture! Having see how much can be gained from this we have contact with many schools in Ghana and hope to be able to develop links with some of the schools we work with more regularly.

If you want to see what we have been up to in terms of fair trade, workshops and Djembe lessons please do look at the website on

Saturday, 29 December 2007


We are still in the process of trying to buy!!!

It seems now that even though the land we are buying is for that village it was registered by a guy next door in the 70's - oh the joy....

However we have been promised it is a small problem and after all this time waiting and deciding to cut our losses and move elsewhere we can once again get a little excited - let hope 2008 brings good news

one love

Sunday, 12 August 2007

And so we are home. Home, but not home. It is impossible to describe so I will just explain what we have done for the past month and see if we end up any closer to summing up how we feel.

Well after leaving work we went north as was always intended – our sights were set on Timbuktu. We left on the Friday and reached Kumasi early. Kwame and I wanted to spend the night at the lake – it is a magical place and where we fell in love. It was so important to pour libation and give thanks there. The road however is being rebuilt and after a days of rain we got thoroughly stuck in our trusty Peugeot that otherwise has never failed. The large digger making the road used its huge scoop to push us up the hill – terrifying in the extreme.

However we made it to the hotel and should have let, us, and the car rest. But such good friends were so close and so we went onto sixth village where CK lives. It was wonderful to find him so alive and so well. We have lost eleven leven (he has 22 children with two wives hence the name) and Adjamono (quite the most wonderful old man, ever so wise, and so full of herbal knowledge – before the nonsense he would turn up on the other side of the lake at exactly the point someone got sick – ready to administer aid). But how special to find many friends not gone but so alive and so well.

We got the car back to the Hotel but the following morning learnt the clutch was totally burnt out. To be fair to Bosumtwi it had been slipping for a while but we like to think she just wanted our company for those few days. Our children were dreamed and named here and it was right for them to swim in the waters that were so much a part of our falling in love.

So then we left for north but with so little time left we only made it to Buipe and Kwames home. His family was as beautiful as always – it is a joy to see them together after Kwame was wrenched from them by illness and grew up so far away. They no longer speak the same language and there is pain but what a bond a family is when it works right. It can encompass years of separation, illness, death and pain with love.

On the way back to Accra we bought yams at a village where the lady who helped Kwames mother lived. For Kwame it was the contact with his mother he has so needed since her death. Of course there were tears but what an opportunity to come so close as to be able to heal some of that pain.

Back in Accra we tried to finalise buying land – I would love to tell you about it but as we say we tried – buying land, chiefs, cheating and shitiness but hopefully they will have signed next month and we can start a new blog cataloguing the building etc.

Then thoughts turned to home and days of eating and drinking and smoking with those we love commenced. Leaving on Friday cannot be dressed up in any way – it was simply terrible. We all concentrated upon Nayah because Kwajo was looking forward and Nayah was to lose her constant audience of adoring uncles. No one was more aware of this than they were and there were many many tears. We all left each other at the departure gate in Accra - it was rushed and horrendous and whilst we were all looking at Nayah we did not realise that a boy so looking forward to videos and toys would suddenly grasp the moment so strongly. I fear we all failed his pain because we were having so much hardship with our own.

Kwame was heinously angry – and as a human being who has always death with anger rather than tears I can do nothing but respect this. At this moment it felt like there was only sadness and that we would suspend living and just bear for a year to gather money to build on the land. Neither of us was expecting to find so much love and happiness at home with my family, our house, our life and our friends. Here for just a couple of days and we have seen some of our most loved people – we still have many more to go. Our life here is wonderful and so is our life there. Our pain comes from not being able to combine the two - not from one being better than the other – shame on us for ever thinking otherwise.

I guess for us blessed, blessed love in the end is all there is - no matter where you find it. Thank you for reading this. Ghana we could cry everyday – England thank you for giving us reasons to remember smile.

One love


Friday, 10 August 2007

Turning Round

And so thoughts turn towards home. I finish work this week and will be sad to go. It has been educational and the people at the Embassy are lovely without fail – it makes me want to go to Canada. I was offered a wonderful job for August, but such is timing. However, I have the experience of consultancy, working in an Embassy and a good reference all of which I can use when we come back in future.

The dream is delayed, we are coming home. In the short time we have left we are trying to buy the land that the dream depends on – but buying land in Ghana is, to be frank, harrowing. You spend loads of money and time before you have any idea if the land is for sale or not. Secondly horror stories of people taking back and buying your land abound. However, if we can buy it (and pull off all the other little plans aside) the dream will be alive – a lot of work but a lot of hope too.

I am looking forward to my holiday – at the moment we still hold out hope for us all seeing Timbuktu but to be frank just being back in Ghana and out of Accra will be a wonder beyond words. Goodbye traffic and pollution – we will not miss you!

We hosted Ellie, Michael and the stunning baby Anokye as they passed through. Sadly resting from plane flights and settling in meant we saw little of them but we hope to catch up on our way up north. It is wonderful to think that we are all back in Ghana (plus additions) having first met here in 1997 – it’s our anniversary!

It is odd that I set up this blog so as not to annoy friends with round robbin emails as they struggled to work on a Monday morning. However, it seems mainly the only people who have read it have been strangers – many friends have been embarrassed by the whole idea of a ‘blog. Thank you for loving me enough to read it even though its tacky! However, how wonderful to have met and heard from so many people in ‘our’ situation – thank you so much for your friendship and your help in settling us in.

God we will miss Ghana soooo much but what a lot to look forward to at home. Friends, Family, Electricity, Drains, 15 min journeys to work and so much else besides – but not for a second am I kidding myself that we won’t all be devastated. Living in Ghana is so different and so wonderful.

Here in Ghana sometimes instead of saying I'm leaving we say ‘I’m coming’. Well we are coming – in the English and the Ghanaian sense of the word.

Friday, 15 June 2007


Ok so I seem to have ended up drivilling about thoughts and concepts rather than telling you about life here - why? I fear because it has been rather duller than expected. Kwame and I may have thought that by returning to Ghana we would have returned to how things were. This of course is not possible - we have two beautiful children and for their sakes (or so we say) we have contrived to live a more sensible and mundaine existence here.

I have gone to work - a fasinating insight into the workings of an embassy but work none the less. Kwame has been reluctant house husband and that work here is so much harder. Washing is done by hand and is held in such esteme that if the children uniforms are not spotless they are not allowed to go to school. The bins still have to go out except they are called boilers and are packed into the back of the car and driven up a near vertical incline to the 'dump'. Paradoxically this is in front of some of the most grandious houses we have seen. Most people here in our position have house help - something we could really do with.

Also we are living in Accra and Kwame and I are not city people. We do not feel comfortable in the fake gradure and forced fun of Osu. However, to be fair to Osu we have never really been there - I think we do not want to like it. Accra is exciting and challenging there are floods, visable heart breaking poverty and unbelievable bus trips. There is also oppulence in extreme, markets and any thing you could wish for sold to you through your car window. Just the other day we travelled to the market to buy a loo seat - only for me to be offered one through a car window a couple of days later. Reminisant of Colins loo seat dash on a pub crawl many years ago.
Before we have lived in Kumasi which is greener and we have lived off Kwames painting - which is work but his passion for it makes it feel like something different. Of course now the Ga Manste has called an end to the enforced silence in Accra we enjoying drumming sometimes late into the night, there are hundreds of children for the kids to play with and we have more time for each other than at home - if only because telly is so less engaging!! But even so we are an average family - happy and in love but feeling there is something more out there. This weekend though we saw this thing, this possible future and it is devastatingly exciting!!! We are going back this weekend and when we have everything signed and sealed I will send photos - until then its secret!!!