By John Owoo
(James Town – Accra)
A number of music and dance groups literally set ablaze the Accra suburb of James Town with captivating performances during the 2016 edition of Tuumatu Festival, which ended during the Christmas festivities.
Choreographers Christina Chan (Singapore), Aymeric Bichon (France), Lucky Lartey / Appiah Annan (Ghana/Australia) alongside Hewale Sounds, Les Femmes Ghana, Naawuni Bie, Ayekoo Drummers, Unik Afro, Ashanti Dance Theatre, Acrobats and others managed to turn this sprawling suburb into a giant performance hall.
Street corners, alleys, parks, squares and mini theatres were inundated with varied games for kids, some of which have been abandoned in favour of electronic ones. These include ampe, oware, sacs / wooden cart races, tuumatu, Charles kele, pinpinaa among others.
“I hereby congratulate the organizers of the festival – it is refreshing to see kids put away ipads and smart phones for games that are almost extinct – I was transported to life in the 1960s in Accra”, said Joshua Armah, a senior citizen at James Town.
Chan and Bichon expressed latent energy as they showcased well-coordinated movements in a dance piece that appears related to the language of movement thereby providing their agile bodies with lyrical beauty.
Led by flute magician Dela Botri, Hewale Sounds charmed the crowd with a curious blend of traditional music and their contemporary extensions that attracted cheers from the packed crowd, who were swayed by the sheer power of traditional musical instruments.
Known as “African Pop Musician” by some European music critics, guitarist / singer Fatau Keita and his Naawuni Bie Band showcased compositions that transcend the conventional boundaries of popular music, which he has mastered through an alternative route of appropriating traditional Ghanaian music.
“It was refreshing to see various music and dance groups with different styles on stage. I was overjoyed to see local talent on stage. I truly hope they will get shows outside Ghana so they can help develop the community”, added Naa Lamile Mills, a singer in Accra.
Ayekoo Drummers, which comprise youthful musicians, delighted the audience with a wide variety of percussive rhythms and atenteben flutes while exhibiting a sharp intensification of their versatility on stage.
Anunyam and Shidaa Dance Ensembles equally performed variations of some traditional Ghanaian dances that have been fortified with subtle contemporary dance movements and frenzied drumming.
Singapore International Foundation, National Arts Council of Singapore, Lucky African Dance, Master Mind Multi Media, TM Entertainment and www.artsghana.org supported the festival; which was put organized by Lucky Lartey.