Lifestyle, Arts and Culture: Sept 2019

Back to school & back to work after the summer hols, we’ve been reminded of the African proverb that: “He who cannot rest, cannot work; he who cannot let go, cannot hold on; he who cannot find footing, cannot go forward.” Here’s to new beginnings - happy month of September!

What We’re Listening (& Dancing) to…

We’ve been waving our phones in the air as we capture songs on the go, thanks to the Shazam app, whether in the taxi, the nail bar or the barbers! Davido’s 2017 hit, If is still a track we love, but the twenty-something artist who was signed by Sony four years ago, is about to bring out another album entitled A Good Time. Sir Banko, the Sony General Manager for West Africa, firmly believes that this new album is what’s needed to change the hackneyed, negative stereotype of Africa and Nigeria, to demonstrate that “African music remains that positive force that can't be ignored.”[1]  

Apple has clearly cottoned onto this, having chosen South Africa’s electro-soul singer Sio as its spotlight artist for this month. The eclectic artist has just debuted her 17-track albumsbtxt, which is vocally reminiscent of the poetry in Jill Scott’s A Long Walk in her interludes, Common’s characteristic beats in Double Tap and her sibylline sound echoes the likes of Lana Del Rey. There’s a little something in this album for everyone, it seems.

Artist Afia Khalia kept some of us awake beyond bedtime at Accra’s famed Reggie Rockstone’s Office a couple of weeks back where the Los Angeles spoken word/hip hop artist performed songs such as I Salute You and My Hustle, carrying strong messages about identity, oneness and love.

Where we’ve been, what we’ve seen and heard….

Fully embracing the Kwame Nkrumah mantra of "forward ever, backward never," the momentum for Ghana's  Year of Return continues to build. Working with the Adinkra Group, the US civil rights organisation, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People recently organised a "Jamestown to Jamestown" voyage for more than 200 African Americans. They travelled from Jamestown, Virginia to Jamestown, Accra, reversing the journey taken by many of their ancestors 400 years ago. Activities included a cultural durbar (festival), a meeting with the President of Ghana, a visit to the Cape Coast Castle and a mass "ancestry reveal" that showed from which African tribes the visitors originated. In a similar vein, prolific actor and film producer, Samuel L. Jackson, has been to Gabon, having traced his ancestry to the Bantu people, who are spread across Gabon and other parts of Central Africa.Other well-known names such as Danny Glover and comedian, Steve Harvey, have also come to experience the weight of their history, with Harvey saying: “I encourage as many of you as possible to go HOME for your ancestors. Their strength is in each of us and we must honour their ultimate sacrifice in all that we do.”[2] 

On a lighter note, Harvey will be extending his gameshow Family Feud to South Africa and Ghana, having acquired franchising rights from the UK firm Fremantle. Bringing the show – where two families compete against the other in answering questions to popular surveys – to Africa “has long been a dream” of his. 

Accra's largest cultural event, Chale Wote street festival, took place from 14 to 25 August. In its 9th edition, the festival has grown to include performance arts, photography, music, discussions, concerts and parades. Organised by Accra [dot] Alt, the festival has become a haven for the avant-garde in Accra and it also gives a forum for budding artists to show their talents to a large audience. 


What we’re disappointed yet encouraged by…

There are some terms one never wants to become familiar with, and femicide is definitely one of them. Unfortunately, this reality is what’s behind the wave of Am I Nextprotests across South Africa currently, with Cape Town having been a focal point as world leaders gathered for the World Economic Forum last week. One of our team members in Jo’burg shares: “We've reached breaking point when it comes to violence against women and children. Our stats are horrific compared to the rest of the world.” At the same time, the voice of opposition to the heinous crimes has been so strong, and there is a planned march to parliament on 21 September, with thousands signing a petition calling on the legislature to declare a state of emergency on gender-based violence and make tackling it, a priority.

 What’s keeping us youthful…

Within a generation, the continent’s population will double to 2.2billion and currently more than 60% of the population is under 25. Spending time thinking about what this means for the industry captains of the future means paying attention to the youth of today. The Gambia’s African Youth Architects is definitely part of that conversation. This month, the youth-led organisation will be hosting an awards ceremony in Banjul from 27-29 September to honour exceptional, young talent, committed to making an impact. 

Also in The Gambia, on 13 September, we will see Switzerland’s Seedstars World competition opening its doors in Banjul where the start-up community will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of investors for a chance to receive support through Seedstars’ Investment Readiness Programme and for the ultimate winner to receive USD500,000 in equity investment. 

“Teach a child the way he/she should go” seems to be at the heart of the Accra Children’s Book Festival, taking place at the Efua Sutherland Childrens’ Park on 14 September. The event has been organised by non-governmental organisation, the Accra International Book Festival, which seeks to instil a love of reading among Ghanaians of all ages. It comes on the back of its second book festival which took place in August at the University of Legon.






Nana Ampofo