This past week it seems our media companies have laid on the work as we only have one week left. Looking into personal research Enya and I visited Agbogbloshie. On the first day of our trip we drove through this market. It was an overwhelming experience for me because I we were basically in a tour bus awed by the Kayayei, cramped streets, and waste littering the ground and rivers. I remember thinking “If I could only understand their life, be on those streets with them, then I could feel less overwhelmed by this drastically different culture.” Our recent visit in Agbogbloshie where we walked around the market for three hours allowed me to understand. We went to the e-waste burning site and instead of only smelling and seeing the smoke we talked to the young boys burning, joked with the men hammering computer parts, and bought water from the girls providing water for the fires. We visited the man’s home, which had just been re-built from a fire, who showed us around Agbogbloshie and met his 4 day-old baby girl. Understanding rather than judgement is what I hope to achieve while traveling.
Many people think that slavery is a thing of the past, yet it is still happening around the world today. The past weekend was a somber reminder of what used to happen at slave forts in Ghana.
Both of the forts we visited, Cape Coast and Elmina, had this feeling of uneasiness, like the ghosts from the past were still haunting the fort.
The hardest part of the whole trip was going into the dungeons where the slaves were held. That feeling of uneasiness turned into a horrific feeling quickly when the guide started telling us about what went on in the dungeons. In one cell at Elmina Castle there would be up to 400 prisoners in it at one time. The ones that were fit enough were taken to “The Door of No Return” to be put on slave ships and the ones that were not fit enough eventually died there.
After that, we were led into one dungeon and the lights were turned off, which is when the reality of situation really sunk in; it was crowded, pitch black and hot. Plus, there wasn’t even that many people in the room compared to how many people were put in when it was used as a slave fort.
It is unimaginable what the people that were in this situation went through. Most people know about it because they read about it in a book or saw a program on television, but the reality only sinks in once you’ve stood where the slaves once stood.
So Group B has been up to some amazing things lately, so many that combined with the somewhat unreliable internet, we have a back up of blog posts waiting. Here are some photograph teasers of some of what is to come…
…we might have more pictures of each other taking pictures than pictures of Ghana itself.
A few days after arriving in Accra we met the freshest, hippest Ghanaian to help guide us along this emotional ride. I wasn’t entirely sure how it happened. Bjorn and Rob were doing some spontaneous jig, and out of nowhere Sonny starts breaking it down, his hips grooving side to side as he rubs his foot into the ground. The dance reminded me of a 70s disco move as he punched his fist several times between his legs and lifting his arm into the air.
We all kept noticing the dance move ever since then. It’s called “Azonto.” According to an article I read in Dust Magazine, it’s more than just a move; it’s about “the dance, the music & the mindset.” My co-worker TK said that typically a dance will be popular with one song and soon fade out within a few months, but now artists are writing music to go along to this dance style. It’s here to stay.
Sonny invited us to a birthday party that he was DJ-ing, and I was way too amused with his friends’ impressive dance skills. One guy would show me how to do Azonto, and then I would make up some move entirely irrelevant to popular American culture, but hey, we break danced. I have even seen children try to show us their skills whenever we are visiting a new region. Ghanaians know how to get down. Just like anywhere else in the world, there are movements that older generations just don’t understand. Azonto isn’t any different.
Dust magazine writer KG wrote about how Ghanaians used to look to America for trending dance styles like the “Dougie,” which I still have not understood exactly what that even is. Now they are more excited about their own style of dance even when listening to American music, but Ghanaians commonly dance to high life music when practicing Azonto. The unique blend of reggae, jazz, and synthesizers create the perfect mood. But if they really want something pumpin’ then hiplife is the obvious option, mixing high life and hip-hop. Check out Edem’s “Over Again” or Sarkodie’s “Azonto Fiesta” to get a feel for what is hot right now.
KG also said that adults think “Azonto” means “uncultured,” but it has become anything but that, creating a sensation just within the last year.
“It represents a mindset in which Ghanaians specifically (and Africans in general) start taking pride in our own creativity and potential, something we all too often do not do, especially in culture where we too often relegate what is local to ‘primitive’ or ‘lower class.’” – KG, Dust Magazine
Apparently last month there was a segment on BBC that broadcasted the Azonto trend, saying people are even flying form the UK to learn what the dance is all about.
It looks like Sonny’s dance is bigger than I thought!