Dancing in the Street

Ghana celebrated their 55th Independence Day on March 6th and, of course, there was dancing!

When travelling to a new place you inevitably assess how this world is different from your own. The sounds, the smells, the sights, the temperatures, the tastes- the barrage on your senses is a constant reminder that you’re very far from home. However, eventually this foreign place becomes home, the streets become familiar, the smells lead you to your favourite tea stall, the morning heat wakes you up for an early start to the day – and if that doesn’t work, there will certainly be a loud rooster to do the job. For me, it is at this point that the lines between North America and Africa begin to blur and I no longer see what makes us different but how we are the same. One great example of this is music.

Wherever I’ve travelled in the world, I’ve always felt welcomed by music. Even with the use of different rhythms, languages and instruments, each place on Earth has it’s own love ballads, songs of triumph, hymns of praise, and music to just dance to. Ghana, of course, is no different. What I have particularly loved about my time in Accra, the nation’s capital, and the smaller town of Koforidua, is that there is always music in the air, like a continuous soundtrack to my daily life. And it’s pretty awesome.

I feel that the daily Ghanaian soundtrack could be classified into four distinct and wonderful genres:

a) Classic African music that is always upbeat and makes you smile;

b) Reggae- Bob Marley and Jamaica paraphernalia are abundant;

c) Radio tunes that you remember from the 90’s;

d) And of course, the sweat-inducing, bass-thumping beats that bring both young and old to the dance floor.

I feel the most interesting are the latter two categories. Firstly, there isn’t a place in town you can go without hearing the powerful pipes of our favourite Canuck, Celine Dion. There is nothing like wandering a rural town in Ghana’s Eastern region when the melody of It’s All Coming Back To Me Now comes blaring from a car repair shop. Also in the songs-I-used-to-know-every-word-to category comes the smoothest 90’s R&B group – Boyz2Men. It’s a wonderful moment when your 4 hour trip, on a pothole-filled road, in a trotro (minibus) overcrowded with 14 people, 3 babies and a chicken, is interrupted by a bus-wide sing-a-long to the Boyz’s End of the Road.

Lastly, I must have a shout out to the African dance jams that have made this country such a fun place to be. Currently, a popular tune is Azonto, a song about a new dance craze (Locomotion anyone?). Dance moves have been created to go along with the song and almost everyone we’ve met has been able to show us a few. From the beach, to the general store, to even the streets of Koforidua, you can see young school children and adults dancing along when Azonto comes on the radio. We’ve made it our mission to find the perfect teacher to show us obrunis (white people) how to properly Azonto. And so, I leave you with the song that has been playing in my head for the past 3 weeks in hopes that you too, can join in, and Azonto, Azonto, Azonto!


-Danika King, Youth Innovator, Ghana 2012

YCI is currently recruiting a volunteer team to work in Ghana for 12 weeks starting May 7th. For details on the project click here to see the project description.


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