The African story is a one-sided story told to satisfy the selfish interests of whoever may be narrating it. Thus, it comes as no surprise when some non-Africans assume our continent lives in darkness. That is the story they have been told. That is the content they have been fed with. No one will tell our story to favor us… if we don’t.
The Ghanaian story should be told however… whenever. Branding our nation begins with telling our stories─ our success stories─ our own way. We must tell our story through our music, dance and drama. Every opportunity is an opportunity to tell the world who the contemporary African is. We ought to take advantage of theatre to tell the Ghanaian and African story!
The thirst for Ghanaian theatre and creativity seems to have inched closer to its peak in recent times. Gaining grounds in the creative industry is a craving for stage works that will not only entertain audience but give them a “take-away” package of who they are and what they can be.
Theatre comes with an umpteen benefits and this is why this entertainment avenue is gradually becoming a new trend among millennials and people from all walks of life. Today, the theatre has not only become a go-to therapeutic center where our emotions undergo a bloodless surgery. It has become a place of self-discovery.
Of course, having a theatre experience can relieve one of a lot of stress. More importantly, however, some theatre experiences reveal who we are and who we are not. They unveil the story of where we are coming from as a people and where we are going to. Theatre sometimes is an intercourse between history and the future!
Yes! Theatre is therapy. The energetic dance is invigorating. The melodious music is pain-soothing. The attention-gripping drama engages our thoughts. All these complement each other to de-stress theatre lovers and, oftentimes, go further to tell a particular story.
Many theatrical pieces have dwelt on telling the Ghanaian (and African) story lately. One of such is AGORO, a brainchild of The National Dance Company, The National Symphony Orchestra and The National Drama Company in collaboration with Ohio University and Azaguno Inc. (USA). The week-long festival and concert, a mixed bag of palatable music, dance and drama, is going to be a great cultural transformation for everyone, especially theatre lovers.
AGORO means “play” in the Akan parlance. Happening from Monday, 25th June to Saturday, 30th June, 2018 at the National Theatre, it is going to be a reinforcement of the comeback of great African theatrical content─ stories that talk about us. A concert of new African music, dance and drama, AGORO is going to boost the relevance of African theatre which is gradually creeping into the hearts of Africans, particularly Ghanaians.
Apart from several new African orchestral music, dance and theatrical works created by Ohio University professors, Dr, Paschal Yao Younge and Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge, the celebration will bring back excerpts from Diema 2015 and AZA 2016 concerts. AGORO is a flagship event of National Theatre of Ghana as part of its 25th Anniversary.
Theatre can revive our economy, if given the needed attention. With such collaborations to birth thematic pieces such as AGORO, theatre can be a driving force in our tourism sector, raking in millions of dollars yearly. Thousands of non-Ghanaians can troop into this nation just to see stage pieces. Thousands of unemployed Ghanaians can find something profitable doing with their idle hands courtesy theatre.
The Ghanaian must tell his story. The African must tell the world who he is… and who he is not. If we want the narrative about Africa to change, we need to tell our own stories. The hunter’s story is all everyone will believe if the lion never shares his. The foreign media is all the world will believe if we don’t channel adequate resources into telling our story─ the African story.
We must project good African content through all our various art forms. The world must see a green image about us through our music, dance and drama. We are not drenched in poverty in Africa. We don’t live in huts and caves as others have been made to believe. The new Africa is a continent of opportunities and good will… and this is what our local content must project!
However you can, tell the African story in your own little way. Live the African dream. Be the change you want to see. Africa will only be as better as you will contribute to make it.
With pieces like AGORO telling the story of our indigenous art forms like music, dance and drama with such verve and positivity, we are rewriting the African narrative. We are not a mediocre people. We are not a human-eating generation.
We are fine brains. We are proud of our culture. We are a team of progressive people who have our nations at heart. We are Africa… and this is the story AGORO is writing this forthcoming week at the National Theatre of Ghana!
The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of an Accra-based writing company, Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com).