Mark Kofi Asamoah Mark Kofi Asamoah Ghana

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Deutsch / English




 

Die Bedeutung der künstlerischen Arbeit von Mark Kofi Asamoah für die interkulturellen Beziechung zwischen Deutschland und Afrika

 

Deutsche Botschaft in Accra Produziert

 

Lebt in Berlin seit 1981

In Westberlin versuchte Mark Kofi Asamoah eine Existenzgründung im Musikbereich. 1984 gründete er seine erste Musikgruppe, Bibiba (in Akan: Da kommt was!). Sie bestand aus Berlin-Kreuzberger Rockmusiker und drei afrikanischen Musikern. Da zu dieser Zeit in Südafrika für die Freilassung von Nelson Mandela gekämpft wurde, waren die Texte sehr politisch.

 

1989 versuchte Asamoah das musikalische Erbe, die afrikanische und Kultur, in deutschen Schulen zu vermitteln. Er entwickelte Unterrichtseinheiten über den afrikanischen Kontinent mit Anschauungsmaterial und Trommelmusik. Es war das erste Mal, daß in Berliner Schulen afrikanische Kultur vermittelt wurde. Es folgten schulpolitische Projekte gegen Rassismus, Fremdenhaß und Rechtsextremismus.

 

Trommeln als Therapie

Zusammen mit der 20 Jahre alten Selbsthilfeeinrichtung für Suchtkranke VgS e.V. in Berlin, die schon seit einigen Jahren mit dem Project CREATE in New York, USA, kooperiert, produzierte Kofi Mark Asamoah die CD drugfree. Die Berliner Einrichtung und das Project CREATE trafen sich sowohl in Berlin als auch in New York. In Berlin betreute und lehrte Kofi Mark Asamoah Suchtkranke und stellte mit ihnen eine Conga-Gruppe zusammen. Diese bildete die Basis für das CD-Projekt, an der dann auch die New Yorker mitarbeiteten.

 

Projekte gegen Rechtsextremismus, Rassismus und Fremdenhaß 1991-2004: "Die Grenzen durchbrechen".

Unter diesem Motto organisiert Kofi Asamoah Konzerte und Workshops in den neuen Bundesländern nach dem Fall der Mauer in Berlin.

 

Projekt: Kinderprojekt Fliegender Koffer.

Im Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin findet 1994 das Kinderprojekt Fliegender Koffer, Afrika zum Anfassen, statt. Es dient zur Vermittlung afrikanischer Kultur und afrikanischen Lebens an deutsche Kinder. Damit soll die andere "fremde" Kultur den Kindern nahegebracht, Kenntnisse vermittelt und Vorurteile abgebaut werden, um zu zeigen daß die "andere Kultur" eigentlich gar nicht "fremd" bleiben muß.

 

Projekt: Zusammenarbeit und Toleranz der Religionsgemeinschaften in Berlin

Immer wieder gibt es in diesem Projekt die unterschiedlichste Zusammenarbeit der verschiedenen Religionsgemeinschaften und ihrer Vertreter. Ein typisches Berliner Projekt, das Asamoah mit seiner Kunst bereichert. Das Projekt umfaßt die ökumenischen Wochen der ausländischen Mitbürger, als auch die Friedensgebete, bei denen nicht Ziel, gemeinsam zu beten, sondern jede Religion betet nacheinander auf der ihr eigenen Weise.

 

Projekt: One World without Borders 1999

Ein Projekt in Großbritannien, das dazu diente, Lehrern und Schüler die Gemeinsamkeiten und die Unterschiede der Menschen in Ghana und in Großbritannien durch die Inspirationen der Music und der Kultur nahe zu bringen. Das Projekt fand in 20 verschiedenen Schulen in Sheffield und South Yorkshire statt.

Das Projekt wurde u.a. von Channel 4 TV, Oxfam, WorldWide Fund for Nature gesponsert.

 

Ein Projekt der britischen Botschaft

mit Mark Kofi Asamoah.

Zum Projekt, ein Auszug aus der website der britischen Botschaft: „Herr Asamoah leistete einen außerordentlich wichtigen Beitrag zu dem Workshop: er berichtete den SchülerInnen anschaulich von den Bedürfnissen der Menschen in Ghana und schloss die Veranstaltung mit einem Vortrag authentischer afrikanischer Rhythmen und Melodien ab.“ www.britischebotschaft.de/de/news/events/africa_debate.htm

 

Zur Zeit betreut Kofi Asamoah drei Musikgruppen

Afrika MMA

Mit Afrika MMA gewann Kofi Asamoah 1992, nach einem knapp viermonatigen Folkherbst-Marathon, den Jurypreis. 1995 wurde Afrika MMA 2. Preisträger des Musikpreises der Kulturen in Berlin und Brandenburg. Afrika MMA eine interkulturelle afrikanische Band und setzt sich zusammen aus Musikern von Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria und Äthiopien.

 

Adikanfo (die Ahnen)

Adikanfo (The Ancestors) is my latest musical group. Like in the case of similar ensembles in Ghana, its repertoire includes traditional rhythms, melodies, dances, and music instruments from all parts of the country. The increasing popularity of Adikanfo has helped to mediate an important aspect of Ghanaian culture to audiences in the heart of Europe. Adikanfo won the fifth music prize at the culture competition “Dr. Thoma Prize” in Berlin in 2002.

 

Die Kidsband Ketewa

Ketewa: spielen seit 1995 zusammen. Die jüngsten Mitglieder der Band waren damals drei, sechs und sieben Jahre alt. Sie spielen bis heute in der Band auf afrikanischen Trommeln. Sie sind respektlos gegenüber Stilarten und Trends, gegenüber der Tradition und gegenüber der Moderne und last not least gegenüber den Generationen. Als Kinder haben sie zusammen in den musikalischen Traditionen Afrikas begonnen. Als Teenager bringen sie heute ihren eigenen unverwechselbaren original Ketewa-Sound.

Die jungen Musikerinnen und Musiker sind afro-, deutsch - und überhaupt: aus Berlin. Es ist diese Mischung, die die Spannung hält: fünf junge Frauen, drei junge Männer und das Duo Asamoah/Mattes in der Band.

 

 

 



1992 gewann Afrika MMA Folkherbst Musikpreis in Plauen.

1995 Afrika MMA 2. Preisträger des Musikpreises der Kulturen in Berlin und Brandenburg. "Musiker Vitale"

2002 gewann Adikanfo beim 5. Musikpreis der Kulturen in Berlin den Dr. Touma-Preis! "Musiker Vitale"

 

Produktionen: Productions

 

MC`s  

1989 IZWELETHU (Songs against Apartheid)

1995 Vgs Project /Create / Berlin - New York (drug free)

 

CD`s

 

1995 Vgs Project /Create / Berlin - New York (drug free)

1995 Africa Mma: Songs of Freedom

1999 Kofi Asamoah: Ampae a Ebedwa

2000 Adikanfo: Traditional Music from Ghana

2002 Ketewa: Tschetschekule

2005 Ketewa: Adepa

 

 

 

 

English Translation




 

German-Ghanaian Relations through Music - Building Bridges for Mutual Understanding.

 

Produced by German Embassy Accra

 

I thank God the Almighty for giving me the strength and courage to live what I did not dream of: being a musician, teacher, entertainer, and lecturer. For in my early days in Ghana, percussionists and other musicians were the last to be regarded. “Oh, he is just a drummer!” – I heard this and similar comments in those days more than just once.

 

Fifty years of Independence allow us to proclaim, “We, the people of Ghana, no longer have to walk in darkness!” There is no cause to hide our faces in shame. When our eyes meet, they can gaze at one another with understanding and honesty. Those who fought for our Independence have kindled a torch within us and motivated us to walk on our paths with courage and deep desire for freedom. The light within us shows where we can place our feet in safety and in certainty; we are on sure ground. As Ghana is now on its feet, the time has come for all of us – at home and abroad – to contribute spiritually and financially to maintain the stability for our children. While we are proudly celebrating 50 years of German-Ghanaian cultural relations in 2007, we should therefore not forget that there is still more work to be done for us and for coming generations.

 

My journey from Asuom to Berlin

 

I was born at Asuom in the Eastern Region of Ghana; I grew up in a Christian family and started music in the church of my grandmother. Life-changing moments came when I travelled through Monrovia in Liberia and performed with the Supreme Action Singers in the late 1970s. I then went to England and to Berlin to continue my musical life. Today I live with my family in Berlin-Zehlendorf.

 

In the beginning of the 1980s I gradually got involved in working towards integration and mutual respect for cultural and ethnic diversity. Together with five Rock musicians from Berlin-Kreuzberg, I was part of an Afro Rock music group called Bibiba. Our lyrics were politically motivated and focused on police brutality and on the Apartheid regime of then South Africa. By the end of 1988 I formed a group called Izwelethu together with South African artists, singing freedom songs against the Apartheid regime. We were invited to take part in the renaming of a school in Berlin-Kreuzberg after Hector Peterson, the first black boy who was shot dead by South African police during the 1976 Soweto uprising. This project inspired me to continue working with school children. In order to combat prejudice, build mutual and moral trust in these children, I decided to concentrate on the youth.

 

Music against racism: a breakthrough experience

 

In 1989 I began teaching the musical heritage of Africa in German schools. It was a modest beginning, but over the years I supplemented my teachings with illustrative material and pictures of daily life and musical performances in Africa. I was never afraid of visiting schools and colleges where the rate of prejudice was high.

 

Ketewa- Great things have little beginnings

 

In 1994 the Pädagogisches Museum (Education Museum) in Berlin organised a children’s project focused on everyday life and the way children live in Africa. In the course of the project some children fell in love with Africa and continued to take percussion lessons from me. In 1995 this intercultural engagement started under the name ketewa (Great things have little beginnings) with children from age three to seven presenting unique African music. All of them are now teenagers, but they developed their own unmistakable original style and are still working together on African drumming.

 

Their musical achievements have allowed them to perform on various youth platforms. The young musicians are Africans and Germans living in Berlin; four young women, three young men, and the Duo Kofi Asamoah & Norbert Mattes. They have since produced two music CDs: Kyekyekule (2001) and Adepa (2005).

 

In the early 1990s I collaborated with African musicians from Senegal, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, and we formed a new Group: Africa Mma (African children). Our aim was to demonstrate to the German audience that the musicians from different parts of Africa have many things in common. Africa Mma won a World Music award in 1992 in Plauen and a prize at “Musica Vitale” in Berlin in 1995.

 

Adikanfo (The Ancestors) is my latest musical group. Like in the case of similar ensembles in Ghana, its repertoire includes traditional rhythms, melodies, dances, and music instruments from all parts of the country. The increasing popularity of Adikanfo has helped to mediate an important aspect of Ghanaian culture to audiences in the heart of Europe. Adikanfo won the fifth music prize at the culture competition “Dr. Thoma Prize” in Berlin in 2002.

 

More African music on air, please!

 

Fifty years have passed but African musicians are still waiting to improve their lives and enjoy the benefit of their music. I think African Governments need to do more to support and to promote African arts here in Europe. There are so many talents in Africa which should be developed and treasured.

 

The German-Ghanaian cultural exchange has yielded some important results, especially in connection with large international events such as the World Exposition EXPO 2000 in Hanover or during the recent World Cup 2006. I am glad that many young people aged 16 to 24 have chosen as a result to do internships in various parts of Africa.

 

The interest of the German people in African films has been growing considerably. The annual Berlinale Film Festival has been inviting African film directors and artists, and great achievements have been made. In 2005 the Golden Bear – Germany’s equivalent to Hollywood's Oscar – was awarded to the South African actor Pauline Malefane for her role in "u-Carmen e-Khayelitsha".

 

In music, however, our achievements in Germany are still behind those obtained in other European countries like France or England. As an African musician, I have acknowledged that there is not enough musical exposure. Labels that have made African musical showcase their main objective – which are, however, not the major music industries like Sony, Universal Records, and others – have categorised music like Salsa, Reggae, etc., as evidence that African music is, in fact, World Music. However, the perception of African music must be changed. Instead of classifying African music as exotic or entertaining, it must be promoted to change the hearts and minds of the people.

 

To create African radio and TV stations in Germany could help a lot. The more people hear and see us on TV, the more they develop interest in our music. I appeal to the major TV stations to let us enjoy a little bit of our culture. Also, more jobs could be given to African DJs to enable us to listen to our music on air.

 

Use our positivism to help children

 

I believe that African musicians who perform in an intercultural context have an important role to play for the better understanding of people. This is the reason why I am teaching and interacting with the Germans. Germany has opened doors for people of the world to live side by side and to portray their culture for their children to learn from one another. The financial support of such school programmes by the German Government has allowed for the youth of today to get in touch with Africa and to open a new page for African music and culture to be practised in German schools.

 

Many German school teachers have been travelling to different parts of Africa, taking drumming lessons to enable them to teach their students back home. Since I have been teaching, I have noticed that most of the German schools now have included African drums as part of their musical education. Many traditional African songs like Kyekyekule, Tatale, Hakuna Matata, Ayelevi, etc., are now being played in German schools.

 

This also benefits the children of African origin. Experiencing frustration due to the uncertainty of a future life, some of them tend to become rebellious and let out their feelings on their well-meaning parents. Too often the applications of these children to train for a trade of their inclination are rejected as competition of people of any race and background is getting tougher. As generations of African people had been hindered in the development of self-confidence, it is not surprising that today’s children of African origin are lacking solidity to stand up and tackle adversities in the elbow job market. As they lose more and more interest in using their learning abilities, their relationship with their parents and teachers becomes more uncomfortable and less inclined to install self-respect in the children. It is a vicious circle, hard to break out of for any of the participants at this time in history.

 

African children rarely gain admission to the Gymnasium (Secondary School) in Germany. The number of these children willing to study hard and qualify is declining. The frustrating insecurity of this situation leads to depression and or violence. Due to my long time experience in schools, teachers often call me to smooth out troubles. We should use all our power and positivism for helping the children and securing our place in the global society of today.

 

There are many ways to get involved

 

Apart from music, African representatives in Germany have many ways to become ambassadors of their culture and contribute to the social and political peace within their communities. Here in Berlin, for example, African representatives are being involved in the training of police officers, social welfare officials, and other governmental agencies. The programme is to build bridges and learn to understand the hearts and minds of Africans in Berlin.

 

The resonance of this project has met the approval of most African and police representatives, and is a step forward to develop understanding and co-operation. Expansion of such cultural dialogue across the borders of Africa and Germany respectively may be a turning point for the future generations. If these representative groups develop a shared understanding in early stages, they are much more likely to be accepted, and it is more likely to meet their needs.

 


 

 

Prejudice and moral trust


 

My dreams that lead me to schools and Institions in Germany, are to combat prejudice and moral trust among the German society and children of African origin. We are obliged to learn to trust one another even under difficult circumstances but not focusing our minds on a negative aspect of one person.

The reason why I achieved my aim, I was not afraid of visiting schools and colleges where rate of prejudice so high for them to bear. Thus the only way to exchange co-operation.

 

 

Storkow High School

After the Unification of Germany, I was invited to Storkow High School in Eastern part of Germany. On my arrival, I heard some students shouting "Nigger Raus". (Negro go away)

In fact the class I was to attend, only two students attended. The rest were hanging arround watching the proceedings. All of a sudden, they started coming in the class one by one - twenty minutes later the whole class was full, many people could not find seats. The teachers decided we go to the school Sportshall. At the end of the day, almost the whole school joined us. Because the school authorities were not sure of what might happen, they invited the plain cloth police to guide the school.

 

Break Through

With this experience it encouraged me to proceed to the ideas to fight Racism and Right Wing Extremism by organizing more Drumming Workshops, concerts in Berlin and New Federal States.

I even accepted an invitation to participate in a project which was successful with about 400 Right wing youths in Sanitz near Rostock. After this project I found out that most of the youth are innocent only hanging around with friends. I started encouraging many Africans to join such programs in schools. Thus the only way to exchange co-operation and learn to love and make friends. It has been so far successful. Because at the moment, many schools and colleges are leaning how to play Djembe drum from West Africa. Many music teachers also learning how to play only to teach the school children. Thank God, now African instrument is been loved.

 

German Unification and Foreigners in Berlin

On the 1st May, 1989 I was invited to an event on German unification and performed before 15000 audiences in Görlitzer Park Berlin. My message at this event was, We have fought with you for freedom and unity! When you succeed, Please do not forget we the foreigners and later turn your back on us

 

Childrens Project “The flying suit-cases”

In 1994 the House of Cultures of the World - Haus der Kulturen der Welt - organised a children’s project “The flying suit-cases”. It was directed on African culture and all-day-life for children in their free time. African life for the switching to German children. After the project, some children fall in love with Africa and continued taken African percussion lessons from me.

 

Ketewa

1995 Intercultural engagement started with children aged 3, 5 to 7 years presenting unique African cultural music, with the name Ketewa. (Great things has a little beginning.)

They are now teenager; they bring their own unmistakable original style “Ketewa Sounds”

and are still working together as a family on African drums. Their musical achievement has brought them to perform different venues and children youth platforms. They are irreverent in relation to the kind style and trends. Also to the traditional and trend of modern generations.

The young musicians are Afro, German and all from Berlin. The mixture, to bring down tensions is, four young women, three young men and the duo Kofi Asamoah & Norbert Mattes.

They have since produced two music CDs. Kyekyekule 2001 and 2005 Adepa.

 

Drumming as therapy

In 1990-1997 I took care of a group of young drug addicts. The work of the drum group (VgS) has been based on the draft: Say No to drugs, but have fun with music on drums. Due to the effectiveness of my program, an arrangement was made to join those of New York (Create). We travelled to New York and Berlin respectively. In co-operation with those two groups, we released a CD for remembrance.

 

 

Project: Co-operation and tolerance of the religious communities

In Berlin, again and again, there are different projects of co-operation among different religious communities and their representatives. A typical Berlin project of different religious groups was praying for peace. There, with my cultural and traditional background, I had the honor to represent Africa.

 

Projekt: One World without Borders 1999

Due to the effectiveness of my programs in German schools, I was invited to introduce such a program in Sherfield Great Britain, to bring teachers and pupils the thing in common and the differences of humans in Ghana and in Great Britain by the inspirations of the music and the culture.

This project was sponsored by channel 4 TV, Oxfam, Simuye Sheffield and World wide fund for Nature. The project took place in 25 different schools in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

 

A project with the British Embassy Berlin

A project from the British Embassy’s Home page in Berlin which Mark Kofi Asamoah

made an important and extraordinary contribution to the workshop. ìWhy will 40 million children in Africa not be at school today?î That was the main question underlying A project which brought 80 Berlin secondary school pupils together.

It was reported to the students descriptive of the needs of Children in Africa and closed the meeting with a lecture of authentic African rhythms.

 

 

Africa Mma

As time goes on I engaged myself working with some African musicians from Senegal, Nigeria and Ethiopia

1990, we formed a new Group Africa mma. (Children of Africa). Show German audience that musicians of different parts of Africa have got one thing in common, that is "Music" and won world music prize 1992 in Plauen. Again 1995, we won another prize in Berlin °Musical Vitale°.

 

Adikanfo (The Ancestors) is my latest musical group. Like in the case of similar ensembles in Ghana, its repertoire includes traditional rhythms, melodies, dances, and music instruments from all parts of the country. The increasing popularity of Adikanfo has helped to mediate an important aspect of Ghanaian culture to audiences in the heart of Europe. Adikanfo won the fifth music prize at the culture competition “Dr. Thoma Prize” in Berlin in 2002.

 

 



 

 


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