Happy 52 Ghana!

Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana.

Fifty two years ago today, The Republic of Ghana, gained its independence from Great Britain, becoming the very first black African nation to do so.

In January, Ghana too held a spirited inauguration celebration for its new leader, President John Atta Mills who squeaked by the ruling party’s candidate with less than 0.5% of the vote. (Who could forget Mr. Atta Mills’ presidential campaign banners bearing the slogan “A Change We Need” and a photo of Mr. Mills paired with Barack Obama.)

The Bronx is home to most of New York City’s Ghanaians. Churches and a thriving business community meet the needs of Ghanaians far from their homeland.

Bronx Beat recently ran an article on the soaring costs of food imports affecting local Ghanaian and West Indian markets and eateries. Costs per plate at some restaurants are increasing as much as 50%.  A wholesale food supplier and a diner at Sankofa Restaurant on Webster Avenue express their concerns in an accompanying slideshow to the article.

As for all out celebrations, The National Council of Ghanaian Associations is hosting Ghana’s 52nd Independence Dance at Armenia Hall in Manhattan on Saturday, March 7. Last year’s anniversary gala was held at the New York Sheraton. Here are photos from the 51st Anniversary celebration.

Batman Samini, hip hop artist from Ghana.
Batman Samini, hip hop artist from Ghana.

Bronx based, Boogie Down Nima Productions will host the Ghana @52 Independence Concert on Saturday, March 14th at HSA Ballroom in Manhattan, featuring the “King of African” dancehall, Batman Samini. With a line up of other West African acts as well.

The BDN Productions site has a lot of info about their work. Turns out their sister org in Ghana, is a non for profit in Ghana creating educational opportunities for young people in the Nima community in Accra using hip hop as a tool. Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, co-founder of the Boogie Down Nima Productions, is a filmmaker.  His film HomeGrown Life is all about the growing hip hop movement in Ghana.

Ghana @52 Concert flyer, hosted by BDN Productions.


*
Tell a friend, or two, about this post…

Hardcore at Hunts Point

The Bride Wore Black Drummer
Drummer from band The Bride Wore Black at the Bronx Underground party.

Jumping Crowd at Bronx Underground concertOne of the dancers in the mosh pit lost a tooth.  A guy in a red “Staff” T-shirt made an announcement in the middle of the band’s set:  “Could you guys in the mosh please look around?  We’re looking for a tooth.”  Then lead singer of Queens band, Endwell,  announced their next song, “Single and Loathing It.”   Somewhere in his rough and raw vocal stream were the words single, and, loathing, it. He swallowed the mic whole, I’m sure of it, pushing it up to his epiglottis. The mosh pit was a maelstrom of rapidly over arcing arms and feet punching the air at eye level. They weren’t purposely slamming into each other (that would come later as the “Wall of Death”) but taking turns stepping into the circle to thrash dance and then step back. They were clearly following some method for entering and exiting the pit. I was truly fascinated. I asked My Favorite 14 Year Old, now My Favorite 15 Year Old, are they called dancers?  Moshers? What?  She shrugged and said she’d never seen such dancing. It was Saturday night and we were at The Hunts Point Community Center at one of Bronx Underground‘s “all ages” dance parties. They host concerts featuring local indie / emo / hard rock / punk / metal bands.  All concerts are in the Bronx, alcohol free and open to tweens, teens and adults.  We were searched at the door with a metal detector by a very apologetic staff member.

It’s tricky trying to find stuff for our Favorite 15 Year Old to do — only so many times can we go to the zoo or the botanical garden or a movie. We’re always up from something fresh.  The party had a good vibe overall.  The music was a deafening cool. The Big Guy said this could be the next CBGB.

Between sets, some of the crowd mingled in the neighboring room to eat french fries or a burger. To pose. Or peruse the fan merch of T-shirts. Later we saw a kid holding a big plastic bag of ice to his face bobbing his head with the beat. He was standing at a safe distance of the mosh pit where someone was surely dancing on his tooth.

The Day Before performing at Bronx Underground concert.Bronx band The Day Before. Justin Melendez, lead guitarist, at left. And Oscar Fernandez, lead vocalist, on the right.
Thanx P. Ramirez for id’ing these guys! (That’s him, their manager, with the ghoulish eyes, standing next to the guy in the Thrash sweater.)

Lead vocalist of The Bride Wore Black at Bronx Underground concert.

Lead vocalist of The Bride Wore Black, another band from Queens.

*
Here’s how we came to know about Bronx Underground.

*
Tell a friend, or two, about this post…

Kickin’ It at the Andrew Freedman Home

A couple of Fridays ago, I was lolling on the lawn at the Andrew Freedman Home on the Grand Concourse. The sun was up, the heat was feeling good on my skin. It was a perfect summer Friday in the city. And I was listening to DJ Chris Annibell of Afrokinetic spin tunes at The Bronx Museum of the Arts First Fridays! event.

Couple enjoying First Fridays! at the Andrew Freedman Home
Couple enjoying First Fridays! at the Andrew Freedman Home

Folks arrived with blankets, fold-up seats and snacks (the more prepared ones) and others found places on benches by the flower beds.

Musicians from Michael Markus & Magbana Drum and Dance NYC
Musicians from Michael Markus & Magbana Drum and Dance NYC

Then Michael Markus and Magbana Drum and Dance brought the sounds and rhythms of the djembe, the kalimba and the shakere.

Dancer with Michael Markus and Magbana Drum and Dance NYC
Dancer with Michael Markus and Magbana Drum and Dance NYC

Their featured dancer was a principal with a troupe in Guinea and she was kicking high until the sun set.

Outdoor Film Screening at Bronx Museum First Fridays!
Outdoor Film Screening at Bronx Museum First Fridays!

Against the back of the Andrew Freedman Home, we watched the films “The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun” and “Mambety” presented by the The African Film Festival. I have not sat outdoors at night to watch a film in a very long time. And it was great. That night The Andrew Freedman Home was glowing. I stayed on the lawn for as long as I could bear the mosquitos nibbling all around my bare ankles.

Rockin’ Out with Bronx Underground

Just before the torrential rains, we met the Bronx Underground street team at the Bronx Week Food and Arts Festival on Sunday. These kids were pumped about their music — their music homegrown right here in the Bronx. Who knew such a devoted core of Indie Rock fans existed here?
Bronx Underground is not a band, but a collective that produces concerts in neighborhood venues featuring mostly unsigned and alternative bands from the Bronx. And founder Anita Colby told us that their concerts are for all-ages, where tween and teen fans can enjoy live music in an alcohol and drug free environment.
We liked that. We liked that a lot and promised to bring our Favorite 14 yo, whose iPod is filled with Tokio Hotel downloads, to one of their shows.
They gave us a handful of flyers, including one for the 21 and over concerts.
Check it out.