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This post documents our much-awaited performance (video link included), saying good-bye to our Dagbe family, visiting the historic UNESCO World Heritage site, Cape Coast Castle and Kakum National Park.

Day 7

The day of our performance finally came.  After a brief dress rehearsal in the morning, we dressed into our costumes and performed three pieces (two dances and a percussion piece).

Dancing Tokoe, accompanied by Dagbe staff and Kopeyia School students

Natalie Foster ’20 recapped the order of events leading up to our performance and
her feelings regarding the experience:

“The performance at Dagbe was really fun.  I always get excited about them. Performances are one of my favorite things about dancing.  I messed up a few times, but I remembered to smile and I had fun, which is the most important part.  The “girls” in the performance wore blue and white wrap skirts and a lot of jewelry.  The “boys” (I was one) wore kind of sumo wrestler wraps.  We watched as people came and sat in the chairs Emmanuel had set out. I got some nervous butterflies.   We all wore Dagbe shirts on top.  We first danced Tokoe, then drummed Gahu, then finally danced Gahu.  After we finished, Dagbe staff went and they were incredible.  The local school dance company also danced and they were great.  All in all, I felt pretty great about our performance.”

Playing Gahu
Ella Bathory-Peeler ’20 similarly reflected on what she learned from the experience:

“Thinking back on our performance, we made some mistakes but it didn’t matter to me as much as I thought it would.  I realized that it wasn’t as much about the performance and the final product, but our experience and growth.  Seeing our teachers perform [as well] was truly amazing and made me appreciate how lucky we are to have been able to study with them.”

On this day we said our farewells to our teachers and new friends at Dagbe and then began our seven-hour journey from the Volta Region westward to Cape Coast in the Central Region.

A picture of our NMH group and Dagbe staff

While this was a long travel day, we were delighted when we finally arrived to the breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean at the Anomabo Beach Hotel.

Relaxing outside of our beachfront cottages

Patio view of the Atlantic

Day 9

Today we visited Cape Coast Castle, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, due to its prominent role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama visited this same site in 2009.  

Laura Bertrand ’18 shares her observations:

“Today we went to Cape Coast Castle, a.k.a. one of the biggest slave trading sites to the U.S.  Seeing the slave dungeons were really hard to see and think about how 200 people squeezed into such a small space in the dark, having no idea where their family is, or if they will stay alive.  In one dungeon there was a black woman sitting in the corner with her head in her arms.  Apparently she was a researcher trying to experience what it was like being held in the castle.  As we were walking out, I heard her humming “There is a Balm in Gilead,” which is an African American spiritual we learned in NMH Singers this year.”

Megan Hrinda ’19 also reflected:

“It was hard to go around and see the little room the slaves had.  The guide also would turn off the lights to give us a more accurate representation of being in the dungeon.  A thousand men were kept in such a tiny space in their waste, while white men were lounging upstairs.  It makes me sick…The tour was amazing, seeing all the different holding locations and cells.”

We wrapped up the evening discussing what we experienced at the castle, its historical significance, its relevance to today’s enduring racial tensions and injustices in the U.S., and modern day versions of slavery still occurring worldwide today.  There was a particular concern for what we can do to help address the long-standing problems whose roots can be traced back to the earliest days of colonialism and the slave trade.

Day 10

Today we visited Kakum National Park. We hiked through a rainforest with our park guide, Sampson, who taught us about the history of the area and about medicinal properties of the trees and plants we saw.  At the top of our hike we went on a canopy walk suspended 30 meters above the ground.
Our group on the Kakum Canopy Walk.


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