Humegbeda Kwasi Dzotefe Dunyo
As I have written before it was Don who introduced me to Kwasi and it was Kwasi who introduced me to his part of Africa. I still remember the first rehearsal we had during Sound Symposium 1998 and afterwards knowing that I had to go to Ghana. Playing that music stirred something deep within me, it was completely different than anything I had experienced previous. The combination of drumming, dancers and singers was a kind of magic and Kwasi was a magician.
Ghanaian music, and much African music, is not virtuosic. The ensemble is the most important thing. But that doesn't mean that special musicians can't rise to the front. Kwasi was one such player. I have heard hundreds of drummers in Ghana since my first meeting with him and very few have the effect that he has on the listener. His sense of timing and sense of groove is unique to himself and no matter what he is playing, no matter how simple, he can make it sound like the best thing you have ever heard.
That is magic.
As I went to Toronto to go to York, I connected with Kwasi who lived there as well. I would often go to his house to prepare goat soup and have lessons, as well as help him with his classes and was a member of his performing ensemble, Kekeli. We would spend a lot of time together, and though friends, he was more of a father-figure, especially when he wanted to set you straight with a simple, pointed look.
The next summer of 1999 I went to Kwasi's village of Dagbamete for the first time and again, my life had changed. Words will never be able to describe my feelings and experiences in those two months. Kwasi is also a hunor (priest) in the Torgbui Apetorku shrine, of which I am a member (where I conducted my PhD research), so he is also something of a godfather to me.
My connection to the community of Dzogadze (his mother's village) is through him. Two of my best friends in Ghana, Ledzi Agudzeamegah and Vodzi Torgboh (both from Dzogadze), are Kwasi's nephews. I have been back to Ghana numerous times since my initial visit, each time visiting the same villages and re-connecting with my friends and family there.
All of this is through Kwasi.
Truly, if he had not taken me under his wing and connected me, I'm not sure where I would have ended up.