Traditional drummers, dancers and singers from the Ga tribe of Southern Ghana will be in Shetland from Monday to deliver workshops and performances in schools.
Shetland’s African drumming instructor Joy Duncan has secured funding to bring Kakatsitsi here for a five-day visit.
The group will perform a concert at Scalloway Hall on Thursday night with support from the isles’ own drumming group Aestaewast.
Kakatsitsi will also to run two Ghanaian dance classes, with live drumming, at the Clickimin on Tuesday.
It is the first time authentic African music has been brought into Shetland schools since Guinean master drummer Nansady Keita’s “highly successful and memorable” visit in 2008. Money has been levered in from a youth music initiative to ensure the trip can take place.
Joy said: “I’m thrilled, after eight years of teaching in many of Shetland’s schools, that the children and stave have an excellent opportunity of having this work authenticated. Anyone who is lucky enough to attend a workshop or performance by Kakatsitsi will not be disappointed – it is a wonderful opportunity to hear great Ghanaian music at its purest.”
There will be demonstrations of the group’s exotic rhythms in drum, song and dance. Kakatsitsi’s music combines drums with melodies from bamboo flutes, xylophone and traditional chants sung in harmony.
The group’s roots are in the fishing community of Jamestown, the part of Accra where the British Empire based its colonial headquarters.
Its music features traditional rhythms and chants from their own Ga tradition along with those from various other African cultures, rearranged in a “modern and accessible” fashion.
Kakatsitsi have toured the UK nine times in the past 15 years, working with a variety of festivals, arts centres and local authorities.
Kakatsitsi leader Tetteh ‘Injoly’ Addo said that the group were particularly looking forward to visiting Shetland for the first time. While they have toured the Highlands and Islands extensively before, visiting Orkney where they have become regulars at the International Science Festival, they have never made it this far north before.
Band manager Steve Peake said: “One of the reasons we love coming back to the most remote parts of Scotland is that there is an appreciation for traditional folk culture that you don’t find in other parts of the UK.
“The drummers play best when the audience is energetic and enthusiastic, and Scottish audiences in particular really seem to enjoy our music. We have heard great things about Shetland, so we look forward to seeing for ourselves on what we hope might be the first of many visits.”
For 2013, Kakatsitsi have recruited two new female dancers who perform traditional Ghanaian dances and also lead the audience in some participatory “follow the leader” dancing.
The group will be visiting numerous schools across Shetland to teach children some rhythms, chants and dances, highlighting “the role of participatory music and dance in generating happiness and wellbeing”, while also preserving local cultures and identities.
“Our music is dance music”, said Injoly, “and we really like it when people join in with the dance and even the singing too.”