IN PICTURES: The Talk Party Series [FEB 2013]




What a blast we had at last month’s Talk Party! We switched up venues and headed over to The Lexington, the rock-swag-swank shindig that’s quickly become a weekly live music haven in Accra. Loads of folk came out to chill with Tawiah – we had a listening party for her new mixtape album, FREEDOMdrop [before its release this Spring] and premiered the video for her third single, “Faces” [directed by Mantse Aryeequaye, REDD Kat Pictures].

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by Sionne Neely

*This is an excerpt from a fuller article originally printed in Jive magazine, Accra [June 2008]. Double-click on photos to enlarge.

GYEDU-BLAY AMBOLLEY's Sekunde Album Launch, @AFAccra [June 21 2012]

GYEDU-BLAY AMBOLLEY’s Sekunde Album Launch, @AFAccra [June 21 2012]

He sounded like a Black Panther on the phone. Voice all deep and guttural like he had been cussing out “the Man” all day. I imagined him with a black beret cocked to the side and a matching leather jacket, right fist raised in the air, his left fingers coiled tightly around a megaphone.

Gyedu Blay Ambolley AFAccra Show 27 - photo by Mantse Aryeequaye

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Photos by Mantse Aryeequaye for ACCRA [dot] ALT. Double-click on photos to enlarge.

GYEDU-BLAY AMBOLLEY | photo by MANTSE Aryeequaye [March 2013]

GYEDU-BLAY AMBOLLEY | photo by MANTSE Aryeequaye [March 2013]

I was first introduced to GYEDU-BLAY AMBOLLEY’s music within the first few weeks of my arrival in Ghana at Accra’s +233 Jazz Bar + Grill. I can hardly fathom a more appropriate introduction into the Ghanaian music scene. After all, he is one of the fathers of rap, the man behind highlife, and a globally-travelled musician.

Even before discovering the constant heat that has surrounded him since the 1973 release of “Simigwado,” I could sense something special about Mr. Ambolley—a swagger that transcends time.  Now in his immediate presence, I couldn’t help but feel inclined to recognize this musical mastermind.

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TOUGH BOND: Street Kid Dreams in Kenya


TOUGH BOND film poster via Cinema Kenya

TOUGH BOND film poster via Cinema Kenya

The Village Beat’s devastatingly beautiful film, Tough Bond, named after a commonly huffed adhesive, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival last month. It tells the stories of four Kenyan street children that unite together to hustle through yet another day. The film is a thick window that peers into what many would call an unfathomable lifestyle. We sympathize and pity, try to understand but for many reasons we fail to truly make the leap.

TOUGH BOND: (OFFICIAL TRAILER) from Village Beat on Vimeo.

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SIXTH SENSE: 6 New Videos You Must See

by Katharine M. Ortiz + Sionne Neely

SENA DAGADU in James Town, Accra | photo by Mantse Aryeequaye

SENA DAGADU in James Town, Accra | photo by Mantse Aryeequaye

Nowadays, Ghanaian music is a mixed bag. That’s actually a great thing. The diversity and complexity of this music – which is not new and has always been here – is bubbling more and more on the surface. As testament, here are 6 NEW VIDEOS by fresh artists we dig. In these audiovisual experimentations [in no particular order], you’ll experience different realities reflecting what it means to be Ghanaian.

These are some of the voices of our pop culture. Hear and see them now.
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In Adabraka: ABROKWAH’s Angel



Meet the talented Mr. KWEKU ABROKWAH. We met Abrokwah during the planning of the first CHALE WOTE Street Festival around this time – two years ago – in March 2011. Since then he’s joined the festival both years and has already started prep for a CHALE WOTE 2013 performance in James Town this September.

As the leader of The Flat Land Boys biker crew and Circus Ghana, Abrokwah is always able to give the people what they want – fresh killah moves. Not only is he king of extreme sport stunts but over the last nine years, he’s performed in Germany and throughout Europe as a cultural dancer, B-boy and circus entertainer.

We shot these snaps on the streets of Adabraka, that pearl of old Accra where Ga business elite and middle-class families historically settled. In this setting, Abrokwah’s affable spirit branches out just as wide as his angel wings.  Ever ready for the next challenge, he inspires us to keep our eyes on the prize.

Check out Abrokwah’s journey below – in his own words. MO VIM.

Photos by ACCRA [dot] ALT [double-click to enlarge].



During my childhood, I went to school at Korlegonno. I saw lots of bicycles – people arranging bicycles. Through that I had a feeling – I fell into a bicycle feeling. I started in 1989 after discovering a famous handbook on biking. There was no Internet in Ghana at that time. I taught myself the different tricks – training one one at a time.



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SPIRIT WOMAN: Sena Dagadu Gets Grown

by Sionne R. Neely  | photos by Mantse Aryeequaye

[Double-click on photos to enlarge]

SENA DAGADU  - photo by Mantse Aryeequaye

SENA DAGADU – photo by Mantse Aryeequaye

It’s hard not to fall head over heels for SENA DAGADU‘s newest album, Lots of Trees. As the sole warrior princess in Hungary’s 11-member live fusion band, Irie Maffia, Sena’s had plenty of training ground to launch her second LP. Lots of Trees follows up 2003’s First One and comprises an anthology of Sena’s sonics over the last decade. The album features the electric production of Élő Márton [Irie Maffia] and collaborations with Nneka, M3NSA and Wanlov the Kubolor.

Sena’s bold, earth-rich vocals heat the heart and chill the bone. Her love for life shines through a kaleidoscope of vibrating webs that draw in the listener. With tracks like “Accra City People”, “Pass It On”, “Extra Large” and “Morning Light”, Sena whips up a thick, soulful brew and serves it up calabash-style. In fact, Mz. Dagadu launched Lots of Trees on March 15th with a sold-out concert bash in Budapest.

Sena Dagadu Pier13 - by Mantse Aryeequaye.TGDACCRA [dot] ALT hooked up with the Ghanaian-Hungarian singer/songwriter recently while she visited Ghana. Sena raps with us about blending her own batch of rhythm science into a keen balance between music, family and the spiritual self.


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Fertile and Grown: SENA DAGADU’s Lots of Trees

SENA DAGADU on Mystic Geographies, Womanhood and a Decade of Good Vibes

As told to Sionne R. Neely  | Photos by Mantse Aryeequaye

[Double-click on photos to enlarge]

TREE WOMAN by Mantse Aryeequaye

TREE WOMAN by Mantse Aryeequaye

Part Two Interview

ADA: When you think of Ghana what comes to mind?
SD: Home comes to mind. Earth and the smell of pepper. Seaside and energy – raw physical and spiritual energy. My husband, he laughs at me. One time I didn’t come to Ghana and we were in Hungary for the full winter. At the end of it, he said: “You know what? I’d rather pay a ticket for you to go to Ghana than spend another winter with you in Hungary!”

If I don’t come to Ghana for at least one month out of the year, I feel a little bit lost and malnourished. Ghana feeds the senses and the skin, the eyes and mind. In Europe it’s easy to become part of the little wheel that the squirrel runs in. It’s so important to go somewhere completely different that shocks you out of that European life, luxury and working to have money to live. Ghana reminds me of why I started writing and why I felt strange when I moved to Hungary and why I feel strange when I am here. It reminds me to feel. Ghana is key to life. Shw3!

Sena Dagadu Post Office3 - by Mantse Aryeequaye.tdgADA: What is Hungary like?
SD: Hungary has this kind of strange magic to it. Because of Hungary’s difficult past people are kind of still afraid to speak their mind. People are a little bit closed in themselves. But I love it. The architecture – the whole look of it gives Hungary a pulsating energy. Hungary must have been a place where there was lots of witchcraft and superstition, herbalism and natural water healing – things that you would find in Ghana as well. Hungary has a lot of water around it – it’s a healing energy.

Sena Dagadu Pier17 - by Mantse Aryeequaye.tdg

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A Shout-Out on Liberation [Sheroe Sci-Fi]

ANGELA DAVIS arrives for a court trial, April 1972 [via US Prison Culture]

ANGELA DAVIS arrives for a court trial, April 1972 [via US Prison Culture]

I fell in love with Angela Davis

In one fell swoop

I was 8 and bored that summer

My daily feen was a focused search through my parents’ awesomely Black book collection

If They Come in the Morning was a treasured favorite

That fro did me in

Her quiet fire spoke it all

Eyes steady, gait straight

Her radical be fly

Fly high, soul hi

Up up to the sky sky

That’s when the whole affair began

It endures for eva eva

Let it rip

Hands up for Prof. Davis

And a Black girl’s fantasia of possibility

SRN  |  03.13.13