The World Damba Festival 2012 @ Tufts University, a vibrant celebration of the music, culture and religious traditions of northern Ghana, will take place Friday, September 14 through Sunday, September 16 at the Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center on Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus. Hosted by the Tufts University Department of Music, the WDF 2012 @ Tufts is free and open to the public. Registration is required in advance at www.worlddamba2012.org.
The Tufts event is modeled on a traditional Ghanaian Damba Festival, which is the region’s celebratory highlight of the year, akin in some ways to the Christian Easter or the Jewish High Holy Days. Featured participants will come from Africa, Europe, and North America. The event will include an academic symposium, concerts, participatory workshops in music and dance styles of northern Ghana, and a presentation of some of the significant events that are part of a traditional Damba. Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the former vice president of Ghana and Patron of WDF 2012 @Tufts, will deliver the keynote address.
Celebrated with pageantry, music, and dance performance, the traditional Damba Festival is a communal homage to chiefly traditions, an affirmation of family networks, and an observance of religious rites. It is associated with the birth of the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
The Value of the World Damba Festival
In addition to offering cultural affirmation and festive celebration, the WDF 2012 @ Tufts is an opportunity for discussion of important community development issues and business promotion. Northern Ghana is on the frontline of many global challenges: climate change, community health, economic disadvantage, changing gender roles, the role of traditional chieftaincy within the modern state, ethnic conflict, and Islam’s encounter with the contemporary world. Under the theme of “Diaspora and Development”, formal panels and the keynote address will engage these issues. Throughout the weekend, those attending the festival will also have informal opportunities for discussion and to learn about opportunities for employment, internships, and volunteering.
The WDF 2012 @ Tufts was developed by David Locke, associate professor of music at Tufts and a specialist in African traditional music culture and Natogmah Issahaku, a principal with the Knowledge and Skills Share (KSS) Foundation (http://ksshare.com), an international charity engaged in community-based development projects. Locke’s book, Drum Damba, is about the music of the Dagomba version of the Damba Festival. Locke and Issahaku are leading the WDF 2012 @ Tufts Organizing Committee that includes Ghanaians based in North America, Ghana, and in the African diaspora, as well as non-Africans from North America.
Several presiding chiefs, dignitaries, leaders of community associations, and performers of traditional and popular African music will participate in the WDF 2012 @ Tufts. Presiding chiefs will include Daniel Nyankamawu (“His Majesty Najai wura” of the Gonja people of Northern Ghana) and Susan Herlin (“Her Majesty Zo-Simli-Naa”, the development chief of the Dagbon Traditional Area of Northern Ghana). Traditional Dagomba musicians will include Adballah Zachariah, Yakubu Issah, Fati Munkaila, the “WDF 2012 All-Stars” featuring Habib Iddrisu, Sulley Imoro, and Mashud Neindow; and the musical group African Showboyz featuring Napoleon Sabbah and his brothers. African pop musicians will include Sherifatu Gunu, Ahmed Adam, Jumai Ahmed, Mama Rams, the 7-in-1 for Peace band featuring Sirina Issa, Mohammed Alidu and the Bizung Family, and DRUMHAND featuring Larry Graves. Biographies of all participants can be found at www.worlddamba2012.org.
Sponsors of the WDF 2012 @ Tufts include the Tufts University Department of Music, with special funding from the Granoff Music Fund, and Kilimanjaro Foods, Inc., as well as support from the KSS Foundation. Media partners include Africans Universe (www.africansuniverse.com).
A schedule of events and other information about the festival can be found at www.worlddamba2012.org. Questions about the festival can be directed to the Tufts Music Box Office at 617.627.3679.
- Information from Tufts University