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Archive for April, 2007

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La Scala comes to Accra

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

What does Accra have in common with Milan, Italy? They are both places where the world-famous Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and Chorus performs. La Scala, led by distinguished conductor Daniel Barenboim, performed Beethoven’s 9th symphony at the National Theatre in Accra. We sat in the 6th row, which was pretty great.

Ghana’s president, members of parliament, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan were there, too. The performance was wonderful, if somewhat surreal. We haven’t seen a whole lot of stringed instruments or musicians playing in unison lately.
Apparently Barenboim and Annan are friends and arranged for la Scala to come here to help celebrate Ghana’s 50th anniversary of independence. Thanks, guys.  It was fantastic.

Ghana@50, the Golden Jubilee

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

On March 6, Ghana celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence, dubbed the “Golden Jubilee” and nicknamed Ghana@50.

It was a huge event, and the government went all-out. Some say they went a bit too far, even purchasing fleets of luxury cars for visiting dignitaries to use during their stay.

30 heads of state were here, along with Jesse Jackson and delegations from the US congress and executive branch. The night before, there were fireworks and a laser show. A so-called parade took place on the 6th. It was not at all a parade à la Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade or Rose Bowl parade or even the Takoma Park 4th of July parade. The authorities didn’t close any streets, there were no marching bands, no baton twirling, no giant balloons. The whole parade took place in Independence Square and was mainly soldiers marching. Nevertheless, throngs of humanity decked out in red, gold and green flooded the area around the square for the occasion. Police officers handed out little Ghana flags to wave. Photo by SJD.

police with flags

It was reminiscent of the 4th of July in DC — crowded as all get-out, but in a festive, friendly way. There were even some kooks who had painted their entire faces and bodies in red, gold and green like football fans at the Super Bowl, except with fewer clothes. (Photo below by SJD.)

painted people

Dan had to work as a “site officer” at Independence Square, making sure everything went smoothly for the US officials. Meanwhile, I rode my bike down there with a couple of friends. We actually couldn’t see much besides the people’s heads in front of us. Oh well. I still think it was worth going to witness the spirit of the public celebration. Photo below by SJD.

crowd jubilating

Sorry, I don’t have photos of my own to share. I brought a camera, but I discovered the batteries were dead when I went to take a picture. Thanks to Susan for the photos on this post.

Here’s some press coverage of the jubilee:

Daily Graphic
National Public Radio
Guardian UK