Ceremony and ritual form an essential part of traditional cutural life and spirituality. For millennia, humans have danced around the fire, often through the night as part of communal rituals or ceremonies.
The San people of Southern Africa, for example, continue to dance around the communal fire as part of their healing ceremonies.
For festivals in the UK / Europe, the various groups represented by Indigenous People are available to create fire dances or ceremonies in which audience members, particularly those who will have participated in drumming, dancing and singing workshops with the indigenous musicians and dancers during the day, will be able to participate. It ideally not be a simple re-creation of a San fire dance / ceremony which would be performed by the Bushmen in Namibia. Instead it is more appropriate to create a neo-traditional ceremony which is appropriate to the western context in which it is taking place. If there are other healers / community arts practitioners at the festival who wish to participate and contribute, this will be welcomed, ideally with some discussion or even rehearsal beforehand.
One of the underlying aims of the fire-ceremonies is to raise awareness of the health and well-being benefits of participation in traditional or neo-traditional drumming, dancing and singing. More information about these can be found here.
The Kakatsitsi Drummers, in particular, are able to devise neo-traditional ceremonies which are ideal for official occasions. Such ceremonies are based on the traditional African ‘Libation Ceremony’ which are performed at important civic and cultural events in Ghana. For these occasions, all the group members are dressed in the all-white costume, including special ceremonial head-gear, of the traditional priesthood go the Ga people of Southern Ghana – the Wulomei.
In the ceremony, the group leader will engage in a call and response interplay with the rest of the group, other participants and, if desired, the audience. The call and response is simple and be taught very quickly. After this introductory call and response, the ceremony leader then performs what can perhaps most easily be understood as a traditional prayer, calling on the spirits of the ancestors to lend their spiritual strength to the coming event t insure it runs smoothly. At times during the prayer, the rest of the group (and, if desired, the audience) respond with a simple affirmation to support and agree with the content of the prayer.
An example of Kakatsitsi performing a Libation Ceremony can be seen at 6.02 of the above video of them contributing to the Make Poverty History demonstrations in Edinburgh in 2005. A small ceremony, involving just 2 members of the group, can be seen at 1.15.
Kakatsitsi playing the Fontonfrom ceremonial drums at the entrance to the Ghana Music Awards (UK) event in 2017.
Our groups are also easily able to host more informal ceremonies, with elements of orchestration through structures such as ‘follow the leader’ dancing, call and response chanting and participation on the drums, interpersed with periods of free-form dancing.
Dancing around the fire with the Kakatsitsi Drummers, Superspirit Camp 2015.
We are also able to accompany fire performances by performers already attending an event or by arrangemet with a partner fire-performance company.
A drum and fire performance at Ashfield Festival in 2005