Kakatsitsi Educational Performance

The performance begins with the narrator introducing the group, explaining the meaning of the name ‘Kakatsitsi’ (Spiritual Strength) and where the group are from. The children are then invited to welcome each drummer by name to their school. After the introductions, before the drums are played, a traditional Libation Ceremony is performed, a short ceremony in which the ancestors are called upon to bless the gathering, emphasising the spiritual role of traditional African culture. The narrator briefly explains the meaning and purpose of the libation and the importance of the ancestors in traditional African spirituality and how the ceremony serves to bring everyone together to express a sense of community and identity. The leader of the group then teaches the children a few responses with which they can join in the ceremony, before Kakatsitsi perform their first song – ‘Agoo’, a musical interpretation of the libation ceremony.

The narrator then explains how a Djmebe drum is made and one of the drummers shows how the different sounds can be brought from the drum using a variety of techniques. After the Djembe, the Kpanlogo drum is introduced and the children are shown how four drums, each tuned to a different note, can be played together to create a melody as well as a rhythm. The group then show how a collective rhythm is created, with each drum part fitting together with the bell, the timing instrument that keeps the team of drummers together. The narrator explains how and why it is necessary for each drummer to listen to the bell, so as to avoid loosing the rhythm and spoiling the sound.

Having listened to one drummer playing a backing rhythm in time to the bell, the children are then asked to listen to a second drummer play another part, including a number of variations he will include to give him scope for creative expression. The children are then shown how to play the timing pattern on their knees before being asked to keep the timing for the third drummer as he demonstrates the third part of the rhythm and the two styles of solo playing – first of all with the rhythm and also the ‘confusion’ style whereby the soloist will come off the rhythm. This latter style requires that the children exercise all their powers of listening and concentration if they are to avoid losing their timing.

The three parts of the rhythm will then be put together with the bell during the performance of the second song – a traditional Ga rhythm called Oge which is played at the start of any social occasions such as a wedding, a funeral or an ‘out-dooring’  – when a newly born baby is brought out to be shown to the community for the first time. Oge is introduced by a short passage of singing, which is arranged in the ‘call and response’ interplay, a structure used in both traditional and modern music throughout the world. Oge also provides an opportunity for the drummers to also demonstrate some drumming call and response interplays, whereby a solo drum calls out with a short phrase, to which another will respond with an answer. The children are encouraged to join in with the rhythm by keeping the timing, as ever listening to the bell to help them stay in time.

To conclude, Kakatsitsi perform one of Ghana’s most popular rhythms, Kpanlogo, named after the Kpanlogo drum. Kpanlogo features the Gome bass drum, which one of the drummers briefly demonstrates, showing how he uses his feet to raise and lower the pitch of the drum. the Kpanlogo rhythm is also accompanied by the Kpanlogo dance, with a number of solo moves called by the solo playing of the master drummer. The rhythm finishes with some call and response singing between the leader of the group and the children, who join in with a simple chant.