In July 2013, Secrets Under the Skin went "home" to Ghana, in a sense, for the seed of this entire project is Ghana. Opening first at the Nubuke Foundation in the capital city of Accra, the show went next to the University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast Ghana.
As in Havana, religious practitioners, drummers and dancers were able to come to the installation's opening weekend at the Nubuke Foundation in Accra July 6th and 7th to witness and perform. It was a moment of introspection for all of us involved at Nubuke when the religious practitioners, drummers and dancers arrived from Dzodze, 3 hours east of Accra, and crossed the threshold of the Nubuke Foundation in song, dance and music announcing their arrival. Later that afternoon, they performed. For me personally, I understood that we kept our promise of sharing the results of the research with those who trusted in the research team.
Of highlight was when Kpetushie "Dashi" Nkegbe stood in front of Susan Matthews' painting depicting Dashi and others looking at pictures from Cuba.
Additionally, the U.S. ambassador to the Ghanaian Embassy and his wife, Gene and Annette Cretz, were present to view the installation. The U.S. Embassy provided logistical support for the Secrets Under the Skin presentations in Ghana.
Jill Flanders Crosby,
Brooks Anne Robinson, U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer who served at the U.S. Embassy in Ghana.
We had no idea what the response would be to Secrets Under the Skin in Ghana. The show filled the Nubuke Foundation gallery beautifully, and we sat back and waited to see if anybody would come. The reception was packed. The work initiated dialogues we did not expect. A woman told me her own grandmother was taken to Trinidad and returned with a brand on her back when slavery was abolished. "People in Ghana do not want to talk. This is opening up a story entirely," she said. Our intention was to show the cultural links between Ghana and Cuba, but Ghanaians saw their own history. When the drummers and dancers came from Dzodze to perform their traditional music and dance, we cried. When they entered the gallery and saw themselves in videos, photos and paintings, they were transfixed. We all felt that the show was really for them.
ArchiAfrika, is interested in broadening the discourse on Africa’s built environment to encompass the role of socio-cultural design inspired development. ArchiAfrika Accra is the newly established operating arm of ArchiAfrika Foundation and both organizations are based in Ghana. The organization's goal is to promote design strategies developed within the continent which address the challenges of our future and engage the next generation of professionals in this critical dialogue. AAAccra is the organizer of the Adventurers in the Diaspora (AiD) a monthly forum, which highlights the achievements of creative people and their role in the development agenda of Ghana.
* Banner image photographed by Brian Jeffery