“Ey co meh séy moh” = "Aloha"

22 July 2006 - 10:00pm HST

performance of Balafon West African Dance Ensemble

Aloha Africa: A Cultural Exchange
"Ey co meh séy moh" is a traditonal greeting in Ghana
by Isa Maria on 23 July 2006

On Kauai there is a community of dance and drumming students without a teacher.
In our passion and commitment to studying these arts, we conduct classes and practice faithfully in several ensembles (currently Love Tribe and Ta'arango; formerly Jahfoliba and Kononi) that are often invited to perform at weddings, parties, festivals, and concerts, and have recorded several CDs.

We are frustrated because our ability to grow and develop our skills as drummers and dancers is severely limited by our lack of ongoing training.

Whenever possible, we host guest teachers from West Africa for a few days while they're traveling in the Hawaiian islands. These teachers include Ousman Soumah, Abdulaye Camara, Karamba Diaby, Mohammed Diabate, Nabi Bangoura, and Assane and Osseynou Kouyate. Their visits give us an exciting taste of what we're missing.
We also seek out study opportunities when we travel to the U.S. mainland. In Virginia, I discoverd the Kusun Ensemble from Ghana, led by Nii Tettey Tetteh. I was extremely impressed with the quality of their performance as well as their teaching. I was also struck by the "Aloha Spirit" (an attitude of respect, kindness, and joy) which I witnessed consistently in the members of Kusun.

After spending several months over a period of 3 years living, working, and studying with Kusun members in Floyd, Virginia, I have come to deeply trust the integrity, warmth, and generosity of these men, not only as artists, but also as teachers and human beings. Aloha Africa was conceived out of my yearning for teachers and my love for Osenda, Odai, and Isaac.

In this cultural exchange, we students will share our wealth: the freedom and independence to create the life of our choosing. Odai, Isaac, and Osenda will share with us their wealth: the mastery and deep spirituality of their arts.

Aloha Africa

1. to provide Kauai's West African dance and drumming students with master teachers in residence.

2. to create a forum for the exchange of Aloha and traditional dance between Kauai's Hula community and guest artists from the peaceful country of Ghana.

3. to introduce the children of Kauai to authentic African culture through performances and workshops in our schools, especially during Black History Month in February.

We invite a master drummer and two professional dancers from Ghana as cultural ambassadors to share their native Aloha and the beauty of their arts with the people of Kauai from January through June, 2007.

Isaac Allotey was the Ghana National Dance Champion in 2002 and the Guinness Boogy National Dance Champion in 2005. A 10-year member of the National Theater of Ghana, he performed and taught in Guinea, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and three times in Germany. He has danced for many dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth, Bill Clinton, and Nelson Mandela. In October 2006, Isaac completes his current tour of the U.S., Australia, and Canada with the Kusun Ensemble.

Michael Adjetey OSENDA was the Northern Regional Hip Hop champion of Ghana in 2000. The oldest of 6 children, he was given the name Osenda, meaning chief, or family leader. Growing up in his grandmother's small 2-room house with his mother, her 5 sisters, and their children and grandchildren, Osenda taught hip hop and danced at parties, weddings, and funerals to bring home food and money. Osenda finishes his 2-year tour with Kusun on October 2006.

ODAI (Moses Nii Odertei) has mastered his native Ga style of drumming as well as other West African forms, studying with Mamady Keita and other respected elders. He leads his own group in Ghana, and has traveled extensively in Europe, Australia, and the U.S. with several ensembles, most recently Kusun in 2005. Odai has been offered a recording contract with Bruce Orth at Kalihiwai Studios when he arrives on Kauai.

At the heart of our community building are the dance classes, the focal rallying point where drummers and dancers come together and celebrate their art.

The drummers strengthen skill and endurance by accompanying the dancers, whose energy is supported and powered by the drums. In turn, the drummers are guided and pumped up by the dancers moving toward them.

Everybody is smiling, dripping with sweat, pushing their limits. Isaac and Osenda are a perfectly synchronized team, demonstrating the movement with exquisite athletic precision and giving individual assistance. Odai leads the drummers in calling the rhythms, placing the transitions, and improvising the ripping solos that inspire the dancers to soar.

This is how we touch the heartbeat of Africa.

contact Isa Maria, founder of Love Tribe at -
mail: Isa Maria PO Box 1218, Kilauea HI 96754
phone: 808-652-6139
email: Steven Ruddell

Nomli hewaley (Together as one, we build with strength)
“Nomling hey wa ley óh” ? Traditional Response


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