Kojo took me back to his village Kwaprow, just on the outskirts of the University of Cape Coast, so that I could see the after-school school that he has helped to develop. The school is in a small newly-built two story apartment complex, and occupies three rooms on the second floor; one of the rooms also serves as a library, with a book case full of children’s textbooks. Kojo, with the help of an American and Bermudan, created this school to supplement their instruction from school, and he hopes to someday convert it to an accredited private school. There were about 50 kids in the three classes, at three different levels, and they were being taught by four visiting foreigners, one a young German who is here for the whole year teaching at another school in Abura while also volunteering at Kojo’s school. The other three are from a Canadian university, and they are here for the summer.
While waiting for the Canadians to finish their portion of the teaching, Kojo, the German teacher, and I walked around the village. As you can see in the picture above, the kids in the village loved to act out in front of the camera; we walked around the village, with the seemingly identical ditty chanted by different groups of kids: “Obruni (foreigner), obruni, how are you? I’m fine, thank you.” When I stopped to take a picture of kids playing ping-pong, these younger ones jumped at the chance to strike a pose.
The German teacher knew of the theatrical potential of Kwaprow’s children; after all, he was in the midst of rehearsing Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with a troupe of kids attending the after-school program. They were close to memorizing all their lines, and were mastering finer points of acting, expression, and nuance. They will be performing the play on local television in about a month, and so they have time to truly be ready. For those familiar with Laura Bohannan’s often-taught article, this is a different spin of Shakespeare in the Bush, perhaps an empowering moment for those involved. Instead of the interpretative problems caused by different cultural understandings of kinship practices, here was Shakespeare in the Bush as an example of local Ghanaian children mastering another dominant culture’s practices for their own self-empowerment. Below was the more refined acting by Kojo’s budding Shakespearean actors, with Lady Capulet standing before a Juliet begging on her knees for her mother to thwart the match proposed by her father.