MSCTY

EXPO

COMPOSER - WRITER

MSCTY_EXPO is a place for unrealised architecture, buildings and structures that although were not built, deserve to be in the spotlight. MSCTY_EXPO helps bring these structures and spaces to life by inviting equally innovative and experimental sonic responses to them.

A GALLERY FOR RETURNING TREASURES
ELSIE OWUSU
w/ CHISARA AGOR

Reborn in Kumasi as part of the Kumasi City Hall Complex, the new GRT deals simultaneously with questions which touch on notions of dis-settlement and re-settlement. The artefacts, taken from their original use-in-culture, are currently viewed in conditions of alienation as the bounty and treasure of art- the rich pickings of colonialism. Under the Return of Icons programme, many treasures will be returned to original homes- places and locations which may have undergone radical social and political change.

"The GRT competition brief stated that the building was “to be a staging post between the legacy of the past: the slave trade and colonialism; migration and under-development and the hope for the future, when the people of the African diaspora move beyond tutelage towards new pride and dignity” Elsie Owusu 

Akrafokonmu/Soul washer's badge
Written and produced by Chisara Agor

Sound piece concept write up by Chisara Agor

Water and the ocean are not solely the space of nature between land, between communities. They have been used as forces to separate people from their homes. To isolate, to provide ceremony; an act of purifying the soul. Water as a form of purification of deeds, histories, the forgotten past erased and rewritten.  Rebirth and new wisdom, stories carried over seas by the people who speak them. Water carried the British Empire to the Ashanti empire, it brought them together and also kept them apart.

 

My journey through oceans led me to the shores of heroism. The western tradition tells me that the hero is a white man leading his army into battle, he is adorned in fanfares and flags. The Ashanti cry Woman! As Yaa Asantewaa leads her kingdom into battle, she is the hero they did not expect, she is the woman who stood and said enough.

 

And she went with spells in her pockets (The batakari/war shirt)

And he went on a civilising mission

 

The British Empire invented the “civilising mission” to justify the military intervention and colonialization of indigenous peoples around the world. Tangled in a web of racist, religious and imperialist ideologies.

 

Banished beyond the sea

Oh Queen Mother soul washing over me

Woman!

 

Across the water is where Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa,  King Prempeh I and counsellors were exiled by the British to the Seychelles so that their followers could not easily travel to them and that any small ember left by the rebellion could not be relit.

 

 

The Ashanti empire was known for their war drums, some of them were played to imitate the sounds of leopard or rolling thunder. I wanted to illustrate both empires preparing for war, the use of different instruments and their legacies of which we can follow to present day across the diaspora.

 

Choral singing is very common in west African music often represented in call and response, it is a symbol of a community- a shared experience. I chose to recreate this style imagining the women preparing for war, supporting one other, unaware of the fate that awaited them. But ready to sacrifice their lives for freedom.

 

Yaa Asantewaa! Nana! Shoot!

 

Throughout the piece the ocean weans and crashes, spells travel from fighter to enemy protecting them from the onslaught. Nana Yaa Asantewaa survives and with her the memory of all that was lost.

 

Set it on fire burn and loot

 

I wonder now what will be the fate of these pieces stolen from the continent, once their history is revealed to show what violence brought them to these shores.

 

As always we return to the sea and with this return we must travel home.