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Games of Ghana and Some Hiplife for Your Listening Pleasure

The Newtown neighborhood of Accra is loud. Almost all the time. “Allahhhh Huuuu Akbarrrrrrrr” is every morning from 4-530AM (some mosques start late I guess). This is my alarm clock or my second lullaby, depending on when I plan on getting up. My first lullaby, which takes place around 1030PM, sounds like this: tro-tros calling out their destination, taxis’ non-stop honking, fan milk vendors with their absurd cartoon horns, the family who runs the guesthouse struggling to locate each other (for example, Eko, the father, will try to find one of his daughters by yelling “MAAAAAAVVVVVVIS!!! MAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVVISSSSSS!!!” – this goes on for a while, there are seven children), conversations and arguments from the roadside, motorcycles making motorcycle noises, girls selling pyurrrre watah, the bassline to that Gyptian song, cats fighting, and just about every other miscellaneous noise that is inappropriate around bedtime.

All of that is actually tolerable. In fact, I occasionally enjoy it. It is the four and a half hour church sessions on Sunday morning that really grind my gears. The neighborhood is majority Muslim, but the Christian minority is sizeable and they know how to create a real racket.

Amidst all the noise I can almost always pick out the distinctive double-clap of Ampe, a Ghanaian game typically played by schoolchildren. It involves jumping, clapping twice and throwing your leg out. Before the match begins, you and your opponent decide whether you are going for straight or condor (phonetic spelling). If you go for straight, you get a point if you throw out your right leg and I throw out my left – our feet/legs would line up in a straight line. If you go for condor, then you get a point if you throw out your left leg and I throw out my left leg. You play to five or ten. Here is an example:

Unlike FIFA, we decided to employ technology to help decide the rightful winner. Later on, the games became a lot more heated. Here are the sisters facing off:

It’s like a more musical, more exciting version of rock paper scissors.

This game is called Ludu. You pick a soccer superstar and attempt to make a lap around the board with all of your pieces. It is almost exactly like Trouble, except the dye is not inside of a plastic bubble. In other words, every time you roll the dice in Ludu, you knock all the pieces all over the place and have to reset them.

Hiplife in Ghana 2010

In my last post, I mentioned seeing Sarkodie perform at Nana Boroo’s birthday party. Here are some tracks from those two artists.


link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOmaIOSccQQ

Nana Boroo’s “Ahayede” – This track is everywhere in Ghana.


link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2ExSTauot4

Sarkodie’s “Baby” – He is considered the fastest rapper in Ghana. He raps in both Twi and English. The actual track starts 25 seconds in. I love that the video has English and Twi subtitles.


link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQrfuLdBrYY

Obrafour and Sarkodie. “Hiplife” I was recently in a packed tro-tro and everyone was bobbing their head in unison to this song. The radio station played the song for thirty minutes, replaying certain parts, dropping the beat here and there. I was loving it. In the song, Obrafour, a hiplife elder, is advising the young star Sarkodie. The beat is great and the track just chugs along.

If you want any of these tracks, copy the youtube url and go to dirpy.com. Or come to Ghana and buy them on the roadside for a buck or two.

I also made all of the tracks from this post downloadable. Just click the down arrow on the player. All of the soundcloud tracks from that post are not mine. I created Yas1 and 2. Peace FM is music from the radio in Accra that I just spliced together. The other track is by Daddy Lumba, a highlife artist from Ghana.

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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Terry July 27, 2010, 4:00 am

    Phil!!! My world is not nearly as crazy as yours but enough so that I hadn’t checked here since the morning of the quarter final. After watching all the music and video clips (I smoked him, right?) and reading through, I have to say how enjoyable the last 30 minutes have been to experience Ghana through your humorous, touching, and descriptive lens. You’re a man of many talents. I miss you brother and the hood isn’t the same without you. I hope to make an appearance at PBB tomorrow and I’ll drink one for you.

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