By Crystal Kwadwa Tettey and Yibor Kojo Yibor (Sir Black)
Accra came alive in the early 2000s with the dawn of the EhaLaKasa movement. Artists and art lovers were invited to relish poetry in oratorial and performance mode à la ghanéenne. Eha means ‘song’ in Ewe. La means ‘sing’ in Ga. Kasa means ‘talk’ in Twi. EhaLaKasa thus represents the intersection of spoken word (poetry) and music. EhaLaKasa is straight talk and street philosophy. We do not say poetry; we say EhaLaKasa.
Nowadays EhaLaKasa has slams, concerts, collaborations, and workshops running throughout Ghana. It is also represented at events worldwide all year long. The movement’s anthologies and publications feature emerging and established Ghanaian poets; EhaLaKasa events and publications are regularly integrated into the curricula and programming of schools in Ghana and beyond.
Spoken word poetry, also referred to as performance poetry, has always been an advocacy mouthpiece. Griots and linguists in many West African communities are repositories of ancient wisdom and, thus, regarded as oracles for educational, spiritual, and political advancement. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States was heavily influenced by spoken word poetry. Poets-turned-politicians such as Léopold Senghor has been pivotal in steering black consciousness worldwide.
Today is the 21st day of the 3rd month of the 2023rd year Anno Domini (AD). The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates poets and poetry every year on this day. This year AD is also significant on the Accra calendar as the city is named 2023 World Book Capital (WBC) by UNESCO.
The Greenwich Meridian—a geographical reference line that passes through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, and a key marker of the time measurement standard to which most of the planet pledges allegiance—passes through Tema, a city located 25 kilometers east of Accra. The equator is directly beneath this line. Tema, Ghana’s largest seaport, may be considered the center of the world. This center could be the world’s capital.
The youth of the world’s center are bleeding. There is a scarcity of capital:
Accra is depleting our
and robbing us
emotional and mental capital
Is the microphone the ●Show-Case● in this whirlwind that propels us into the minds of stakeholders, state institutions, and gatekeepers? Will truth to power be the bubble of redemption required to surmount a time of national and global upheaval? Could there be capital in Accra to lead the world out of despair while being a capital that shows no Show-Case?
In the poet resides the potential for capital. The poet is capital. Poetry is of capital importance
in the capital.