LEWISTON, Idaho – Award-winning playwright and performer Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum will perform her one-woman show “Walking with My Ancestors: Cape Coast Castle” at Lewis-Clark State College’s Silverthorne Theatre at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 1, and will lead a workshop on African drumming and dance on the following day.
Aduonum is a professor of ethnomusicology and Black music at Illinois State University, and also directs the African Drumming and Dance Ensemble there. She will be a professor-in-residence at LC State on Feb. 1-2.
Her “Walking with My Ancestors: Cape Coast Castle” performance is about a mother’s search for guidance from the spirits of her ancestors in the dungeons for enslaved Africans. The story is a ritual journey that includes dance, music, and drama, and leads to revelation, reconciliation, and rebirth. She said the performance offers fresh perspectives on how today’s racial and cultural problems connect with truths of our shared and painful pasts. Ultimately, she said “Walking with My Ancestors” is a human story about triumph over adversity, resilience, emotional justice, hope, and survival.
Her writings and performances have won several national awards from the American Association of Community Theatre along with the Illinois Theatre Association.
On Feb. 1, the program begins at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-performance talk by Aduonum, followed by her show. She will lead another discussion after the show.
On Feb. 2, she will spend most of the day with LC State students, discussing the show, her work as an ethnomusicologist, and her book “Walking With Asafo in Ghana: An Ethnographic Account of Kormantse Bentsir Warrior Music,” which was published last fall. At 4 p.m. that day, she will lead an African drumming and dance workshop at the Silverthorne Theatre, which is free and open to the public.
Aduonum was raised in Ghana, West Africa. Though women drumming was frowned upon in Ghana, her parents taught their three daughters how to drum, along with how to question the norms, speak the truth, and to celebrate differences. Aduonum said she does that through the drumming ensemble. With its different rhythms, tones and performances, drumming became an important media for her to raise consciousness about diversity, pushing boundaries, and questioning norms, she said. These early teachings have influenced how she teachers, creates and uses art.
Aduonum is a queen mother in Ghana. Queen mothers are selected from the royal family of each town and village. It is the head of the royal family and the elders who choose both the chief and queen mother, although they don’t have to be married or related. As part of being a queen mother, she is responsible for engaging the youth, especially young women, towards their progress and success in life.
Aduonum graduated with a degree in music from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and from Florida State with a master’s degree and doctoral degree in ethnomusicology. She has carried out ethnographic research in slave dungeons in Ghana and Senegal.
Aduonum’s visit is made possible by a donation from the Rosehill Estate and is part of the LC State Humanities Division’s Black History Experience.
For more information on Aduonum’s visit to LC State, contact Sarah Graham, professor of music at LC State, at either [email protected] or 208-792-2334.