Air Date: 02-Sep-21
Scientist: Obo Addy
Sound and Silence
Here’s a program from our archives.
ambience: Homowo Festival, Portland, Oregon
For the Ga people of Ghana, a good harvest can mean the difference between feast and famine. It’s a delicate balance that’s honored with both silence and music in the Homowo festival. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Obo Addy is a master drummer from Ghana. He tells us that music is banned for the six weeks before Homowo, as people hold silent vigil over their crops, remembering previous times of famine.
Addy: It marks how the city of Accra was very quiet when people were hungry, nobody talks. Because they have an idea that if peoeple were making noise, it would hurt more people who are very hungry, who are dying.
For six weeks, the Ga people pray for a bountiful harvest.
Addy: And then for six weeks, things will grow. So when the things are in the ground, that’s when people become very quiet. Waiting, praying for the things to grow, so that they will start Homowo festival with the new crops.
Harvest time is celebrated with the return of music.
Addy: You can feel the spirituality in everthing, when it is quiet like that. When it happens and they start music again, oh it feels so good! It makes the music sound really nice. Then you can feel festive, like you’re celebrating something.
Mr. Addy has brought the tradition of Homowo to the city of Portland Oregon, where every August you can join in with a public celebration of dancing and drumming.
Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.