Rhythmic addition to community

African drumming teacher moves to town

EMMA DAWE
Last updated 13:55 04/12/2013
Robert Fugah
EMMA DAWE/Supplied
Ghanaian drummer Robert Fugah has been teaching drumming and traditional dance since arriving in Cromwell a few months ago.

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The sound of African drumming has been beating out around Cromwell in the past few months with the arrival of Ghanaian drummer Robert Fugah.

The musician and traditional dancer has moved to New Zealand with his wife who is expecting their first child early next year.

The couple visited his wife's parents who live in Cromwell last year and while in Cromwell, Mr Fugah looked for opportunities for teaching music and dance.

Since they returned to live a few months ago, he has been busy visiting schools, teaching African drumming and performing in several festivals around the country.

For Mr Fugah, teaching drumming and dance was a dream come true, but it hasn't always been easy.

After his parents moved from a small village in Ghana to the capital Accra, Mr Fugah was determined to continue with his drumming and traditional dance.

"I wanted to stick to music and dance.

"That's what our forefathers left for us and we've got to keep it going."

He became involved in a youth pilot programme aimed at teaching youngsters about music and dance, and after three years as a student, he took on a voluntary teaching role.

But he was living in poverty and struggling to have three meals a day, so in order to find work, he walked around the city visiting schools until he got a job at the Ghana International School teaching the African flute.

Although he had to walk about 10 kilometres to school each day and he worked for free for the first three months, he stayed at the school and eventually became the dance teacher.

Mr Fugah said he loved teaching as much as performing and believed it was important Ghanaians learned traditional dance and music.

"It's important they learn where they are from and they know their culture and traditions."

He was enjoying teaching New Zealanders how to play the drums and was impressed by how good they were at playing them.

"New Zealand drummers are amazing, they have really good rhythm."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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