Dovia Daniel Kwaku
Place of Birth: Dagbe
Place of Residence: Dagbamete
Occupation: Dagbamete School Headmaster
Daniel started teaching in Dagbe, near Keta from 1984 until 2001. Daniel was transferred to Dagbamete as Assistant Headmaster until leaving in 2006 took be a Headmaster elsewhere. In 2009 Daniel was transferred back to Dagbamete to head the school here.
Daniel describes the music program at Dagbamete school:
In the school we have music and culture competitions. The schools are given a theme to build their own music around, sometimes chorale music and sometimes dance drumming – children must learn to recognize when the tone on the drum changes that is time for the actors to perform another activity. That is what is done at most schools in the district. It is a competition among the schools. The children recite poetry and learn drum language. They use the talking drum. They give you a proverb to beat on the drum.
Primary children learning chorale singing and learn drumming at junior high level. The inter-school competition is only held every two years due to allow time for sporting activities. Music is in the syllabus, which is developed locally so local dances can be used. Winning schools go on to regional and national competitions. Most children enjoy the music program very much.
Compared to other schools, Dagbamete has a better and strong music program than most schools because people here perform culture and believe in culture. They love music. The local people are proud of their music and made a CD Nyeme duna togo o by the Dagbamete Dzigbosi Akpoka Cultural Group.
Q: Did the music change in the village in the time you went away between 2006 and 2009?
A: No change.
Q: Before the school system was established was teaching done through proverbs?
A: Yes, that is why in our syllabus we have religion, morals, and cultural education. Sometimes the children are given a theme based on local events and they act it out.
Q: What about the impact of TV and radio on children’s interest in folktales?
A: In some communities where Christianity is dominant, the local culture is being forgotten. The traditional proverbs and morals are not taught and people ignore their grandfather’s worshiping.
Q: How do you handle Christian and shrine religion training in school?
A: Dagbamete School teaches children from all around the area, not just the village. Children come from Christian and traditional culture homes. Fridays at the school are focused on moral education and religion. Christian children sing church songs on Friday mornings along with any others who wish to participate. Ghana’ s policy of freedom of worship means that the child has the right to worship what you believe in – church or “traditionalist.”
Q: Are their conflicts between groups?
A: No none!
Q: why is music important to the children?
A: Sometimes before you start a lesson in any subject, you have the kids sing and dance a bit to settle them down - especially young ones- this helps to gather their attention. In the kindergarten and classes one to three, teachers often use music to keep children from getting bored. The teacher just asks the children to sing a song from the local community. These songs do not have religious overtones and are enjoyed by all children.
Q: What is the impact of watching TV on the children?
A: Yes, the children now are highly interested in watching TV. It is not like the old days when Grandpa would call the children round to tell them stories – it is not done these days- children watch TV instead.
Q: What is the impact of TV watching on learning?
A: Sometimes the children watching filthy or sexy films on the TV. This is a problem and we want to stop the schoolchildren from watching these shows. We encourage watching quiz shows and news instead.
Q: Is music participation in Dagbamete becoming stronger?
A: Yes, because of the different drumming groups in the village the music is becoming stronger. We have the Apoka and Unity groups. Avenopilo has the Kinka drumming group. These are strong role models for kids. The Unity group teaches the children to perform plays within their drum songs. Children sometimes come and ask permission to leave school to travel the district and perform with Unity.
Q: Is music a career option for children?
A: No. Those with music talent can perform well, some have interest or talent, but others lack this natural interest, just as some children who like a certain sport are drawn to it.
Q: Does music have long term value to allow people to grow and succeed?
A: Yes, there are some teaching opportunities for drumming and song. For example if music competition comes up and there is no music teacher, they then hire someone from community to teach and coach.
Q: How well does Dagbamete School do in the competition?
A: They did well in the talking drum competition last time, but did not win.
Interviewed by Ross Gordon, August 6, 2010