This first Sababas Project aimed to support creative efforts at peacebuilding through an exchange between Ghanaian and Danish artists. The project wanted to show especially young people that art has the potential to provide alternative spaces of expression and address sensitive issues of peace and conflict in constructive ways.
The professional artists who participated in the exchanges were all socially engaged through their use of lyrics, music, theater and images and had in their art previously worked on such themes. The idea was through interaction to develop and broaden our conceptions.
Eleven visual artists and musicians of different national, ethnic, religious afiliations and artistic styles, initially met up in a house in Tamale, Northern Ghana for a month, in order to work on new material through a collaborative effort. One room in the house was transformed to a music studio and in two other rooms the visual editing took place. The artists started out working on their own and then interacted with each other. Exchanged ideas and inspiration, and developed works of art further. At times the cooperation in the music group suffered from a lack of instrumentalists, who could play and develop the written numbers musically. This was later on the case when the group included more Danish and Ghanaian musicians.
Furthermore the artists conducted two workshops in The Youth Home in Tamale, in collaboration with the organization HeartRebels. Within three days, the youngsters were introduced to various types of music and visual arts. The youngsters were involved with the planning and the context surrounding the event. Through lyrics, music and visuals, which they developed together with the visiting artist, the youngsters got the chance to express themselves on topics such as: How they see development and the challenges the region is experiencing, and especially how they feel about being the next generation of change. The recordings and videos made during this workshop is being shown on the internet and will also appear on the Sababas dvd and on this website.
At the end of the 3 days all the youngsters showcased their productions and the professional artists interacted with the young people also showing some of their productions.
The Sababas artists furthermore performed their newly composed music accompanied by the newly produced filmfootage at a big and well attended event in the city of Tamale, “Picorna Garden”. This concert was covered by six northern radiostations. Hence the project was covered extensively in local media in Northern Ghana, with additional interviews with the Sababas participants in various radio programs. The radio programs covered themes from marriage vs single life in Denmark, to the Sababas Project and the visions of an audiovisual studio in Northern Ghana. Furthermore a program about the project was broadcasted on national television.
In august 2009 the project was taken to Denmark to have the artists perform their collaboratively created works of art in concerts and have the artists do workshops with youngsters in Danish schools.
In Denmark the Ghanaian artists lived in two different houses and the Danish artists lived in their own individual flats. This proved to be a problem for the developing social relations between the Ghanaian and Danish artists, as the Ghanaian artists had expected a tighter collaboration.
In Denmark however, the Sababas gave eight performances in Jutland, North Zeeland and in the capital, Copenhagen. These performances were all well attended and very successful and demonstrated the creative and performative skills of the artists and their ability to captivate their audiences. The Sababas musicians were very good at interacting with the audience and the people were singing and dancing in return. Often the performance place was boosted with energy.
Furthermore the Sababas made four workshops with youngsters in Danish schools. The school evaluations from these workshops show, that it was a big experience and a source of inspiration for the Danish youngsters to see artists of such different origins, musical and filmic styles come together.
The exposure of The Sababas Artists in Denmark created an extensive network for the artists and coordinators involved. The project furthermore drew attention to the artistic potential of musicians and video artists in Northern Ghana. The performances were very well attended and presented diverse genres and atmospheres.
The Sababas Artists produced 15 music tracks, documentaries, art videos, music videos, animation videos, video installation and visuals for concerts. Some of the production will be released on a dvd and cd soon.
Hence the project was a success in several respects. However, in retrospect the project did suffer from certain problems, and the lessons learnt should be taken into account for future project planning.
1. The fact that it was not possible to budget an extra salary for coordinators, was a problem. This meant that the key figure, initiator and would be coordinator of the overall project, had to take up a job offer and was therefore not able to see the project through from beginning to end. Ideally the project should have had two payed local coordinators responsible for each their geographical areas.
2. The fact that the artists could, for practical reasons, not share living quarters Denmark. Furthermore the Danish artists were generally busy during the Ghanaians stay in Denmark. Both of these issues meant that it was difficult to keep up a general feeling of being a group working towards the same aim, except during the performances.