A feature on Samoah Kpakpo
Samoah Kpakpo is a member of the Jamestown community, the logistic coordinator for the Chale Wote Street Art Festival and a participating artist in this year’s Chale Wote.
From this year’s theme: Spirit Robot, Samoah produces and curates an installation and a procession for the festival. His pieces are polysemic but there are three prominent and interlinked themes: the history of slavery, an environmental “activism”, Ga spirituality and religion.
The history of slavery is imprinted in Samoah’s choice of site for the installation: The James Fort’s garden. He shows the former place of slave transport to the public as he considers it important to educate his community about their past (their history with slavery) especially when historical knowledge of slavery remains largely untold or hidden in contemporary Ghana.
In a similar vein, Samoah educates his people about Ga cosmology and traditional belief. He dresses up as a traditional priest (in all white and barefooted) and performs in a procession certain rituals (libation and the sharing of food with the gods) integral to the well-being of the cosmological realm. There is an apparent critique of the dominance of the world religions and their undermining of traditional ritual practices.
In addition to the neglect of traditional gods, Samoah illustrate how conscious human acts such as polluting has a profound effect on the gods. The sea god (Atta Nai) is leaving because of the polluted sea and beach. Thus in his installation, Samoah produces art pieces with waste found on the beach at Jamestown: “From Bollar to Dollar” as he calls one of the pieces. Working with rubbish he simultaneously helps clean up his community and satisfy the sea god.