In Action

The range of activities Miso’shi offers is very wide and we hope you can get an idea of some of them in this section. Miso’shi can take you on a sensory journey of African educational activities involving food, music, dance, and stories.

Get a hint of Miso’shi in action, look at the panels for each of these –

  • Recipes

  • Music and Dance

  • Stories

  • Gallery

Recipes

Any exploration of other countries and cultures wouldn’t be complete without looking at the food eaten there. It’s great fun to learn about ingredients you have never seen before and then use them to create something delicious. Why not try out some of these recipes for yourself?

Check back for new recipes to try

Kelewele

plantains

A spicy fried dish using plantains.

Ingredients

  • 2 plantains – fully ripe
  • 1 hot chilli, take the seeds out
  • 1 inch of ginger, not skinned
  • 2 cloves
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 small onion skinned and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil for shallow frying

Utensils

  • Frying pan
  • Knife
  • Slotted spoon
  • Kitchen paper for drying the kelewele
  • Blender or chopping board for crushing the ingredients
  • Medium size mixing bowl

Method

  1. Wash the plantains and cut them up into about 3 inch rounds. Cut each round into quarters, discard the skins, and put the plantain flesh into a bowl.
  2. Crush the onion, cloves, ginger, chilli together and add a teaspoon full water. Mix in the plantain and leave to stand for about 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil, it must be hot. With the slotted spoon, gently pick up the marinated plantain pieces without the water and place them in the hot oil. They must be cooked on a low heat. Stir it and leave it to cook for a few minutes.
  4. Watch it and keep stirring for a few minutes in between until they have turned dark brown. The colour changes from orange to yellow and then to brown when they are cooked. Drain on kitchen towel and serve.

ENJOY!

You can buy plantains in Asian grocery shops.

Music and Dance

Role of Music

Music is an integral part of life in Africa generally, and is organized as a social event. Public performances, therefore take place on social occasions. This is when members of a group or a community come together for the enjoyment of leisure, for recreational activities, or for the performance of a rite, ceremony, festival. In fact, any kind of collective activity, such as building bridges, clearing paths, going on a search party or putting out fires, activities that, in industrialized societies, might be assigned to specialized agencies. Music making is spontaneous.

Children learn to clap their hands in all societies before they can utter a word. In Ghana this is continued throughout the child’s entire life. Children learn to confidently clap whilst singing and whilst other rhythms are going on. They internalize the beats before they learn to clap a rhythm.

In some societies, a child who loses his first tooth has to sing a special traditional song to commemorate the event. When children go to the farm they have special songs which they may sing as a signal to their friends.

Types of Music

Music is also performed by individual adults either for their own enjoyment or for the young. Cradle songs are typical examples of this. Their text may reflect not only themes interesting to a child, or musical elements amusing to him, but also references of interest primarily to mothers and adult listeners. Some societies make provision for a variety of domestic songs, or encourage the use of songs as an accompaniment to domestic activities. Grinding songs, pounding songs, and songs sung when the floor of a newly built house is being made are examples of this. Individual musical expressions have a place in traditionally masculine activities as well, and may be found in recreation, in work situations, or even in the context of worship. A lonely wayfarer may play the sansa ( a hand piano) as he travels. Such individual expressions become a part of the community experience only when they take place in social contexts. Accordingly they may be encouraged or requested where they have something to communicate to an audience. Thus, the individual singing of dirges, praise song, or boasting songs, and performance of solo instrumental music that carries significant messages feature in the activities of some social occasions.

Singing

Singing is a spontaneous activity and may occur anywhere when thoughts are provoked or when a conversation, story or even a sermon needs embellishment. In this instance the nearest and most practical musical instruments are those of the body. Hands, chest, thighs and feet accompany vocal renditions of the thoughts. Often, objects to hand are also used. The words of the songs are often repetitive, but the melody may change from one line to the other and are often call and responses which encourage easy participation.

There are songs for every occasion imaginable, selling songs, insult songs, songs for twins, puberty songs, bereavement songs, planting songs, digging songs, etc. The list is limitless. Whenever the occasion demands, a song can be made instantly to suit it.

This kind of behaviour is common not only to Ghana but to the whole of the African continent.

Kelewele Song

Introduction and background

Kelewele is a very popular evening time snack food in Ghana. It is made with ‘plantain’, a vegetable of the banana family. It is cooked and eaten as a vegetable not as a fruit. The plantains, are skinned, cut into cubes, marinated in crushed ginger, chillies, onions, cloves and seasoned with salt and deep fried in vegetable oil. Frying starts at about 5 in the evening. There are many different ways of preparing, cooking and eating plantains.

This is the kelewele seller’s song that she sings to entice customers to come and buy.

Meaning

Kelewele is being cooked. You are sure to enjoy it. ‘Jologolile’ is Ga, the indigenous language spoken in the city of Accra. The full phrase is ‘ja ologo olile’. Translation is equivalent to ‘finger licking good or smack your lips in appreciation’. The colloquial translation is ‘you will twist and turn your tongue’. The original version of the song uses the phrase ‘amadaa ne ebe’ . ‘Amada’ is a Ga word for ‘plantain’, ‘ne ebe’ means it is ready. ‘Kelewele’ has been substituted for easier pronunciation in the song. ‘Kelewele’ is generally used in Ghana to describe this type of food.

Verses

A-shi e! kelewele e!
A-shi e! kelewele, e!
A-shi e! kelewele
Jologolile
A-shi e! kelewele
Jologolile

(repeat)

A-shi e! kelewele e!
A-shi e! kelewele e!
A-shi e kelewele
Jologolile
A-shi e kelewele

(chorus)

Jologolile
Jologolile
Kelewele
Jologolile
Jologolile
Kelewele
Jologolile
Jologolile

Stories

Ghanain culture, like most others around the world, has a rich tradition of story telling. Stories to entertain, stories to educate, and stories to help make sense of the world around us. However, the stories themselves are only part of the magic. Miso’shi says, “Anyone can tell a story, but that doesn’t make them a storyteller”. Enabling your audience to feel the emotions of the characters and bringing reality and fantasy closer together is storytelling. Miso’shi uses the medium of stories to get her messages across to an often captivated audience.

Mansa and Mama Bobolanga

Abba Mansa does not do as she is told. She went for a walk when her mother went to the market. She took a banana, a mango, a pawpaw, a coconut, a tangerine and an orange. She tied them in her cloth and carried it on her hand. She walked through the market. Her mother was in the market. The market was very busy. She saw her mum in the market. She was shouting at a large lady selling yams. Mansa hid herself behind the large lady.

She crossed the road. There were lizards everywhere. She walked into a field of very tall grass. The bees and other insects buzzed round her head. She walked past a huge anthill. She stopped and watched the ants and had a banana. There was water running down a hill. So she had a drink. She carried the bag of fruits on her shoulder and walked through a banana farm. She took some bananas and put them in her bag. That is bad behaviour. She saw a monkey taking some bananas too. The sun was hot. Mansa was getting tired. She balanced the bag on her head. She was able to swing her arms to walk a little faster.

The sun was up in the sky. It made her hot. Mansa sat under the shade of some pawpaw trees to rest. A pawpaw fell from the tree and hit her on the head. She looked up. There was a little monkey that followed her. Mansa was cross. The monkey pulled a face. Mansa dragged her bag on the ground behind her. Then she swung it from side to side. The sun was going down. She has to go back home. But she cannot find her way. Mansa played hide and seek with the monkey.

Mansa saw a little shed in a farm of pineapples far away under some mango trees. Mansa tried the door and went in. It was very cool inside. There was a straw hat on the wall. She tried it on and put it back. The monkey put it on his head. Mansa laughed. There were some large shoes under the window. She put them on. There were two beautiful large cloths hanging on a nail. She took one and wrapped it round herself. She used the other one and wrapped it round her head like her mum does. Mansa could smell some food. On a low table there was a plate of food. She smelt it and had a taste using her finger. It was not very nice. She pulled a face. The monkey pulled a face too. She sat on a low seat near the table. The wind blew the door open. In the door way stood the large lady she saw in the market. Mansa stood up. She was frightened. The lady was cross. Mansa started to cry and said that she was sorry. The lady said it was bad behaviour to go into people’s houses without being asked to do so. It was bad behaviour to help your self to things that don’t belong to you. She said ‘I am Mama Bobolanga’. The monkey is my friend.

Mama Bobolanga took Mansa back home safe to her mum who was also very cross because she was looking for Mansa. Mama bobolanga and Mansa’s mum became friends. Mansa goes to the market on market days to help Mama Bobolanga and brings back yams and pineapples for dinner.

Poems

On a visit to Ghana, Miso’shi’s son (13 at the time) was inspired to write several poems about the people and places he saw. We hope to add stories and poems written in the course of Miso’shi’s visits in the near future.

The Anthills – Alex (13)

It towers above the ground by the road side,
Casting a strange shadow.
Standing motionless as though it has always been there.

This giant brick red castle with its many turrets,
Looks out over the countryside
Waiting…

Suddenly movement.
A soldier peers out from an opening.
Then another.

Soon an army of troops are streaming from every part.
As they reach the ground they charge toward me,
Thousands and thousands of feet move in silence.

I decide to run,
Evading capture easily.
No shots are fired,
The damage is repaired silently.

The structure is silent.
Long deserted.
I give it a poke,
Just to make sure.

Part of the castle crumbles,
And blows away in the breeze.
Slipping through my fingers.

The Streets – Alex (13)

Who knows who they are,
Who knows where they are going,
All I know is,
They are in my way.

Barging and pushing,
Shoving and wading,
All I know is,
They are in my way.

Some are selling,
Some are shopping,
All I know is,
They are in my way.

People are shouting,
People are singing,
All I know is,
They are in my way.

I need to keep moving,
I’ve got places to be,
Don’t they know…
They are in my way?

I get shoved in the back,
A man brushes past,
He turns round to say
Boy you’re in my way!

Memories of the Beach – Alex (13)

Outside my window it rains.
The wind blows the trees,
Playing a cruel game.
I can’t go outside.

But if I close my eyes and try,
I can go anywhere.
Anytime I want to.

I’m lying on a beach in Ghana,
Sitting under a palm tree for shade.
The wind is not cruel here,
She gently caresses the leaves.
Soothing my mind.

Waves break on the shore,
Bringing gifts from far away,
And short relief from the baking sun.

Gallery

This is the gallery where we put some of the pictures that show Miso’shi in action. If you’ve ever met Miso’shi then you know that still images don’t do her justice! However, these pictures should give you some idea of the things Miso’shi does during her visits.

Miso'shi drumming

children drumming

Miso'shi with primary school children