New exhibit features the Asafo of Ghana

Flag Dancer at Oguaa Fetu Afehye Festival (No. 5 Company), 2009, by Amy Masko
Flag Dancer at Oguaa Fetu Afehye Festival (No. 5 Company), 2009, by Amy Masko
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Amy Masko, assistant professor of English at Grand Valley State University, was awarded a Fullbright Fellowship in 2009-10 to conduct research and teach at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa. One aspect of her research is illustrated in an ethnographic photography exhibition, “The Asafo of Ghana: A Life History of an Asafo Flag Dancer,” in the Lake Ontario Hall Red Wall Gallery through September 19.

Masko investigated contemporary Ghana through the life of Nana Otu, a young Fraanketanyi, and a flag dancer in Asafo No. 1 Company in Cape Coast, Ghana. Historically the Asafos served as militia groups. Today the groups perform exclusively as part of spiritual rituals.

The photographs illustrate the life of the Asafo. The exhibit highlights the Fetu Afeye Festival, a harvest festival held in Cape Coast every August. The Asafo play a significant role in this festival, holding spiritual rituals to bless the lagoon for bountiful fishing, burning cleansing fires to clear negative spirits, and holding drumming rituals to communicate with the ancestors.

For more information, contact the GVSU Art Gallery at 616-331-2563.