The maiden Kumasi Carnival brought together Caribbean Culture with Ghanaian culture through music and costume. The event celebrated the coming together of the global African diaspora with our local Ghanaian community. The events took place from 29th October – 2nd November. There were a number of activities that lead to the climax parade on Saturday with a procession through the streets of Kumasi.
“Carnival brings attention…it brings people and for the year of return, it was perfect,” said John-Michael Appiah-Acheampong, Project Manager for the Kumasi Carnival and Director of Mas Africa. “People get to come back to their roots…the people from the Caribbean that came, they are used to carnivals and they get to come for something that feels like home.”
Globally, carnival parades feature bright, elaborate costumes that can take several days and even months to create. For this first Kumasi Carnival, designer Barbara Nyarko was invited to participate and she flew from the U.K. to assist with creating the costumes. When asked why she wanted to be a part of this event she said, “As a proud African, I made it my goal to run community projects that brought together Africans and Caribbeans.” As the Director of the Carnival Arts & Masquerade Foundation which represents Mas Bands in Notting Hill Carnival, she said, “I realised that the Year of Return and Kumasi Carnival was a way to drive more of our people home, something dear to my heart and Carnival is a vehicle to help return our diasporans home.”
Nyarko said that it took, on average, 2 weeks to train people to sew the costumes The long-term vision is to train local designers how to make these costumes to a standard where Ghana can begin exporting the costumes to other countries for carnival. It’s a way to build something new in Ghana’s fashion business.
The parade started at the COCOBOD building and ended at the Kumasi Street Fair with a few performances. People from the U.K., Suriname, Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean and South America travelled to experience this first annual event. Miss Trinidad and Tobago UK National Queen, Sophia Wassiville, she said that the importance of Carnival’s roots was to celebrate the freedom from slavery, celebrate us [black people] being ourselves.” It’s a way of expressing ourselves with colour, rhythms, soca and dancing. That’s what it’s all about.”