building our dream
For the Children
Maputo Mensah is devoted to building a new center for the arts in the beautiful Ghaniain coastal village of Kokrobite, on land he already owns. This center will be a venue for teaching and preserving West Africa's traditional arts, and will give young people a place to grow into the next generation of world-class artists. It will also give these young ones focus and direction in life as they learn the deep cultural traditions that underpin the songs, dances, and stories of Africa.
Today, the children have no place to practice, and no one to teach them. They are hungry to learn, hungry for something positive to do that gives them identity and hope for their futures. Maputo absorbed the life-affirming values embodied in the arts of Africa from his parents and mentors, and his deepest wish is to pass those values on to future generations.
For the Art
As the now-closed Academy of African Music and Arts did, the Akpe Cultural Center will attract students of all ages from the rest of the world, including established artists wishing to infuse their own work with the sound and soul of Africa. Stevie Wonder came to AAMA; so did Rita Marley, Isaac Hayes, and Steve Coleman.
The Akpe Cultural Center will preserve and offer the best in traditional African arts, but it will also provide space and opportunity for experimentation, fusion, and in many ways, therapy. Just as children are nurtured by the arts of Africa, adults find these arts uniquely healing to the spirit. They are increasingly needed in today’s world.
For the People
When AAMA was open, the roads between Accra and Kokrobite were jammed each weekend with people — including high government officials and diplomats — headed to AAMA for the best in entertainment. Since AAMA’s demise, the economy of the Kokrobite area has suffered. When the Akpe Cultural Center is complete, it will once again draw visitors and generate jobs in the entire area. The whole community is excited about the project. Adults and kids alike check progress frequently, volunteer to help, and eagerly await opening day.
Where We Are Now
The new cultural center is well underway. We've done a lot of work for a very modest amount of money. In the summer of 2015, thanks to small donations, we laid foundations. That winter, we poured supporting columns up to ground-floor level. In the summer of 2016, we removed clay from the foundations, replaced it with stable sand, and then topped off the foundations.
At the beginning of 2017, we poured the ground floor of the cultural center, and in the summer of 2017, we poured the columns to support the second floor. During this past summer, we began to pour concrete for that next floor.
This spring, we completed the concrete for the second floor, and this summer, we began to build walls on the ground floor. What a transformation! People in Kokrobite are very excited to see the cultural center taking real shape.
Our next goal is to complete the electrical and plumbing work on the ground floor, then continue to the second floor. That floor needs to be substantially complete before we can make the ground floor weather tight and install doors and windows.
Once that is done, we can install our suspended, resilient dance floor — the only one in the region. This is a critical milestone. Once the dance and ground floor infrastructures are complete, we can begin to teach and host events, and the Akpe Cultural Center will start to generate its own income as construction continues.
What the Future Holds
When the Akpe Cultural Center is complete, professional musicians and dancers will not have to find makeshift spaces in Kokrobite to teach and perform. They will have a venue worthy of their talent and worthy of the students who come to learn from them. Here are just a few of those artists, showing their skill despite the cramped quarters.
OUR GOAL: $350,000
CURRENT FUNDING: $97,712.00
WHAT WE NEED NOW: $75,000