Tamale, in the center of Ghana’s Northern Region, is one of those cities that it’s really easy to fall in love with. At between 250,000 and 500,000 people, it’s just the right size that it’s easy to get to know the feel of the place, and to become very familiar with a couple of neighborhoods, but still feel like there is plenty left to explore. The people here are very kind and polite; even the dominant local language, Dagbani, sounds friendly. Part of the greeting etiquette is the word “N-naa,” which is said as one syllable with a heavy, elongated accent on the “aa” sound. It is impossible to be angry at someone when you say “N-naa” to them. The genial demeanor of the people, the small-town feel the city achieves despite its size, and the fact that is the economic center of the northern half of the country, dealing primarily in agribusiness, make it a popular home base for ex-patriots overwhelmed by the intense, sprawling rush of the national capitol, Accra, on the country’s southern coast, and for international NGOs that deal with more rural populations.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Fulbright-mtvU Fellowships.
The Fellowships, administered by the Institute of International Education, were established to promote the “power of music” as a global force for mutual understanding. Applications for the 2014 Fellowships are being accepted now through February 28, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time., with more information available at http://us.fulbrightonline.org/fulbright-mtvu-awards. The final selection will be made by the Presidentially-appointed J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 300,000 participants from over 155 countries with the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
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Mortero hopped onto the buseta seconds before the driver pressed on the gas to leave the center of Bogotá, and without much warning he pressed play on a battery-powered stereo, rapping indignant in his baritone voice. His lyricism spoke to many Colombians’ almost-impossible struggle for upward mobility and the agrarian paro (strike) outside of the city, soon to beat on the doors of government in Bogotá. He moved quickly throughout the bus to collect a few hundred pesos, we spoke briefly about his work, exchanged numbers, and a few days later I found myself in the studio he shares with his Beat Trafficker Records collaborators in one of the city’s southernmost neighborhoods.
Mortero is a member of protest hip hop crew Patadas al Kraneo alongside emcee Cerebro and collaborator DJ Crizpy, representing their neighorhoods Zona 5 (Usme) and Zona 17 (La Candelaria). The group’s spent eleven years building their own home studio piece by piece, self-teaching production techniques as more information and programs have become available online. Invested in their local hip hop community and having collaborated at a distance with artists as far as Ukraine, Ecuador and Spain, the group seeks to strengthen the underground Colombian movement and bring political injustices at home to light on a worldwide level through their lyrics.
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Upon settling into my apartment in Amman, I pasted a somewhat crumpled ﬂashcard in the upper-right corner of my bedroom mirror. In my messy, child-like Arabic script, the card reads “كل تأخيره فيها خيره” “, or “every delay has its beneﬁt,” a traditional Jordanian phrase used to encourage patience. I have taken these wise words to heart since arriving in Jordan as I eagerly await the delayed start of my Fulbright-mtvU project. For the next three months, I will be studying Arabic at the Qasid Arabic Institute with the support of a Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA). The CLEA program, which is funded by the National Language Security Initiative, is a supplemental scholarship available to US Fulbright Scholars. Come December, I will be researching the use of music education and community music therapy as a means for promoting psychosocial health among child refugees. Primarily, my work will focus on establishing music outreach programs for displaced youth through a collaboration with students from the Jordanian National Music Conservatory.
While I am excited for winter to arrive and for my project to begin, I am grateful for the opportunity to further my language skills. It is, after all, the beneﬁt of my scheduled delay. See you in December!
Take a taxi to Dadar Chowpatty (‘chowpatty’ means ‘beach’), a seaside garden and outdoor music amphitheater with a beautiful view of the Sea-Link bridge over Mahim Bay. “The Revival of the Bandstand Culture” (aka ‘The Bandstand Revival’) is putting on their much-awaited finale of the concert season featuring some of Mumbai’s most popular local bands. Meet Alisha Pais, singer-songwriter and music teacher-extraordinaire who has made a solid impact on India’s indie music scene, with recent appearances at the internationally-renowned Goa Sunburn music festival, among others. You may remember Alisha from my previous blog entry of the “Work-in-Progress” screening of my documentary at the Godrej India Culture Lab, where she gave a fabulous performance for the audience. I had the fortune of being able to catch her in mid-flight during The Bandstand Revival gig to invite her for an interview and home concert. Boy was I lucky to catch her! Here is Alisha, in the flesh and blood: