National Theatre play 'Ayiyii' displays Ghana’s rich culture

BY: By Gifty Owusu-Amoah and Linda Owusu-Ansah
National Theatre play 'Ayiyii' displays Ghana's rich culture
A scene from the play

It is said that the culture of a people identifies them and patrons who attended the public showing of the National Theatre’s latest play Ayiyii over the weekend, witnessed the display of Ghana’s rich culture and traditions.

Right from the opening of the play, the customs of the people of Wa were enacted when Ayiyii's mother, Mrs Yarney conceives him for 16 months. Per the customs and rituals required for such an occurrence, guests were taken through the customary rites to make her deliver.

Ayiyii, the lead character is born and grows up with peculiar traits uncommon among other children of his age.

This pushes him to seek greener pastures far away from his land of birth and this is how the plot unfolds, taking patrons through the regions and displaying their rich culture.

After hearing that there is gold in other places, Ayiyii sets out on a journey to get some. His first stop is at the Bono Region where he learns the culture of the people through their festivals.

Ayiyii gets to experience funeral rites as part of the culture of the Ashantis

From there, he moves to the Ashanti Region and gets to experience funeral rites as a major part of the people’s culture. Still in search of gold using his cunning ways, he moves to other places till he gets to the Central Region. There, he finds a wife and patrons get to know the customary rites of the people.

Not satisfied with the outcome of his sojourns since he hasn’t found gold, Ayiyii moves on till he gets to the Greater Accra Region. With no knowledge or experience in boxing which is common among Ga-Dangmes, he gets involved in a boxing bout where he loses miserably.

Ayiyii gets a thrashing when he gets involved in a boxing bout

Still with the indigenes, Ayiyii gets to experience the rituals for the fortification and blessings of twins and their families by the Ga people. He also celebrates the Homowo festival with the people but with his greedy nature, he steals a bowl of “kpokpoi” the traditional food for the celebration of Homowo under the assumption that it’s a pot of gold.
Unfortunately for him, he is caught and in his attempt to escape from the wrath of the people, the pot of kpokpoi falls and breaks into pieces.

In a post-show interview with the Artistic Director of the Ghana Drama Company, Mawuli Semevor, he mentioned that the play is an enactment of the popular folklore Ananse and the Gold Pot.

The play is interspersed with dances from the various regions making it a delight to watch. Costumes used are very apt and rich depicting the various cultures of the people of Ghana as well as their dance and food.

Ayiyii uses dance an element to display the rich culture of Ghana

The piece, which is presented under the umbrella of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is a collaboration between the three resident groups of the National Theatre namely National Drama Company, National Dance Company and the National Symphony Orchestra and Professor Sowah Mensah, a playwright, composer and writer.

There will be an encore of the play on Saturday, November 13 and Sunday, November 14.