National Theatre celebrates Harriet Tubman

By: Gifty Owusu-Amoah
National Theatre celebrates Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman (in black and holding a gun) leads some slaves through the underground railroad

PATRONS who thronged the National Theatre from Thursday, February 21 to Saturday, February 23 to watch the play, Araminta! Harriet Tubman Lives had an enlightening experience reliving the experience of the slave woman whose name is etched in American history.

The piece, honouring Harriet Tubman, who was born Araminta "Minty" Ross and whose roots have been traced to Ghana, tells of the heroic feats of the female cook in the Union army who became the most famous “conductor” on the underground rail.

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The play opens with slaves in shackles and chains being taken from the Gold Coast to the Americas and Europe and little Harriet being whipped mercilessly for dipping her hand in the “mistress’" sugar bowl.

She becomes a liberty fighter who has the freedom of other slaves at heart and hatches a plan to rescue some slaves from their master’s plantation.

Harriet was a leading abolitionist

Harriet risks her life to lead hundreds of other slaves including her family from the plantation to freedom using an elaborate secret network of safe houses.

A leading abolitionist before the American Civil War, the play details how as a cook and nurse, Harriet Tubman also helped the Union Army during the war by working as a spy among other roles which she excelled at.

After the Civil War ended, Tubman dedicated her life to helping impoverished former slaves and the elderly.

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At the end of it all, Tubman's Fante descendants celebrate her legacy as a freedom fighter and contributor to ending the slave trade. For the Fantes, her name, Araba Mintah was corrupted into Araminta.

A durbar is held by Tubman's Fante descendants to celebrate her legacy

Araminta! Harriet Tubman Lives was co-choreographed/written/ directed by Stephanie Ursula Yamoah, Acting Artistic Director, National Dance Company; Andrea Vonny Lee, Special Guest artist; Mawuli Semevo, Artistic Director, resident theatre company; and Isaac Annoh, Director, National Symphony Orchestra.

Artistic Director of the resident theatre company of the National Theatre, Mawuli Semevo, speaking after the play.

The production weaves together West African ring shouts, African American Negro spirituals, dance and storytelling.

The staging of Araminta! Harriet Tubman Lives is part of the National Theatre's activities marking Ghana's Year of Return. The Year of Return seeks to make Ghana the focus for millions of African descendants tracing their ancestry and their identity.


The audience enjoyed the play.

In a short message after the play, Executive Director of the National Theatre, Amy Appiah Frimpong, said the play is the first major production for the Theatre after the launch of its strategic plan to be the beacon of the Performing Arts of Ghana.

“What’s really important about this year is our focus on consistently setting the highest standards of artistic expression and we hope to bring such historic plays to you our audience in our subsequent productions,” she stated.

 PICTURES BY NII MARTEY BOTCHWAY