Nestled on 200 plus acres of land, designated as an arboretum, Haverford College may be best known for being a Top Ten, nationally ranked liberal arts college and for notable alumni such as Fox News channel’s Juan Williams, actor Daniel Dae Kim and sports agent Arn Tellem.
Through “innovative scholarship and responsible civic engagement around contemporary issues of global significance,” Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship’s international internship program has inspired students to share their experiences once back on campus.
Graduating senior and English major Robin Riskin has made the most of her collegiate experience and internships abroad.
With a concentration in Africana studies and having visited Ghana twice, she was inspired to bring some of Ghana’s top music artists to the campus.
“The Ghanaian Music // Global Entrepreneurship (GMGE) symposium was conceived to explore how Ghanaian artists have harnessed the powers of new media and technology to create a global movement through music,” Riskin said. “With everyone giving a little, we were able to make it happen.”
A driving force behind the GMGE series of events, Riskin led a 17-member planning committee of students from Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore Colleges, a tri-college symposium — Tri-Co — that explored questions and creative practices concerning global entrepreneurship in Ghanaian music.
“When I conceived GMGE, I didn’t quite realize what I was getting into,” she said. “I’d organized a Ghanaian photo exhibition and panel before, but the Tri-Co students took the symposium in directions I had not even imagined including film, graphic design, digital media and musical.”
The three-day symposium featured an array of events including panel discussions with Ghanaian artists and students from Bryn Mawr’s 360° class who recently returned from Ghana. Film screenings of “HomeGrown: HipLife in Ghana,” a feature-length documentary about Ghanaian Hiplife group V.I.P. (Vision In Progress); Blitz the Ambassador’s “Native Sun,” a musical journey and striking short film, provided context and background to issues in Ghanaian music and global commerce.
Rolling Stone (Germany) has written that Blitz the Ambassador’s music “sounds like the future of African music,” which is a combination of hip-hop, highlife, reggae, funk and world beat dubbed “Afropolitan fusion.”
GMGE was capped off by a high energy concert featuring Blitz the Ambassador, Derrick N. Ashong (DNA) & Soulfège, and Paapa. A lively DNA said “the show was off the hook and the energy from the students kept us all running on a high all night!”
Miriam Abaya of Jos, Nigeria, a second-year Haverford student and member of the school’s Outskirts A Cappella group, enjoyed “dancing to music with fellow Africans who recognized the beats and knew the (Azonto — Ghana’s most recent and popular creative export) dance moves. I enjoyed Paapa most, because he is an artist who shares my faith, and I could identify with him.”
A freshman at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, singer, rapper and producer, Paapa found the concert to be “almost unreal, and reminded me how influential music is in sharing Ghana’s culture with the rest of the world.”
“Being able to share my songs of faith and hope with strangers and being able to represent God and my country is as memorable as it gets,” he said of the experience.
Paapa is connected to Haverford through his friend and GMGE planning committee member Papa Buckman, as well as working with Riskin in Ghana.
I helped to found Nima Muhinmanchi Art (NMA), of which Paapa is creative director,” Riskin said.
T-shirts were sold during the GMGE events to benefit NMA, a community art program in Nima, in the Accra region in Ghana, that empowers junior high school students through workshops in the arts.
“I hope that the momentum continues, and that GMGE inspires underclassmen [of the Tri-Co] to continue to organize programs of their own in the future,” Riskin said.