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Friday, January 31, 2014

Working with Dinani Cultural Performance Group

In our last blog post we briefly introduced you to Dinani. This week we're going to let you know more about the details of Dinani, their accomplishments so far, and just how painful it is to dance with them bare footed.

Chief Anusa (the smiley one) with the rest of the drummers
So as mentioned previously, Dinani are a cultural drumming and dancing performance group set up by Chief Anusa to give under-privileged children the chance to learn about traditional African performing, whilst also teaching them life skills from being part of the Dinani community.

On top this, however, Dinani are also now at the point where they can perform in front of audiences, and this is where their work RAINS comes in. As part of our 'Girls Project', we are aiming to educate young girls (and boys) about contraceptive and sexual health. There are many myths about contraceptives in Ghana, such as the common myth that if you take long acting reversible contraceptives (like the implant or pill) you will  become permanently infertile.

The traditional Fontomfrom drums
Previous RAINS volunteer cohorts have found that 44% of young mothers in Nayorku (a village in our intervention area of West Mamprusi, northern region) had received no formal education about sexual health whilst 76% said that they had no extensive knowledge of contraception. When asking teachers, they found that 68% of teachers felt that they did not have sufficient information to teach sexual education effectively. When asked about ways that sexual health learning could be improved, the most popular chosen answer (43%) was to 'present it in a more interesting way'.

This of course leads us straight into how we began our work with Dinani. With the knowledge about the need to make sexual health education more interesting and already having learnt about Dinani, we set about working in partnership with Dinani. The end product was a performance which told a story that taught the audience about sexual health, correct knowledge of contraceptives and positive family planning life lessons. So far, one performance has been held in Gbimsi (a rural community in West Mamprusi) which acted as a pilot and taught us many lessons for what needs to be looked over for the next performance but also was a promising start.

Us trying (and failing) to keep up
On the fun side of things, we went along to a Dinani rehearsal last Thursday to say hello to everyone involved but also test out our African dancing skills (bare footed, of course). The dancing involved us attempting to follow Dinani's lead as we grouped up into a circle and preceded to embarrass ourselves horrendously (whilst Charlie took photos...) and annihilate our 'white people's feet'. The dancing is very fun to partake in, very rhythmical and lively, but I cannot say the same for my feet - even half a week later.


To finish off, here is a very brief video sample of Dinani performing! - Please excuse the dodgy camera work, I blame the blisters.