My Experience with Aloha Africa – A Cultural Exchange
by Jessi Jardin

When Isa Maria asked me to participate in a cultural exchange with Ghana, I said “yes” without reservation.

ALOHA AFRICA was a collaboration of Ernest Borlabi Borketey, master drummer from Ghana, LOVE TRIBE members isa Maria, Melody Harringer, Miliki Lani, Marisa Duggan, Rachel Kattlove, Kay Patrizio, Sharon Gonzales and Jessi Jardin along with TAARANGO’s Paul Jardin and Kalaka.

With Ernest as our orchestrator, we learned the rhythmical complexity and cultural significance of Ghanaian music. In exchange, I introduced Ernest to the ipuheke, lei making, foods and medicine of Hawaii. He was a most receptive student. His smile is so radiant.  It speaks to you as brightly as his djembe.

When you dance and make music together, there is joy spread throughout the community.  The Hawaiian culture embodies a spiritual way a life.  Hula is life.  Hula is Hawaiian culture.

Ernest attended the opening of the Taumako project and joined with us to ho’opa’a “Huki i ke kalo”.  He attended our Ho’ike Hula 2007 in which we performed the India program with halau members who did not go on the trip.  He gave Kaua’i drumming from Ghana.  We gave him Aloha from Kaua’i.

On June 23 we celebrated ALOHA AFRICA Ho’ike 2007.  Members of Ka Imi Na’auao o Hawai’i Nei joined with Ernest in opening the show.  With Pu blowing, chanting and hula, our ho’opaa from Ghana was radiant. To culminate the show, we invited the audience to join us for a drum circle.  Most of the audience members rushed to the stage to happily participate in what would become a most uplifting experience.   Joy was spread throughout the community.  ALOHA AFRICA was a successful project.

We now have an invitation from Richard Kwabena, the director of Aloha Africa in Ghana, to bring our gift of hula to his country!