Googling Azonto – By Kwame Gyan
I typed the word A-Z-O-N-T-O into my Google search bar. The entire search results that jumped at me were from Ghana, of course. They included mainly news items, music videos and some useful material from Wikipedia.com. The world’s largest online encyclopedia seemed to contain the only type of info one may call factual that sort to give a decent background and detail into Azonto. There really isn’t much on Wikipedia though.
Is anyone asking me what AZONTO is? Wow! You will be one strange person, especially if you are Ghanaian. If you have not, then you probably don’t listen to music, don’t read or listen to the news, or you do not know a Ghanaian aged anywhere between 7 and 35 years or so. I am horrible at dancing but if there is one dance I am prepared to hire experts from the Dance Studios at Legon to teach me, it will be the Azonto. It makes sense why musicians lately will want the Azonto rhythm incorporated in their music. I hear even some gospel artistes are considering using the rhythm and who knows which other genre will wade into this as we trudge along.
It’s caught up exceptionally well but I feel there is something we can do as a nation with Azonto that we have not done yet. I may be wrong but I think Asamoah Gyan, arguably our most influential and important footballer today, whom I claim to be my cousin for obvious reasons, has gone on to make Azonto even more popular globally through his goal celebrations for Ghana club sides Sunderland and Al Ain.
Folks, let me tell you what I am thinking we can do to gain some mileage out of this. I hope it makes sense.
What Wikipedia says
Azonto Dance is a form of dance which mainly involves movement of all the joints in your body in a rhythmic fashion taking very few steps if any. Just like most African dances, knee bending and hip movements are rudiments to dancing it. Movements in the dance include washing, driving, boxing, making-up et cetera. The dance evolved from the combination of a lot of local dance moves; some with names others without names such as the ‘waabon’ and ‘Yes-Cocoa’-from Cape Coast, Dabodabo from Tarkwa, Agbana from Accra, the stepping dance (walking in a resistive manner), the turn foot dance, etc.
The dance originated from the southern-most part of Ghana during the early parts of the 2000s. The dance has evolved with the fast pace dance culture of modern West Africa. A closer observation of the various performers also reveals break dance moves being incorporated to it and the skinny jeans/tight shirts movement being adapted to it. Azonto, though a dance may also refers to a flirtatious/cheap girl.
This is what Wikipedia says. I did not know most of it. Probably you didn’t know too. We have not taken the issue of capturing our history on paper seriously. We are often left to take in what others have written about us.
Owning the Azonto
Wikipedia says a lot more about Azonto but it is inconclusive about where exactly it began. Tema, Accra and the folks at Dansoman are all claiming ownership of Azonto. Whichever one of these areas owns it matters not to me. Important thing is, they are all here in Ghana and that is what makes me proud. Azonto is wholly Ghanaian and it is unique. We have done some pretty good job in claiming due ownership of our Adinkra symbols and our Kente even though I still think we have not done enough branding and marketing of these.
I am thinking we just may be able to do with Azonto what Latin America has done with Salsa; what the Caribbean have done with dancehall; what our French-speaking African folks have done with Mapouka; what America did with break-dancing in the 1980s; what Michael Jackson turned the moonwalk into America’s dance; and the list goes on and on; what the English have with waltz.
I believe the Ministry of Culture (is it still in existence) and the Tourism Ministry and other relevant state agencies including our Embassies across the world should not let this opportunity slip away from us. We need to own to do something with the current craze and this should come from the top, I suggest. Yes the individual artistes have put their creativity into this and some are duly earning the fame and wealth its bringing to them. But there is a greater wealth Ghana can skim out of theirs by riding on their backs.
Oh, and I think my man Sarkodie seems to be on his way to winning artiste and song of the year at the Music Awards next year with You Go Kill Me. Seems to me that that the track has somewhat become the anthem that epitomizes Azonto.
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