Partnership case-study: Kweku Sackey (K.O.G)
Read about professional musician Kweku Sackey's work with us, including how the Public Engagement team supported his collaboration with academics across the University.
Kweku Sackey (K.O.G) is an internationally renowned professional musician, artist, songwriter, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist. Originating from Ghana, he is now based in Sheffield, UK.
Sackey refers to himself as an Afro-Futurist.
He is the frontman for his band K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade, which fuses traditional African rhythms and storytelling with live brass and percussion. He's also half of Onipa, with guitarist and producer Tom Excell (Nubiyan Twist).
Both of Sackey's bands tour internationally, and they have headlined the Jazz Cafe London. Onipa also performed at Damon Albarn's Africa Express: The Circus in March 2019.
In 2018, Sackey won the prestigious Young Commonwealth Performer of the Year and performed for Nelson Mandela's family in Melbourne, Australia.
In 2021, he performed on Later… with Jules Holland, with Nubiyan Twist.
In his partnerships with the University, Sackey has
- used his knowledge of traditional African storytelling
- created live performances with original scores
- produced visual backdrops, costume, film and dance-based narratives
I am so grateful for the opportunities provided by the Public Engagement team. I've been able to interact, learn, share and collaborate with researchers to bring awareness and expand knowledge about African culture and how art and academia can combine to provide a good balance between history, science and culture.
Childhoods at a Crossroads in Ghana
With support from Partnerships and Regional Engagement, he developed a rich partnership with academic Dr Afua Twum-Danso Imoh, in the Department of Sociological Studies, for the Festival of the Mind 2018.
As part of this, in September 2018, Sackey produced a live performance, Childhoods at a Crossroads in Ghana. This told the story of colonialism and its impact on childhood experiences.
The sell-out show had the audience on their feet dancing, with live percussion and a weaving narrative that provided key highlights from Dr Twum-Danso’s research, set to images of street life in Ghana.
Growing Up Colonial in the Gold Coast
Dr Twum-Danso was also creating her own documentary in Ghana. This was premiered in December 2018, at a further partnership event with Sackey and collaborators from his band Onipa.
Growing Up Colonial in the Gold Coast was shown to a packed audience. Onipa played a vibrant live set, surrounded by an African bazaar of traditional clothing, crafts and jewellery.
It was an amazing experience to learn about colonialism and how it has affected present-day African societies.
Learning about colonialism
Festival of Social Science 2019
For the Festival of Social Science 2019, Sackey played percussion for the Gun Clap performance. This was for Dr Todd Hartman's research into mass shootings and public support for gun control measures in the USA.
Sackey collaborated with hip-hop poet Sipho Dube to create a mesmerising and hard-hitting performance.
Festival of the Mind 2020
At the Festival of the Mind 2020, Sackey collaborated with Dr Lucy Brown, Department of History on Who's the Man?, a short film exploring masculinity in more detail.
Sackey worked with music and video producer Tom Excell, from Nubiyan Twist and Onipa.
This collaboration involved Angga Kara and participants from his men's talking group, Men Up North.
The project drew on Dr Brown's cultural-historical research into the shifting conversation about men and emotional expressiveness in the second half of the twentieth century.
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