Every year, the people of Sekondi participate in a series of activities intended to mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some of these events include the stoning of Judas on Good Friday and the Yesu Asor (Jesus is Risen) celebration on Holy Sunday. Not many people are aware of this but over the last few years it’s become a huge event in the Western Region of Ghana.
I didn’t know all of this until a couple of days ago when I had the opportunity to travel to Sekondi to witness the celebrations. Don’t let the Ga man stereotype fool you, I really enjoy travelling. I like the exhilaration of being in a new community and having to figure out their social customs and your place in that community. Best of all I like the fact that when you travel to a new place, people are more willing to forgive your stupidity because you’re new and/or different.
So when Momo asked me at the last minute to join his team to shoot a documentary about the Yesu Asor activities in Sekondi, I jumped at the opportunity. If you don’t know Sekondi, it is the Rock and Roll capital of Ghana, full of booze, sex and raunchy lyrics. So this trip promised to be great.
One thing about travelling is that being in a strange place is likely to help you make discoveries about yourself and the world you live in. My trip was no different and below I present a few insights I gained while making a documentary in Sekondi, the hometown of Gyedu-Blay, song artiste extraordinaire.
Preparation is everything
The team set off on Friday morning full of vim about the creative opus we were about to create but chale things quickly went downhill once we arrived. I mean if you’re going to journey over 100 km to shoot an event you’d expect that you’d know a fair bit about that event right?
We expected that Momo, as the documentary director and a native of Sekondi would be our plug but nah, it wasn’t to be. All he knew was that there would be a stoning of a Judas effigy then a procession.
A lot of valuable man-hours were wasted just running around getting news about the timing of events, trying to identify the key characters behind the events and set up interviews with them. This meant that we had little sleep and were crabby as hell. Fortunately we completed the job but it would have been less stressful if we had done the preparation before making the trip.
No matter what your endeavor or venture is, be sure to do the research that will guide your decision making.
No matter how attuned a team is, shit is very likely to hit the fan when the leader hasn’t clearly stated what the objective is and how to achieve it. As producer and director of the documentary, Momo was to take the lead and tell us just what he wanted. However, since he had just as little information as we did, all of us started suggesting our own ideas. This led to a lot of frustration because all of us thought we had the solution.
Turns out all Momo wanted was to capture the fun and silliness of the Sekondi celebration. However the other team members wanted to approach it with all the seriousness of a World Cup Final and insisted it be about Easter and its relevance. This had us running after priests and bishops trying to get a word from them about Jesus.
Things only began to work out when Momo took charge by clearly telling us what he expected of us to make the documentary work.
Whether working on your own or as part of a team it’s important to clearly state your objectives. This way everyone can stay on track and it becomes easier to measure progress without the distraction of constantly shifting goal posts. Also, as a leader listening to feedback from your team is great but at the end of the day you’re the one going to have to yell “action”. So please make it known what your objectives are.
Don’t Stop Believing
We had stayed up all of Saturday night waiting for Kofi Kinata, who was the headline artist, to arrive and begin his show. When he hadn’t shown up after 1 AM we all agreed to go back to our hotel and catch some shut eye. Momo and I suddenly woke up to the sound of loud cheering. Kofi Kinata had arrived. We rushed downstairs only to find that our hotel entrance had been blocked by a massive crowd. The stage was adjacent to our hotel building and it seemed like the whole town had turned up to honor their hometown hero. I almost cried. I couldn’t believe that I had stayed up all night only to miss the key moment. I held myself in check and went to the hotel bartender to ask for an alternative way out. He offered to get us through the crowd.
He asked us to follow him while he hacked through the crowd. I had one arm on Momo’s shoulder while the other hand held the camera up high to protect it. The threat of a stampede was so real that I was constantly saying a silent prayer asking for forgiveness of sins because that’s how close to death I felt like.
It was a 30 second walk from our hotel entrance to the stage but it took 15 minutes to get through the mass of bodies. Fortunately, security waved me backstage and I got an even more impressive footage than I could have imagined.
I could have played it safe by staying in the hotel and writing that part of the documentary off but I’m glad I didn’t because it paid off. There was so much adrenaline pumping through my body that I was no longer bothered that just a few minutes ago I was pressed up against strange sweaty bodies while my crotch was being grabbed at several times.
Despite all the challenges I was really glad I got the opportunity to go to Sekondi because now I have invaluable gems that will help me in life, the best journey of all.
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About the Author, NiiMo
NiiMo’s life is a succession of stories which he likes to share with strangers. He’s a marketing communications professional by day and a writer at odd hours.