Northern Heritage is pleased to have an interaction with Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed who is a traditional dancer. He comes from Lamashegu traditional area, he is a chief linguist and popularly known as Lamashegu Diema Naa Wulana. He is a passionate dancer and has been dancing since childhood. To him the art is an expression of his cultural lineage.
He will be telling us his experiences as a Nabiagu and Jara dancer, his perspective on northern culture and the way forward for him.
The program was handled by one of our moderators, Iddrisu Maani.
Maani: Can you please tell me about yourself?
Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed: My name is Abdul Basit, I am native of lamashegu, from Tamal Naa's house. Lamashegu is my birth town and I grew up there. Growing up as a child, it was full of happiness and excitement because my mother and father took good care of me, they never took me for granted, attending to my basic needs was their priority. I started dancing in the year 2008 and I have been dancing till date, which is roughly 11 years now. As we sit here, I perform Naabiagu and Jara dance with ecstasy and enthusiasm. The whole of Dagbong can attest to this.
Maani: How did you learn to dance the Naabiagu and Jara dance? And becoming one of the best traditional dancers in Dagbong. Who taught you how to dance?
Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed: The truth of the matter is that, it runs through the blood. I inherited it. Whoever knows my father and me will say it is inheritance. No body taught me how to dance. It occurred in my grandfather’s funeral ceremony. People were dancing all kind of traditional dances as I was keenly watching them, I got enthused, so I joined them. I entered into the procession, you know per tradition, one will need a smock to showcase his or her dance prowess during a traditional dance. I entered my grandfather’s room and brought out one old smock and joined the dancing crowd. The attention I gained when I was in the crowd dancing was overwhelming. All onlookers were on me. Since then, I said to myself, I have to embrace dancing as my work. That was how and where I started dancing. No body taught me how to dance.
Maani: What is your most memorable moment as a traditional dancer?
Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed: One of my memorable performance is the one I had at Goaso in the Ahafo Region. We went there for a Damba festival dance. I was the most cherished on that very day, I felt very exceptional. At the hotel we lodged in, people still came to catch a glimpse of me. Our feeding, our transportation and the monies I had from there was uncountable, it was more than a gold. They wished I could dance and dance till the moon goes down and the sun comes up.
Maani: What is your inspiration that you have decided to be a professional cultural dancer?
Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed: I have come to the realization that dancing is part of my culture, whether I dance or not. If I don’t dance and nobody dances, my cultural dance will one day fade away. As a proud son of Dagbon and prince I shouldn’t live to see my culture fade away. In the light of this, I realized that I have to continue to be a dancer, so that, the next generation will emulate my dancing legacies. Also, it is a way to preserve our unique culture.
Maani: What is your opinion on northern cultural dance?
Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed: In my opinion, Northern culture and traditions are very unique and interesting. I hope to see more northerners embrace and accept their culture, practice it and project it to the world. As a proud lineage of Dagbon, our culture is of much interest to me and I wish that my brothers and sisters will take the same level of interest. Moreover, Northern Cooperate organizations and NGOs have a key role in supporting and selling our culture to the wider world. In fact, northern youths have committed themselves in learning our cultural dance.
And traditions and cultures of other northern tribes also need to be embraced by their people. Such an attitude will together help project the culture of northern Ghana.
Maani: What do you mean by support? Are you seeking for financial or advisory support?
Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed: As for the zeal and energy to dance, young men like me got it already. In tamale here, we have about four cultural dance troops where our cultural dances are being practiced and taught. Cultural Centre is under the state, we have the youth home, where people learn how to dance our cultural dances and also Tahama dance group. When I say support, I mean costume, if I don’t put on the right costume to perform a particular dance, you wouldn’t admire my performance. So, I need to put on the right costume to display my cultural dancing skills. Costume itself is part of our cultural performance. If I know how to dance and I can’t afford the requisite costume it is zero.
Maani: In a nutshell, how can we sell our cultural dances to the world?
Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed: In order to exhibit our cultural dances to the world, our brothers out there can aid us, I mean the cultural and arts experts together with cultural ambassadors, the Ghana Tourism Board, they know how rich our cultural dances are. They can come in here frequently to organize national or regional cultural dance and exhibition. Also, Media houses and entertainment blogs can start putting our videos on their platforms. It will create conducive environments for the outside world to get to see our cultural practices and learn about us. As for preserving our cultural dances we are proudly doing it and it is a good way not only for the outside world but to our future generations too.
Enjoy the videos of Mr. Abdul Basit Mohammed dancing!!