Culture & Tourism

Wazumbians take Jankalanga Festival to +233

The Wazumbians have had considerable success abroad over the last few years, and they are ready to give music lovers here an idea of how they have employed sparkling African rhythms to capture hearts elsewhere, particularly in the United States.

Their Jankalanga Festival slated for Saturday, March 16 at the +233 Jazz Bar & Grill in Accra will unfold a mix of well worked-out rhythms and dances that the band’s leader, Francis Chapman Abban-Hagan, known widely as Wazumbi, says demonstrates the intensity of artistic expression from this part of the world.

‘Jankalanga’ is a word he coined in 2018 to represent the content and style of presentation of his band. They rely on Highlife blended with other traditional and contemporary popular grooves, accompanied with engaging dance moves.

Starting as a live show on Facebook, the Jankalanga Festival gained more traction at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Wazumbi, he created it to present African rhythms, melodies, knowledge and stories, and has largely maintained the format since 2018. 

Even though the music was rooted in Ghana, it was more popular with international audiences. 
Analysts told the  Wazumbians they were reaching international ears in a far greater number.

Though it started as an online project, the band takes the show on the road whenever possible. The +233 performance is a chance for fans to appreciate the full force of the Wazumbians live on stage.     

 “Our aim is to thoroughly entertain audiences. That’s why we always offer a versatile repertoire and leave a positive impression about Ghana’s rich and diverse cultural output. We are in the Ghana Month at the moment so everything is going to be massively Ghanaian,” the band’s  leader pointed out. 

Guest acts for the upcoming Jankalanga Festival are Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Dela Botri and King Ayisoba. They are musicians who have in their own unique ways spread Ghanaian music around the world. 

“They perfectly fit the bill,” Wazumbi says of the guests on the programme. “Botri has been criss-crossing the world with his bamboo flute and we have similar mindsets about how to make our music appeal to a variety of audiences. Ayisoba has used his kologo string instrument to draw attention to Ghana. Ambolley is like a mentor to us.”

Knowing the type of discerning audience that often patronise events at +233, Wazumbi says they have been rehearsing hard and would put up a good showing on March 16.

The band is grateful to Afromondo Music  Promotions and ASK-TK Studios in Accra for having their back all the time. 

The Wazumbians toured France and the United States in 2022. They went back to the US in 2023 and managed to further entrench their status as a band with a high level of musicianship. They are due back there by May this year for a tour that will also take them to Canada, Colombia and Brazil.

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