Bernard Woma

Bernard Woma

From Rebecca Skinner Green It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that Bernard Woma, long-time friend of BGSU, passed away on Friday (April 27) in Kentucky. Many of you know Bernard and/or attended or participated in his performances, workshops, and guest performances. His troupe Saakumu had already left for Ghana, and he had intended to follow mid-May. However, his battle with cancer was simply too much for him. He was a consummate performer, and performed non-stop until only a couple of days before he passed away, including having performed here at BGSU just two weeks prior. (Click for story.)On stage he was energized and empowered, by the music, the dance, the performance, the audience. He truly loved what he did and it lifted him up, and as it did everyone around him. He touched the lives of an incredible number of people, in Ghana, across the US, and beyond. As Master Musician for the country of Ghana, who toured with the National Dance company of Ghana, Bernard was a talented musician, educator, performer, who was hard working and full of life — an ambassador for Ghana, its music and dance, and its culture. He founded the Dagara Music Center in 2000, in consultation with BGSU professors Steven Cornelius and Rebecca L. Green, with BGSU students being the first set of students to stay at the center after it was built. BGSU has either taken students to Bernard’s center in Ghana or invited Bernard to our campus 16 times in the last 18 years–the connections run deep. Sections of the interior walls of the DMC have been painted by various groups who have come to study there. BGSU’s painting, done by Gordon Ricketts, figures prominently. Cornelius, Green, and Ricketts have taken and/or sent students from BGSU and beyond to the DMC nine times since 2000, studying xylophone, drum, flute, and dance, as well as batik, weaving, blacksmithing, painting, pottery, and drum-making. The experiences there were life-changing. Because not everyone could travel to Ghana, Woma toured the United States every year, first by himself and later with Saakumu, bringing…


Ghanaian master drummer Bernard Woma has wake up call for BGSU students

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Master drummer Bernard Woma has greeted presidents and royalty to his native Ghana. On Tuesday morning he greeted students in Bowling Green State University’s School of Art with the throbbing sound of drums, and the swirl of dancers. Most of those in the audience in the lobby of the Bryan Gallery were students in Rebecca Skinner Green’s African art class, but the ranks of listeners swelled as the rhythm reverberated around the building. They didn’t stay observers for long. On the second dance, members of Woma’s Saakumu dance troupe summoned those in the audience to join the line, instructing them as they danced, on the steps and gestures. “We share the music together,” Woma said. “We share the experience together, so you better understand.” Ghanaian music is participatory. Woma has been coming to BGSU every few years since 2001. This week’s two-day stay with his dance troupe will culminate with a free performance Wednesday night at 7 in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre in Wolfe Center for the Arts. He said that when he first opened his Dagara Music Center in 1998, a BGSU group led by Skinner Green and Steven Cornelius was the first to come to study there. Woma said he was born to be a drummer. He came out of his mother’s womb with his fists clenched as if gripping a pair of mallets. That marked him as a gyil player. His grandfather played the instrument, a Ghanaian xylophone, as did his uncle. While his father didn’t play he loved to dance. So Woma grew up in a home full of music and dance. At 2 he was banging out the melodies he’d heard. His musical education began long before his formal “European” education. When he completed that, he headed to the capital city of Accra where he joined the National Dance Ensemble. The government brought together the best musicians from the country’s more than 60 ethnic regions. By the time President and Mrs. Clinton came to visit in 1998, he was the master drummer of the troupe. Clinton was intrigued by the enormous ceremonial drum, and…