High Life (or Ghanaian pop music) combines reggae, rock, and traditional beats into a single, feel-good genre that floods radio stations across the nation. We attended a live High Life concert beside an empty soccer stadium in Kumasi, where a band played inside an elevated tent upon a large cement clearing. When we arrived , the scene was nearly empty. The Americans danced alone beneath the scrutinizing stares of the few Ghanaian couples who came to sit and relax.
As the hours pushed forward, the audience expanded and Ghanaians shuffled onto the dance floor. Dizzied by liquour, we clung to the bodies of strangers and danced to unfamiliar rhythms.
One man, Nanaprempeh, took me by the waist and clung to it for the remainder of the evening. Pressed close to his chest with my head bent down, I could not even see his face. I only heard his deep voice as he continuously barked a request to his friends:
“Kwame! Simon! Picture! Picture!”
Once again, I felt like a white trophy: prized only because of the palor of my skin, and acquired only because I was too passive reject my own objectification.
When we sat down to rest, he wrapped his arms around me, pointed me out to another Ghanaian friend, and said, “This is MY Julie.”
This was my cue to escape and take a walk. From a short distance away, I enjoyed all the liberties of solitude and wouldn’t return until the concert had petered into silence.