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Dumsor On Instagram: Amid Chronic Power Outages, A Space For Creativity Opens In Ghana

Amid chronic power outages, a space for creativity opens in Ghana.


Image: The Black Narrator

Power outages in Ghana have become so well-recognized that they have been given a local name: dumsor (a combination of the Twi words for "off" and "on"). Since December 2014, the condition has grown increasingly worse, especially for Ghanaians who live in the southern half of the country. Recently, they’ve battled frequent and lengthy dumsor spells that often last 24 hours, followed by 12 hours with light.

The increasingly aggressive outages have resulted in scores of Ghanaians losing their jobs, as the electricity schedule has made it nearly impossible for businesses to uphold consistent hours during the week.

Dumsor has become a cultural item. There is a flashlight app for Android phones named after it. Sarkodie, one of Ghana’s most celebrated rappers, released a highlife-infused track in its name. The Dumsor Must Stop Campaign was inaugurated both by a protest in Accra and a trending hashtag on Twitter.

It has also become an outlet through which locals frustrated with the government’s handling (or lack thereof) of the issue can make light of the situation, and flex their creativity through the increasingly popular medium of short videos. Below, we take a look at how a few Ghanaians have been reimagining dumsor on Instagram.

Tamerra Griffin is a Bay Area native currently living in Brooklyn. She holds an M.A. in journalism and Africana studies from New York University, and writes for BuzzFeed News. She loves transnational literature, pick-up soccer, chicken yassa, and live-tweeting her favorite TV shows. Follow her on Twitter at @tamerra_nikol.

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9 Must-Hear Songs From Ghana's Buzzing Drill Scene

We give you the rundown on Ghana's drill movement, Asakaa, and the most popular songs birthed by it.

Red bandanas, streetwear, security dogs, and gang signs. If you've been paying any attention to the music scene in Ghana over the past few months, then by now you would have noticed the rise of a special hip-hop movement. The movement is called Asakaa, and it's the Ghanaian take on the Chicago-born subgenre of hip-hop called drill music. It's fresh, it's hot, it's invigorating and it's nothing like anything you've seen before from this part of the world.

The pioneers of Asakaa are fondly referred to by the genre's patrons as the Kumerica boys, a set of budding young rappers based in the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. They came into the limelight towards the end of 2020, and have been dropping banger after banger since then, topping several charts and racking up millions of views collectively. The rap is charismatic, the visuals are captivating, and their swag is urban. Characterized by Twi lyrics, infectious hooks, and sinister beats, the allure and appeal of both their art and their culture is overflowing.

"Sore," one of the benchmark songs of the movement, is a monster hit that exploded into the limelight, earning Kumerican rapper Yaw Tog a feature on Billboard Italy and a recent remix that featured Stormzy. "Ekorso" by Kofi Jamar is the song that took over Ghana's December 2020, with the video currently sitting at 1.3 million views on YouTube. "Off White Flow" is the song that earned rapper Kwaku DMC and his peers a feature on Virgil Abloh's Apple Music show Televised Radio. These are just a few examples of the numerous accolades that the songs birthed from the Asakaa movement have earned. Ghana's drill scene is the new cool, but it isn't just a trend. It's an entire movement, and it's here to stay.

Want to get familiar? Here we highlight the most prominent songs of the Asakaa movement that you need to know. Here's our rundown of Ghana's drill songs that are making waves right now. Check them out below.

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