Kofi Kunkpe is an Ewe master drummer from the Volta Region of Ghana. He is passionate about the maintenance of traditional culture in helping to improve the lives of the people of Ghana.
As a child Kofi studied a wide range of musical instruments at Peter King College of Music in Elobo, Nigeria.
In 1996, at the age of 16, he returned to Ghana to study traditional drumming and dance with Agoro Theatre Company, based in Cape Coast. He became a professional member of the group in 1998.
Working with Agoro, Kofi travelled throughout Ghana and to Burkina Faso, promoting, performing and teaching traditional dance and drumming. Since this time he has performed and taught with a wide variety of Ghanaian and international companies including Asanti Dance Theatre (Ghana / Australia), African Footprints International (Ghana) and Wild Moves International (Australia). He also worked with Anansi Travel NGO (USA) as their djembe instructor between 2004 and 2012.
From 2007 to 2010 Kofi was employed as the Performing Arts Group manager of the Freespirit Foundation (Poland) in Moree, Ghana, teaching performing arts to disadvantaged children from the region.
In 2004 and 2006 Kofi toured to New York to perform with the Elemina Dance Ensemble (Ghana).
In 2012 Kofi moved to the Yarra Valley in Warburton, Victoria, Australia. Since this time he has performed and taught extensively throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria and New South Wales. He conducts regular classes in his hometown of Warburton and works as a percussionist with many of Melbourne's best African performers. Kofi is a skilled bass player who plays regularly with some of Melbourne's best African and contemporary musicians.
Kofi is fluent in English, Ewe, Twi and Fanti.
FEEDBACK & REFLECTIONS
Australian Theatre of the Deaf
Having Kofi as a percussionist for Australian Theatre of the Deaf’s Summer school was a joy! He brought a vibrant and enthusiastic energy which both the team and the kids all loved. Being able to see and feel the amazing rhythms which Kofi dreamed up was such a vital ingredient to the dance program and really brought a rich and deeper understanding of the movements for the school’s participants. I really look forward to working with Kofi again on future projects!’
Jo Dunbar; Dance Leader; Australian Theatre of the Deaf Summer Arts School
The workshop was a huge success. Considering the Members just jumped off a bus after having a camp shuffled around Kofi did an awesome job of getting them up and moving! They loved it. And the staff enjoyed a bit of a dance around too haha! Thanks very much and pass on our thanks to Kofi – he was GREAT!
Youth Services - Yarra Ranges Council
... an inspiring and interactive workshop for mentors and mentees covering the basics of African drumming. Kofi provided space for the group to work together perfecting certain sounds and tones while each member’s creative side was explored through individual improvised drumming. The response from both young people and adults was overwhelming and the session was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Youth Services would highly recommend Kofi and will work with him again in future.
Celebrate Mooroolbark Festival
Many thanks to Kofi for participating on the stage at Celebrate Mooroolbark on Saturday and getting the children so involved. It is what the festival is all about - family.
Pilkinton Productions - Ballarat Backyard Tasters
I loved Kofi's performance last Friday night - it really "made" the night and it was such a great ending!!
Victorian College for the Deaf
The African lessons are great for the kids… I just like to say many thanks for great achievement with the workshop. :) the assembly show was so awesome.
Yarra Valley Arts AGM
It was a great night! Thanks so much... it was nice to know I could just trust him to turn up and provide a great experience. People had a ball!
Ballarat High School
Kofi was an engaging performer who had a unique way of getting kids of all different ability levels involved. He was a great communicator and the students all still talk about the session and performance.
Princes Hill Primary School
"Energy, smile, move your body! You don't want your Mummy and Daddy sleepin' in the show!"
I have the morning after a 'big gig' feeling; a bit wonky and tired, with a big smiley warm heart. I am so thrilled to see the tremendous impact of Kofi's workshops at school. Over the last nine weeks we have had the opportunity to experience the concept that everything in life is rhythm. We were born to sing and dance; our heart beats, we are rhythm. Kofi has inspired the children to connect with this freedom. His charismatic personality and generous spirit has lifted the whole school community. We looked forward to our drumming workshops for that communal 'let it rip' in dance, song and rhythm.
The value of a Home Group achieving a well drilled drumming routine with strength and precision saw everyone step up to the challenge and 'yay' with satisfaction. We experienced that commitment and practice leads to freedom of expression and the seeds of the programme will continue to grow and inform our learning.
I have loved the joy, sense of community, buzz and rhythm in the air, and in particular I have been delighted by the leaps in personal learning and confidence building for the students. I have loved that teachers have embraced the opportunity to pick up a drum and surf in the waves of rhythm with their students. Jeff was spot on when he mentioned this morning that working with a true master in any field is deeply inspiring.
The performances rocked the gym. They demonstrated the effectiveness of the programme at every Home Group level, and were an uplifting celebration of everyone's individual achievement. There was an excited communal vibe, sheer joy and awesome drumming, singing and dancing. My deepest thanks to all staff for their support and encouragement, and thank you to the students for your fabulous participation and delightful expressions of thanks to Kofi at the end of each performance.
Kofi quotes: " My name is KOFI not coffee. Shake your body, shake your body. Yaaaay! ‘Beauudiful’. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. Louder, louder. 450 kids, Gee wiz. Your punishment for today is dancing!