This last month of May Guadalajara celebrated the “Festival Cultural de Mayo” (May Cultural Festival) on its 14th edition.
The main ideology behind this festival is to present and bring some of the artistic
cultures from all around the world to the city of Guadalajara; each edition of this festival has hosted a different country that brings all kinds of artistic shows; from concerts, to theater plays, poetry readings, etc.
Other editions have been honored with the presence of countries like Austria, Usa, China, Spain, Germany, Poland and many others.
This year’s special guest was Quebec,Canada, the birthplace of such incredible acts like “Cirque du Soleil”, Quebec brought some of its amazing street circuses shows, concerts and conferences with different artists involved in different cultural fields.
Most of these shows/presentations or at least half of them happen to be for free, so there’s no excuse for not assisting.
Guadalajara is fertile soil for artistic tendencies, a city that keeps growing in all cultural aspects and that is hungry for new artistic proposals and educational movements; that hunger that can only be feed by imagination, dreams and courage; and I think the “Think Different” campaign by Apple sums it up perfectly:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Here’s the festival’s official page if you would like to know more about it: http:/
Los Magos (The Magicians) are a set of sculptures made by Mexican artist Alejandro Colunga, these can be found right in front of the Casa Cabañas museum, and are considered now to be part of the city centre folklore since 1992.
To many these sculptures have a slight resemblance to the art found in Tim Burton’s films, very exotic and peculiar characters that seem out of a dark fairy tale. Alejandro Colunga was born in the city of Guadalajara and is an accomplished sculptor, musician and painter.
If you visit the city of Guadalajara you will for sure stumble upon these sculptures; once you do you will realize why they seem to live on a world of their own, a world of dreams and nightmares, friendly nightmares at least since they do not look that bizarre, they have more of a wicked friendly look, but beautiful aesthetics and a magnificent artistic work for sure.
I apologize for my lack of writing in the last week. I've been too busy with other things, or simply haven't had the drive to write. Well, that drive has finally come back, and I've experienced so much adventures that I'll be splitting the blog into 2 parts. One will be before the trip to Sucre, the other one after Sucre. Yes, Part2 will inevitbly be more interesting. Still, I'll try and make the before trip sound as awesome as possible.
Wednesday is the day to start really, because it was then where I did interesting stuff. Instead of the normal Spanish lesson, my Spanish teacher and I decided to go to 2 museums. One was a museum of Natural History, which had some fossils, some minerals, and some dead animals. Pretty straightforward. The other museum was a big house, owned by a guy who owned a lot of the tin industry during WW2, which made him very rich. I admired the woodwork of the house, but since I'm a culture barbarian, I found it decidingly meh. Still, it was definitely more interesting than a normal Spanish class, and I hope to do something like it again.
Then came Thursday, which was normal except for one thing. Laura and Chris were leaving. Their month was up and they were ready for their next trip to Costa Rica. We did the standard thing of going to Casablanca to have dinner and later go to a bar to have some fun. I passed on the bar thing because I was batshit tired and needed to get my rest. I wished them a safe trip and hope they have a great time in Costa Rica.
It was decided at Casablanca that some volunteers would be going to Sucre. After having passed on La Paz, I decided to take this trip with 12 other volunteers. How was the bus trip? Did I pack too much? Did anything get stolen? Find all of that out, next time.
About a five minute walk from Kejetia (the central market of Kumasi), is the Culture Centre. This is one of the most popular places in among the volunteers in Kumasi.
The Culture Centre is one of the biggest of its kind and is impressive. There is a museum of Ashanti history (Prempeh II Jubilee Museum), a library, a book store, a restaurant (Kentish kitchen), an excellent crafts shop and an exhibition hall. This is where you can buy souvenirs of the highest quality and for a decent price. The great thing is that it is very close to the centre and it is very accessible. The whole complex is large and it feels like it is a small village within it and actually quite pleasant just walking inside it.
There is a fare every summer for about a month and a half where the artists from all over Kumasi gather in the Culture Centre to sell their goods. This happens from around June to August so make sure you don’t miss out! I managed to buy a lot of things during the period for a cheap price and it was great as they had everything that I wanted.
The museum tour wasn’t all that great, but maybe it was because I was spoilt by the vastly superior Armed Forces Museum. The Prempeh II Jubilee Museum consists of just one room and houses several precious artefacts from the Ashanti Empire and the Manhyia palace. Perhaps the most interesting object is the “treasure-bag” of Okonfo Anokye, which was made on the same day as the Konfo Anokye Sword (see previous blog posts). The legend is very similar to the sword – if the bag is to be opened, the Ashanti Empire will be no more. There are other objects like the fake stool they gave to the British, and other original ‘black stools’, which the kings sat on.
If you carry further along into the Centre, you will come across a store with paintings. Inside you might be able to meet a painter called Joel. He is physically disabled – he sits in a wheelchair, he cannot use his hands normally and so he paints with his mouth. He is very nice and the people he works with are nice as well, so it becomes very difficult to haggle when buying his paintings! His paintings are marvellous and it is worth visiting the Culture Centre just to meet him!
By Minato Kobori
Volunteers in Kumasi can all own up to this. Who has actually been to the Armed Forces Museum in Adum? We all see it every time we are in the centre and we all know it is there, but who has taken the time to go and visit it? I am fairly sure that no one has visited it in my two and a half months I have been here!
So I took the initiative to go there and see what it is like. The museum is one of the easiest places to spot in the city centre. It has lots of tanks lined up just outside the entrance and it is opposite the Vodafone internet cafe the all volunteers go to. The entrance fee of 7 cedis seemed to be a lot, and on top of that I had to pay 2 cedis to take photos. I paid it as there was no turning back!
I was not disappointed. In fact I really enjoyed the tour of the museum. It lasted two and a half hours and I could not have asked for a more thorough guide. The museum is actually pretty big and it has lots of different rooms, along with the prison cells and secret money storage room. The museum is built into the Kumasi Fort, which is why it is not just a museum, but a historical site. It focuses largely on the British-Asante wars in which many were won by the Asantes. It housed all sorts of weapons used in those wars, the old medals and badges and lots of photos taken in those days.
I learnt about the Ghanaians fighting the Japanese in Burma, which I must confess I did not know about. Old Japanese weapons and devices were kept in the museum.
I won’t write too much more as I want volunteers to go and visit it and learn more about the history of the Asantes! I definitely think it is worth a visit.
By Minato Kobori
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