The halls will be alive with the sound of music in Napier this week — West African rhythms from the skilled musical mind and body of Robert Koffie Fugah.

Koffie is a master drummer and dancer from Ghana in West Africa, who moved to New Zealand about three years ago. He set up a now acclaimed West African Drumming Workshop programme which he regularly takes on tour to communities throughout the country.

He is also founder and director of Kadado West African Drum and Dance NZ.

He ran a couple of the workshops in Napier back in February, which were well received, and is returning this weekend to run a public workshop at the Greenmeadows East Community Hall on Saturday.


He is also spreading the fun and rhythmic sounds at four local schools this week in the lead-up to the public workshop at the hall.

"The focus of the workshops is the technique and all the different parts that make African rhythms so groovy and contagious," Koffie said.

Not to mention the health effects.

"New research shows that rhythm is fundamental to how the brain works and good rhythm promotes good health both physically and mentally ... leading to longer and happier lives."

He said the workshops, for aspiring students of all ages, gave people the opportunity to discover African musical instruments as well as the opportunity to "explore their own style and musical creativity" in a relaxed and fun environment.

"Rhythm is contagious and everyone can do it," he said with a smile.

Traditional dance and music was a strong part of his life, and the lives of pretty much everyone around him, when he was growing up in Ghana, and he pursued the sounds further by undergoing professional training in Accra, the capital of Ghana, at the Community Youth Cultural Centre.

More than 15 years later and he is teaching and spreading the word further afield — through New Zealand, the new home he loves.

People wanting to take part in Saturday's workshop can contact Koffie, on 021 02680964 to book a place and reserve a djembe drum.

"No experience necessary ... just come and join the fun," he said.

● West African Songs Drumming and Dance Workshop, Saturday December 2 at the Greenmeadows Community Hall in Tait Drive, from 10.30am to 2.30pm (with a lunch break).