Dzagbe Cudjoe – World Renowned Child Dance Therapist and Author to visit South Africa

My good friend and inspiration, Dzagbe, hails from Ghana, now lives in Spain will be visiting Africa shortly to promote her new book. Reading through her up coming press release by her publishers I discovered some interesting information about this woman of the world – one who cares so deeply for others to the extent that she makes it her life’s work to assist and aid. She has written books and produced videos and is well known as an expert author in her field. Here is an excerpt from her press release”

“Tales My Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me” consists of four stories: “The Wicked Curse of Nibobobo”, “Akua’s Foolish Wish”, “Fingers of Fire” and “Journey to the Chest of Gold”.

“The Wicked Curse of Nibobobo” opens with the inhabitants of the village holding a dance by moonlight. The young hero of the story slips way. He is in love. He plans to ask the girl’s father for permission to marry her. Her parents are delighted to give their consent but the hero’s own father forbids the relationship.

This decision has catastrophic consequences as the girl’s mother commits a terrible act which affects all the villagers. Our hero accompanied by two young friends sets out on a dangerous journey into the unknown to rectify the situation.

“Akua’s Foolish Wish” explains the possible origins of a taboo. Akua, a young potter unthinkingly expresses a wish not realizing her power to make it come true. This results in inanimate objects having the power of speech and a very fraught situation develops in the village.

After much time and effort Akua is able to solve the problem.

“Fingers of Fire” is a story about a very unusual boy who has mysterious powers. He receives instructions to build a very strange object though he does not know what its purpose is. He is assisted in all his endeavors by a young girl who lives in the same household.

When finally the strange object is revealed it completely changes the lives of the villagers.

“Journey to the Chest of Gold” tells the story of a trip by a party of schoolchildren and their teacher to learn about the Gold Trade in West Africa. The group travel back through time and enter the King’s Palace. There they learn about the weights used for measuring gold dust and gold nuggets.

To the horror of the group their presence in forbidden territory is discovered and they flee from the past back to the present.

All four stories are linked by being set in Ghana in times past. I am an ethnologist and my background facts and descriptions are accurate. Despite the title these stories are not traditional tales retold. They are genuinely my own creation. Traditional tales were narrated by the Story Teller. I have written mine in this style.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first book at age twelve. It is only in the last six years or so that I have considered publishing anything I have written.

What motivated you to write this book? At the moment many countries have great problems due to lack of social cohesion and generally accepted moral standards. In some big cities youths are carrying dangerous weapons and murders are becoming increasingly common. Teen age pregnancy rates amongst girls are rising.

World wide there are large numbers of parents looking for ways of giving their children a glimpse of another more structured and peaceful society. I do not wish to imply that traditional African societies had all the answers. Nor do I want to deny that young people in Africa today are looking to Europe and the United States of America for their influences.

People involved in the upbringing of children are also looking for a morality that goes beyond established religions, for a morality that we all as human beings can agree on. Many children feel fearful and defenseless. My stories impart a feeling of self-worth to them.

Children can learn a number of things from my stories, such as how children and adults interacted. How children were brought up with the aim of producing hard-working, thoughtful, responsible adults. The importance of community is illustrated and how everyone had their place. Attitudes towards authority are also mirrored. Children have an instinctive understanding of the importance of music, dance and a spiritual life. This understanding is often lost in adulthood – but not in Africa.

Although my stories are for all children they may have a special significance for children whose heritage is linked to the African Diaspora.

Who and/or what inspire you most?

I am most inspired by the beauty and diversity of planet Earth and its peoples, the majority of whom struggle to live good lives

.What are your future plans?

I would very much like to travel the world and teach parents how they themselves can use Dance and Movement as a means of conflict resolution and deepening their relationship with their children. I intend to carry on writing for children and on anything else that interests me.

Have you started on your next book? If so, please introduce its premise if you are interested.

Yes. It is set in a coastal fishing village in present day Ghana. It deals with changes
in society from past to present which the boy and girl (the main characters) experience in dreams at night. A conflict which has its mysterious origins in the past still looms large in certain people’s lives. The guiding presence in this journey is a highly intelligent talking dolphin. His family history is entwined with that of the villagers. He reveals the secret and teaches them ecological lessons which give rise to a green movement in that area.

Do you hope to inspire other writers? What advice would you give for people thinking about writing a book?

I do hope to inspire other people but not necessarily as writers. I would advice them by all means write your book but be aware that luck; great self-confidence and persistence are needed to get it published.

What do you do for a living? What is your day job or is writing your day job?

I am an ethnologist and I have worked in museums in Ghana, Nigeria and Germany. I am also a Dance and Movement Therapist. I have worked with adults suffering from a range of problems including severe mental ill health, various other physical problems, stress, medication, drug dependency and personality disorders. My main work, however, has been with Children with Special Needs. I have worked with children with severe learning and physical problems including Downes Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism amongst others. I cannot describe writing as my day job as having a job includes the idea of remuneration. If this book is a success then I’ll describe myself as a writer. But I do intend to continue writing full time

What obstacles have you overcome to write this book?

Writing the book was not the problem – finding a publisher with vision was.

How long did it take you to write this book?

I don’t remember. It all happened in what to me feels like another lifetime.

What research did you do for the book, if any?

None as such, I drew on knowledge gained during my ethnological research while working.

Did you draw on life experience to write this book? If so, can you share that experience in brief?

Yes, but the experiences are too esoteric to be explained briefly.

Do you possess a unique quality or talent that might relate to the purpose of this book?

Yes, I am a Healer and a member of the World Federation of Healing.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? (Possibly about your home, family, life purpose, your community, etc.?)

I am a Dance and Movement Therapist who has written a book on Dance Therapy for the use of parents who have children with Special Needs. I have also produced an African Dance video.

Although my stories are intended for all children I would have thought that they best fit into the “ethnic”, “Black Literature” slot.

Visit her website at http://www.dance-to-health-help-your-special-needs-child.com

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This is the cover of the soon to be published and released and will be available in South Africa early in 2009

This is the cover of the soon to be published and released and will be available in South Africa early in 2009

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