The last Faces of the Hive interview featured Elijah Jabbar-Bey, and you should check that post out if you haven’t already. He was interviewed by co-worker Akotowaa Ofori. This time, we’ve flipped the script, and Elijah has interviewed Akotowaa in a fascinating interview we hope you’ll enjoy as well!
What’s the meaning of your name?
Akotowaa: It means “that which was fetched or brought forth for its anticipated value.”
The story behind the name is that a long time ago in this village in Ghana (which is where I’m from and have lived my whole life), there was a chief with multiple wives, and his first wife was pregnant with a son who was prophesized to be the greatest leader that the people would have ever seen. One day when the chief left the palace, the first wife was walking around, and she saw this delicious plate of food. So she ate it. But it was sacrilege for anyone who wasn’t the chief to eat the chief’s food, so when the chief came back and discovered his food had been eaten, he was really mad. He asked who committed the crime, and no one confessed. His hand was forced, and he resorted to declaring that when the culprit was found, they would be sentenced to death. Eventually he found out that the culprit was his wife, and he couldn’t take back his word, so he ordered to have her executed. But the people wouldn’t let her die along with the unborn child who was prophesized to be the tribe’s greatest leader. So, right before the wife was executed, they performed a C-section on her and brought out the baby, which they named Akoto. Literally the name means “that which was fetched,” and the addition of the “waa” makes it female.
Actions or words?
Akotowaa: *Laughs* This is a complicated question. I am very tempted to answer “words” because I am a very word-oriented person. I like reading and poetry. I mean, I suppose sometimes words fail and actions would be better, but personally, my method of taking action is using words. I think I’m a words-over-actions kind of person, and maybe that’s because I’m lazy, who knows? *laughs*
How did you get into spoken word?
Akotowaa: I got into spoken word in high school when a senior told me that she was holding an experimental open-mic event. I had no idea what an open-mic was, but somebody told her that I write poetry, and so she decided to seek me out and ask me to do this thing. I didn’t know what spoken word was, so all I did was write an ordinary poem; it rhymed and everything. It was horrible. *laughs* I memorized it and said it out loud.
Later on though, probably a year later, I smuggled myself onto a bus that was going to a poetry and jazz festival, and I got there and saw what was happening and was like, “Oh my goodness! What is this?! This is so cool!” One of the poets who performed was absolutely amazing, so when she was done, I went backstage just to find her and talk to her, and she asked me if I write. At that point I had given up poetry, so I said, “Yeah, I used to, but I don’t anymore …” and she was like, “Yeah you’re going to start writing again, and when you do, show it to me.” She was a pretty well-known poet at the time, and she built a relationship with me just based on me going backstage to talk to her. She raised me in the spoken word scene in Ghana, in a sense.
What role does creativity play in your life?
Akotowaa: The role creativity plays in my life is giving me a reason to be alive (mic drop).
I’d honestly be pretty bored without it because, you know, so many things are just schedule and routine: wake up, go to class, do homework, come back, sleep. And I think I derive the most enjoyment out of life based on books I read or cool new things that I see. I honestly can’t imagine wanting to stay alive without the inspiration of creativity. I wake up with this fire when I believe that I have something really cool that I want to make a reality that day.
What brought you to the Hive?
Akotowaa: Knowing my personality, if there was any ideal place for me to work on campus, it’s the Hive. It is this center of creativity, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of something that is just that and to contribute to it in any way I can. My sponsor was actually the first one who told me about the Hive and told me that I should check it out. I finally went to take a trip there one Sunday, and I loved it.
What’s something you dream about?
Akotowaa: There are so many, I don’t even know what to pick…. One of them is to be able to tour the world making and/or performing art with my closest artistic friends. That’s something that would absolutely rock my world. It’s a fantasy of mine to just be free to see the world and make art at the same time and not worry about anything.
What technology would you like to see made possible in the future?
Akotowaa: It would definitely have something to do with eyes. I feel restricted a lot by my myopia and the fact that I have to wear glasses. Like, I could get contacts, but it’s not like I could swim with them, you know? Or like, what if my glasses break? I want to be able to just turn it off or on – the need to wear glasses – without having contacts or laser-eye surgery, because I like wearing glasses too sometimes. *laughs* But it would be nice to be able to choose when to need them.
If somebody could only interact with you once and take away one thing from you, what would you want that to be?
Akotowaa: I would like to tell them a fantastic story that they would remember for the rest of their life. That story doesn’t exist right now, though. *laughs*
Akotowaa’s working hours are Tuesdays from 6-9pm and Saturdays from 3-6pm. Feel free to drop in!
If you’re interested in checking out Akotowaa’s spoken word, she has an EP out called “Solitaire,” which you can find here: http://akotowaa.wordpress.com/solitaire-ep