Andrea Grieder is a poet and social anthropologist. She is the founder and director of Transpoesis, an organization based in Rwanda with the aim to empower through Poetry. Originally from Switzerland, she has a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris. She is a lecturer at the University of Technology and Arts of Byumba (UTAB), Rwanda.

“Help America” and two face-upturned emoticons are painted on a yellow canister. In the documentary film contradict (by Peter Guyer and Thomas Burkhalter 2019), the FOKN Bois walk in the streets of Accra collecting money for America. In this futuristic view, America will need to get money from countries like Somalia and Sudan, so Panji Anoff, music producer, Pidgen Music, states: “These African countries have it all: oil, human resources, land. All they need to do is to put them in the right place in order to rise.”

Meanwhile, Wanlov the Kuboloro, who joins with M3nsa to complete the rap-artiste duo from Ghana, FOKN Bois, advocates for a young man who has put a coin into the canister: “He has donated for America.” Looking into camera, “Don’t give him troubles when he applies for a visa.” The street performance is also a piece of decolonization: “We were never raised, (…) to be patriotic, to care about the country. We are just raised to know whatever we are learning is for us to get a visa and go somewhere else or to go to heaven.”

The visionaries, satirists and provocateurs speak about “. . .what people think but do not say. Or say, but do not say it in the way they think it.” 

“Help America’, still from Swiss film Contradict
(prod. Peter Guyer, Thomas Burkhalter)

Heaven is another battlefield for words. Churches are a growing market and a good alternative for those who do not get a visa. Bishop, Apostle and Prophet from the Alive Chapel International, Elishabh Salifu Amoako, has great entertainment show:

“No more poverty. No more sickness!” He screams into the microphone. “In the name of Jesus, cause he has made us kings in his name!”

Animating the ecstatic crowd: “Say ‘Lord’!”

“Lord!!”
“Say ‘Lord’!!”
“Lord!!”I receive it by faith.”

FOKN Boi Wanlov the Kuboloro wants rappers to not just talk about their own big life, girls, sex and drugs. To counter the Gospels, the lyrics must address the people’s thirst for change and prosperity: “If you guys (Prophets) have the power to make noise, to walk around in the streets, wake us up with the message of God. Then we should also be able to put that frustration out in the same way.”

The rappers creative work with frustrations comes out as teasing and making fun.

“We do it because we do not have another way to win. We do it to remain sane.”

Their art is self-therapy but also an important struggle for change and the shaping of new perspectives. Nevertheless, the artistes operate in a landscape heavy of resignation or blindness, cultivated by churches and politicians. They know about depression and anger, but remain kings by transforming that anger into “a deformed anger which comes out as shy happiness.” Theirs lyrics have the power to provoke a change and liberated the minds through the power of words:

“Say: More Arts! More Poetry! More money for Artists! In the name of FOKN Bois!”


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Persian poet credited as the spiritual instructor of Rumi, revered in the Diwan-i Shams-i Tabrīzī and here: Webmaster.