On October 15, 2022, I had the opportunity to be part of the people who showed up at the National Theatre to watch one of Playwright and Chief Creative Officer, Chief Moomen’s plays, ‘Mansa Musa and the Trail of Lost Gold’ – which was brilliantly performed.
The two directors, Dr. Abdul Karim Hakib and Solomon Yaw Dartey, put together an amazing show with smooth scene changes while keeping a clear focus. The actors show up on stage with a creative style and mind in their performance of which credit can be given to the directors.
The play is about a young aspiring storyteller, Bamba (Cyrus Prince Kofi Tetteh), who is battling the anxieties of choosing an uncertain path when he is thrust into a quest to discover clues of lost treasure in a time when two kings, Sumanguru and Sundiata face off each other in a battle for the soul of a nation.
He lacks the support of his mother whose only wish is for her son to find himself in one of the best paying profession, rather than following his passion, which is story telling. The setting of the play changes at every point in the play. A play that reflects the current situation of the states where the youth are troubled and uncomfortable with how things are managed in their country.
The costumes at every transition clearly added a different quality to the play and revealed the state of the characters, and this complemented the stage performance, giving a clear interpretation of what the play talks about. Another key element that added life to the play is the songs and sound of drums.
The lighting design of Margaret Lamptey enhanced the show in another way. I can only describe the lighting as something superb, with the beams of perfectly placed spotlights playing its own distinct parts in the play.
The premier of the play got almost the entire room of the National Theatre filled with audience. You could tell that the audience really enjoyed every bit of the play as they cheered the actors on with shouts of joy and claps. Another interesting aspect of the play is how choreographers performed with traditional songs and, at some point, contemporary ones.
‘Mansa Musa and the Trail of Lost Gold’ is an extra-ordinary theatrical epic that introduces the foundational story and characters of the Mansa World. This will build into the main production for a grand world premier in 2023. The main story follows the adventures of six young heroes as they travel back in time to save their troubled world. The play was presented by Masala Corp and powered by the Bambu Heritage Productions.
In 1324, the King of the ancient West African Empire of Mali, Mansa Musa, caused a stir around the world with his elaborate and extravagant pilgrimage from Mali to Mecca. He crossed the desert along with tens of thousands of soldiers, servants, slaves and courtiers. His journey was an entire city on the move, and he carried along an extraordinary amount of gold that caused a drop in the price of the commodity in the many cities he passed through.
The journey brought great international attention to the West African empire which was a thriving African civilisation in its golden years; a centre of arts, culture, learning and enormous wealth. Some historians describe Mansa Musa as the wealthiest person to have ever lived. And he helped to make his Mali Empire one of the greatest and most prosperous nations of its time.
Profile – Chief Moomen
Chief Moomen is a Ghanaian performance poet, playwright and creator of theatrical spectacles. He has over 15 years of experience in the performing arts. He is the creator of Ghana’s biggest historical epic – WogbeJeke: Our Journey, a theatrical reenactment of the nation’s history from ancient to modern times with a cast and crew of 200.
In March 2017, the play was featured as the official theatre showpiece to celebrate Ghana’s 60th anniversary. In December 2018, Chief Moomen created the opening and closing ceremony performances for the 2018 Total Africa Women’s Cup of Nations held in Accra with a cast of 500.
Chief Moomen is also one of the most recognisable faces of performance poetry in Ghana who has helped to generate a popular interest in the genre. He has featured on various stages in Ghana, Singapore, Kenya, UAE, Nigeria, Germany and United Kingdom. Chief Moomen headlined some major performances at the just ended six-month Expo 2020 Dubai, where he featured on a number of high-profile events for Dignified Storytelling, Rewired Summit and the African Union.
Chief Moomen is currently leading efforts to mobilise one of the biggest investments for a performing arts project in Africa. This new project — The Mansa World — is exploring African history and heritage through theatre, films and publications in well-curated and exciting content for the global market.
Chief Moomen believes in the power of the arts to heal, inspire and transform people and nations. His works often draw from history and heritage to highlight the interconnectedness of the human experience. In 2018, CNN profiled Chief Moomen for an edition of its African Voices. In 2017, he was awarded as one of Coca Cola Ghana’s Big Six Young Achievers in the Media and Entertainment category.