Films about Home Care

Please feel free to use the following films for non-commercial uses. I would appreciate your letting me know you have used them. Comments and questions are welcome.

“Stories from Home Care” (2021, 13 minutes) is a film about a home care worker from Ghana who cares for older adults in the United States. It documents the regrets and joys she has acquired from her life and work, as well as her grace in handling her life’s disappointments. The film is meant to accompany my book The New American Servitude: Political Belonging among African Immigrant Home Care Workers (NYU Press, 2019).

“Making Happiness: Older People Organize Themselves,” (2020, 11 minutes) is a film about a fellowship group organized by the Presbyterian Church for older adults in Ghana. It was filmed in New Tafo, Akyem in 2019. This film is meant to accompany my book, Changes in Care: Aging, Migration, and Social Class in West Africa (forthcoming in 2021 with Rutgers University Press in the Series on Global Aging).

“Mediating Death: The Unsung Skills of Home Care Workers”  (2019, 6 minutes) is a shorter segment from “Stories from Home Care” (2021), relating the story of a home care worker from Ghana helping one of her patients to die and his son to let his father do so, illustrating the expertise that is often disregarded in home care work. This film is meant to accompany my article, “Managing Death” in Medical Anthropology (2020).


Streaming Videos from School Cultural Competitions

Feel free to use these images and photos of Ghana for non-commercial uses, particularly in coordination with Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2005), but I would appreciate attribution and your letting me know that you have used them.  Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Afari Amoako, an Akan and English language teacher currently at Abetifi Secondary School, helped me with translation from Twi to English.  I am very grateful to Robert Wood in my department for inspiring me technically and teaching me how to digitize and edit my videos.  All errors (visual, verbal, and otherwise) are my own.


Comments from a group discussion among students performing in a dance-drama competition The dance-drama performed by this school troupe tells the story of Kwaku Ananse the Spider (a trickster figure) who pretends to die and is buried in the fields so that he can eat all the crops, but he is found out by the townspeople.  The visuals depicting the dance-drama are overlaid by comments by the dancers involved in the performance itself from a focus group discussion, in which they criticized their performance and the lack of support they received from teachers (see pages 172-175 in the book).  All student names are pseudonyms.  The film is a little more than a minute long. In Windows Media

Performance of School This amusing skit of a school classroom is performed by a school troupe from the Volta Region at the national cultural competition held in Cape Coast, May 1999.  A student cleans off the blackboard, the teacher then writes notes on the board, and then “lobs” questions at the students whose answers they “lob” back to him.  The teacher then marks the students’ notebooks and beats one student who has done a poor job (see pages 145-152).  The dance-drama continues with an exposition of various ills plaguing Ghanaian society such as teenage pregnancy, drug use, government corruption, and cross-border smuggling.  The film is a little more than a minute long. In Windows Media

Drum Language

First-place winner in drum language in the National Cultural Competition, Cape Coast, May 1999
This performance of drum language is notable not only for its quality but also because it is performed by a girl, Akua Yeboah, which pleases the audience very much (as you hear by the clapping).  You see the students setting up the drums, then the performance of drum language in which Kwaku Ababio recites phrases in Twi that Akua Yeboah imitates tonally on the drums.  She is then tested by the judges in the Sisala language to see how well she can imitate the high and low toned qualities of a language she may not understand (the translation I provide of the Sisala drum language text is actually a translation of the Twi language version of the same judges’ text, so there may be some inaccuracies apparent to a Sisala speaker; my sincere apologies).  Both students are from a school in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana.  While the poem contains some traditional phrases, the meaning of the “drum poem” illustrates the orientation, like many of the other drum poems, towards the theme of the national competition, “Culture: Gateway to the Nation’s Prosperity” (see chapter 3 for a discussion of themes and pages 176-177 for a discussion about girls drumming).  The video is about 5 and a half minutes long. In Windows Media

Second-place winner in drum language in the National Cultural Competition, Cape Coast, May 1999
The second performance is interesting because it is so clearly praising a traditional chief, the paramount chief of New Juaben traditional area, Nana Daasebre Oti Boateng, thus differing from the standard of orienting the poem’s meaning towards national ends (see pages 87-88 in the book).  It is performed by Kweku Boateng from New Juaben (Koforidua) in the Eastern Region.  Note the traditional appellations and praises, some of which are difficult to translate.  He is then tested by the judges in the Ga language (the same apologies apply here as to the Sisala translation above).  The video is about 4 and a half minutes long. In Windows Media


Instructional Video about Writing Fieldnotes

“Turning an Event into Fieldnotes: A Ghanaian Example” (2003, 30 minutes) uses my footage of drumming and dancing in Ghana to teach undergraduate students about how to write fieldnotes.


The Ethnographer At Work…. Writing Fieldnotes


“Eye Anti Afia”
(It is Aunty Afia (Cati Coe))
Drawn by Solomon Dankwa, age 11
Primary 5, Presbyterian Primary School
Abiriw, Akuapem, Ghana
February 1999