Villa Karo is preparing for the autumn semester to begin. This week has been a week of maintenance and everybody is busy preparing the house for the scholarship holders who will begin to settle in the house from next week on, as Kwassi has written already.
The see is wild and the air is windy. The coolest time of the year, say the locals. Even if the air sweetly touches the human skin and deliberately winds the dogs fur, the touch is rough for the dead souls of the house. The wooden doors, the book selves, the pieces of art, the furniture — they all need someone to assist them in their encounter with the salty air. Constant work is being done by the Villa Karo staff during the year tackling the forces of nature and it all seems to culminate in this week. It’s time for waxing, washing, rubbing, polishing, cleaning and airing.
This is also a good time to arrive at Grand-Popo and to begin one’s share in writing this blog. I am the internship trainee of Villa Karo during this autumn and will be reporting on the happenings in Villa Karo during my stay here to keep the readers updated on what is going on at this corner of the world, still so unfamiliar to me.
Wonderful tunes from beautiful birds, terrific waves hitting the shores, whistling breeze penetrating studios upstairs are some typical feelings awaiting our new scholarship holders arriving at Grand-Popo soon for this fall 2012.
Staff members are knocking heads together to ensure a perfect reopening of Villa Karo’s doors for our daily activities. Painters, Carpenters, Gardeners are all striving to to knock the last nail home for readiness. Welcome all for a new season!
Art, exchange and entertainment all combined via young Cultural Center, “Villa Karo” enrich the environment in Grand-Popo. Arrivals and departures of artists to and from Finland is a routine I have followed for eleven years now. Projects by Finnish and African Scholarship holders keep the whole village alive. Frequent visits by school children from all parts of central and southern Benin to the center contribute a lot to our activities with Le Petit Musée at center stage. Monthly concerts, weekly film projection and occasional children’s workshops animated by internal & external cultural partners combined with other social activities in Lissa Gbassa account for our importance to the village in particular and to the whole community in general.
For maintenance reason, the house is closed for a period of two months now. Staff members recoiled into their nests to gather new energies, restaurants and roadside food vendors are all conscious of the long holidays. Zemidjans at the carrefour are more than bulletin board to unaware visitors to Villa Karo during this period. Chao Chao.
Kwassi D. AKPLADOKOU
May was a month of hard work as we renewed the exhibition of the Petit musée in Villa Karo, and here it is! Ready to welcome visitors right away when Villa Karo opens it’s doors again in the end of August!
Tintti Timonen and I did the design based on Soile Rinno‘s prior exhibitions; carpenters and painters repaired the interior and the furniture designed by Tina Lotila for the first exhibition in 2002; and finally together with Georgette Singbe, Wiktoriina Hurskainen and Boniface Gossou we arranged the objects in their right places. If you’re not in Benin right now, take a look at the “musée” through the photos below!
On 19th of May Villa Karo participated in the finale of the Teni-Tedji Marionette Festival, which was organized for the third time in Benin by association Thakamou Culture Arts and it’s director Jude Zounmenou. Earlier in May Thakamou performed at the concert in Villa Karo, and now it was time to let the local children and high school students participate in the act – and they were many!
The rain forced us indoors in the beginning, but it didn’t stop people from playing, singing and dancing. Familiar songs and rhythms invited the children to try the marionettes, and the artists from Thakamou group taught us how the puppets are moved and how a performance is made.
After the workshop Teni-Tedji Festival had a succesful ending, as the performers gave one last show for the children. Next year we’ll see the 4th edition of the festival, and we warmly welcome Thakamou Culture Arts back to Villa Karo!
Here’s also a peak to Thakamou group’s project in 2011. This year’s theme in the Teni-Tedji festival was the treatment of disabled people in the society and an effort to enhance their well-being. We’ll see what next year brings!
It is Nonvitcha time again and a lot is happening in Grand-Popo and Villa Karo. By now the town is already filled with ex-habitants and their children and their children’s children to celebrate the home area. This year it’s the 91th birthday of home association Nonvitcha.
On Monday Villa Karo had a small celebration as well. Miikka arrived to town and we opened the new museum exhibition: a small opening for the family! Check out the photos below!
Nonvitcha weekend is the last big event of the spring. One concert is coming up and the last scholarship holders, Midy, Ayewa and Simo, continue their work for a few days. After that it’s time for the summer maintenance.
I got back to Finland yesterday and am missing Villa Karo and Grand-Popo already. Wishing everybody bonne fête de Nonvitcha et joyeux dimanche de Pentecôte!