Goom Jiggi

By Jheri St. James

Think peace and what comes to mind? A cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s day? Sheep grazing in fields? A beach scene with palm trees and ebb tides? You probably wouldn’t think “Ghana.” But even a land with as turbulent a history as Ghana has beach scenes, sheep and hot cocoa. Portuguese were the first European colonizers in 1382, followed by French, Danes, Dutch and British, all of whom competed for slave and gold trading—not a particularly peaceful progression. In 1901, Ghana became known as the Gold Coast, a British colony, but in 1957 it became an independent country. The word “Ghana” was used to distinguish the title of the ruler of the Ancient Empire of Ghana, and also was used as the name of various capitals of this western African coastal country. Cocoa is Ghana’s biggest export; sheep are its main livestock; industrial diamonds one of its important exports; and beach tourism an important industry. The word for peace in the Buli language of Ghana is “goom jigi.”

J. Scott Crosby is a gallery owner in Laguna Beach, California, and has been to Ghana eight times for business and to purchase African stone sculptures for the Joseph Wise Fine Art Gallery. It was on a recent trip of this kind that he found some dull white beach sand on Labadi Beach about five miles from the capital city of Accra (2,000,000 people) and gathered it up for Common Ground 191. This was on the beach, near a river that empties into the Atlantic Ocean, with palm trees and a tropical setting. He described life in Accra as a cacophony of “bicycles, foot traffic, women with various goods on their heads, taxis, and buses, all transporting items of everyday commerce in this bustling Third-World city. I particularly enjoy the cultural experience of being with the mostly tribal African people, dressed in their colorful Kente cloth garb, people who eat corn, yams, chicken and lots of fish.”

Scott would tell you there is nothing more peaceful than the art of African sculpture—placid, static, motionless being. Soil is also inherently peaceful, merely being the silent ground for life and all its evolving permutations. Mixing soils in the Common Ground 191 project combines all these earthscapes into a sculptural icon of peace. Goom Jigi!





All images and text © Copyright 2018 Common Ground 191 - All rights reserved