Kofi Agorsor: a traditional priest for a modern age
Check out this story I wrote on a traditional African priest in Ghana! (Side note: Kofi Agorsor is also a spectacular artist. Check out some of his work here.)
By Stephen Zook
ACCRA, Ghana – Kofi Agorsor looks every bit the five-year-old child, scrunching up his legs behind a xylophone, banging away on the slats with a quiet smile on his face.
- Photo Credit: Anika Pewlee
Agorsor, 38, is actually someone else entirely: the Accra resident is a traditional priest, performing a role that encompasses counselor, soothsayer and mentor, among other things.
“When you go to the olden days, the priest is the medicine man, the music man,” Agorsor said.
Today, he tries to fulfill that role, in addition to painting, composing, and performing traditional music with his wife, Nyornuwofia, and several other band members.
Counseling is another central part of Agorsor’s function; people come to him with stress, marital issues and other crises. The method he takes with his patients is as much psychiatry as it is medicine.
“Some create the stress themselves. By just taking that out you heal them,” Agorsor said. Despite his passion for helping others (he has been involved with orphanages for years, and has used children from orphanages in his bands), Agorsor said he is frustrated with people who don’t take time to appreciate tradition.
“They are ignorant about life. They do this to 40, 50, 60 years old, and then they want to come back [to their traditions],” Agorsor said.
“They don’t want to experiment with African traditional religion, and that is what is killing them now.”
He added that he believes the process of finding ways to solve problems through tradition is an important part of staying close to tradition.
Part of that tradition, the xylophone (an instrument from northern Ghana), seems to bring Agorsor the peace he tries to give other people. Even as his wife sings, “Mister, tell me, why are you jealous,” a line from one of Agorsor’s songs, it’s not hard to see why people would be envious of his connection with tradition.