William Du Bois is a poet, performer and the lead member of Trotro Vibes, a group of performers who ‘bring art to the everyday people’. In fact, the artists’ mobile performance of songs and poetry is inspired by Ghana’s most used public transportation: Trotro. Their aim is to educate, inform, advocate and entertain commuters who use this mean of transportation.
A. Tell Afrikult. readers 5 interesting facts about yourself.
W.D.B 1) I am a black hipster who loves vintage fashion and old cameras.
2) I always want to do something epic with regards to everything I do.
3) Appearing as a magic trick. Very difficult to predict most times.
4) I love beverages and the smell of coffee.
5) I don’t care about ‘First impression’.
A. What was the driving inspiration to start Trotro Vibes?
W.D.B Trotro vibes was developed based on the traditional usage of Preachers and medicine sellers in trotro buses (Public Transportation). The small but wide space and its diverse audience and how people communicate in the buses.
A. How many poets/singers make up Trotro Vibes and how do you select which routes you take?
W.D.B Officially, Trotro vibes is made up of 2 poets and an acoustic musician. Apart from these three performers, we have over 30 performers who have in many ways and on many platforms been a part of the diverse performers. We have plans of opening up for more permanent performers very soon. We also have people who work behind the scenes to make sure we look as good as we are. We have a filmmaker, an administrator and other special people with specific roles. Our strategy in selecting routes is based on which routes are busy and most used and also where the route links or leads to and how many bus stops we will have before our final destination.
A. Give us a flavour of what song/poems you perform on the trotro – where do you source the material?
W.D.B Our poems and songs are structured in a special way, let me say ‘bespoke artworks’. The poetry is very easy to understand because we blend the popular dialect in Ghana which is Twi and English. Most Ghanaians either understand Twi or English. Same goes on with the songs. Traditional songs, hip life, high life, reggae and sometimes mash-ups. Our poems are original, I write my own poems and write for another performer who is a kid who can’t write very well for now but is an amazing performer. Our songs too are mostly original mixed with a few popular ones which passengers are familiar with.
A. What has the reception been to your work? Do the commuters enjoy your performances or are they disgruntled that your performance is disrupting their commute?
W.D.B Everyday, my team and I face different people. Some of these people hold a very different perception about poetry so for the first 2 or 3 minutes, it will be very tense as the passengers wait in suspense to hear what we have for them. Some people give up on us the very moment we get into the bus and introduce ourselves. Our magic is felt when we start performing, when it is all poetry and music in an enclosed space like the bus, the sleeping passengers wake up to cheer us on. Sometimes, some of the faces they make will make you want to give up and sometimes they give a reason to keep on performing. We just go in there to educate, inform, advocate and entertain.
If you are interested in finding out more, check out Trotro Vibes contact details and links below.
Phone: +233 54 956 0402
+233 27 933 3988
Twitter: https://twitter.com/trotrovibes (@trotrovibes)