Essential Stories from the Front Lines

Don’t Mistake Miseducation for Education: Nii Armah Sowah, Arts Educator

“We need to reclaim our dignity and reclaim our own development on our own terms on the national, international and personal level…This will require forming alliances and real education. We need to rethink what education is, what development is, what civility is, what freedom is, what religion is.” -Nii Armah Sowah

Nii Armah Sowah is a Ghanaian born arts educator. He earned his first degree in Theatre Arts, with a focus on dance, at the University of Ghana in 1987. After graduating from the Africa Center for the Training of Performing Artists in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 1991, he obtained a Master of Arts in Expressive Arts Therapies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1997. Over the years, Nii Armah has worked professionally as a dancer, choreographer, singer, percussionist, actor (television, film, and stage), public speaker, massage therapist, and expressive arts therapist. He was the principal dance instructor and choreographer at the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, between 1987 and 1994. During this time, he toured extensively across Africa, Europe, Canada, and the U.S. Nii Armah has conducted residencies and master classes at several institutions including – the National Theatre of Ghana, University of California at Irvine, Bagamoyo College of Arts, Tanzania, University of Cape Town, South Africa, National Theatre of Kenya, Ethiopian National Theatre, and New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. Nii Armah is currently a full-time faculty at the University of Colorado, where he teaches African Dance, Introduction to Dance and Culture, Dance & Community Engagement and African Singing. He is also the Director of the 1000 Voices Project, an arts organization that uses African songs, rhythm games, dance, and storytelling to foster human development, community/team building and cross-cultural understanding. His research interests include African centered dance pedagogy, cross-cultural education, intra-African arts exchanges, and dance for personal and community development. Nii Armah has garnered several awards over the years, including – the “Excellence in Teaching Award (2008),” the “Campus Global Citizen of the Year (2010),” the “Equity and Excellence Award (2013),” the “Marinus Smith Award for Excellence (2013),” and “Sustainability Award – Civic Engagement (2014),” all at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Nii Armah was also named the winner of Boulder County’s Multicultural Award for the Arts (2012) and a “Living Legend of Dance in Colorado (2016).” To learn more about Nii Armah Sowah:…