Skip to content


by Kamaria Carnes

This week we had a lot of free time to explore the village, rest and take care of laundry. So I took the opportunity to get started on my final project with my partners, Charmaine and Tracy.

The ngoni performance we had on our first night really inspired me to turn the experience into my final project. A ngoni (pronounced “go-knee”) is a stringed instrument made out of a hollowed calabash that looks like a banjo but is played similar to a harp. Our instructor Siaka has performed since he was 10 years old, so he has a lot of experience!

Kamaria with Siaka and his brother
Siaka (left), his brother and I on the first night after their performance. By this time I had already fallen in love with the ngoni!

We started by cleaning, carving and sanding while the leather soaked in water.

Charmaine and Kamaria with materials
Charmaine and I with some of the materials
Tracy hard at work sanding
Tracy hard at work sanding!
Sankofa bird
I had the option of carving out a shape in our instrument. I decided I wanted a Sankofa bird to symbolize my experiences here in Ghana.
Working on the instruments
Adding the softened leather to our instruments. This step was very tedious because we had to make sure the leather didn’t buckle and crinkle as we were doing it.

After the leather dried overnight we added the strings and other hardwear.

Charmaine with the newly finished instrument
Charmaine with her newly finished product and new hairstyle! All of us were ecstatic!

It took three days (about 10 hours total) to finally finish. Now I can’t wait to learn how to play!

Back to the Blog