Nii Armah Sowah, University of Colorado Boulder senior instructor in Theatre and Dance, earned the Boulder County Community Action Program’s 2012 Multicultural Award for the Arts. Nii Armah and seven fellow awardees were honored at a banquet at the Plaza Hotel in Longmont on Oct. 4.
Nii Armah uses his 1000 Voices Project and community outreach programming to build peaceful communities and facilitate cross-cultural understanding. His programs bring people together using African songs, dance, and storytelling. Originally from Ghana, Nii Armah has created community gatherings to raise funds for cancer patients and victims of natural disasters, as well as facilitated funerals, weddings, and festivals.
"Nii Armah had a profound effect on me. He has such a presence, which emanates authentic self, vitality, unity, and passion,” said Caitlin Burton, 1000 Voices participant from Denver. “The way that he encourages people to move and to sing with their full selves is truly moving.”
Through his teaching and outreach, Nii Armah introduces students and community members to aspects of African culture and expands notions of what constitutes dance. He helps participants hone their critical thinking skills, as well as explore the philosophical applications of African dance to real life.
“As our world gets smaller, we are endlessly challenged to interact with people outside of our immediate cultures. The challenges we face in these cross-cultural encounters are monumental, and the need for multicultural competencies/skills become even more vital in the pursuit of individual success and, ultimately, global peace,” Nii Armah said. “Since my work traverses art, philosophy, and culture, I deem it a personal responsibility to answer the call to the issues surrounding intercultural and cross-cultural existence.”
Awardees are nominated by community members and selected by a search committee. Community Action Program organized the first Multicultural Awards Banquet in 1989 to honor people of color who have made major contributions to the arts, business, community service, education, government, health, partners, science, and youth throughout Boulder County. Proceeds from the awards banquet enable the Community Action Program to award scholarships to minority college students residing in the county.