Nii Okai Tagoe was born in Accra, Ghana, into a royal family of master drummers and dancers, from whom he inherited some of his considerable talent.
He came to Britain in 1990 as a principal teacher and performer with Adzido Pan African Dance Ensemble. There then followed several years of travel, learning and performing around the African continent, and touring productions and workshops internationally.
In 1993 Nii founded Frititi, meaning ‘ancient’ in the Akan language of Ghana, a London-based performing arts company. The focus, in a world where homogenized “African dance” prevails, is on genuine traditional African drumming and dances from specific groups of people in different countries across the continent.
At this time he also began to exercise his considerable songwriting and musical abilities. As well as percussion and hand and kit drums, Nii also plays balafon, flute and sings. He has performed internationally with world music chart toppers; Osibisa, Konkoma, Baka Beyond, African Headcharge, and Lorraine Ayensu amongst others, as well as different incarnations of his solo band.
Nii has choreographed many performances, including Peter Gabriel’s floor show at the London Millennium Dome, two enthronements of Archbishop’s of Canterbury; Patti Boulaye’s ‘Sundance’ at The Royal Albert Hall as well as undertaking a week long residency at Richard Branson’s house and performing for Pope John Paul II.
In 2005 for the ‘Fespam’ event, he choreographed an amazing show charting the history of mankind through dance with Congolese “rebels” in Brazzaville. The show was a great success and he was invited back to choreograph the 2007 African Football Youth Championship opening ceremony.
Through all his work Nii’s aim is to project a more positive image of Africa and to help dispel the myths and negative stereotypes of the African continent and its people. His mission is to develop a sense of self-awareness within the individual, and a global awareness of Africa, its rich culture and a history which goes back to the origins of man.
Nii says “we have to maintain dignity with each other whoever we are – from city or country; young or old; wise; poor and no matter how rich – it can all be gone tomorrow”. He seeks to benefit the world in exploring a side to music and culture people don’t always see – music as health, music as discipline, music for life.