By N. Amma Twum-Baah (May 7, 2011)
On a pleasant spring day in Washington, DC, members of the African Diaspora caught a breeze of euphoria that was almost long forgotten. I must admit that I showed up to the event not really sure of what to expect. I have no doubts about Sam Afua Kessie’s capabilities and talent. Not at all! She is phenomenal! But truth be told, I’ve never really been a fan of boxing so I was a bit unsure of whether I would like the documentary. I just showed up with the intent of supporting a sister. What I ended up experiencing in my show of solidarity was much more than I expected. I am still not a fan of boxing, but I am certainly now a fan of Azumah Nelson (the professor), and I certainly would bet my last dollar on Sam Afua Kessie and Sankofa Pictures. It was a pleasant surprise!
The premiere of Sankofa’s Zoom Zoom: The Career of Azumah Nelson held at the National Geographic in Washington, DC on Saturday, April 2, drew an enthusiastic number of people representing a cross-section of the African Diaspora in the DC/MD/VA Metropolitan area. A brief encounter with a lady I met at the ticket counter was my first hint of what I was in for. She asked me whether I was purchasing tickets to the Zoom Zoom documentary to which I responded in the affirmative. Her response which was one of great cheer left me wondering what the big fuss was all about. I understood later. Shame on me. In all my years living in Ghana, I had never taken the time to appreciate the symbolism that was Azumah Nelson, The Professor - and apparently still is. Fortunately for me, there’s Sankofa Pictures. I can now hold my head up high and discuss his boxing career as if I had always known.
Azumah Nelson rose from humble beginnings in the slums of Bukom to become one of the greatest sportsmen to ever come out of the African continent. For over a decade, he held the WBC World Champion title and won fights with determination and proclamations of self-assurance that were nothing like arrogance. He has inspired many for years. This was certainly evident as the microphone made its way across the National Geographic auditorium and into the hands of men and women who stated their awe of seeing footage that rejuvenated such fond memories of a time past. Today, The Professor still inspires many through his foundation, the Azumah Nelson Foundation.
Sam Afua Kessie of Sankofa Pictures, maker of the documentary, was on hand to discuss the documentary, and to answer questions, after the screening.
The documentary, which has already aired in Accra, showed long-forgotten footage of Azumah Nelson’s most memorable fights and moments of triumph. It was a wonderful blend of old footage and old and new interviews. The voice narration was great even though most of the footage did show in age. The sound quality of the narrator was at its best, and the audience was great. It was also wonderful to see the former sportsman's humorous side which drew quite a number of chuckles from the audience.