De Joe Quarcoo: The Pastor Challenging Africa’s Urban Governance Through Music and Sanitary Pads

Joseph Dennis Nii Noi Quarcoo (also known as De Joe Quarcoo) is a 36-year-old reverend minister at Harvest City Church and a change agent with notable projects such as the Musical Urbanism Project, Nkosuo Initiative Menstrual Health Campaign, and The Pan-African Youth Movement Voice1Africa.


Rev. Joseph holds a Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Ghana and a degree in urban studies from the African Center for Cities at the renowned University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. At UCT, De Joe received robust training from subject-matter experts, which shaped him to become a southern urban thinker and led to his musical urbanism project.

Aside from his academic achievements, Rev. Joseph Dennis Quarcoo has also gone through intensive leadership training programs, including the prestigious Young African Leaders Initiative(YALI), which was begun in 2010 by President Barack Obama. In 2017, he was the only Ghanaian chosen for the MASHAV training in Israel, where he learned about Israel’s development trajectory and tactics. He is also a scholar at the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS Africa) and a MasterCard scholar. He recently completed a year-long civic leadership training from the University of Georgia, USA, through the African Civic Education Academy (ACEA) Program.

Journey To Becoming An Activist

De Joe was inspired to start activism as a result of his firm belief in backing faith by works, as seen in James 2:18. He believes the problems affecting our rural communities in Ghana cannot be solved without taking action. To him, the mentors of the Bible were agents of change, and Hebrews 11 points out how, by their faith, they took actions to impact their world and to glorify God.

Methods of Activism used by De Joe Quarcoo

  • Musical Urbanism
  • Pan-African youth movement Voice1Africa program
  • Nkosuo Initiative Menstrual Health Campaign

About Musical Urbanism

Music Urbanism is how we directly or indirectly use music as a tool, or within a toolkit, to address the ever-changing needs of those who live in cities, towns, and places. Through this project, De Joe Quarcoo has released three songs to raise the conversation on urban planning with the hope of shifting power from the formal structures (Politicians, Planners, Architects) to the masses who live in our cities.

Informal businesses dominate Africa’s commerce. From the neighborhood mom-and-pop shops to the roads and beside cars, people are selling and buying. Yet this dominant informal sector and its activities are considered illegal in Ghana and many African countries. The planning of African cities does not provide spaces for informal vendors. They are excluded, often evicted, and always left in a permanent state of temporariness.

Informality is here with us and it’s going nowhere! We must redirect our energies to make meaning of it in order to harness its benefits. 

Joseph Dennis N. Quarcoo, 2020

Through the songs Southern Cities, City in the Sun, and his latest release Say it Out Loud, De Joe Quarcoo is challenging African leaders and planners to rethink our communities and living.

The song “Southern Cities” is arguably the first original song and music video about urbanism and the first about urbanism in the Global South (Africa, Asia & Latin America). It is a love song for Southern cities and an angry call to action. It is about the messy, multiple challenges we grapple with and the difficulty even of naming them.

Nkosuo Initiative Menstrual Health Campaign

Nkosuo Initiative is a menstrual health campaign implemented in partnership with the Ghana Education Service (GES). Through this project, Rev. De Joe Quarcoo and his team distribute reusable pads and menstrual cups to girls whiles sensitizing both boys and girls on the subject of menstrual health. They also teach students how to make reusable pads and offer them free materials needed to make a starter pack.

Impact He Wants To Make With His Activism Projects

De Joe Quarcoo wishes to see an Africa where the potential of its young people is not wasted. An Africa where everyone has a fair shot at life, regardless of their geographical or socio-economic background; a place where we have a well-meaning society and government- a government that prioritizes urban governance and job creation.

I’d like everyone to know that our world is fast urbanizing. You either live in a city or will be living in one soon. Meanwhile, we are urbanizing without commensurate job creation. So the geography of poverty is rapidly shifting from rural areas to the urban peripheries. That is, the poor are or will no longer be in the villages but on the fringes of our cities. We must therefore care about our neighbors. We must hold our leaders accountable and ensure that they make decisions in the best interest of the average Ghanaian and the African youth in the larger context.

– Joseph Dennis N. Quarcoo

De Joe Quarcoo hopes that one day, through his works, African Governments will be moved to be interested in the livelihood of the urban poor (the street vendor, the youth) and the millions of menstruating girls who can’t afford sanitary pads.


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