2023 May

24 May: Inaugural Lecture – Contribution of African Popular Music Studies to Universities -Prof. John Collins FGA

This presentation concerns the importance of African popular music studies for Ghanaian University departments. It begins with the difficulties in getting this topic accepted into Academia despite the fact that Kwame Nkrumah fully endorsed the popular performance sector, as well as traditional music and African art-music as part of Ghana’s national culture development plan. Because of his overthrow in 1966 his well-rounded tripartite approach to national culture (i.e., traditional, art and popular music) was not fully transmitted into the university curriculum which for many years did not include any classes on African popular music, including even on Ghana’s homegrown highlife. Indeed, the first African popular music courses were only introduced to the University Music Department students in the late 1990s, beginning first at Legon by myself and Professor Willie Anku. So this presentation begins with the benefits these new courses brought to the Music Department and School of Performing Arts: namely training students to play highlife, providing pedagogic teaching materials from the scores of local popular music, supplying knowledge and skills to help students find jobs in the booming popular entertainments and creative industries sector, being a course attractive to foreign students, and establishing Music Department bands that showcase highlife and other forms of African popular music. The presentation then turns to six non-performance university departments that benefit from African popular music studies