Prof. Nketia helped the post-colonial African to celebrate his new identity

Accra- Professor Joseph Hansen Kwabena Nketia was an outstanding cultural icon, a source of inspiration and a faithful model to successive generations, says Prof Kofi Asare Opoku, who has known the phenomenal ethnomusicologist since 1937.

The acting Director of Kwabena Nketia Centre for Africana Studies, African University College of Communications (AUCC), however, notes: Despite his global stature as a renowned scholar, Prof. Nketia was very humble and unassuming; he never flaunted his brilliance: encapsulating it in the Akan proverb, ‘good beads do not make noise’.

He was speaking in an interview with the GNA, on Thursday, on the legacy of the man, who is credited with more than 20 books in Asante Twi, more than 200 articles, and 80 original compositions compare to any classical music anywhere in the world.

His works largely provided an avenue for the post-Colonial African to reinforce his new identity and express his ‘Africaness’ with confidence, the protege says of his mentor.

His works reconciled the melodic and rhythmic elements of folk music with contemporary music, which spurred a new kind of compositional technique for African musicians and academics worldwide.

Adanse Kronkron, Morbid Asem, Monna N’Ase and Monkafo No are some of his choral works.

He was a good representative of the African culture and was committed to a cause; not just flippantly spreading himself all over and making noise.

For his profound work, Prof. Nketia was in league of great statesmen such as Casely Hayford, Ato Ahoma, Kobina Sekyi, Dr. J.B Danquah, Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, Mawere Opoku and Prof. Nketia Rhule, he concludes about the global scholar and lecturer.

Prof. Nketia, born at Mampong in the Ashanti Region, on 21 June 1921, passed on at 97 years, at the University of Ghana Hospital, on Wednesday, March 13, after a short illness.

Ghana, Prof. Opoku states, should immortalise his legacy with a national monument because it owes him a debt of gratitude for pioneering the interpretation of the African music, which aided in giving respect and a new identity to African music and culture.

Through the colonial experience, the African culture was downgraded and impugned with negativity, but Prof. Nketia’s profound interpretation and pioneering role aided in reshaping the thinking of the African and provided confidence and self-esteem to the African personality, he explains.

He also points out that, the African gem was, indeed, multi-talented scholar, who exhibited profound knowledge in Philosophy, Linguistics, Arts, Religion, Aesthetics, Folk Stories, Communications and African values.

Of course he was not jack of all trade and master of none; but was thoroughly well versed in every aspect of our culture.

The Order of the Volta statesman mentored many scholars, including Prof. Kwesi Ampenin, of University of Michigan, Dr. Asante Darkwa, and Dr. Twerefuo, who are making great strides in their respective fields.

Prof Opoku stated, I am what I am today; because of him.

When he employed me at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana in 1967, as a Research Fellow – Religion and Ethics – two months later, he came to my office and brought me a project from UNESCO on Akan Values.

Prof. Nketia told me: Asare, work on this, I sweated because that was my first research projectand I didn’t know where to beginbut that is where I got my start, and it made me who I am today.

At the AUCC, he explains, the Kwabena Nketia Centre for Africana Studies was established to immortalise his legacy.

The Centre designs courses in African Studies that would aid in reversing the negative representation of Africa, which has become the basis of Western Scholarship.

Students are, therefore, enabled to think up fresh ideas to educate the new generation of Africans to continually lead to the regeneration of Africans who are confident.

It also organises public lectures to share views on the Pan-African world and Pan-African Studies to shape the future and positive image for Africa.

If the African man wants to be respected, then we should make the African culture as the foundation of every aspect of life, which would give us confidence to pursue our goals in life and that what Prof Nketia championed, he stated.

Prof. Nketia, who fathered four children, is survived by his two daughters, as his adult sons have already passed.

Prof. Akosua Perbi, a Professor of History at the University of Ghana, and Naana Nketia, a lawyer, and a pastor at the International Central Gospel Church, are his daughters.

The Popular hiplife artiste, Manifest, is his grandson.

Source: Ghana News Agency