Coups d’état in Ghana nearly ‘killed’ hi-life music – Mantey

Military coups d’état experienced in Ghana are said to have contributed to the  near collapse of hi-life music genre in the country between the late 70s and early 80s, a music producer says.

Ghana experienced military takeovers in 1979 and 1981 when both the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) all led by former President Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings.

This development, according to Mr Mark Okraku Mantey, CEO of Slip Music record label compeled most hi-life musicians to travel overseas for greener pastures.

After the coups, curfews were imposed on the nation forcing Ghanaians to stay indoors after 6pm. He said musicians, who normally play at shows in the night were restricted due to the coups and this led to virtual killing of hi-life music.

“Hi-life musicians like Kojo Antwi, Amakye Dede, Charles Amoah among others played their music in Nigeria and other countries during the coups d’etat in Ghana”, said Mr Okraku, adding Ghanaians became unaware of hi-life music during that period.

Mr Okraku, who has produced popular hi-life musicians like Bless, Adane Best, Daasebre Dwamena among others was speaking at this year’s Ghana Music Awards Forum on the topic ‘Hi-life in Ghana’ which was held in Accra on March 22, 2011.

The music producer is known for his campaign to revamp the hi-life music industry in the country.

Mr Okraku who has been in the music industry for a long time debunked perceptions that the hi-life music genre was meant only for the low income earner in the society.

“Hi-life music is the only music genre in Ghana that exists in the dictionary meaning music for the high class people during the colonial era”, he said.

According to the Hi-life campaigner, the genre is now gaining more popularity with the youth.

Ghana’s hi-life became a world class music when the music group Osibisa Band was awarded by the Queen of England in its early days. Gyedu Blay Ambolley was recently given an award by the US Congress for promoting hi-life music.


By Ekow Quandzie

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