German Theologian, Prof. Kahl falls in love with Ghana’s hi-life music

Prof. Werner Kahl

Ghana’s most authentic and popular music, hi-life is known to be infectious, resilient in the face of challenges from new music genre, and over-all very symbolic of the country’s music history.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Prof. Werner Kahl, a German theologian who came to Ghana in 1994 to teach at the University of Ghana, Legon fell in love with hi-life music while he taught at Ghana’s premier university.

“When you live in Ghana, hi-life gets into you, whether you like it or not,” he tells in an exclusive interview while in Accra to record his second hi-life album.

Prof. Kahl released his first album, ‘One people’ last year. He made the album with some musicians from Ghana and Guinea. They include Dela Botri, Aaron Bebe, both Ghanaians and Col. Faat of Senegal.

Prof. Kahl revealed that he was introduced to hi-life music by Prof. John Collins, also of the University of Ghana, who became his very good friend.

“Before I learned to play hi-life music, I have been in contact with some Ghanaian musicians like Atongo Zimba with whom I have played,” he said.

“I was fascinated with how Ghanaian music was played. It was so different from how we played music in Germany. It is kind of off-beat, but everyone is able to join in when it is being played,” Prof. Kahl said.

“For me, as someone who plays the guitar, it is the way it is played. We don’t have that kind of rythm in our Western folk music. It is the way hi-life music draws you in when it is played. If you know how to play the guitar, you can play it,” he said.

Prof. Kahl who now lives and teaches in Hamburg says, he plays in Ghanaian churches. “There are about 80 African churches in Hamburg. And I get to hear Twi spoken on the tram,” he says.

Commenting on his first album, Prof. Kahl said he calls his music a world music, because it is cross-culture music. “What I do is translate Ghanaian music into German culture.”

Prof. is currently working on his second album in which he tells stories. “My next album will be called ‘Savannah Ride”, he revealed to

Prof. Kahl currently teaches New Testament Studies at Hamburg University and Frankfurt University. He is the Head of Studies at the Mission Academy at Hamburg University where pastors who want to do their PhD in theology are trained.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

See a documentary on Prof. Kahl.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.