Cable News Network; an American news-based pay television channel has featured Ghanaian Highlife and Afrobeat Legend, Ebo Taylor on Africa Avant-Garde – a new series showcasing innovators and creators working across art, design, music, film and fashion, for playing a pivotal and practical role in elevating the West African sound and making his signature Ghanaian highlife that influenced the father of afrobeat, Fela Kuti.
According to CNN, as at when Highlife and Afrobeats grew to become a global household genre on the music market, the ‘Ayesama’ hitmaker’s outputs were inherited as a source of inspiration to many notable international creatives and has witnessed series of sampling by international R&B artiste Usher on his 2010 track “She Don’t Know,” featuring rapper Ludacris, and by Canadian hip-hop duo Ghetto Concept on their 1992 track “Certified.”
Speaking to CNN, “Uncle Ebo,” as he’s known by locals in Saltpond, the small Ghanaian fishing town he’s called home since birth, revealed how he cultivated a close and harmonious relationship with colleague Afrobeat legend Kuti.
“Fela used to come to my apartment in Willesden quite often and we’d spend hours playing records,” Taylor said. “When he came to Ghana in ’67, he drove to Cape Coast to see me and we spent the afternoon talking about African Unity.”
Taylor credits Kuti with pushing him, and others, to compose distinctly African music. “He (Fela) never understood why as Africans we like playing jazz; he wanted us to be ourselves, be original and tell our stories,” Taylor said.
His influence can also be seen in afrobeat’s clubbier offshoot, afrobeats (with an “s”), which has hit international charts through West African acts like Wizkid, who has collaborated with artists including Drake and Major Lazer. Taylor is quick to highlight the fact that the popularity of afrobeats has coincided with its embrace of authentically African arrangements and a departure from heavy hip-hop and R&B sounds which he believes could seem forced.
“The music we made was real music, it made you stop and think,” he said. “It’s not surprising that people are connecting with afrobeats more now that it is embracing elements from the music we made.”
And Taylor, however, is still recording new material at age 84. He has spent most of this year in his home studio observing Covid-19 protocols and recording new material for his third studio album in 10 years.
Since the release of his 2010 album “Love and Death,” as well as his collaboration with the Berlin-based Afrobeat Academy in 2011, Taylor’s international profile has been raised. In 2017, the release of Ghana funk anthem “Come Along,” made DJ playlists globally, according to Taylor. But Taylor’s newfound global fame is the culmination of his own influence on West African music since the early 1960s.
Photo Credit: CNN
Zlatan Tattoos A Photo Of Kwame Nkrumah On His Body; This Is Why
Nigerian afrobeats sensation and founder & leader of ZANKU Records, Zlatan, has shared photo of himself detailing a tattoo of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah PC; a former Ghanaian politician and revolutionary on his chest.
Though reasons behind scribbling a Ghanaian personality on his body as a Nigerian is yet to be made known for the public’s consumption, it is believed, the musician, upon thorough research, got inspired by the history, legacies of freedom, achievements in music and values that late first Prime Minister and President of Ghana believed in.
An influential advocate of pan-Africanism, Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity and winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1962. He opened doors that chartered new paths and contributed to the success of African music today. From Highlife, the Afrobeats of Fela’s time down to this era. Ghana, and the African continent owe a lot to Nkrumah’s vision & love for music.
Audiomack And Daily Paper To Restore The Football Pitch At Accra Girls High School
As part of Audiomack’s committing to Ghana outside of just music and focused on giving back to the community and culture, the music streaming and discovery platform, in collaboration with Amsterdam-based fashion label Daily Paper, is funding the restoration of the football pitch at Accra Girls Senior High School after it sponsored this year’s annual football tournament.
This annual tourney by Daily Paper is a celebration of the ongoing initiative to empower the youth and give back to the Ghanaian community by reinforcing commitment through sports. Since 2017, Daily Paper, founded by three close friends, Hussein Suleiman, Abderrahmane Trabsini, and Jefferson Osei, has been consistent in showcasing and supporting Ghanaian youths. Audiomack is no different.
This year’s tournament took place inside the Accra Girls Senior High School and saw a great line-up of the best African creatives and athletes. Alongside Daily Paper and Audiomack, the teams included SmallGod, Eunice Beckham, La Même Gang, and members from Daily Paper, Free the Youth, Young, Melanin Unscripted, and Native Mag. The kits were designed by Daily Paper in collaboration with Puma.
Drawing attention to the creative arts in Ghana, outside of just music, Audiomack has also made it a point to help the community which has blessed the world with its music and culture.
David Ponte, Audiomack Co-Founder & CMO says, “We are thrilled to partner up with Daily Paper, Puma, and the Accra Girls Senior High School for this amazing event! Our mission at Audiomack is not only to move music forward but to also empower the youth so that they can continue to innovate and express their creativity on and off the pitch!”
Jefferson Osei, Co-Founder of Daily Paper, explains, “We are glad to collaborate with Audiomack, who shares in our vision to accelerate growth in the African creative industry. Giving back to the continent that inspired us to create our label has always been a dream for us, and we will continue to intensify efforts towards achieving that vision.”
“All [of] our collaborations are purposeful collaborations for community growth and youth development, so it is exciting to see Audiomack coming on board for this year’s tournament,” Osei continues. “Youth culture is part of Daily Paper’s DNA. We started the brand as a lifestyle brand and invested in empowering youth culture. Within Daily Paper’s global community the brand has always organically built authentic relationships with the youth.”
Daily Paper partnered up with Audiomack based on the organic connection made for the love of West and South African music: Afro Alté, Afrobeats, African hip-hop, African-American Drill, and Amapiano. “This was the base of the relationship. From here on, both entities explored possibilities to invest in the Motherland,” Osei adds.
Could 2021 Be The Year Of The African Museum?
While the West continues to grapple with its colonial past, institutions from Togo to Cairo are creating more expansive models to celebrate art
Most museums as we know them seem to exist in order to help us in some way see ourselves and the world better.
At the beginning of last year, the International Council of Museums went though a public crisis when some of its members sought to expand the definition of museums to include their engagement with political and social issues.
In the summer, I did a talk with Yilmaz Dziewior, the director of Museum Ludwig, and one of the audience members asked if we would still be able to enjoy the works if they were contextualised.
Then in the autumn, in a thread on the repatriation of objects, a Twitter user asked whether “normal people” might still be able to view the objects if they were returned to the kinds of countries where there was no “free speech”.
The notion behind these suppositions is that Western museums and norms do not need to be contextualised by political and social realities, because they would then no longer be able to be taken at aesthetic or intellectual face value. But the current crises that museums face comes precisely from the problem of the colonial mindset that placed Western civilisation and its taming modernities at the apex of humanity. A hierarchy of being that continues to see anything outside itself as alternative, inferior, merely indigenous or premodern, has resulted in the violations and inequalities among people and our environment that we face so starkly today.
In the West, museums are still grappling with how to redefine themselves in this moment, with how to honestly and accountably face their pasts, where even those who want to atone for violences of theft through reparation continue to speak on behalf of those that can speak for themselves. In other parts of the world, different conversations are being had.
On the African continent, museums as we know them were largely a colonial import, created to bolster newly independent national narratives with borrowed forms. As part of the exercise of control and exploitation, it was drummed into colonised peoples that their beings, their ways of seeing and expression, were primitive, backward, and of no value; all while these very things, with differing degrees of violence, were exported to the West to be re-valued for their museums and for their gain.
Forms of expression
While these narratives of inferiority still exist throughout the continent, especially when it comes to our historical cultural expressions, there is also so much that has prevailed; forms of expression, of exhibiting, of exchanging that have evolved over many millennia, which have taken in all the many influences that have passed through them and grown, despite the odds stacked against them.
Museums like the Palais de Lomé, which opened in 2019 in Togo, and the Museum of Black Civilisations in Senegal, which opened the year before, are co-curating with communities around them and creating more expansive models. New museums that are breaking ground this year, like the Grand Egyptian Museum, the Pan African Heritage World Museum in Ghana, the Museum of Humankind in Kenya, and the Museum of Maritime History in Mozambique, will tell narratives from the dawns of African civilisations in all their pluralistic forms. And new types of museums, archives and networks, like the Museum of British Colonialism, African Digital Heritage and the International Inventories Programme, continue to emerge.
In Ghana, our president, Nana Akufo-Addo, commissioned a review of our existing museum restructures, which I have been leading and bringing together for the past year. The report of the first committee (ghanaheritagefuture.com) outlines new curatorial, architectural, financial, structural possibilities for our museums, monuments and national parks. Our next step is a competition for a new kind of museum building, the design of which will be announced in 2021.
In 1964, our first president, Kwame Nkrumah, commissioned the architect Franco Minissi to design our National Museum, but like many of our independence dreams, it was never completed and the ground for it still lies waiting. This time it is for a homegrown architect, either alone or in collaboration with an international one, to reimagine what a structure might hold and look like, that honours and takes into account the many spirits of our communities, our environment, and our objects, both at home and those to be returned. A structure that will allow for narratives and exchange with, and across, other parts of the world, on equal terms.
By NANA OFORIATTA AYIM
An Illustrated Book Dedicated To The Memory Of JJ Rawlings Now Available
‘CHANGES’ the Dawn of a Revolution, tells the story of Ghana’s June 4th1979 revolution and the events directly related to it. Since it is not meant to be a detailed account, it obviously does not cover every aspect of the story. It only tries to set it down for our remembrance.
It reveals an African uprising captured in ‘real time’ (1979) by Kwame Addo, an artist, as the continent continues to rediscover the true essence of its democracy; reminding us of the people’s power and their desire to survive in a free, just and accountable society.
This insightful illustrated document is timely and informative after incubating for forty years. The A4 size, 34 pages comic format, cloaked in a captivating semi hard cover is available in English, French and Spanish.
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