Kofi Ghanaba: The Divine Drummer

Kofi Ghanaba (or Guy Warren as he was previously known) was born in 1923, and educated at Achimota College.

In the 1940s he was a journalist, and in 1947, joined the Tempos band with E.T Mensah. Since he had been a member of Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists in the UK he introduced many new ideas to the band including use of Afro-Cuban percussion instruments.

After Ghanaba left the Tempos he stayed in Liberia for three years and then went to the US where he worked with such African American jazz musicians as Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Max Roach and Billy Stray/writ. It was in Chicago that he changed musical direction ‘Iwould
be the African musician who re-introduced African music to America to get Americans to be aware of this cultural heritage of the black people. When I was young, it was jazz that dominated me. I was naive and thought that that was the thing. But it is the African music that is the mother, not the other way around. I had to find this out the hard way’ . From late 1950s, Ghanaba released a number of important Afro-Jazz LPs such as ‘Africa Speaks, America Answers’, ‘Theme for African Drums’, ‘Soundz of Africa’, and ‘The Third Phase’.
Ghanaba returned home in the 1960s. In 1981 he presented a drum version of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in the UK when he was given the title Odomankoman Kyerema or Divine Drummer. Ghanaba is known for being a spiritual man and practices Buddhism. He now lives Medie, fifteen miles north of Accra at his African Heritage Library and considers himself , … anonymous. My music is from the masses and I don’t want it to have a commercial appeal. I have been a jazz musician but now I am a folk musician. In other words, I have come home.’

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