By Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, March 14, GNA — Professor Joseph Hansen Kwabena Nketia has been described as an outstanding cultural icon, a model and source of inspiration to successive generations by Prof Kofi Asare Opoku, who has known the phenomenal ethnomusicologist for decades.
He was a good representative of the African culture.
The acting Director of Kwabena Nketia Centre for Africana Studies, African University College of Communications (AUCC), added that, despite “his global stature as a renowned scholar, Prof. Nketia was very humble and unassuming”.
Prof Opoku was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), on the legacy of the man credited with more than 20 books in Asante Twi, over 200 articles, and 80 original compositions on equal footing with 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.”
His works reconciled the melodic and rhythmic elements of folk music with contemporary music, spurring 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.
“For his profound work, Prof. Nketia was in the 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.”
Prof. Nketia was born at Mampong in the Ashanti Region, on 21 June 1921 and passed on at the ripe age of 97, at the University of Ghana Hospital, on Wednesday, March 13, after a short illness.
Ghana, Prof. Opoku, said should immortalise his legacy with a national monument in appreciation for the pioneering role and immense contribution he made to the African music and culture.
His interpretation and pioneering role tremendously helped to reshape the thinking, gave confidence and self-esteem to Africans.
Prof Opoku pointed out that, the deceased – a real “African gem”, was a 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 late Prof Nketia, who was conferred with a national honour “The Order of the Volta”, mentored many scholars, including Prof. Kwesi Ampenin of University of Michigan, Dr. Asante Darkwa, and Dr. Twerefuo, both are making great strides in their respective fields.
Prof Opoku said “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.
“Asare, work on this, I sweated because that was my first research project…and I didn’t know where to begin…but that was where I got my start, and it made me who I am today.”
He explained that the Kwabena Nketia Centre for Africana Studies was established to immortalise his good works.
The Centre designs courses in African Studies to help students to think up fresh ideas and grow in self-confidence.
It also organises public lectures to share views on the Pan-African world and Pan-African studies.
“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 was what Prof Nketia championed,” he stated.
Prof. Nketia, who fathered four children, is survived by his two daughters - 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. His adult sons died before him.
Popular hiplife artiste, “Manifest”, is his grandson.