In Loving Memory of Prof. J. H. Kwabena

A lot of people know Prof. Nketia but musicians hail him. People may be asking why musicians hail him, and it is because they understand what Prof. Nketia stands for.  Prof. Nketia simply, to the layperson’s appreciation, stands for the preservation of our culture, i.e. what our fore-bearers used to practice in music and culture before we had any encounter with the white man, and its re-instatement in contemporary times.  For instance if our grandmothers used to sing apatampa songs how do you take it if you now play a piano and represent the same apatampa idiom and music on a modern instrument so that the whole world can also appreciate. These are the things that Prof Nketia stood for and in his choral pieces he dealt with proverbs and explained them as the music went on.  So even if you are not too musical to understand the modulations (key changes) just listen to how he starts the music with a proverb and how he weaves his way through to the end as he explains the proverb, may be that will help you to appreciate the music as the music enfolds.

Onipa bɛyɛɛ bi na nyɛ ne nyina.

Owora bɛyɛɛ bi na nyɛ ne nyina.

Owora sika ne deɛ bɛn

Owora nyansa ne deɛ bɛn

Owora ahoɔfɛ ne deɛ bɛn

ɛnɛ yɛre pɛ Owora ne no akasa a yennhu no

ɔdomankoma wuo afa Owora kɔ

which means even those people who amaze us in society, those people who do things to encourage us among other things would pass on one day.  So as they thrill us, as they surprise us, as they bless us with the things they do, we should be asking ourselves where can we also come in to carry their legacy from where they left off.

Prof, you are gone but we can hear you speak in our libraries.

Prof, you are gone but we can feel your “African Pianism”.

Prof. Good Bye.

Kras Arthur

Senior Lecturer

Methodist University College Ghana

Dansoman Campus, Accra