Tribute By Afram Publications To Our Cherished Founding Board Member: Professor J.H. Kwabena Nketia

Prof. J.H. Kwabena Nketia was very much concerned with the dissemination of literary, artistic and scholarly works by Ghanaians and Africans generally at home and abroad. He was involved in developing both creative and scholarly materials targeted at readers from the most basic to the highest level of the educational ladder. He was also acutely aware of the fact that much of what we consumed in Ghana was published by foreign publishers. It is not surprising he was persuaded by his friend and creative kindred spirit Efua Sutherland to join her in of establishing an indigenous publishing house in Ghana. Together with Efua Sutherland and world-class photographer Mr. Willis Bell, they established Afram Publications Ghana Ltd in March 1974 to publish their creative works and other local materials for Ghanaian readers.

As an author, he published with Afram Publications amongst others the following titles:

  • Ethnomusicology and African Music (Vol. 1)
  • African Pianism
  • African Art Music
  • Anwonsem

We were working with him on Vol. 2 of Ethnomusicology and African Music when he left us for eternity. Already we are receiving increased enquiries for his publications from outside the country. Should Professor J.H.Kwabena Nketia be better known outside Ghana than within? As a stakeholder, we are moved to make a plea for Ghanaian policy makers and practitioners in the area of education to make the passing of this great mind a catalyst for bringing his classical works and those of other worthy writers into the educational system for the edification of the young people of Ghana.

He was always full of ideas to move the company forward and also to get us to work towards the goals set by the founders. His curiosity as to how modern trends in publishing would influence reaching more users was very profound. Professor Nketia did not allow his huge esteem to get in the way of friendly interactions with the personnel in the production and editorial units. Several generations of young people have benefitted from his gentle guidance in these area. He shared stories with us anytime he got the chance and encouraged us to give off our best. He would correct you when you get it wrong in a calm but efficient way with his ever quiet trade mark smile.

He steered our thinking and chaired the Editorial Subcommittee of the Board for many years. As a Board member and shareholder, he did not talk much but shared profound insights in his areas of interest during the deliberations of Board.

Towards the end of our board meeting on 31st January 2019 Professor Nketia indicated to the Chairperson that he had something to say. He said he needed to stand up to make this statement and this naturally made Board Members particularly attentive. Prof’ declared that he felt he had contributed what he could to Afram Publications and that he would want to retire. Board Members were filled with mixed feelings of understanding but of denial about the implications of Prof’s retirement. The Chairperson tried to buy time by asking to discuss the matter more thoroughly with Prof and his family. We were however very pleased when on 4th March 2019 the usually convivial figure of Professor Nketia appeared in the doorway with his broad smile, smart wax print shirt and hearty greetings. He sat through the long meeting, not talking much but gesturing as usual to demonstrate that he was following proceedings.  It should have struck us what a momentous occasion that was; for routine as it appeared to be, this was to be our last opportunity to have the privilege of working with a representative of our founders and benefiting a sense of their vision and the power of their experience.

So Afram Publications must say good bye to the last of its founders. We know we have been thoroughly pampered by the presence of Professor Nketia for so long. We are deeply appreciative of this privilege and feel the loss of his passing profoundly. However, we will gather our wits about us and call forth all that we learned from our founders the last of whom was Professor J.H.Kwabena Nketia.

Prof, we are extremely proud to be able to number you among our founders and to have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with you. We say farewell to your physical presence but your spirit and thoughts are vividly a part of our reality.

May your Gentle Soul Rest in Peace.

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