Profile: Kofi Dunyo
Age: 17 years old
Place of Birth: Dagabamete
Place of residence: Accra (spends time in Dagbamete in the summer)
Occupation: Student (just graduated)
Q: How did you learn music as a child?
Kofi: You’re always around music while growing up, and you hear it everywhere, so eventually you pick it up. I never learnt drumming from Kwasi while growing up because he was always away teaching in Canada. The only chance I got to learn from him was when foreigners came here for lessons.
Q: What type of music do you listen to the most?
Kofi:I really like hip-hop.
Q: I know there is a new style of music hip-life; would you call this music African?
Kofi:I wouldn’t because it doesn’t follow the path of African music; it tries to imitate Western music.
Q: What about high-life music?
Kofi: Yeah high-life is still African music. It’s modern African music because it still uses traditional African instruments.
Q: Have you noticed more women getting involved in drumming now?
Kofi: Women usually don’t drum, they mostly sing and dance. I think this is because women here are expected to raise children. The men usually drum, and they are the boss of the household.
Q: Do you think that because of the popularity of Western music among African youth, the traditional music is at risk?
Kofi: Well, I think that traditional music will always remain and be carried on through rituals and ceremonies.
Q: Where do you see the future of African music going?
Kofi:I think that the Western music will continue becoming more popular with young people, but I don’t think traditional music is at risk. It will always remain and have meaning.
Kofi just graduated from high school and plans on attending university. He is part of the generation that came before the current youth generation that now listens to Western music only. Kofi was able to give me insight into how youth feel about traditional music. He mentioned that listening to traditional music is not as good when it’s on the radio. Without the live aspect and ceremonial connections, he said that it is not the same. When I asked him to define African music he gave me a broad definition saying that it is “a deeper expression of oneself using your local language and instruments.” After interviewing someone from both generations, I can clearly see how Western music’s popularity, and influence have altered Kofi’s taste in music. Although he still enjoys traditional music and values it, he listens to Western hip-hop when he has the choice.
Both Angelina and Kofi recognized that technology has been a source of change in the music through amplification, radio and television. Kofi told me that he thinks internet is one of the main reasons that Western music continues to gain popularity among youth. Even on Friday night after the farewell dinner for the other group was over, drumming and traditional music was played throughout dinner and shortly afterwards but it didn’t take long for Kwasi’s songs to be playing popular Western music and dancing in a way that reminded me of how guys back home, “gangsters,” would be dancing to hip-hop. Although Western music could never take the place of traditional African music, it has certainly caused a shift in preference for much of the youth in Ghana. They did not choose to play high-life music on Friday, even though it is considered to be “modern African music.”
I briefly spoke to a few others on the topic of change in music so here are a few comments that have stayed with me. “Young people now, they don’t give a damn about our traditional music.” They prefer Western styles. -Joe Kwasi’s son, Student in Juma. 26 years old.
“Because of amplification our music can be heard everywhere throughout the village, so everyone always knows when an event is going on. We got this technology from “you people” and it has helped us spread our music.” -Bright; a random cousin of Joe’s that I asked about change in music when I was on a walk on Thursday evening.
Interviewed by Candice Cascanette in July 28th 2008