Study African Arts and Culture in Ghana

From CCE wiki archived
Revision as of 10:15, 19 April 2017 by Michaelf (talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search
Ghana 2017: Music for Global Human Development, July 3 to August 11, 2017


The Department of Music and the Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology are proud to offer a new Ghana summer program for 2017 : Music for Global Human Development in West Africa, centered at the University for Development Studies in northern Ghana (the main campus is located in Tamale, capital of Ghana's Northern Region), preceded by a two days of initial orientation in Accra. The 9 credit (3 course) program will run from July 3 to Aug 11 2017, and offer credit for both the Certificate in International Learning and Certificate in Community Service Learning.

There are routes for both undergraduate and graduate study, and "Open Studies" students who are not enrolled in any university program. The summer program is available to anyone age 18 and up.

Click here to apply ( (or visit the Horizons Portal and search for "Music for Global Human Development")

Note that $1750 in scholarship funding is available to the first 14 early applicants from the UofA - apply now! (Non-UofA students can receive $500.)

See this recent writeup in the Faculty of Art's blog.

See draft course syllabi here.

The 9 credit summer program comprises social science, humanities, and performing arts components and is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Music and dance performance is central, but no musical experience or talent is required to succeed. CSL credit will be provided, as we work in partnership with a local NGO, Youth Home Cultural Group.

The program centers on the role of music (and sound, and all related performance arts -- dance, poetry, drama -- as well as visual arts, costume, design) towards promoting human development, either directly (by carrying specific development messages designed to change attitudes and behaviors, or indirectly, by fostering social cohesion, building civil society and strengthening identity & cultural continuity - see the Music for Global Human Development (M4GHD) project and -- for an example -- Singing and Dancing for Health, a recent project in Northern Ghana.

The University for Development Studies covers the spectrum of academic disciplines, with a focus on development. The 9 credit program, which will include aspects of the University's new Development Action Through Expressive Media (DATEM), will include three component courses: (1) African music and dance practice - Music x44; (2) African development (including some historical and cultural background to development issues today) with both classroom and field components; and (3) Music for Global Human Development, extending "music" to "expressive culture" and taking advantage of DATEM offerings (but focused on music and dance approaches primarily).

We will work with UDS faculty on full or half day sessions in order to learn about their research areas, and the ways they apply their research to practical development problems in Ghana's north - particularly in the domains of global health, education, nutrition and poverty alleviation, gender equality, peace and justice, and environment, with reference to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. We will volunteer with Youth Home Cultural Group to support their projects with children and youth in Tamale. Students will also work collaboratively on a music/global health project located in the village of Tolon - see Singing and Dancing for Health - designed to simultaneously address health and social issues. There may also be opportunities for medical students to substitute hospital-based training in Tamale for this segment.

During the course of this program we will spend time in urban and rural areas of Ghana's north, centered on the regional capital of Tamale, with an extended fieldwork stay in the village of Tolon, quite close to Tamale, where the Singing and Dancing for Health project is in progress, as well as a preliminary 2-day orientation period in Accra.

Excursions to sites of natural, historical and cultural interest, including the Mole wildlife preserve, the Larabanga Mosque, and other destinations in the vicinity of Tamale, Wa, or Navrongo are possible through optional weekend trips.

We will spend the first two days in in Accra, studying music, dance, and healing, and touring Accra, for a broader perspective on Ghana as a whole. We will then travel to Tamale, our base for the next five weeks, before spending the final week in a nearby village, Tolon. Weekends will provide opportunities for excursions around Ghana's north. Here is a map displaying these locations, as well as some of our potential travel destinations, with images.

The program comprises 3 courses (9 credits): two in music (Music 144/444/544 "West African Music Ensemble", and Music 365/565 "Topics/Area Studies in Ethnomusicology") and one in interdisciplinary studies (INT D 325 and INT D 530: Development). No prior musical training or ability is required. Airfares are highly dependent on point of origin.


  • $1,596.24 for 9 UofA credits (3 semester courses)- for Canadians and Canadian residents (more for non-Canadians). Note: non-UofA students register through Open Studies.
  • $800 mandatory fees (attached to Music 365 and 565) - these will be used to cover room/board for the final week in Tolon and internal flights to/from Tamale, as well as additional programming.
  • $1050 room and board (or $30/day for 5 weeks -but you can easily reduce your food costs depending on where you take your meals; a local meal costs under $5; room averages under $14/day. Much less expensive than living in Canada!)

Total: $3,446.24 (more for non-Canadians and Open Studies)


  • international ticket to Accra: cost can vary greatly; from Edmonton likely to range from $1700 to $2500 depending on timing and airline. Note that you may like to use the trip as an opportunity to explore other locations through stopovers (often free) in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. This is completely acceptable so long as you arrive in Accra by the start date, and don't depart before the final program day.
  • cost of visa/photos (Ghana requires a visa which you can obtain by mail from Toronto or Ottawa; be sure you have a passport not expiring imminently.
  • vaccines & insurance (if needed). Note: everyone requires a Yellow Fever vaccine - the vaccination card is required to obtain a visa and must be carried to Ghana for entry.
  • recommended: about $500 in additional cash (estimated) to cover incidentals, gifts, unforeseen emergencies, etc. (note: there are many ATMS for cash; bring your bank card)


  • The first 15 UofA students to apply will receive $1750 each; non-UofA students will receive $500 each.


  • grad route:
    • Music 565 "Music for Global Human Development in West Africa"
    • Music 544 "West African Music Ensemble"
    • INT D 530 "West African Development"
  • undergrad route:
    • Music 365 "Music for Global Human Development in West Africa"
    • Music 144 or 444 "West African Music Ensemble"
    • INT D 325 "West African Development"

Please contact me by email if you are interested and I'll put you on the list.

See below for information pertaining to the 2013 program, which was rather different in some respects (but still rather similar in others).



Welcome to the Ghana Music Wiki

This wiki is dedicated to the University of Alberta's Ghana 9 credit summer study abroad program, entitled West African Music, Dance, Society, and Culture.

The program comprises social science, humanities, and performing arts components, and is formally equivalent to three semester-long University of Alberta courses, available at both undergraduate and graduate levels. There are no prerequisites for these courses (in music or African studies, or anything else), or for the program as a whole.

Music and dance are central to the program, but as a gateway to broader understanding of African societies, rather than as an end in themselves. We will study a wide range of topics from a range of disciplines: linguistics, literature, drama studies, religious studies, politics, history... We also connect the study of West Africa to the study of the Americas through inclusion of pan-Africanism, and consideration of the "Black Atlantic".

In this wiki you'll find lots of program information, as well as reference materials - it's a repository of information about Ghana, West Africa, and Africa as a whole -- with lots of links to music, video, and text.

Please read on!

Questions? Please write Michael Frishkopf,

Main pages contained in this wiki

The page you're now reading contains primarily news and resources about Africa, especially music and West Africa. Find out more about the program via the following links:

University of Alberta summer study abroad in Ghana: program overview

Preparing for the Ghana Program: what to do before you go

2017 program syllabi (draft)

2013 program syllabi, archived 

African news: music, culture, and more

website-in-progress for A Drummer's Testament, which is the product of a collaborative ethnographic project. The principal authors are John M. Chernoff and Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulai

Great Tufts website devoted to Dagomba dance drumming

Mapping Africa

Also see this Time magazine map of principal export commodities

Ghana Highlife Music repository

Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground A penetrating look at the environmental and social impact of electronic waste.

African Art at the Met

(see especially The Age of Iron in West Africa, Arts of Power Associations in West Africa, { Art of the Asante Kingdom], and other exhibits.)

John Collins has put his academic publications online on

The Royal Museum for Central Africa

History of Africa from the BBC

Hand painted Ghanaian movie posters, an exhibition

Art & Life in Africa, hosted by the University of Iowa Museum of Art

Islamic tolerance in West Africa

Professor Kofi Agawu on the minimalist impulse in African music

The story of Ghanaian Highlife from the BBC (by John Collins)

Ghana's modern musical history from the BBC

m.anifest is an award-winning rapper and songwriter who's performed with Erykah Badu - and he's Prof. Nketia's grandson!

Ghana's unfinished buildings and sky-high rent

Obituary:  Martin Bernal, author of Black Athena 

Old Liquor Finds New Life in Ghana Cocktail Scene

Save precious Timbuktu manuscripts!

Du Bois in Our Time...

a landmark exhibition that focuses on the intersection of art and the major issues of our time, centered on the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois and the causes he championed, on the 50th anniversary of his death in Accra, Ghana

Mansa Musa, 14th century Malian king, was richest human being in all history

African Union at 50

Fifty anthems for the African continent.  To mark the 50th anniversary of the African Union  this year - formerly the Organisation of African Unity, BBC World Service listeners suggested the African songs that summed up the continent to them.

Africa Beats , from the BBC.

Chatham House publications

Ghana's Azonto Craze

Fela Kuti Reissues: Message to an Unknown Soldier

Mali's historic manuscripts

A pioneer in West African literature: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Malian kora legend breaks music barriers

Timbuktu's musical muse , with Mali's Toumani Diabate

Group to Invest N1.4bn in New African Music Platform Called Mokingo

African Arts and Culture resources

Africa and Africans


West African Kingdoms  Fotota: African Perspectives in Photography African Union at 50 - the dream of Unity


Africa South of the Sahara (Stanford University)

Africa Union

Aluka (log in via your university library site; if it's not available request a subscription)

Aluka:  Music

Africa Past and Present podcast

African Knowledge Project, including a set of journals

A History of the African People by Robert W. July (Long Grove IL : Waveland Press, Inc., 1998). 724 page(s)

Africa & Africans by Paul Bohannan and Philip Curtin (Long Grove, IL : Waveland Press, Inc., 1964). 316 page(s)

African Activist Archive Project

Africa Portal

Online museum resources on African Art

African languages and oral literatures

The Story of Africa (produced by the BBC)

Brill's African Studies Companion

General History of Africa (also in [ French)

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, with information on more than 35,000 slave voyages

Togo under the German Flag


Julius Nyerere

Frantz Fanon

US Defense intelligence report on Kwame Nkrumah from 1966

General info on Ghana

Wikitravel - Ghana

Journals of both historic and scholarly interest:  

Ghana festivals

more Ghana festivals

Library of Congress country study

Ghana, by Rachel Naylor (Oxfam Country Study series)

CIA World Factbook

US Dept of State

Ghana Statistical Service



Ghana news and media

Ghana tourism

Ghana Independence Day [1][2]

New York Times travel section article about Ghana (August 9, 2009)

Ewe stories

The Ewe Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, by A. B. Ellis.

Ghana, One Year Old: a First Independence Anniversary Review

Ghana’s Policy at Home and Abroad: Text of Speech Given in the Ghana Parliament, August 29, 1957

Adoo Quamina, 1820, captain and courtier to the Ashanti king

Music of West Africa and beyond

African music on the Internet

African Music Database

Ghana Expo - includes music, TV, films, and more...

Ghana Music

My youtube playlist

Ntama: Journal of African Music and Popular Culture

Music in Ghana [3]

Music news in Ghana


Music videos


African Music on VOA

Wikipedia articles on Ghana, and West Africa (limited, but good for links)

Ghana web music

Ghana music videos


Music lyrics

National Geographic World Music Guide

Dagara xylophone music center outside Accra

Hiplife compilation (BBC review)

African hip hop

James Koetting Ghana Field Recording Collection at Brown University


African American and Africana studies

W.E.B. DuBois

Frederick Douglass

Booker T Washington

George Padmore

Marcus Garvey

Martin Luther King

Claudia Jones

John Henrik Clarke

Ida B Wells

Ella Baker

Maulana Karenga

Cheikh Anta Diop

Walter Rodney

Film and video: Africa, West Africa, Diaspora, and related

Note: Some of these links may not work without logging in first. For Films on Demand ( you can access from anywhere by visiting the UofA Library site and searching for database: "Films on Demand", then search for the title you wish to screen. You can also create an account allowing you to login directly to All titles are provided below.

Overviews of African history

Basil Davidson's acclaimed BBC Africa series

  • Note above links are now dysfunctional ; try [5] etc.

Overviews of three major documentary series by Basil Davidson, Ali Mazrui, and Henry Louis Gates

Africa calling

Journeys into Islamic Africa

African Art

West Africa

The Glories of Ancient Benin

Medieval West Africa

Ancient Ghana

The Mande people of the Mali empire

The Bambara Kingdom of Segu (Mali)

Dark passages (Slave trade)

Door of no return (slave trade)

Berlin 1885: The Division of Africa

Berlin 1885, la ruée sur l'Afrique 1/6 (other parts present also; in French)

Africa: States of independence - the scramble for Africa. al-Jazeera special on 17 African nations independent for 50 years in 2010.

African society, culture, music, religion, and politics

The Call of Africa

Africa's West Coast

Miraculous Water: The Effects of Scarcity and Abundance in Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mali

More Than Just a Game: Competitions and Celebrations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, and Sudan

Paper Gods: Aspects of Religion in Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mali. See section 10 on a witchcraft village in northern Ghana.

Reel African. Collection of online video content. May not all be accessible from your location.

Africa: who is to blame? A film featuring Ghana's former President J.J. Rawlings

IIs Soccer more than just a Sport to Africans?


African Underground: Hip Hop in Senegal

West Africa generally

Welcome to Lagos Nigeria - BBC Two Documentary

Short videos about West Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana...)

Nollywood Babylon, on the Nigerian film industry (from the National Film Board of Canada)

Jean Rouch: seminal French documentary filmmaker-anthropologist, who developed a style of reflexive documentary filmmaking called "cinéma-vérité", blurring boundaries ordinarily separating subject and observer, as well as those separating fiction and non-fiction genres. Rouch is well known for representing West Africa in his films.

A Fresh Look at Mali, Ghana, and Nigeria.


Keita: The Heritage of the Griot

Chinua Achebe[6]

Wole Soyinka

Art (see #10-13)

Liberia: An uncivil war

Who controls Africa? Power Structures in Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali

West Africa—Ghana and the Ivory Coast: Globe Trekker. Typical cheerily youth-oriented TV documentary, following the backpacker route and reveling in its culture more than cultural empathy or interpretation... but of our destinations are highlighted in parts 1-12.

Ghana, its history, culture, and music


Ghana's history, in 3 parts (1. See esp. 26:45 Nkrumah's speech and E.T. Mensah on his highlife song, "Freedom". 2,3) Collage of documentaries and news reels - some great footage. Also [].

Dr Kwame Nkrumah (short piece from History Channel)

Yaa Asantewa: Warrior Queen of GhanaYaa Asantewaa and the Golden Stool. Yaa Asantewaa was a courageous queen who ruled the Asantes and defended against the British.

Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire, containing many online films about the Gold Coast, e.g. Gold Coast Police Band's visit to London in 1947, [7][8][9]Prince of Wales in Gold Coast,[10][11]colonialism[12]

Culture and Society

Environment, entertainment, health, economy...

The Asante Kingdom

Changing Nature: Population and Environment at a Crossroads. A view of Ghana's environmental issues, especially the rain forests, and their relation to human health and economic welfare...

Salt Harvesters of Ghana (Filmakers Library) 18 minutes. Focus on women's roles in traditional salt production in Ada, near the Volta river.

Dreams of Catches Unlimited, in Riches from the Deep 2 (Nordic World) 52 minutes. NB: Fast forward to 22:00 and watch to 35:15. Centered on fish production near Tema. Includes fishermen's work songs, and focusses on women's roles. We will see lots of fishing villages in Ghana.

A Fresh Look at Mali, Ghana, and Nigeria. Watch especially parts 5-8 on Ghana (plus #11, on hip-hop in Lagos).

Ghana: TV in Africa. This documentary studies the cultural landscape of Ghana through the lens of that country’s television programming.

Healers of Ghana. (A traditional voiceover style documentary, a bit dated in some ways, but providing some unique views...) This program explores the traditional medical practices of the Bono people of central Ghana and how their healers are cooperating with Western doctors, using herbs and spiritualism to improve health-care delivery in rural areas. Traditionally, Bono tribal priests undergo a painful spiritual possession, during which deities reveal to them the causes of illnesses, which plants to use to treat them, who is perpetrating witchcraft, and which villagers might be endangering society through improper behavior. The program features vibrant dance and possession ceremonies, set against the backdrop of the Bono villages, which are awash with color. (58 minutes)

Dying in Africa: Perspectives on the End of Life in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and South Africa. Watch first three segments (on Ghana), and final segment on funeral music (in Burkina Faso)

A Mysterious Death, by Bulmer John and Errington Sarah, in Under the Sun (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 1999) 49 minutes.

Asante Market Women: Disappearing World. Focus on Kumasi's enormous central market, and the role there of women. Fascinating documentary.

Guinea worm

The Interconnected World: An Inside Look at the IMF and Its Impact (45:00). See segments 9-11, with focus on Ghana's emerging oil economy. This program guides viewers through the history, mission, and real-world impact of the International Monetary Fund. Topics include...Ghana’s challenges in ensuring that oil revenues benefit the country.


Highlife: Ghana's Musical Soul (History of Highlife)

Freedom Highlife, by E.T. Mensah and the Tempos Listening to the Silence: African Cross Rhythms (featuring Ewe music, Prof. John Collins, and many other wonderful things)

Singing Fishermen of Ghana

The Drums of Dagbon

Could Ghana's new Azonto dance craze take over the world?. Azonto is Ghana's latest dance style, and it's spread like wildfire, even to London, Scandinavia, and Canada, far from its roots lie in inner-city Jamestown.

Representing Ghana

Passing Girl: Riverside An Essay On Camera Work, by Braun Kwame (Documentary Educational Resources (DER), 1998) 24 minutes.

The African Diaspora: history, culture, music

Linking Africa to the New World...and back again

Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. Katrina Browne was shocked to discover that her distinguished Rhode Island forebears had been part of the largest slave-trading dynasty in American history. Once she started digging, Browne found the evidence everywhere—in ledgers, ships’ logs, letters, and even in a local nursery rhyme. This film documents one family’s painful confrontation with their ancestors’ involvement in the slave trade, and in so doing reveals the pivotal role slavery played in the growth of the American economy.

Wrapped in Pride: The Story of Kente in America

Too Close to Heaven: The History of Gospel Music

Family Across the Sea

Gravel Springs Fife and Drum

Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison

Black Delta Religion

Joy Uspeakable (Pentecostals in Indiana)

The Land Where Blues Began, by Alan Lomax

The Music District

Music Masters and Rhythm Kings

The Performed Word

Fannie Bell Chapman: Gospel Singer


Ongoing research and development work in Ghana

Every year, we support local schools in Dagbamete through gifts of books and supplies. We've also supported JayNii streetwise foundation in Jamestown, and a women's shea nut collective in Tamale.

We contributed to help Richard Kofi Avi, a terrific drummer from the village of Dzogadze, so that he could complete his high school education. He's now applying to study music at the University of Winneba! And we're supporting Esther Ayensu, a very talented dancer and actress, to complete her university education in Accra.

Students also worked on the Giving Voice to Hope project, supporting Liberian refugee musicians in Ghana.

Our summer program also includes original field research in the Ghanaian village of Dagbamete, and results are provided to the village as a means of documenting their own history. Read the results of our study here: Musical Change in Dagbamete

Another ongoing cumulative project, entitled Working in Ghana, takes its cue from Studs Terkel. Transposing his famous book about American workers to Ghana, we've compiled a set of interviews documenting work Ghanaians do, including domestic work, and professions ranging from minister to fisherman. What do people do all day, and how do they feel about it?  The result is a cultural cross-section of Ghanaian life today.

In Tamale we are working on Singing and Dancing For Health, a project mobilizing social groups and raising awareness towards better public health through music, dance, and drama.


Tufts Kiniwe trip to Ghana



See reference works above. Also:

Brown University, bibliography on Ghanaian music