Study African Arts and Culture in Ghana
short link: http://bit.ly/ghanastudyabroad
Note: The next program will not run until 2023 at the earliest - stay tuned or write Michael Frishkopf for more information.
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.
See this recent writeup in the Faculty of Art's blog.
See 2017 course syllabi here. See older 2013 syllabi here
Here's a student performance after studies with the Kokrobite Dance Ensemble (Kokrobite, 2011)
- 1 Welcome to the Ghana Music Wiki
- 2 Main pages contained in this wiki
- 2.1 University of Alberta summer study abroad in Ghana: introduction
- 2.2 Preparing for the Ghana Program: what to do before you go
- 2.3 2017 program syllabi, archived
- 2.4 2013 program syllabi, archived
- 2.5 2010 program syllabi, archived
- 2.6 2009 program syllabi, archived
- 2.7 2008 program syllabi, archived
- 3 Program overview
- 4 African Arts and Culture resources
- 4.1 Africa and Africans
- 4.2 General info on Ghana
- 4.3 Music of West Africa and beyond
- 4.4 African American and Africana studies
- 4.5 Audio: Ghana and beyond
- 4.6 Film and video: Africa, West Africa, Diaspora, and related
- 4.6.1 Overviews of African history
- 4.6.2 African society, culture, music, religion, and politics
- 4.6.3 West Africa generally
- 4.6.4 Ghana, its history, culture, and music
- 4.6.5 The African Diaspora: history, culture, music
- 4.7 Maps (and map quizzes)
- 4.8 Ongoing research and development work in Ghana
- 4.9 Blogs
- 4.10 Reference
- 4.11 Bibliography
- 5 African News, Arts, and Culture
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, email@example.com.
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: introduction
Preparing for the Ghana Program: what to do before you go
2017 program syllabi, archived
2013 program syllabi, archived
2010 program syllabi, archived
2009 program syllabi, archived
2008 program syllabi, archived
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. (see http://bit.ly/ghanamusicmap)
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 $3000 and up, 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).
- Education Abroad, UA International
- Faculty of Arts study abroad
- UA Field Office
African Arts and Culture resources
Africa and Africans
Endonym map of the world (& thus indicating national scripts of Africa)
Fotota: African Perspectives in Photography
African Union at 50 - the dream of Unity
Africa South of the Sahara (Stanford University)
Aluka (log in via your university library site; if it's not available request a subscription)
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
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 [http://www.unesco.org/new/fr/culture/themes/dialogue/general-and-regional-histories/general-history-of-africa/volumes French)
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, with information on more than 35,000 slave voyages
US Defense intelligence report on Kwame Nkrumah from 1966
General info on Ghana
Journals of both historic and scholarly interest:
- Transactions of the Gold Coast & Togoland Historical Society
- Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana
Library of Congress country study
Ghana, by Rachel Naylor (Oxfam Country Study series)
New York Times travel section article about Ghana (August 9, 2009)
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
Trevor Wiggins collection (British Library)
AM Jones collection (British Library)
Dagbamba music and dance (from CCE)
Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation
David Locke's analysis of Ghanaian music online
David Locke's Agbadza project online 
David Locke's Dagbamba dance drumming collection online
Ghana Expo - includes music, TV, films, and more...
Ntama: Journal of African Music and Popular Culture
Wikipedia articles on Ghana, and West Africa (limited, but good for links)
National Geographic World Music Guide
Dagara xylophone music center outside Accra
Hiplife compilation (BBC review)
James Koetting Ghana Field Recording Collection at Brown University
African American and Africana studies
Frederick Douglass http://www.iupui.edu/~douglass/
Booker T Washington http://www.historycooperative.org/btw/
George Padmore http://www.georgepadmoreinstitute.org/ http://www.marxists.org./archive/padmore/index.htm
Martin Luther King http://www.kinginstitute.info/
Claudia Jones http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-afro-am&month=1109&week=a&msg=fVcO9M3iTeVcDqi9q3okfw&user=&pw=
John Henrik Clarke http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/afprl/dr.-john-henrik-clarke
Ida B Wells http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/scrc/findingaids/view.php?eadid=ICU.SPCL.IBWELLS
Ella Baker http://www.nypl.org/sites/default/files/archivalcollections/pdf/scmmg630.pdf
Maulana Karenga http://www.maulanakarenga.org/
Cheikh Anta Diop http://www.gambia.dk/antadiop.html
Walter Rodney http://www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com/wpa/rodney_bio.html
Scientific African journal
Audio: Ghana and beyond
Smithsonian Folkways on Ghana (all available free via the above databases):
- Ewe music of Ghana
- Music of the Ashanti of Ghana
- Music of the Dagomba from GhanaFree listening here
- Music of the Ga people of Ghana
- Black music of two worlds (John Storm Roberts collection)
- Traditional Drumming and Dances of Ghana
- Folk music of Ghana (Ewe)
- Songs of War and Death from the Slave Coast: Songs of War
- Songs of War and Death from the Slave Coast: Songs of Death
- Traditional women's music from Ghana: Ewe, Fanti, Ashanti, and Dagomba
- Ghana: Children at Play: Children's Songs and Games
- Rhythms of Life, Songs of Wisdom: Akan Music from Ghana
Contemporary world music on Ghana (all available free via the above databases):
- Seprewa Kasa performed by Korankye, Osei; Kyerematen, Baffour & Banaman, Alfred Kari (Riverboat, 330051)
- Mustapha Tettey Addy: Master Drummer from Ghana performed by Addy, Mustapha Tettey (Lyrichord, LYRCD 7250)
- Kwabena Nyama: Ghana - Musique de Vin de Palme, Sunday Monday (Kwabena Nyama: Ghana: palm wine music, Sunday Monday) performed by Nyama, Samuel Kwabena; Poku, Kofi; Duah, Agyemang; Seni, Addas & Annor, Kofi (Buda Musique, 1979352, 2000)
- Immortal Franco (Congolese popular music, soukous)
- Giving Voice to Hope: Music of Liberian Refugees In the past we visited the Buduburam camp where this music was produced. Now the camp has been closed. Please order the album to learn about the project, and help support these refugee musicians. Minimally, listen to the exerpts online at the above link. See Giving Voice to Hope for the subsequent evolution of this project.
- ET Mensah and the Tempos (RetroAfric/IODA, 1986) Documents classic Ghanaian highlife from the 1950s and 60s by one of its leading exponent. I'm including an emusic.com link (because it's cheaper that way, and emusic.com is worthwhile for world music lovers - in fact most of the Smithsonian Folkways catalog is there), but if you don't want to subscribe you can find this album also on iTunes.
- Bewaare: They Are Coming - Degaare Songs and Dances from Nandom, Ghana (Pan (Netherlands), PAN 2052CD, 1995)
- Master Drummers of Dagbon, Volume 2: Drumming From Northern Ghana performed by Abdulai, Alhaji Ibrahim (Rounder Records, CD-5046)
- Asante Kete Drumming: Music of Ghana performed by Nketia, Isaac; Martey, Gabriel Ololai; Damso, Yaw & Dwoomoh, Richard (Lyrichord, LYRCD 7454, 2007)
- Ghana: Music of the Northern Tribes (Lyrichord, LYRCD 7321, 1976) (listen to the gyil)
- Muzina performed by Rochereau, Tabu Ley (Singer/Songwriter) (Rounder Records, 5059) (Congolese popular music, soukous)
Note: Some of these links may not work without logging in first. For Films on Demand (http://digital.films.com) 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 digital.films.com. All titles are provided below. If a link breaks try searching for the title. Here are the UofA's film databases. The Ethnographic film database is particularly rich in African holdings.
Overviews of African history
Basil Davidson's acclaimed BBC Africa series. Note: the following links are now dysfunctional ; try searching.
Henry Louis Gates series: Part I (find other parts from here)
Overviews of three major documentary series by Basil Davidson, Ali Mazrui, and Henry Louis Gates
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
Fonko: An African Musical Revolution
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
- President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (04:33)
- Slavery, Colonialism, and Corrupt Democracy (05:06)
- Visions for Africa's Future (02:01)
IIs Soccer more than just a Sport to Africans?
DEATH METAL ANGOLA - Trailer # 1
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.
- Jean Rouch's classic "Les Maîtres Fous"
- Circoncision - Jean Rouch
- Screening Room with Jean Rouch, by Gardner Robert (Documentary Educational Resources (DER), 1980) 78 minutes.
- See: http://www.maitres-fous.net/home.html
A Fresh Look at Mali, Ghana, and Nigeria.
Keita: The Heritage of the Griot
Art (see #10-13)
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 [www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=lC8JU6jxHgw].
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, Prince of Wales in Gold Coast,colonialism
Culture and Society
Environment, entertainment, health, economy...
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...
- Ghana's Threatened Spirit (04:48)
- Exploitation and Sustainability in Ghana (02:50)
- Ghana's mining camps (04:18)
- Ghana's Public Health Efforts (03:54)
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.
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.
Music (language, literature, poetry, dance...)
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)
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.
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
Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison
Joy Uspeakable (Pentecostals in Indiana)
The Land Where Blues Began, by Alan Lomax
Music Masters and Rhythm Kings
Fannie Bell Chapman: Gospel Singer
Maps (and map quizzes)
- Africa's true size (it's huge!). Click here to compare...
- Harvard's AfricaMap
- World Maps (Oxford)
- Google Map showing locations for the Ghana summer program
- A range of different maps: climate, history, colonialism, politics...
- Historical maps
- Modern maps
- West Africa maps
- Ghana maps
- Harvard's Africa Map project
- interactive map quiz for countries
- interactive map quiz for capitals
- African geography as a network
- 1820 Map of Africa
- 1889 Trading Routes of the Sahara
- Guinea Itself, as Well as the Greatest Portion of Nigritia or the Land of the Blacks, the One Called Ethiopia Inferior by Modern Geographers, the Other Southern Ethiopia
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.
- Ency. of Africa
- World Maps (Oxford)
- Oxford Music Online
- Garland Ency. of World Music
- Int'l Ency. of Dance
- Int'l Ency. of Linguistics
- Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance
See reference works above. Also:
Brown University, bibliography on Ghanaian music