The Divine Drummer
– Kofi Ghanaba (or Guy
Warren as he was previously
known) was born in 1923,and
educated at Achimota College.
In the 1940s he was a
journalist, and in 1947,joined
the Tempos band with E.T.
Mensah. Since he had been a
member of Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists in the UK he introduced many
new ideas to the band including use of Afro-Cuban percussion instruments.
After Ghanaba left the Tempos he stayed in Liberia for three years and
then went to the US where he worked with such African American jazz
musicians as Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Max Roach and Billy
Stray/writ. It was in Chicago that he changed musical direction ‘Iwould
be the African musician who re-introduced African music to America
to get Americans to be aware of this cultural heritage of the black
people. When I was young, it was jazz that dominated me. I was naive
and thought that that was the thing. But it is the African music that is
the mother, not the other way around. I had to find this out the hard
way’ . From late 1950s, Ghanaba released a number of important Afro-Jazz
LPs such as ‘Africa Speaks, America Answers’, ‘Theme for African
Drums’, ‘Soundz of Africa’, and ‘The Third Phase’.
Ghanaba returned home in the 1960s. In 1981 he presented a drum version
of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in the UK when he was given the title
Odomankoman Kyerema or Divine Drummer. Ghanaba is known for
being a spiritual man and practices Buddhism. He now lives Medie, fifteen
miles north of Accra at his African Heritage Library and considers himself
, … anonymous. My music is from the masses and I don’t want it to
have a commercial appeal. I have been a jazz musician but now I am a
folk musician. In other words, I have come home.’