Maiden documentary on Prof JHK Nketia slated for September

Roaming Akuba Films, a Ghanaian film production house, has launched ‘African Maestro’, the premier documentary on Professor Emeritus Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketia, one of the most influential scholars of African music, African studies, and ethnomusicology.

The 70- minute documentary was funded by the Goethe Institut (Ghana) with support from the Centre for World Performance Studies and Michigan Musical Heritage Project at the University of Michigan.

The film would be launched at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Accra on Wednesday, September 14, from 6:30 – 8:30pm.

“Finally, a documentary film based on the life, work and cultural memory of Professor J.H.K. Nketia. We applaud the very fine film by filmmaker Anita Afonu. The African Maestro is a film that visually and aurally celebrates the musical genius and humanity of J.H. Kwabena Nketia,” says, Professors Jaqueline C. DjeDje and Eddie S. Meadows of Department of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Los Angeles.

“The film is outstanding in presenting a multi-dimensional portrayal of Nketia, one that highlights not only his musical genius and scholarship, but also the human qualities that have contributed to his greatness.

“The African Maestro is an important addition to the field of ethnomusicology because it recognises Nketia’s commitment to both preserving and disseminating African culture globally. We commend it highly.

“The Ghanaian filmmaker, Anita Afonu’s African Maestro gives unprecedented insight into the history of music and African contemporary history. Professor Kwabena Nketia, a world renowned ethnomusicologist, composes music from the roots of African rhythms to contemporary compositions.”

“Professor Nketia, through his passion for music provides an alternative tool for cultural education across Africa and its Diaspora”, said Frieda Ekotto

Chair, Department of Afro-American and African Studies Professor, and Professor, Comparative Literature and Francophone Studies University of Michigan.

Speakers at the event would include: Professor Kofi Asare Opoku, African University College of Communication (AUCC), where the Kwabena Nketia Centre for Africana Studies is based, and Lester Monts, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Music (ethnomusicology), University of Michigan.

Professor Monts is currently Director of the Michigan Musical Heritage Project that seeks to capture on film the state’s folk, ethnic, and immigrant music traditions.

There would also be a speaker from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts.

About 100 guests representing academia, chieftaincy, government and the diplomatic community are expected to attend.

Nketia, 95, was the first African Director of the Institute of African Studies and a Founding Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Other positions he has held include, Professor of Music, University of Ghana; Professor of Music at UCLA; Horatio Appleton Lamb Visiting Professor at Harvard University and Visiting Cornell Professor at Swarthmore College.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Honorary Member of the International Music Council (IMC-UNESCO), member of the International Jury for the Proclamation by UNESCO of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible

Heritage of Humanity and Honorary Fellow of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, among others.

His numerous Awards include the Cowell Award of the African Music Society, ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his book on the Music of Africa, IMC-UNESCO Music Prize for Distinguished Service to Music and Prince Claus 1997 Award for Distinguished Service to Culture & Development.

He also warn the Year 2000 Distinguished Africanist Award of the African Studies Association of the US for Life-long Devotion to African Studies, and DLitt (Honoris Causa) of the University of Ghana, Companion of the Order of Star of Ghana and the Grand Medal of the Government of Ghana (Civil Division).

He was educated at the University of London, Birkbeck and Columbia University in the US.