Professor Edmund John Collins, a UK – born Musicologist has revealed the ‘Highlife’ music originated from Cape Coast, Ghana contrary to claims that the genre was invented by Nigerians.
“Even before the name was invented, which was in the 1920s, there were two types of ‘Highlife’ under the name “Adaha Music” from Cape Coast and “Osibisaba” also from the Cape Coast area”, Prof. Collins revealed.
Professor Collins recounts the earliest evidence to ‘Highlife’ in Nigeria was in 1938. In an interview with Mike Eghan, host of Eezy FM’s Conversations with Mike Eghan, Prof. Collins reveals that the prototype of the ‘Highlife’ genre began in Cape Coast.
The earliest forms of ‘Highlife’ music, according to Prof. Collins, had strains of regimental brass-band music. He says these different forms of ‘Highlife’ music were normally sung by fisherfolks along the coast of Cape Coast as well as Liberian crew sailors as early as the 1880s.
A pivotal factor that sustained ‘Highlife’ music, according to Prof. Collins was the Fantes. “The Fantes were key to the creation of the brass-band type of ‘Highlife’. You could even say highlife in a different name is almost 150 years old”, Prof. Collins intimated.
There has been seething debate between Ghana and Nigeria over which of the countries invented that genre of music. Nigeria has attempted to lay claim to inventing that popular genre after some Nigerian singers like Rex Lawson, Victor Olaya and Fela Kuti popularized highlife in the 1950s.
But, Prof. Collins believes enough evidence points to Ghana being the origin of the popular West African genre of music, ‘Highlife’ music.