For The Heads Who Remember – The “Highlife”
Disposable Plates, relatives conversing at a high decibel level (even though they’re in close proximity as opposed to yelping down the phone) and playing football with aluminium cans in hall car parks with what seemed like a million other kids. (of whom you were related to somehow even if it wasn’t publically announced)
The Ghanaian Diaspora spans across the UK as far as Hadrian’s Wall to the North (due to the countless times i’ve played “Spot The Brother” in Scotland and failed to beat my all time high score of 0) and most notably in the Southern epicentre that is London. Spring and Summertime in my early childhood typically consisted of me, my mother and younger siblings being shipped (excuse the ancestral pun ha) around on a First Holy Communion/Birthday whistle-stop tour more often than not in the North-east vicinity of the Big Smoke.
Prominent if not significant venues such as St Olaves at Manor House, the Afro – Caribbean Hall in East Ham, the Irish Centre and Selby Centre, both respectively off White Hart Lane. Special mention is reserved for the infamous mecca that is Broadwater Farm Community Centre which is probably the equivalent of Madison Square Garden (maybe a slight exaggeration) All focal points for a growing immigrant populace to maintain cultural awareness through solidarity in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Music was a medium which presented a brief ray of sunshine from the Motherland in bitter conditions abroad and Highlife was a genre which duly served it’s evocative purpose for my parent’s generation as well as the one preceding it. The genre itself had a traditional and untainted instrument base in the 1930’s which intersected a wide vernacular spectrum such as the Ewe and the Akan peoples from North to South. Fast forward five decades and inevitable migration to the West was the catalyst for a move away from the folk resonance of Koo Nimo to an electronic base that fused elements of yesteryear via the Dondo and Axatse (Shekere if you’re a naija boy or gal)
Being fixated with playing Streets of Rage or Sonic on the Mega Drive was the object of my affection at gatherings in other homesteads ( I’m still flummoxed as to how a police squad car can propel impromptu fire bombs to create a ring of fire and still not slay my playing character…blame it on naivety) Yet, when a grown up would “cease” the console and all the kids were forced downstairs. I relished the atmosphere…the multitude of dodgy garms and barnets , uncles sipping on Holsten laughing in a frivolous manner (pronouncing the obscenity f***in in a similar vein to a ricochet) and energetic choreography that looked like it had been induced by everyone consuming a mixture of Baked Beans and Wasabi each (try this concoction and the only topsy turvy relationship that will remain your livelihood is between your bum and a toilet seat)
Regardless of the fact I couldn’t comprehend the meaning of any lyrics at that young age my old friend Hind Sight has shown to be more appreciative of it’s value. Enough ranting. Below I’ve selected a range of songs that reverberate in my yamhead now as much as they did back in the day
Nakorex – Kpalogo
Amakye Dede – Bebrebe Yi
Bribi Gyegye Wo
Aben Wo Ha
Nana Tuffour – M’anu Meho
Kojo Antwi – Tom and Jerry (the video especially brings back bad memories of the sister “Lizzie” who was on Playdays *shudders*)
“Charlie your guitar is out of tune. Too Known!”
Alhaji K.Frimpong- KyenKyen Bi Adi Mawu (BANGER)
Likkle Skanking Ting
Pat Thomas – Sika Ye Mogya
Paapa Yankson – Okukuseku
Akyeame – Mesan aba
Rex Omar – Kotosa
Felix Owusu – Happy Birthday
Hold Tight all those who know about the drumstick wrapped in tissue paper and sliding kebab meat off the industrial size toothpick.
In a bit