Between 8 October 1992 and 8 June 1993, a span of eight months, I made over seventy visits to the fishing community of Anomabu on the south coast of Ghana, West Africa (I was living and teaching at a university in Cape Coast, a city about fifteen miles to the west of Anomabu). Having taught college courses on African music prior to my arrival in Ghana, my residency afforded me an opportunity to actually experience Africans making music in a narrowly-defined geographic and cultural space. I set about doing this by developing relationships with residents of one community and by attending as many events in that community into which music making was integrated as was possible during the bounded period of my stay in Ghana. Although I cannot claim exhaustive coverage of the musical organizations active in Anomabu at the time of my research, nor can I address the ways in which individuals in this community integrate music into their home life and while at work, I feel safe in characterizing the breadth of groups included here as constituting a strong representative sampling of the community’s communal music-making resources.
I take on the difficult and contestable challenge in this website of constructing a representation of Fante musicking from the shards of documentation that I made and from other researchers’ (all, like myself, cultural outsiders) writings about facets of Fante culture (see Bibliography). As a result, one should understand that the picture of musical life painted here should not be received as THE authoritative representation of musicking in Anomabu (much less in Ghana or in Africa in general), but rather as AN attempt by a cultural outsider to present his sense of the meaning of the music making he observed in this one Fante community.
A key figure in facilitating my research in Anomabu was Mr. Kwesi Nana Austin Sagoe, a prominent citizen of the town who was my translator and also helped negotiate permission for me to document on film and tape the material viewable on this site. Transcriptions and translations of song texts are by Mr. Samuel Amissah, a student of mine at the University of Cape Coast. While I made most of the audio and visual documentations heard and seen on this site, some of the video footage and still photography was made by Val Vetter. Our presence in Ghana during 1992-93 was made possible through a Fulbright Visiting Lecturer and Researcher grant.