"Ma la ma wie Ga" ("I will sing and speak of Ga"): Wulomei and the articulation of Ga identity in stylized form

  • Gavin Webb Binghamton University


In 2001 Dan Kermah, a documentary film maker based in Ghana’s capital Accra, succeeded in arranging a video-taped performance of the pioneering Ga folk group1 Wulomei at their founder Nii Tei Ashitey’s house, located in the Accra suburb of Mamprobi and in anticipation of Ghana’s 50th anniversary celebration as an independent nation. What made this particular recording unique were the individuals assembled that day, consisting of Wulomei’s foundational members who began performing together in the early 1970s. Despite some reunion concerts scattered over the years, Wulomei in its original form started to splinter with the exodus of their lead vocalist Naa Amanua and guitarist Nene Acquah around 1975 when they left to form their own ensemble Suku Troupe.


Abarry, Abu, 1984 “A Traditional Poetry of the Ga of Ghana”. Journal o f Black Studies
14(4): 493-506.

Adamafio, Tawia, 1962 By Nkrumah’s Side - The Labour and the Wounds. Accra: Westcoast

Agawu, Kofi, 2008 “Tonality as a Colonizing Force in Africa.” Unpublished Paper.

Akrong, Abraham 2006 “Pre-Monarchial Political Leadership Among the Gas, with Special Reference to the People of La.” Research Review Supplement: 137-147.

Akyeampong, Emmanuel 2002 “Bukom and the Social History of Boxing in Accra: Warfare and Citizenship in Precolonial Ga Society” The International Journal of African Historical Studies 35(1) Special Issue: Leisure in African History: 39-60.
Aning, B.A. 1968 “Melodic Analysis of Adenkum.” Papers in African Studies, Institute of African Studies, Legon: 64-80.

Author unknown 1974 “Wulomei in Concert” The Mirror 01 March, 1974: 10.

Avorgbedor, Daniel Kodzo 1994 “Freedom to Sing, License to Insult: The Influence of Halo Performance on Social Violence Among the Anlo Ewe.” Oral Tradition: 83-112.
1998 “Rural-Urban Interchange: The Anlo-Ewe.” In Garland Encyclopedia o f World Music: Africa. Ruth Stone, ed.: 389-399.

Barber, Karen, John Collins and Alan Ricard 1997 West African Popular Theatre. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Clifford, James, 2001 “Indigenous Articulations”. The Contemporary Pacific 13(2): 468-490.
2003 On the Edges of Anthropology. Chicago IL: Prickly Paradigm Press.

Collins, E.J. 1985 Musicmakers of West Africa. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press.

Collins, John , 1994 Highlife Time. Accra: Anansesem Publications Ghana.
1994 “The Ghanaian Concert Party: African Popular Entertainment at the Cross Roads.” PhD Dissertation: University of Buffalo, New York.
2002 “The Generational Factor in Ghanaian Music” In Playing with Identities in Contemporary Music in Africa, Mai Palmberg and Annemette Kirkegaard, eds. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 60-74.
2005 “The Reasons for Teaching African Popular Music Studies at University.” Paper presented for Inaugural Lecture for Full Professorship at the University of Ghana. November 17th.
2007 “Pan African Goombay Drum-Dance Music: It’s Ramifications and Development in Ghana” Legon Journal o f the Humanities XVIII: 179-200.

Coplan, David 1978 “Go to My Town, Cape Coast! The Social History of Ghanaian Highlife” In 8 Urban Music Cultures: Tradition and Change, Bruno Nettl, ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 96-114.

Coquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine 1991 “The Process of Urbanization in Africa (From the Origins to the Beginning of Independence)” African Studies Review 34(1): 1-98.

Damptey, Nathan N.D. “Akan diatonic Sets and Tetrachords” Online: http://www.fwalive.ualberta. ca/~michaelf/African%20Music_Site/AkanDiatonicSets&Tetrachds.htm [accessed 21 June 2010].

Grossberg, Lawrence 1986 “On postmodernism and articulation: An interview with Stuart Hall” Journal of Communication Inquiry 10(2): 45-60.

Hammond, E.O. 1970 Oboade Lalai. Accra: Bureau of Ghana Languages.

Hampton, Barbara L. 1977 “The Impact of Labor Migration on Music in Urban Ghana: The Case of Kpehe Gome.” PhD Dissertation: Columbia University, New York.
1978 “The Contiguity Factor in Ga Music.” The Black Perspective in Music 6: 32-48.
1992 “Music and Gender in Ga Society: Adaawe Song Poetry” In African Musicology: Current Trends, vol. II, William Carter and Jacqueline Cogdell Djedje, eds. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 135-149

Houser, George M. 1957 “Africa Revisited.” Africa Today 4(5): 3-7.

Kilson, Marion 1971 Kpele Lala: Ga Religious Songs and Symbols. London: Oxford University Press.

Klein, Tobias Robert “Fondling Breasts and Playing Guitar: Textual and Contextual Expressions of a Sociomusical Conflict in Accra”, http://www.gmth.de/ zeitschrift/artikel/589.aspx [accessed 11 April 2011].

Koetting, James 1975 “The Effects of Urbanization: The Music of the Kasena People of Ghana.” The World of Music 17(4): 23-31.

Kropp Dakubu, M.E. 1972 “Akaja: A Ga Song Type in Twi”. Research Review 8(2): 44-61.
1979 “Other People’s Words: An Aspect of Style in Ga Songs”. In Language and Society: Anthropological Issues, McCormack, William C. and Wurm, Stephen A., eds. The Hague: Mouton & Co., 89-110.
1997 Korle Meets the Sea: A Sociolinguistic History of Accra. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kwakye-Opong, Regina 2011 “Clothing and Adornment in the Ga Culture: Seventeenth to TwentyFirst Century.” PhD Dissertation: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi.

Middleton, Richard 1985 “Articulating Musical Meaning/Re-Constructing Musical History/ Locating the ‘Popular’”. Popular Music 5: 5-43.

Mohamed Salih, M.A. ed. 2001 African Democracies and African Politics. Pluto Press: London.

Nketia, J.H.K. 1958 “Traditional Music of the Ga People.” African Music 2(1): 21-27. 1973 Folksongs of Ghana. Accra: Ghana University Press.

Nortey, Samuel 2012 “Artistic Evolutions of the Ga Mashie Twins Yam Festival and Its Cultural Implications”. Arts and Design Studies 2: 1-9.

Nzewi, Meki 2007 A Contemporary Study of Musical Arts Informed by African Indigenous Knowledge Systems: Volume Three. Pretoria, South Africa: CIIMDA (Centre for Indigenous Instrumental Music and Dance).
Odamtten, Harry Nii Koney 2015 “Dode Akabi: A Reexamination of the Oral and Textual Narrative of a ‘Wicked’ Female King.” Journal of Women’s History 27(3): 61-85.

Odotei, Irene 1995 “Pre-Colonial Economic Activities of Ga.” Research Review (NS) 1&2: 60-74.

Osabu-Kle, Daniel Tetteh “The Ga People of the Homowo Festival.” http://carleton.ca/africanstudies/ wp-content/uploads/Ga-People-and-Homowo-Festival.pdf [accessed 21 September 2009].

Osei-Tutu, John Kwadwo 2000 “‘Space, and the Marking of ‘Space’ in Ga History, Culture, and Politics”. Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, New Series 4(5): 55-81.

Osaghae, E.E. 2003 “Explaining the Changing Patterns of Ethnic Politics in Nigeria.” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 9(3): 54-73.

Parker, John 2000 Making the Town: Ga State and Society in Early Colonial Accra. Portsmouth, N.H: Heinemann.

Plageman, Nate 2013 Highlife Saturday Night: Popular Music and Social Change in Urban Ghana. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Quarcoo, A.K. 1967 “The Lakpa - Principle Deity of Labadi.” Research Review 3, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana: 2-43.

Quarcoopome, Samuel S. 1992 “Urbanization, Land Alienation and Politics in Accra.” Institute o f African Studies Research Review 8(1&2): 40-54.

Reindorf, Carl Christian 1895 History of the Gold Coast and Asante, Based on Traditions and Historical Facts: Comprising a Period of More than Three Centuries from about 1500 to 1860. Basel: The Basel Mission.

Sackeyfio, Naaborko 2008 “The Stool Owns the City: Ga Chieftaincy and the Politics of Land in Colonial Accra, 1920-1950”. PhD dissertation: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison.

Sackeyfio-Lenoch, Naaborko 2014 The Politics of Chieftaincy: Authority and Property in Colonial Ghana, 1920-1950. Rochester: University of Rochester Press.

Salm, Steven 2003 “The Bukom Boys: Subcultures and Identity Transformation in Accra, Ghana.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, Austin.

Shepherd, John and Peter Wicke 1997 Music and Cultural Theory. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Slack, Jennifer Daryl 1996 “The theory and Method of Articulation in Cultural Studies.” In Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. David Morley and KuanHsing Chen, eds. London: Routledge.

Stapleton, Chris and Chris May 1989 African All-Stars: The Pop Music o f a Continent. London: Paladin Grafton Books.

Veal, Michael 2000 Fela: The Life and Times o f an African Musical Icon. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Waterman, Christopher Alan 1986 “Juju: The Historical Development, Socioeconomic Organization and Communicative Functions of a West African Popular Music.” PhD dissertation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign.

Wellington, H.N.A. 2002 “Kelewele, Kpokpoi, Kpanlogo : A Random Search for Accra’s Urban Quality in a Sea of Globalization”. In Visions of the City: Accra in the 21st Century. Accra: Woeli Pub. Services.

Yeboah, Ian E.A. 2008 “Ethnic Emancipation and Urban Land Claims: Disenfranchisement of the Ga of Accra, Ghana.” Geographical Research 46(4): 435-445.
How to Cite
Webb, G. “"Ma La Ma Wie Ga" ("I Will Sing and Speak of Ga"): Wulomei and the Articulation of Ga Identity in Stylized Form”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 10, no. 1, Nov. 2015, pp. 52-83, doi:https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v10i1.1226.