Folk Opera and the Cultural Politics of Post-Independence Ghana: Saka Acquaya’s The Lost Fishermen

Modified on Fri, 30 Sep, 2022 at 5:51 PM

Nii-Dortey, Moses N. 2015. ‘Folk Opera and the Cultural Politics of Post-Independence Ghana: Saka Acquaya’s The Lost Fishermen’, in The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories, and Infrastructures, eds. Derek R. Peterson, Kozo Gavua, and Ciraj Rassool. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 222-33. 

View resource here


Ghanaian folk opera, which was created by Saka Acquaye in the early 1960s, is fundamentally a work of art; but it was also a political tool. The art form emerged in response to the Nkrumah-led administration’s post-colonial cultural re-engineering agenda. As Daniel Herwitz writes of the South African post-apartheid heritage creation experience (Chapter 2, this volume), that agenda was to recover, valorise, and re-contextualise Ghana’s authentic cultural heritage. The intent was twofold: first, to wean the citizenry off a colonial cultural mentality caused by many years of colonial political and cultural hegemony; and, second, to nurture a more homogeneous ‘national culture’ from the diverse array of ethnic-based sectarian cultural forms and interests as a boost to national integration and identity. This chapter examines how folk opera, created in the nationalistic spirit of the immediate post-independence era, became an integral part of the political and cultural re-engineering efforts of the period, particularly those of the Nkrumah-led Convention People’s Party (CPP) Administration and its protégé government – the Acheampong-led Supreme Military Council I. Folk Opera The term folk opera was introduced into the Ghanaian music and theatre lexicon by Saka Acquaye, who was also the genre’s architect and most prolific composer. Acquaye defines folk opera as a ‘musical form of drama composed of airs, recitatives, and pieces performed by choruses with orchestra, and which makes use of scenery, acting and a blend of poetry and dance’. © Derek R. Peterson, Kodzo Gavua, and Ciraj Rassool 2015.

Was this article helpful?

That’s Great!

Thank you for your feedback

Sorry! We couldn't be helpful

Thank you for your feedback

Let us know how can we improve this article!

Select at least one of the reasons

Feedback sent

We appreciate your effort and will try to fix the article