Renewing Cultural Resources and Sustaining J.H. Kwabena Nketia's Vision for an African Music Archive in Ghana

Main Article Content

Colter Harper, Dr.
Judith Opoku-Boateng, Ms.


This article examines the processes through which the J.H. Kwabena Nketia Archives has struggled to build a sustainable model for audio-visual archiving within an African university and looks to how its contents may serve future students and scholars in an effort to locate African cultural materials and knowledge production in Africa. The archive, operated within the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies, was named in honor of Professor Nketia in 2015 and is the realization of over six decades of gathering audio and visual data, acquiring new collections, conducting research, and preservation efforts. The core collection of quarter-inch reels were recorded by Nketia in the early decades of his extensive career shaping Ghana’s cultural policy, building teaching and research institutions, and studying music, culture, and language in Africa. As a part of the University of Ghana, the Nketia Archives provide a valuable resource for local students and scholars and creates a site in which broader conversations about the country’s cultural legacies are brought into the socio-political discourse. The archive is also a resource for housing and making available new acquisitions including over 300 recently digitized recordings of Ghanaian popular music from professor John Collins’ Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation (BAPMAF). With ongoing challenges in accessibility, the Nketia Archives provides a valuable case study for how an African audio-visual archive is created and sustained.

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How to Cite
Harper, C., & Opoku-Boateng, J. (2019). Renewing Cultural Resources and Sustaining J.H. Kwabena Nketia’s Vision for an African Music Archive in Ghana. International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) Journal, (50), 76–90.
Author Biographies

Colter Harper, Dr., University of Pittsburgh

Colter Harper is an American musician and ethnomusicologist currently serving as a Fulbright Scholar in the University of Ghana’s Department of Music where his work bridges music production, audio archiving, and modern musical practice in Accra. Harper completed his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Pittsburgh and performs as a guitarist in Ghana and the U.S.

Judith Opoku-Boateng, Ms., University of Ghana

Judith Opoku-Boateng is Head Archivist of the J.H. Kwabena Nketia Archives of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. 

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