John Collins

A British music professor, John Collins, has said that Nigerians can not claim ownership of the highlife genre of music.

Collins, who was reacting to a claim by Ghanaian dancehall artiste, Jupitar, that “Highlife is not Ghanaian music”, said the comment was not accurate.

On a radio show, the UK-born professor, who has lived in Ghana since 1969 said, “Highlife is not Ashanti. It was originally Fanti and Ga and then, he [Jupitar] said it wasn’t Ghanaian. At the moment, Nigerians are trying to claim highlife, so he should be careful about saying that.

“The word itself was invented in Ghana in the 1920s but what we call highlife goes back maybe 20 or 30 years earlier”, the music scholar with the University of Ghana said.

Giving an extensive history on highlife, Prof John Collins noted that in 1938, highlife was taken out of Ghana to Nigeria by the Cape Coast Sugar Babies and then in the 1950s by E.T Mensah.

“When I first used to go to Nigeria in the 1970s, all the older generation knew that highlife came from Ghana. It’s the younger generation on both sides, who seem to have forgotten where it comes from,” he explained.

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