I took highlife music to Nigeria – Abrekyireba Kofi Sammy

Highlife legend and founder of the famous Okukuseku International Band Abrekyireba Kofi Sammy has vehemently refuted claims that the genre originated from Nigeria.

He insisted that he transported the Ghanaian genre to Nigeria to make it a staple of that country’s music industry.

The virtuoso Highlife veteran, who is now 81 years old, recounted his musical experiences and journey to TV3 on Saturday, March 6, as part of efforts to celebrate Ghana’s 64 years of independence and the journey of illustrious Ghanaian achievers around the world.

The ‘Yellow Sisi’ hitmaker started off by saying that he inherited his musical prowess from his family of musicians and was mentored by the ace highlife musician Dr. K. Gyasi, playing guitar in his Noble Kings Band until he perfected his craft to form his own band called the Okukuseku International Band of Ghana in 1969.

Abrekyireba intimated that he was inspired to compose his many highlife classics through dreams and gift from his illustrious line of great musicians from Koforidua, Asokore, in the Eastern Region of Ghana, making the genre international by being the first to export it to Nigeria in the early 1980s.

“Kakaaku, Onyina, Dr. K. Gyasi and others taught us Highlife and I took it from here to Nigeria and run it fast. I took Ampofo Agyei to Nigeria, I took Dr. K. Gyasi to Nigeria, City Boys, Ampadu, Iron Boy(Amakye Dede), they heard I was in Nigeria and I succeeded there so they also wanted to go see Nigeria.

“They came and I welcomed them and gave them bodyguards and a place to play,” he said in typical Nigerian accent.

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The ‘Suffer suffer’ hitmaker also stated that he recorded a lot of albums in Nigeria which the people loved so much and danced to wherever he played in that country.

“They loved my music, ‘Every day, every day suffer suffer’. I did so many music there, ‘Yellow sisi dey for corner, put im hand for jaw, wetin dey cause am oo, money palaver! I make a lot of money because they love my music.”

‘The Black Beauty’, as he was fondly referred to, further stated that his music rubbed shoulders with Nigerian legends like the late Fela Anikulakpo Kuti, to the extent that the latter became friends with him and thus influencing him with the Highlife genre.

“When Fela heard that I was in Nigeria, we played together. He played on Friday, I played on Sunday. I increased the gate fees, that’s why they referred to me as Ame Chief. They took two(2) Naira, three(3) Naira, I took five(5) Naira and people came in full that when you touch the wall, the wall will be sweating. I went there and performed and stayed there with my Highlife, and shook them with my music,” he posited.

Abrekyireba, the virtuoso Highlife legend, has about twenty albums to his name, most of such masterpieces recorded in Nigeria, endearing himself to the people so much that they titled him as Chief Omekaine I, Amesese Kofi Yesu aka Abirekyireba Kofi Sammy, the Black Beauty.

He currently resides in his hometown in Koforidua, Asokore, in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

By Barima Kwabena Yeboah|3news.com|Ghana