The Seprewa, a stringed lute once traditionally used to sing praises in the court of the Asantehene, fell out of common use with the adoption of the guitar in Ghana in the 20th century. Osei Kwame Korankye, a Seprewa Instructor at the University of Ghana, learned to play from his grandfather in the late 1970s. He is one of the very few living masters of the instrument. Thanks to the digitization efforts at the J.H.K. Nketia Archives, Osei has access for the first time to audio recordings of Seprewa music from the 1960s. In the video below, Osei discusses the impact of listening to AWG-A-93 “Seprewa history and Atumpan” on his musical development. Just prior to the filming of this video, Osei told me that this was the first time since his grandfather passed away that he’s has a “new mentor” on the instrument.
A search in the Archives online catalog reveals twelve other audio tapes in the collection that include recordings of the Seprewa. These works are now accessible as academic resources at the University of Ghana to Osei, his students and scholars for the first time in decades. That’s truly what “Making African Academic Resources Accesible” (MAARA) is all about.
More information about the Seprewa and it’s relationship to Ghanaian Highlife music can be found here.