Reliving West African highlife


HIGHLIFE GIANTS: WEST AFRICAN DANCE BAND PIONEERS by John Collins (Cassava Republic)

‘If I died of a man’s love/ I’m nothing but a man’s slave.” These words, delivered by singer Julie Okine on her 1950s recording Nothing but a Man’s Slave, could be considered the first feminist popular music song in Ghana. This is according to a new book that details the history of highlife music.

The book, titled Highlife Giants: West African Dance Band Pioneers, is written by John Collins, who moved to Ghana from Britain at a young age in 1952, a year before Okine began singing with highlife band The Tempos, led by ET Mensah.