Ephraim Amu: A Gallant Light That Still Glows (1899-1995)

December 8, 2015 Music , OPINION/NEWS , Poetry


Nana Arhin Tsiwah

Looking at the life of Ephraim Amu, one simply becomes confused, a tapestry saddled with the most appropriate words to choose in describing his achievements let alone to amply and satisfactorily describe his persona.

It is in this complex wholeness of a master poet, a great orator, an inordinate cycling human; one of elegance in the eyes of linguistics and language; one of a highly enriched African idiosyncratic masterfulness— the list would be a misfit to the nationalistic architect whose stretch of brain is beyond and is still beyond comprehension… A pioneer in African music and thoughts.

As a village boy, one who so desirously seeks a renewal of such divineness, it is in the left spectacles of such great men; who believed and still believe in death, that Africans are humans and have lived on through time with their own unique philosophy and civilizations that the worth of this living revolves.

Amu’s quest for an apex African understanding of his cultural worth is what “yen ara asase se ni” (this is our native land) which brings much reflection to my thoughts and affirmed beliefs in African culture and all its associations. Looking back to a poem I wrote of which it wasn’t my doing, but the spiritual ancestral forces, “This is our land: Song of a native son,” I am of the belief that Ephraim Amu’s reincarnated soul was at work on and in me. Having compared it with his song, I have come to realise that not only did I know I was tapped on every moment through unseen stimuli to echo that same voice far and nigh, but to some extent growing up as a Ghanaian child this song of his had fueled my thought to contemplate on the words that the song sung. It is in the essence of some of this meritorious sacredness of voice that is so gloriously infused in the true Africans’ writings that must not be left to be decided by western orchestrated literature.

Just like the many paradoxical statements that nibbles and dries in the harmattan, I have said without punctuated numeration that Africa would not and never progress on any paradigm and gallant pathway unless her people have collectively without shrewdness of doubt fostered into their developmental epistles the essence of their culture(s). Ephraim Amu posits, “nothing would ever be a semblance to the original— whether copied, altered and modified would never fit where its original feature had been forged.” For me, whenever you stand to pray on the plenitude words of either Christianity, or Muhammadanism chastising the African ancestral eminence, you are not only being insensitive but a murderous son that would watch his father’s testicles get severed in the interest of making him a Utopian impotent out of sheer envying of grayness and old age.

The life of Amu, which has followed the marked traces of Aggrey of Anomabo, Brako of Akyemfo et al, is what ought to be taught and infused into the fibre of our educational system, not the bleeding gums of these colonial machinery that have always thwarted, sabotaged and played the xylophonic tunes of fooldomsies on our progress as a people. Whether it is by pleasure of words, by the turn of life, the truth must always guide our path and that truth can only be realised in the cultures of our Africanness. For me the life of Ephraim Amu would live and breath through historical epoch and the ears of generations would hear what this great son of this land stood for.

This is a poem in memory of the man, who stood by the paws of the cat when he defended culture in the eyes of language and dress to the tune of his dismissal from the Presbyterian College when he was serving as a teacher…



“Brighter Than Self”


how often do we illuminate

our thoughts

in the eyes of truth

even when death

steals the purity

of our tears?


his was not for self

his was not for the winds

his a master-dom of believe

a believe that

culture could illuminate

and send humanity

on the transcendence

of conscience…


but how often

do lie in the pools

of our humanness

with thoughts

so potent for



He has paid his


but a time would come

when we cannot be


and posterity would

come seeking the tumor

in our souls

for we are locked sands

that won’t live

to see this

star anymore…









Nana Arhin Tsiwah is an undergraduate student from Cape Coast, Ghana; a disciple of Pan-African consciousness, a cultural ideologist, an awensemist (poet) of different shade but tells of a hunter’s trails for Akanism. He is an orator and a village servant in a poetry movement dubbed; ‘The Village Thinkers


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