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Research Review of the Institute of African Studies

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Historical and Cultural Context of Folk Opera Development in Ghana: Saka Acquaye’s “The Lost Fishermen” In Perspective

MN Nii-Dortey

Abstract


The article examines the historical and cultural contexts of folk opera development in Ghana. It argues that Saka Acquaye created folk opera in response to Ghana's post-colonial policy initiatives to redress negative colonial mindsets among the citizenry, and also to foster national identity and unity through the arts. The paper analyzes Saka Acquaye's 'The Lost Fishermen,'—the most popular folk opera in Ghana, to illustrate the genre‘s form as well as the depth of appropriations from indigenous theatre resources for the above stated purposes. The paper establishes that despite the obvious Western influences in folk opera, it is essentially the unscripted indigenous theatre resources that served as its biggest thematic and performance resource base; and that it was such deliberate appropriations from diverse ethnic and regional settings of the country repackaged for a national audience that were intended to address the political and cultural challenges mentioned. The paper concludes by attributing the current low patronage of folk opera in Ghana to the near irrelevance of the cultural and political challenges that influenced its birth and popularity.



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