A tale of two great Ghanaian musicians: Agya Koo Nimo vs Kojo Antwi

BY: James Owusu-Ansah
Agya Koo Nimo vs Kojo Antwi
Agya Koo Nimo vs Kojo Antwi

When one carefully listens to songs by Ghanaian musical legends Agya Koo Nimo and Kojo Antwi, one will notice that they are imbued with deep knowledge of our Ghanaian music culture; devoid of profanity, are proverbial and full of wisdom and advice.

The two artistes are like institutional libraries and despite their different musical genres, they share an identical music philosophy and have significantly impacted their generations. Interestingly, they have a father and son relationship with Kojo Antwi who said he used to enjoy Koo Nimo’s songs as a child whenever his father Agya Asiama played them on his gramophone.

Okomfo Anokye myth

Koo Nimo and Kojo Antwi have songs about Okomfo Anokye; Kojo Antwi dedicated his second album Anokye to the memory of Okomfo Anokye and King Osei Tutu I, who combined forces to build the Ashanti Kingdom.

Agya Koo Nimo, who has also served at the Manhyia Palace for more than five decades, was also inspired by the historical narrative of Obiri Komfo and dedicated his song Komfo Anokye to the memory of the great priest.

Jesus Christ

Before Kojo Antwi released his song “Spread His Love”, which talks about how God, out of love sent his begotten son Jesus Christ to die and save mankind, Koo Nimo had “Fiada Mo Ne Ko” and
“Osabarima” that centre on the sacrificial death of Jesus on Good Friday.

Coincidentally, both artistes, known for secular music, dispelled people’s notion that every non-Gospel song was known as “Ewiase Dwom,” literally meaning “worldly music” and used their song writing prowess to spread the good news about Christ.

Travel experiences

Their personal experiences have inspired them to write songs about the difficulties Ghanaians go through when they seek greener pastures.

For instance, the lyrics of Koo Nimo’s song Aburokyire Abrabo and Kojo Antwi’s Atentenhuro dwell on the unbearable life that Ghanaians go through and reflect their own stories when Kojo
Antwi lived in Denmark, Switzerland and Germany and Koo Nimo studied in the United Kingdom.

Love songs

Kojo Antwi has deep respect and admiration for Koo Nimo, and the man popularly known as Mr Music Man was inspired by Koo Nimo’s love songs such as “My Dear Comfort”, “Naa Densua”, “Odonson”, “Odo Nua”, which were hits in the 50s and 70s.

As an up and coming artiste, Kojo Antwi dreamed of singing such love songs and decades on, he has become a master of many romantic songs including “Akonoba”, “Akuaba”, “Dade Anoma”, “Menya Ntanban”, “Groovy”, “Rocklyn”, “Bo Me Nkomo De” and the power of his vocals and irresistible rhythms add a unique flavour.

Death

Death is inevitable in the life of every living being and Koo Nimo’s songs, “Owuo To Ne Ade To Bi” and “Owuo Te Se Nnoboa”, emphasise that mystical phenomenon.

Kojo Antwi is also known for hit songs “Adinkra”, “Maye Osaman” that centre on death and the impossibility of escaping it. These two great songwriters and singers believe death is natural and part of the cycle of creation.

Politics and party endorsements

Koo Nimo witnessed colonial rule and has seen all successive governments up to the Akufo-Addo administration but has never done a political song or associated himself with any political party.

Rather, he prefers to keep to his musical philosophy of love, death and moral values but not party politics.

Kojo Antwi also prefers to do his music rather than get involved in politics to jeopardise his impressive music career.

As he told the Daily Graphic during the 2020 political season: “It is a personal decision and if anyone decides to do it, they may have their reasons, but me I say no, I was a musician before JJ (Rawlings) came to power, he left; President Kufuor came to power, he left; President Atta Mills came to power, he left; President John Mahama came to power, he left and now President Akufo-Addo is in power and I’m still here.”

Awards and music administration

Koo Nimo was President of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) for 10 years, and served as interim Chairman of COSGA, now the Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO) which Kojo Antwi headed as its first elected Chairman.

Both were not spared verbal attacks and unsubstantiated allegations by members during their administrations. The two have won multiple awards both locally and internationally and are a driving force in the music industry with high levels of musicianship.

The writer is a Research Officer at the Copyright Office of Ghana.