COMPOSER, percussionist and flutist, Nii Tei Ashitey, who died on December 15, 2018, will be buried today, March 30 at the Osu Cemetery in Accra.
The 84 year old was the founder of the famous Wulomei. The band’s refreshing, highly percussive songs were rendered mainly in Ga but they found ardent followers across the country and beyond.
Wulomei broke new grounds on the Ghanaian music scene right from its formation in 1972. Their Walatu Walasa debut album, released in 1974 shot them to instant fame.
The band’s popular songs included Aklowa, Meridian, Soyama, Takoradi, Kaagba, Jalelelele, Akosua Serwa, Menye Menye and Gyae Nsa Num.
Writing about Wulomei in his Highlife Time 3 book, Prof. John Collins, who knew Nii Tei well-stated: “Wulomei not only became popular with Gas but with most Ghanaians, and its appeal seemed to cross the boundaries between ethnic groups, generations and social strata.”
Nii Tei started his musical career as a young boy just after the Second World War when he played the side drum for one of Accra’s kokoma groups, the Navy Babies.
Later he became a conga player and joined a number of dance bands starting with ET Mensah’s Tempos. He then spent some time in Liberia as a member of the Tubman Stars Dance Band and returned home to the Police Band and the Brigade Band Number Two, before forming Wulomei.
Wulomei was given a lot of encouragement by Mr Saka Acquaye, director of the then Arts Council and they established their identity as one of the most dominant traditional music groups in Africa.Tours took them to places such as the United States, Britain, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Libya, Liberia, Togo and Burkina Faso.
The Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) in a tribute to Nii Tei, said the nation had lost an icon who made a remarkable impression on our contemporary music landscape.
Final funeral rites for the iconic musician will be held at the Mamprobi Sempe 4 School Park in Accra right after the burial.