Kakaiku’s Guitar Band has been credited for taking inspiration from E. Nyame’s pioneering changes in Guitar bands and evolving it. While E.K Nyame is credited for many things such as fusing guitar bands and concert party, expanding the instruments used as well as localizing concert parties, he did stick to the basic structures. By the late 1950s significant evolution began and this is thanks to Kakaiku’s Guitar Band.
The band was established by renowned Guitar Highlife musician Moses Kwaku Oppong. The band was set up 1954 but this was not the founder’s first band. Moses Kwaku Oppong was born in 1916 and by 1930, by the time he was fourteen, he had already gained interest in music playing in a Konkoma Highlife band. The Konkoma highlife bands were local bands that played more indigenous renditions of the brass bands that were all the rage at the time. While in the band, he enjoyed listening to bigger bands to learn how to arrange music like them. He learned from people like E.K Nyame, Kwaa Mensah and E.T Mensah who was doing a different style of highlife music as compared to the E.K and Kwaa.
Moses did his music on the side and worked odd jobs to sustain himself. He worked as a blacksmith in the Tarkwa-Aboso goldmines. He spent most of his free time watching the concert parties whenever they came to Aboso in Tarkwa where he lived at the time. Between 1941 and 1942, M.K Oppong set up his first ever band the Tempos band but the band could not really succeed because he continued to do other things while leading the band. Aside from his work as a blacksmith, he played football in his free time.
After a first failed attempt, he set up the Kakaiku Guitar band in 1952 and this time he took it more seriously. The name of the band represents Kwaku’s nick name given to him by a number of friends. As mentioned earlier, by the late 1950s significant evolution began and this is thanks to Kwaku Moses Oppong. What Mr Oppong did was to expand the structure of both the concert party and the Guitar band which was still keeping it strictly as a trio despite infusing other instruments. Mr Oppog went ahead and expanded his band, giving room to more instrumentalists in a Guitar band. In addition to this, he also increased the number of persons needed in the concert party band. By this time, K.M. Oppong had learned how to act to support his band. He however felt that it would be interesting and necessary to add on more actors who could fill the extra characters.
The expansion of the number of actors and actresses as well as musicians in the band automatically gave room for an extension of performance time. This gave K.M Oppong the opportunity to explore more in his music and storylines which were at the time starting up a storm between the concert parties and the churches. The problem was that, since Concert Parties gave social commentaries, people were more interested in seeing the concert parties.
According to Catherine M. Cole ‘Kakaiku introduced plays that had a tremendous variety of characters and dramatized complex situations and themes. Whereas trios drew upon a highly limited repertoire of stock scenarios about Fante Anglophilia, class aspirations, and domestic inﬁdelity, Kakaiku’s shows focused on the extended family and the supernatural.’
This is a story for another day however it should be established here that K.M Oppong was one of the only to blend social commentary and thread cautiously along the religious lines while still getting their points across. A trend that was soon picked up by many Concert Party Bands that were inspired by the Akan Trio.
Kakaiku’s concert part made their debut in Agona Swedru during the Akwambo Festival. The play was about a young girl who due to peer pressure followed her friends to chase vanity.
Moses Oppong and his Kakaiku band recorded several songs that became instant hits. Songs such as Mempe Maa, Me wo Aze Oye and Daling Money no Dey were released and used in their concert party. A few big names in the music industry also found their foundation while with the Kakaiku’s. Some names included George Benjamin Grant, C.K Mann who stayed with the band until he left to lead the Ocean’s String until 1966 and later joined the CAROUSEL 7.
Other members of the ban included Eddie Donkor who later helped form the African Brothers Band, Appiah Kumu and Anthony K. Yeboah. Also known as A.K Yeboah, in 1967, a year after the coup he would team up with Atakora K. Manu to form Kakaiku’s Number 2 which was popularly known as K.K’s Number 2. A. Manu would leave the band in 1970 and work with Ambassador Records as a sound engineer. Under the leadership of A.K Yeboah, the K.K’s Number 2 band would record several songs and embark on a U.K Tour. A.K Yeboah’s son, Kwame Yeboah will also pick up a musical career.
Some of his most memorable plays also include Sasabonsam Fie , Wo Ekyir Ansaana Ewu and Egyankaba, an adaptation of Cinderella. K.M. Oppong died in 1986 after a short illness. Before dying he handed band leadership to his son Moses K. Oppong II. A number of his performances can be found at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies Archives.
MEMBERS IN K.K’S NUMBER 2.
Anthony K. Yeboah – leader, vocals
Manu -tenor vocals,guitar.
G. K. Akandoh - vocals,
Alhaji Alhassan Hadejiya
Written by Elizabeth Johnson (Writer and Archive Contributor)
Cole, C., 2001. Ghana's concert party theatre. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Collins, J., 2004. Ghanaian Christianity and Popular Entertainment: Full Circle. History in Africa, 31, pp.407-423.