Music has always impacted us. Whether it serves as coded information, therapy, social or political enhancer, cultural storage, means of worship, frontline in church settings, source of entertainment or any of its countless roles or uses. Surely, music has made a significant impact on society. Nonetheless, Ghanaian society, and indeed several other societies, appears to underestimate the potent abilities of music in shaping the orientation of culture and society. This assessment is based on my observations as a music educator, composer, church musician etc. and in my interactions with some experienced musicians and lovers of different kinds of music in Ghana and foreign lands. My conclusions are based also on observations from activities and comments of politicians, government officials, church leaders, journalists and the general public in relation to music.
In following the esteemed legacies of those I consider mentors from home and abroad, I realize that most of them often had to affirm and validate themselves in defense of their gifts and artistry. However, their constructive innovative thinking, their musical productions and their honour recognition in their communities and the world at large have helped to change social and political orientations in their communities, countries and the wider world. We can all appreciate how the message and art of Bob Marley, Mariam Makeba, Ephraim Amu, Hugh Masakela, Duke Ellington etc. influenced societal thought and behavior, in all these instances, the musical and artistic endeavors are appreciated across continents and even in most of the countries we call “advanced”. In many societies, conscious attention is given to music and musicians both for the enjoyment of their artistry and for their influence on the psyche of society. Ghana’s case seems quite different. The Ghanaian society seems to pay attention basically to the enjoyment of the artistry of music and ignoring the importance of the artistic choices, the organization of music and the message content as a vehicle for liberation.
RELIGION, POLITICS AND ECONOMIC considerations often sometimes compel many practitioners of music in Ghana and other societies to compromise their standards, pandering to what society might find easy, interesting or acceptable, rather than what would help in directing and strengthening society. This might serve, but shortly, for what carries artistic works into the future is not their ease or acceptability, which is only seasonal, but the strength of their content and style.
Victor Nkunim Nii Sowa Manieson is a music education theorist, ethnomusicologist, composer, professional pianist and performer who is committed to Afrikan Liberation and National Pride.
He graduated from the National Academy of Music (NAM), now the Music Department of The University of Education, in Winneba, Ghana. He received his Masters from San Diego State University’s School of Music and Dance, in the United States. He also attended Clark-Atlanta University where he took some doctoral classes in the Humanities.
Over the years, Manieson has served in different capacities as an educational trainer, vocal coach, piano accompanist and Minister of Music. Most notably he taught at Lincoln Community School (Accra), and as an adjunct Lecturer at University of Education. Currently, he is the Musician/Artist in Residence at Spring Garden Academy/Resurrection Life Church in Philadelphia.
Manieson’s work continues in the esteemed legacies of Dr. E. Amu, Professor K. Nketia, Reverend Professor James Cone, Professor Howard Thurman, Rev. Professor Femi Adededji, Mariam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Dr. Arikana Quao and many other conscious leaders. He believes churches and institutes of higher learning must unapologetically articulate the positives and highlight truths about Africa. This mission should include music as a catalyst to reconcile historical and cultural traumas to facilitate healing.
Victor Manieson’s current focus as a Conscious Cultural Healing Arts Practitioner is to use Choral Music to shape, orient, and advocate for African liberation.
He is married to Doreen Thomas-Manieson and they have two children.
Manieson, Victor. Towards Conscious Patriotism. (Accra: Noyam Journals, 2024).