Ephraim Amu’s thoughts, life and music constituted musings that challenged the Western theological paradigm as expressed in the life of the church in Africa.
Cultural and linguistic translations of western hymns to local languages through his music and poetry helped in the understanding of Christianity, Very Rev. Prof. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Baeta-Grau Professor of African Christianity and Pentecostal Theology at the Trinity Theological Seminary has stated.
According to him, Ephraim Amu not only mused over the presentation of Christianity as a western religion but rather responded to these erroneous impressions through his music and poetry because the western missionary hymns only portrayed Africa as a place of religious darkness and a veritable mission field presumably without much sense of the presence of God.
Rev. Prof. Asamoah-Gyadu stressed that although there is much to celebrate in missionary work in terms of formal education and translation of the scriptures, Ephraim Amu cut for himself a clear niche in the affirmation of the African, traditional and Christian legacies by his vernacular compositions.
To him, he acknowledges Ephraim Amu for his ground-breaking work in African ethnomusicology and especially for blazing the trail in making that field one worthy of academic investigation and study because he (Ephraim Amu) celebrated Africa in the gospel based on Twi and Ewe compositions.
The 2017 edition of Ephraim Amu’s Memorial Lecture Series was held on Thursday, May 11 at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on the theme “O’er Heathen Lands Afar’; Missionary Hymnody, Ephraim Amu’s musings and Christianity as a non-western endeavour”.
This lecture interrogated the interface between Ephraim Amu’s Christian thought as outlined in his music and the mission theology of Western hymns that often sought to portray Africa as a demonised geographical context needing to be evangelised through the preaching of the gospel.
The late Ephraim Amo was arguably Africa’s most accomplished ethnomusicologist of the 20th century. The three most distinguishing marks of Amu’s life and career were his commitment to the Christian faith, his passion for culture, and the patriotic orientation of his music.
Although he lived in Africa, Amu was in every sense a missionary to European thoughts about the continent in his own right and this was something that was evident through both his lifestyle and music.
The lecture argues that Amu’s heritage clearly indicates that there was something ironic about Africans singing hymns that sought to portray their own continent as a dark one and all this at a time when the Christian faith itself had started declining in the global north and rising in the global south.
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