Legends of Northern Music

Celebrating Our Legends

Nothing makes the past so sweet a place to visit than the prospect of imminent death. I have been thinking for the past days on the current crop of musicians we have these days, and it dawned on me that, we need to celebrate our legends by recounting their influence on Northern music. We will be taking them two at a time so as not to bore readers. It must be noted that, they’re not written about in a particular order of importance.

Sheriff Ghale:

Ablai kunkong ma w) pali n’yaa yina

di mi pala wo’ npug naba

di mi pala zug polo waa la

wug’mi gbinyindi zugsaa, ka labsi gbin yindi son’tigna,

ka gbagsi gbagsi gbagsi gbagsi gbagsi gbagsi taanchili

Some people will not remember the above lyrics and the few who do remember, undoubtedly may be shaking their heads now with great nostalgia. Those are the lyrics from the infamous song Abla kunkong, Sheriff Ghale’s maiden album.

Doo Biya and Baansi Biyaraga as his fans affectionately called him, Sheriff Ghale redefined northern music in the mid 90s when he broke onto the scene with the release of Nandaan bia. Few people knew him then, but before the album was launched, he had become a household name and the track, Nandaan bi, a household anthem. He will go down as one of our best reggae musicians from the Savanna.  I regard his musical works as a form of literature. His rich lyrical content and use of the pure dagbanli diction was a trademark which endeared him to the purists of Dagbanli language. With music, he sought to reform our traditional homes and family system, strengthen family ties and to point out the injustice in the system. Sherif Ghale who preaches about peace to mankind and especially to the people of Dagbon believes that music can not mushroom in a war situation..this led to his campaign for peace through music. His second album which was solely dedicated to peace and reconciliation in the north was pushed by the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) after the 1994 conflict in the northern region. He, together with six other northern music artistes formed the seven-in-one For Peace music group which gave birth to the album ‘Nangbanyini (unity)’, produced in collaboration with Metropolitan tv. Nangbanyini, which was also a title track in the album, had its video enjoying wide air play on the station.

Though it’d be difficult to pick one, Sochira is regarded by many as his best and arguably the best reggae album of all time from the Savanna. Among his collection of hits are the following: Nandaan bia, Bundana, Dang Maligu, Sochira, Politician, Kundun kura, A yi ka so, Niyeli.

It was heartbreaking when he decided to quit music in 2010. Since he left, the northern music industry – despite having seen national recognition – hasn’t been the same for the purists like me and many others.

When others gave languid stage performance, his was energetic and full of entertainment. His retirement has brought reggae music to its knees in this part of the country. We miss him sorely. I think we should petition him to come back.


Abu Sadick – Police Man:

Allow me to reintroduce this genius musician with some borrowed lines from Achebe’s Things Fall Apart with an added flavour of my own words.

Abu Sadick aka Police-Man was well known throughout the villages of Northern Region and even beyond. His fame, rested on solid personal achievement and lyrical dexterity. In the early 2000s to mid 2000s he had brought honour to his fans by dropping hits after hits.

He came out with his first album, Naaningoo, which didn’t go down well with his fans, he graduated to Bangsua which was an instant hit. Tracks on that album were philosophical as well as entertaining. His next album, Dolo, wasn’t left out.

The album featured great tunes, and one that particularly got stuck with lovers was a romantic tune, Ni Ringi. It was soul soothing for the romantic. It was dubbed the love song of the year, and could easily pass, arguably, as the all time best love tune to ever grace our airwaves.

He went into hibernation for a period of time due to a short illness. People rumoured he was dead. And then, he broke his hiatus with a banger, Fara Kurli. Fara Kurli, like many others, hijacked our airwaves and earned him an award as the best reggae song in that year.

His video album, which featured tracks from his albums sold over ten thousand in the first two weeks of its launch (a record yet to be broken). Having worked with him as a producer and a cover designer, I must say that his penchant need for perfection would not allow him to compromise quality for anything.

Abu Sadic, though still in the music show biz, has seen a dip in his music career due to the emergence of young talented ones. We must, however, applaud him as a pathfinder for the current crop of musicians today. He has since been featured by a number of artistes. His latest inclusion, Di ziembela, a song performed with another rap gem, Ataaka, is a hit currently trending on our airwaves.

Abu Sadic will go down in history as one of the finest.

Writer: Sadick Tuglana


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