The Bokoor House and the BAPMAF Center, the world’s premiere archive, museum, and NGO of West African and Ghanaian popular music, was tragically hit by a flood last month. Under the direction of Professor John Collins, BAPMAF is a truly unique and essential place for the preservation, study, and creation of African popular music. The impact of the flooding includes both human and archival dimensions. It is not only the Foundation’s rare holdings that were threatened by the waters; Professor Collins’s family narrowly escaped drowning and the Collins family house, located on the same grounds, is now in disrepair. In the aftermath, the family has sought out higher ground, and are “squatting” until they can find a way to return.
Any fan of highlife, afrobeat, afro-funk, or African folk music has Professor Collins and BAPMAF to thank. Collins is a Full Professor at the University of Ghana–Legon, and is a performer who has been at the center of Ghanaian and West African music scenes since the 1960s. He has collaborated with Fela Kuti, E.T. Mensah, Koo Nimo, Victor Uwaifo, Kwaa Mensah, King Bruce, and many, many more. The flooded compound is on the same grounds where he founded the superlative Bokoor Recording Studio in 1982—this is the spotwhere many classic highlife records of that era were recorded to tape. Today, with all of the amazing independent music labels and reissue projects that are bringing African beats to audiences across the globe (from the likes of Analog Africa, Soundways, Strut, Voodoo Funk, etc.), the blow to the Foundation and the Collins family are potentially devastating. Look in the liner notes of your favorite afro-funk compilation or highlife reissue, and you’ll undoubtedly see Professor Collins thanked—if he didn’t write the liner notes himself, that is!
The tragedy has been covered by the BBC and Afropop Worldwide. The official BAPMAF website was knocked down by the disaster, so we are setting up a temporary BAPMAF blog. The photos of some of the damage accompanying this post are sent along by Professor Collins.
What is needed now is donations to help Professor Collins and his family continue the process of repairing the Foundation and their lives. If you can donate any amount, please do so with the PayPal “Donate” button below. Any amount helps. You can be assured that all funds are going directly to the rebuilding efforts—no middlemen, no overhead, and no waste. The convenience of donating directly to the BAPMAF PayPal account ensures that every single dollar, pound sterling, or euro sent along will reach the relief effort directly. When donating be sure to mark your contribution as a “gift” for PayPal accounting purposes. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
The good news is that the recovery and restoration is underway. Professor Collins reports that, miraculously, the rarest and most essential of the holdings appear in-tact and functioning. (For example, although the 4-track tape machines are lost, the master tapes are undamaged. In addition, swift action was able to save many of the rarest paper materials, including original letters and unique documents.) Items without hope for recovery include the compound’s backup generator (required for living in Ghana, as anyone who has travelled in the region knows), all of the recording equipment, electronic and computer equipment, and Professor Collins’s car (to name just some of the damaged property).
Please help with the recovery by donating today. Many thanks— “medaase pii” —in advance.
On behalf of Professor Collins and BAPMAF (Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation),