Before I proceed, let me define the words in the song title. Ahenfo means Kings or Chiefs. Kyinye means Umbrella. The combined definition of these two words is Kings’ Umbrella.
Daddy Lumba’s stature within the Ghanaian highlife music scene is enviable. He is one of the few musicians who have withered the storm and survived the many phases of the highlife era; releasing many hit records for decades. Has there been a time when Daddy Lumba had fallen off? I can’t really remember. Till date, he continues to enchant people with his songs thanks to his versatility.
On his tune Ahenfo Kyinye, Lumba featured another legendary musician Pat Thomas. Pat Thomas holds the accolade as the ‘Golden Voice of Africa’. His music still resonate with people many years after their release. In 2015, Pat Thomas joined forces with the Kwashibu Band to release an album- Path Thomas and the Kwashibu Area Band, composed mainly of evergreen highlife tunes. On the song Ahenfo Kyineyi, these two legends, amidst palatable highlife grooves, kicked out an advice about life with reference to a popular proverb.
Beauty of Highlife:
When the qualities of highlife music is being discussed, focus is mostly placed on its rhythmic attributes. However, the beauty of highlife goes deeper than that. Aside the infectious rhythms and compositions, it is the ability of the songwriter(s) to tap into traditions and weave very compelling stories about life and its entrapments that appeals to most lovers of highlife. In simple terms, the ‘food for thoughts’ that often permeate the songs are one of the qualities that draws people to highlife music.
The Song and Its Origins
On Ahenfo Kyinye, Daddy Lumba and Pat Thomas did just that. They borrowed from the concept of Ghanaian chieftaincy culture to advice on life/death and influence. In the Ghanaian culture, chieftaincy is a revered institution. The chiefs are the real power wielders and custodians of lands (traditional administrators). And one of the very significant elements that comes with the institution is umbrellas. The umbrellas serve as a distinguishing factor per influence and power amongst the chiefs of a particular region. The smaller the size of the umbrella, the lesser one’s authority. The bigger the umbrella, the bigger a chief’s authority. And this becomes apparent during festive occasions when all the chiefs come out to grace the occasion. During a royal procession, the bigger umbrella leads the way, with the smaller ones following in queue.
It is this concept that Daddy Lumba and Pat Thomas tapped for their song Ahenfo Kyinye, where they related the significance of these umbrellas to life, success and death.
On the song, Daddy Lumba sings: We didn’t come into this world at the same time/ As some came before others/ some will leave others just like how the umbrellas of chiefs/kings are arranged’. They also make it clear that, the influence (power) of people come in grades or levels. It is when all the powerful or successful people converge that we truly see who has or wields the greatest success and power. If we have to stretch the meaning of this song, it also suggest that, in life, success does not happen to us all in a swoop. There’s time for everything so one should stay optimistic.
Due to the varying interpretation of the song, Ahenfo Kyinye is one of the songs that fit every occasion-happy times or sorrowful moments. And wherever it is played, it draws people to the dance floor.