Winneba has a number of music and dance forms the foremost being the asafo dance, is performed with three drums and gong gong beating to keep the rhythm

The males do most of the singing and clapping to maintain the tempo but the dancing is non restrictive. When it is an all female affair, they perform a version of the asafo dance music but drum sounds are produced from gourd playing; this is the Effutu version of the adzewa. The main asafo dance form is rather militant in nature. For entertainment and other social functions the people of Winneba have developed a number of musical dance forms.

The 20th-century dance forms which have all been abandoned for the more recent musical forms in Winneba were themselves developed from older forms.

Of these, it is the asafo music dance that has survived the years of challenges and social reforms. Public performances of these musical forms were last seen around the late sixties. The surviving generation of those who were part of these groups are aged and therefore can only give testimonies to what they did for their entertainment rather than to give a performance or train others to maintain. The best part of them has been forgotten. It is important to note that only one of these musical forms is still performed.

Most groups were formed by artisans, drivers or fisher folks who from their regular expeditions out of town have through association or intuition picked such cultural pieces and while introducing them have adapted them to their homeland situation. In general, they have successfully served as rallying points for members of the same vocation and been supportive of each other besides the general entertainment of the public. Because of the popularity of such groups they are invited to perform at funerals, marriage ceremonies and other social functions. It is known that during Akomase festival, each evening various groups perform to entertain the public.

Among such groups is the Osemanfo who were a group of fishermen. At special ceremonies they either took a token in cash or were offered drinks in appreciation. Others like the Okrabowhɛfo and Osimpam were also fishermen. Then the Oboade, Kodenkye, and Kokomba. They used a variety of traditionally made musical instruments: drums of various sizes, gong gong and the mpetsiba, akasaw and tamalene. It is said that the Simande group was formed by the elders of Osubonpanyin led by Kwesi Teikoh, a safohen of the Asomfo division of the No. 2 asafo company of Winneba. They were a contingent of warriors who under King Acquah I (Neenyi Eguase) fought in the many Ashanti/Fanti wars. When they became victorious, the divine drummer called Gyan from the Kaakobanto house in Winneba mastered the details of the drumming which they brought home. On their return they trained their kinsmen of Osubonpayin and the musical form became the royal cultural drumming for Neenyi Eguase. It was performed particularly during the Akomase celebrations. The performance of this musical form included the royal horn (abentsia) and castanets (afretsiwa). It is played by a team of men and women in numbers. The clappings are in single-notes. Simande dance has semblance of fetish-priest dancing.


Annually, during the major fishing season, fishermen from Winneba embark on expeditions to other fishing communities where they believe fishing would be more abundant than home. On one such expedition it is learnt that the women and young ladies who managed the fish landings and cooked for the men either copied or developed this musical form from the host communities and brought it home.

In the performance of Apatampa, the group uses three musical instruments; the ampaa, a drum designed with a flat wooden square frame with a leather top, an mpetsiba and a musical box. The musical box was a larger hollow box made of plywood with a circular hole that is not more than six or eight inches wide through which the sound vibrated out. Drumming the ampaa is by the use of both hands with the drum well secured between the legs. The mpetsiba keeps the beat or time while the musical box provides a bass sound when hit on one side with a fist.

In a rhythmic fashion dancers clap the hands, beat the chest, swing the arms and slap the thigh or buttocks while stamping the feet.


This musical dance form was formed by a breakaway group from the “Auntie Amafo’ group. This latter group was formed by senior drivers’ group in Winneba. Key members included Opanyin Asakyew, Kwesi Awortwi and Kofi Abban. They had women including Obaapanyin Adwoa Adu and Maame Mfeye. The leading member of the Ompeh group was Opanyin Ahun from Buwekyir. It was special for the youth. The men did the drumming but both could dance during a performance. The men had a characteristic dress code. They all wear cloth with a beret flat hat. Usually the drummers sat in a semi circular fashion making room for the dancers. In the evenings when they perform for the public, the women put up their best cloth and it was at such gatherings that most of them would find suitors. The wearing of a neck chain was an important attraction.

Musical instruments used are: mpetsiba – a hollow oval metal with a ring worn on the thumb finger that hits the top of the oval to beat time for the drummers and singers; Ogyamba – a short drum which is placed across the thighs and beaten with one stick and the tone controlled with one palm. The Ompeh has a special drum much taller and designed with breasts giving it a feminine resemblance. The women clap with splints of bamboo in tune with the rhythm provided by the mpetsiba.

Though these musical dance forms for several decades were admired and adored forms of entertainment they had their challenges that led to their demise. They did not have any commercial value and when they performed at funerals and other social functions, they took only token fees; most often palm wine or akpeteshies, the local drink and some food. Cash was not very essential until recently. Today, Ompeh can be said to be the only surviving music and dance form.

With the advent of the public address system (PAS) things started to change. The gramophone machine did not pose much challenge to the musical forms until the introduction of the PAS. Around the sixties when the PAS with larger speaker boxes came up people started employing them at social gatherings. Interest in the live music waned because of a much better sound that could reach a wider audience. Perhaps if these groups had invested in the use of the PAS and other gadgets they would have remained on the entertainment scene since at such social gatherings it was imperative to reach all. The challenge was enormous considering the improved sound quality that came with the technological innovations that supported the production of foreign music and our own highlife music. The groups never made money and so could not adopt technology to improve their sound quality as had been done elsewhere in the country. Hence with the small radius of effective audience, they became unpopular and soon gave way.