Benjamin Paapa Kofi Yankson, known as Paapa Yankson was a Ghanaian highlife singer, songwriter, and producer. He recorded two dozen albums during his career; his hit songs included “Wiase Mu Nsem”, “Show Your Love”, “Wo Yere Anaa Wo Maame”, and “Tena Menkyen”. He won multiple awards, including Best Composition for his song “Yaaba” at the 1997 Konkomba Awards. He was a recipient of the Grand medal of Ghana for his contribution to Ghanaian music.
EDUCATION AND EARLY LIFE
Benjamin Paapa Kofi Yankson was born on June 22, 1944 at Winneba. He was born into a musical family with his father, Benjamin Akono Yankson, being a trumpeter with the Apam Brass Band, and his mother Akua Doma, a singer in the Christ Little Band of the Methodist Church. According to him, anytime his mother sang while doing her house chores, he sang along with her. He attended Takoradi Methodist School for his primary education and proceeded to Ahantaman Secondary Commercial School, from which he graduated with a certificate in stenography. After his completion, he got a job at the Kingsway Chemists Limited where he worked as a stenographer for five years.
He later landed a job at the African Timber and Plywood Company, a subsidiary of the United African Company (UAC), at Samreboi. United African Company (UAC) had a band, the Big Sound Band, so he played as the lead singer while he worked as a stenographer for the company for four years. Papa Yankson on the left in his youthful days.
He landed his first music contract during his mother’s funeral.
And for more than 30 years Paapa Yankson has produced music that has brought life to many. When his mother died and he attended the funeral in Takoradi, a band, the Carousel Seven, came and set up its instruments to play. He later learnt that the band had been looking for him for years and that when they heard about his mother’s death they came to the funeral in the hope that they could woo him to play with them. It was the same band that young Yankson had sung for, while with friends at a neighbour’s funeral years before his mother’s demise. Upon the recommendation of great musician, C. K. Mann, who was the leader of the Carousel Seven, the proprietor of the band, Annis Mubarak, invited Paapa Yankson to play with his band. Paapa Yankson was more than eager to take up the job.
In 1975 he enrolled at the National Academy of Music, Winneba, to read a diploma programme in music, after which he took up a job as the music organizer at the Garrisons Education Unit, Burma Camp in Accra, where he worked for nine years- from 1982 to 1991. Mr. Ebo Coker, a businessman, asked Paapa Yankson to come back to Takoradi in 1991 to help form the Western Diamonds Band. Paapa was put in charge of singing and directing. When the band found its feet after two years he left.
The Chief Executive Officer of the then Ashanti Goldfields Limited, Mr Sam Jonah, invited Paapa over to Obuasi to help form a band for the company. With his support, the Golden Nuggets Band was born and upon his request the band was moved from Obuasi to Accra. He played for the Nuggets till 1995 when he decided to go solo.
He has composed many hit songs some of which have attracted national awards and nomination for awards. In 1997 his composition, Yaaba won an award for Best Composition during the Komkomba Awards. His works, Wiase Mu Nsem, Show Your Love, Wo Yere Anaa Wo Maame, and Tena Menkyen are among his hit songs. Paapa Yankson has more than 15 albums to his credit and it is not surprising that some young hiplife artistes keep knocking at his door to feature him on their albums. He has taught and performed in many countries around the world including the US, Canada, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Holland, Nigeria and Benin.
He was awarded the Grand medal of Ghana during the 2006 National Honours and Awards Ceremony by President John Agyekum Kufour, in recognition of his contribution to Ghanaian music.He was among the first people to have ever received this award when the ceremony was revamped in 2006. He also won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.
He was married to Mary Yankson and was blessed with five children. He was a member of the Methodist Church of Ghana.
LATTER LIFE AND DEATH In 2016 Yankson grew progressively weaker and was unable to walk. He performed in a wheelchair at the Exclusive Men of The Year Awards in June and at the Bottles & Bands Festival 2016 in November. On 21 July 2017, his family announced his death. It was reported that he had died in his sleep at his home in Dansoman in Accra.