MARIJATA Band was a sensational, multi-talented avant-garde, hard-hitting, hair-rising, Afro-fuzz Ghanaian highlife band which made its name in the Ghanaian musical landscape in the 1970`s. The band was started as a band within the larger Sweet Beans Band, was originally composed of a trio: Lovelace Kofi Addison aka Kofi “Electrik” (Guitar), Bob Andrew Fischian aka (Organ) and Nathan Fredua Prempeh aka Nat Osmanu (Guitar). The group was later joined by Pat Thomas and Senior Eddie Donkor to record some albums.
The trios first album “This is Marijata”, was their first, the toughest and most sought-after African Funk records of their entire career. The album which was recorded in 1976, and has been reissued in all its rough-hewn glory, is the standard by which all other Afro-Funk albums are measured – it’s power, vitality and rawness have been emulated, but never equaled.
The Marijata band was an experiment that started as Sweet Beans – a highlife combo sponsored by the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB). In an interview with Professor Amos Anyimedu 2011, Kofi Electric explained that Marijata “was a band within a band,…..and precisely a band within the Sweetbean band. The band was put together by the Cocoa Marketing Board of Ghana,” and they were doing some gigs here and there. Thus all the music that the “band was recording was for Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB). Marijata was not formed after the collapse of Sweet Bean, but was within Sweet Bean at all times” (Anyimedu 2011).
Kofi Electric further explained that the name Marijata was chosen by the trio because of Ghana`s historical connection to African Empires of antiquity, especially Mali Empire which then has the famous ruler, Mansa Sundiata Keita or Mari Djata. The name Marijata was adopted because it represented the group`s Pan-Africanism consciousness and veneration of the achievements of Africa`s past.
The group after releasing their 1976 album “This is Marijata, a very funky music that speaks pretty much for itself, got the attention of the Ghanaian music lovers. The album/LP, according to Marijata Band`s notes pockets was “attempting to bring some freshness and the return of Raw Funk” in their recordings. It was recorded and produced on the Gapophone label. Gapophone Records was a label founded by a young producer, George Appiah Prah, after his return from London where he lived for a period. The LP has tracks such as “I Walk Alone”, “We Live In Peace”, “No Condition Is Permanent” and “Break Through.”
After the success enjoyed by the first album, the manager, Prah took the trio, alongside Senior Eddie Donkor and Pat Thomas to Nigeria to record albums for the Marijata, and the two famous musical artists. The group recorded their second LP or Album “Pat Thomas Introduces Marijata” with the finest silky voice and award-winning musician, Pat Thomas. The tracks on these album was phenomenally breathtaking, with extraordinary rendition of Thomas`s lyrical delivery synchronizing beautifully with the trio`s backing rhythmic dexterity.
“The dominant highlife structure in Ghana was “1-4-5”, but in this album we did a different thing…….,” …it was a live recording, just take one, no second play!” Kofi Electric said. Indeed, Pat Thomas` combo with the trio, and the presence of his unique voice elevated Marijata musical style to a whole new level. Tracks on the “Pat Thomas Introduces Marijata” 1976 (LP/Album) include “Salvation”, “Mother Africa,” “My Love Will Shine”, That’s The Way,” Brain Washing”, “Papa’s Little Boy”, “Black Beautiful Race”, “I Can Say” and “Don’t Blame Us.” Kofi Electrics`s dexterity with guitar could visibly be heard on “I can say”, where the guitar fazes uniquely, as Pat Thomas coons on is quite a spectacular feat. “Pat Thomas introduces Marijata” (CD/LP, Academy album) was reissued in 2015.
In 1977 the trio also recorded with Pat Thomas on his album “Pat Thomas And Marijata”, which was also a huge success. Marijata, were also featured on both of Soundway Records’ first and second volumes of the Ghana Soundz compilations of 2004.
Lovelace Kofi Addison aka Kofi Electrick, the leader of the trio had success by playing with Paul Simon especially on his rendition of popular folkloric song, “Yaa Amponsah”, originally arranged and sang by Kumasi Trio in 1928. The name Kofi Electrick was given to him by the then Tamale based musician, Danfo Domino, whose band was stationed at Café du France. Kofi used to go to Domino`s place at Café du France to rehearse with all the band`s instruments. Domino will always say “Gerrout! Gerrout! You Kofi Electric! And the name stayed!” (Anyimedu 2011) It was in Café du France that Kofi Electric learnt his musical talent.
Kofi Electrick Addison of Marijata is also the original writer of the song Gyai su, se m`aye boni dan kpraaa, odo ei m`asan aba o, gyai suu oo!” Electrick also played in Ebo Taylor`s Blue Monks Band and Accra based Jet Blue Band.
It was in Sweet bean that Kofi Electrik, now a Fire Technician based at New York Fire in USA met his colleagues Nat Osmanu aka Nathan Fredua Prempeh, currently based in Columbus Ohio, and Bob Fiscian, who also lives in Berlin, Germany.
Kweku Darko Ankrah