In the quaint town of Winneba, nestled along the coast of Ghana, a musical prodigy was born into the Yankson family on June 22, 1944.

Benjamin Akono Kofi Yankson, affectionately known as Paapa Yankson, was destined for greatness from the moment he drew his first breath.

Raised in a household filled with the melodious tunes of his father’s trumpet and his mother’s angelic voice, young Paapa’s love for music blossomed from an early age.

He often joined his mother in song during her household chores when he was barely a child.

He was the perfect descendant to continue his family’s musical genealogy, after his father, Benjamin Akono Yankson, who was a respected trumpeter with the Apam Brass Band, and his mother, Akua Doma, a trader by profession with sheer love for music as a member of the Christ Little Band of the Methodist Church.


Like every child, Paapa Yankson’s parents wanted him to excel academically hence enrolled him into the Takoradi Methodist School for his primary education. Subsequently, he enrolled at the Ahantaman Secondary Commercial School where he honed his skills in stenography.

Despite his parents’ hopes for him to pursue a career in business, Paapa’s heart belonged to the world of music. This led him into the gates of the National Academy of Music, Winneba in 1975, where he read a diploma programme in music.


Following his graduation, Paapa embarked on a journey into the working world, first as a stenographer at Kingsway Chemist for five years before landing another job at the African Timber and Plywood Company, a subsidiary of the United African Company (UAC), at Samreboi. At UAC, Paapa Yankson worked as a stenographer for the company for four years. Later, 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.

Music life

While working at the plywood company, Paapa Yankson joined the internal band – The Big Sound Band – where he performed regularly after work.

During the solemn moment of his mother’s funeral, Paapa overcame his grief and performed a final tribute in her honour, a gesture that was the turning point of his life and musical greatness.

His musical talents caught the attention of C. K. Mann, a regional band leader, who recognized Paapa’s potential and invited him to join his band, which he gladly accepted.

After finding his feet in the music job in 1991, he received an invitation from businessman Mr Ebo Coker to help form the Western Diamonds Band in Takoradi. Paapa was put in charge of singing and directing. When the band became solid after two years, he left.

Afterwards, 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.

Breakthrough and award-winning songs

Ever heard the melodious Tena Men Kyen, Okukuseku and Otan Hunu, they are the classic albums that became a deal breaker in Paapa Yankson’s career in year 2002.

Paapa Yankson recorded two dozen albums during his career. His hit songs included YaabaWiase Mu Nsem, Show Your Love, Woara Akofa Aba, Kokrokoo, Gyae Saa Ye, Mensu Medofo, Jealousy, Ebei and a tall list of other timeless soul-stirring songs.

These songs, he taught and performed in many countries across the world, including the United States, Canada, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, and Holland, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria and Benin.


In 1997 Yaaba won Best Composition at the Komkomba Awards

Paapa Yankson 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 recipients of the NHAC award after the ceremony was revamped in 2006.

He also won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.

Final years  

Throughout his final years, Paapa Yankson continued to inspire with his music, even as his health declined. In 2016, he grew weaker and was confined to a wheelchair.

Despite his physical limitations, he remained a beacon of hope and resilience, performing from a wheelchair at events across the country.

He performed in a wheelchair at the Exclusive Men of The Year Awards in June and at the Bottles & Bands Festival in November 2016.

His last known performance was at the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards in 2017 where he was also awarded for his contribution to the Highlife genre and music industry as a whole.


It is appointed unto man to die, and the last hour for the legend was on Friday, July 21, 2017. He reportedly died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Dansoman, Accra. He succumbed to his prolonged health battle at the age of 73.

He was survived by a wife, Mary Yankson, and five children (two daughters and three sons).

His passing marked the end of an era in Ghanaian music, but Paapa’s legacy lives on in the hearts of all who were touched by his melodies.


Paapa Yankson was honoured with a state funeral on Saturday, October 21.

Some dignitaries include President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; Catherine Afeku, fornmer Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture; past presidents of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), Bice Osei Kuffour (Obour) and Sidiku Buari, Asiedu Nketia of the National Democratic Party (NDC) and Ahuma Bosco Ocansey (Daddy Bosco), an administrator at MUSIGA.

Some musicians at the event include Pat Thomas, Rex Omar, Yaw Sarpong, Daughters of Glorious Jesus, AB Crentsil.


In the annals of Ghanaian music history, Paapa Yankson will forever be remembered as a trailblazer, a visionary, and a true ambassador of Ghanaian culture. His music transcended boundaries, his spirit soared above adversity, and his legacy will continue to inspire generations to come. The curtains may have closed on his remarkable life, but his music will echo through the ages.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.