Working Group

David Locke (Associate Professor) Music Department, Tufts University
David Locke is an ethnomusicologist specializing in the traditional music and dance of Africa, especially Ghana (Ewe and Dagomba people, in particular). He is the author of the African chapter in the textbook Worlds of Music, and three books of theory, documentation and instruction published by White Cliffs Media and distributed by Pathway Book Service (Drum Gahu 1988, Drum Damba 1990, Kpegisu 1992). His doctoral dissertation is about the Ewe masterwork Atsiagbekor (Wesleyan University 1979). Locke’s 35 year study of Dagomba music with Alhaji Abubakari Lunna has culminated in a website of audio, text, and staff notation (

Locke’s collaborative work on the Ewe music Agbadza with Gideon Foli Alorwoyie is available directly from Prof. Alorwoyie at University of North Texas (ask for Gideon’s Agbadza Music). Locke is an Assistant Professor in the Music Department at Tufts University.

Natogmah (Nat) Issahaku. Knowledge & Skills Share (KSS) Foundation

Born in Jisonaayilli, a suburb of Tamale, Ghana, Mr. Issahaku is a Financial Consultant by profession. He attended Bawku Secondary School. He holds a Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree in Business from the University of Maryland and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree in Finance from the Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands. He is currently pursuing a Doctor ate degree in Business Administration (DBA) on part-time basis. Mr. Issahaku worked in various Senior and Executive roles at the Royal Dutch Philips Electronics, the ING Bank, DuPont Sabanci Polyester Inc., and James Hardie Industries. In his last role at James Hardie he worked at the Corporate Head Offices in the USA and in the Netherlands until he founded Headstart Recruiting Financial Consulting and became its CEO/Owner in 2010. He is one of the founding officers of the Knowledge & Skills Share (KSS) Foundation, a versatile international non-profit organization. In serving KSS Foundation as the Executive Director, in a pastime role, he fulfills his craving desire to give back to society by engaging in peace, capacity-building, and development-oriented charity projects locally, nationally, and internationally. In this realm emanated the World Damba Festival (WDF) program which is hosted annually in different parts of the world and currently being organized and hosted at the Tufts University in Medford, USA. As a Social Justice Activist, Mr. Issahaku has written and published several articles on peace and development of Northern Ghana. He is married and has six children.

Susan Herlin, Zo-Simli-Naa (Prof. Emerita), History and Pan-African Studies,

University of Louisville and CEO , Kilimanjaro Foods Inc

A Dagbon Personality of the Year 2006, a consultant of the Sister Cities Organizations in Louisville (SCL), and CEO of Kilimanjaro Foods Inc, Prof. Susan Herlin (University of Louisville, Emerita) is also the “Development Chief” of Tamale Metropolitan Area with the title “Zo-Simli-Naa.” In the late 1990s, Zo-Simli Na was the Executive Producer of a Damba Festival in Louisville, Kentucky featuring visitors from Ghana and the around the Diaspora. The Damba Festival in Louisville attested to her substantial long-term involvement with the peoples of northern Ghana and her immense role in promoting peace and development in Dagban particularly. This year, she is among the northern chiefs who will preside at the 2012 festival. In her role as Zo-Simli Na, Prof. Herlin continue to work tirelessly to bring development to the people of Dagbon and has been instrumental in the institution of the Tamale Scholarship and Aid Fund; a program that has aided many children through the secondary school system and university in Ghana.

The title Zo-Simli Na was conferred upon Prof. Herlin by the late Ya Naa Yakubu Andani III to honor her tireless efforts for promotion of peace and development in Dagbon, her second home.

Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, (Professor), Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje is Professor and former Chair of the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as well as former Director of the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive. Her research on the music of Dagbon, with special emphasis on the fiddle, began in Fall 1972 when she was a doctoral exchange student at the University of Ghana, Legon. Since that time, not only has continued her research in northern Ghana, but she has examined fiddling in other parts of Africa, including Nigeria, The Gambia, and Ethiopia.

Professor DjeDje is author and editor of several books on African music: Fiddling in West Africa: Touching the Spirit in Fulbe, Hausa, and Dagbamba Cultures (2008); Turn Up the Volume! A Celebration of African Music (1999); African Musicology: Current Trends, Vol. 1 (co-edited with William Carter, 1989); African Musicology: Current Trends, Vol. 2 (1992); Distribution of the One String Fiddle in West Africa (1980). She has also written numerous articles on African and African-American music that have appeared in various scholarly journals. At present, she is conducting research on fiddling in African American cultures. Professor DjeDje has presented lectures and scholarly papers on various aspects of African and African-American music at conferences, workshops, and seminars throughout North America (the United States and Canada), Africa (Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia), Europe (the United Kingdom), and Asia (China). She has also served as President and Vice President of the Southern California Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology as well as Second Vice-President of the Society for Ethnomusicology. In addition, she has been a board member on a number of professional music organizations and has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). For her publication on Fiddling in West Africa, she was awarded, in 2009, the Alan Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology for the best book, and in 2010, she received the Kwabena Nketia Book Prize (the inaugural award) from the Society for Ethnomusicology African Music Section for the most distinguished book published on African music.

Abass Braimah, (Assistant Professor), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carleton University), Ottawa

Dr. Abass Braimah is born and raised in Tamale, Ghana where he received his early education. In 1986 he won a government scholarship to study engineering in Bulgaria where he graduated with a Master of Engineering in Structural Engineering. Dr, Braimah returned to Ghana and completed a one-year national service. During this time Dr. Braimah travelled widely in the three northern regions visiting numerous villages and interacting with and appreciating the lives and challenges of the youth and peoples of Northern Ghana. After working in Ghana for a short period, Dr. Braimah got admission to Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada where he received a Master of Science Engineering and a Doctoral Degree. He is currently assistant professor of Infrastructure Protection and International Security, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

Dr. Braimah is founding member of Dagbon Net – a discussion group on development of Dagbon and Northern Ghana and an incorporated non-governmental organization in Canada. Dagbon Net has in the past 10 years or so been involved in a lot of projects to provide books to second cycle and tertiary educational institutions in Northern Ghana, provided furniture to deprived primary schools and donation of medical equipment to the Tamale Teaching Hospital. Dr. Braimah also owns and maintains a website – dedicated to providing news and information on the history, culture and traditions of the people of Northern Ghana.

Ismael M. Montana, (Assistant Professor) Department of History, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb
Dr. Ismael Montana is a historian of slavery in Muslim Africa. Dr. Montana was born and raised in Tamale, Ghana, where he obtained his pre-college education before embarking on a bachelors and post-graduate studies in Tunisia, Malta and Canada. He holds masters’ degrees in History (York University), and Diplomacy and International Relations from the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (University of Malta), and received his PhD in African History from York University (Toronto). He is an Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
Dr. Montana has published numerous articles on his research and co-edited (with Paul Lovejoy and Behnaz A. Mirzai) Islam, Slavery and Diaspora (Trenton; New Jersey: 2009). A newly elected member of the West Africa Research Association’s (WARA) Board of Directors, he is a Principal Investigator of a major digitization research project aimed at digitizing and preserving historical archives in the Public Records and Archives Administration (PRAAD) in Tamale, northern Ghana.