Atta Annan Mensah, ethnomusicologist and part-time faculty member

Retired part-time faculty member, Professor Atta Annan Mensah (right) has died. Professor Mensah, a world-renowned Africanist ethnomusicologist, was an adjunct faculty member in the Music Department of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts from 1994 to 1997.

Ranked amongst the most respected ethnomusicologists on and beyond the shores of the African continent, Mensah was equally at home with the music history, theory and compositional and performance practices of the western world and Asia, as well as the musical cultures of the African continent in general. As an educator he was a mentor to many young and older musicians and served at a number of universities including the University of Ghana and the University of Zambia.

His academic career began when he joined the faculty at the Kumasi College of Technology (now Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology) in Ghana, in 1951. Mensah was the first head of the Music Section at Radio Ghana in 1956, and also served as the first head of the Music Division of the School of Music & Drama at the University of Ghana.

Mensah later played an integral role in establishing the performing arts programs at Makerere University in Uganda (1971 -1974), the University of Cape Coast (1975-1981) and the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, (1981-1985).

After retiring in 1985, he remained professionally active as a visiting professor at York University and also at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio (1985 -1987) and eventually returned to the University of Ghana as head of the Department of Music and acting director of the School of Performing Arts. In 1993 he returned to Toronto, where he maintained his professional activities with his adjunct appointment at York University. 

Prof. Mensah is survived by his wife of 50 years, five adult children and nine grandchildren. He will be laid to rest on March 24 in Winneba, Ghana. Enquiries and messages can be sent to