In 1943 he enlisted in the Office of Strategic Services, a branch of the United States Army which dealt with overt and covert operations in World War II. He returned to Accra in the same year and joined the Spectator Daily as a reporter under the editorship of Robert Wuta-Ofei. In addition he occupied various journalistic positions including editor of “Daily Echo”, “Gold Coast Independent” and “Star of West Africa” between 1950 and 1952. He brought disc-jockeying to Ghana in 1944 doing jazz programmes whilst working at the Gold Coast Broadcasting Service under the name Guy Warren. In 1951, he did a series of jazz programmes for the British Broadcasting Service, becoming the first African to host programmes with the service. He worked at Station E.L.B.C., the National Broadcasting Service of Liberia as assistant director and resident DJ between 1953 and 1955. He teamed up with the likes of E.T. Mensah and others to form The Tempos which is considered the greatest jazz band of all time in Africa. He left for Chicago in 1955 and joined the Gene Esposito Band as co-leader, percussionist and arranger. This was the band that helped him record his first album Africa Speaks America Answers (Decca, 1956), which has sold over a million copies since its release. This album established Ghanaba’s reputation as the musician who established the African Presence in jazz. African music was popular but it had not been integrated with world music in that Ghanaba fused them together. Later musicians like Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Osibisa were those who succeeded in popularising world wide the music he had innovated. Ghanaba was innovative but not famous. During his stay in America he met and worked with the likes of Duke Ellington, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and many others. By 1974 he was living in Ghana and on 1 July 1974 had changed his name to Ghanaba. He continued to make music until his death on 22 December 2008.

Ghanaba was born to Susana Awula Abla Moore, a great beauty of her time, and Richard Mabuo Akwei founder and first headmaster of Ghana National School, Accra. As a youngster Ghanaba was a boisterous free spirit who found very little peace and comfort with the strict establishmentarian demeanour of his father. His father was a very well known and respected gentleman. A fine disciplined man of the middle-class gentry of Accra who was himself a renowned educationist and an excellent Sports Administrator in his own right. Richard Akwei founded the famous Akwei Memorial School in the heart of Accra and is credited with being the first Ghanaian Chief Executive of what was then known as the Central Organization of Sports (COS) now referred to as the Sports Council.
Ghanaba was married twice and had six children. His first son, Guy Warren Jr aka ‘Odinga Oginga’, is an artist who specialises in sculpting, painting and carving. He currently lives in New York City. His second child is Glenn Gillespie Warren also called 'Ghanababa' (The son of Ghanaba). He is a jazz drummer who featured on the album, That Happy Feeling(Safari 1979). He recorded Bomdigi (Safari 2008) the last album Ghanaba featured in 2008. Gamal Abdel Nasser Warren aka The President, Ghanaba’s third son, was named after president Nasser of Egypt, with the permission and blessings of the great man himself, which was contained in a letter written to Ghanaba. He is a political science student. His fourth son Gamaliel Joseph Warren also inherited Ghanaba’s musical talents as jazz a drummer. He is currently based in Gary, Indiana. In 1976, he met and married Mrs Felicia Ghanaba, a Togolese living in Ghana. A year later they had a daughter whom they named Midie (“mine”) Ghanaba. Ghanaba had always wanted a daughter and the birth of Midie brought him a lot of joy. In 1982 the couple had a second daughter they named Gye Nyame Hosanna Ghanaba. At home, Ghanaba was a very kind husband and loving father. Ghanaba was a man of honour and he stood strongly by whatever he believed in. He taught his children to always have patience and to love unconditionally.

Although he released his first album Africa Speaks, America Answers with Decca records in 1956, he was working in music long before that. He began his career as a disk-jockey in 1944 with several jazz programmes on Gold Coast Broadcasting Service and Z.O.Y Accra. Ghanaba described his performance on the drums as love making. He saw the African drums as a woman who could not be satisfied. “Is that all?” is what the drums seemed to ask after a hefty performance and to which he would respond “I will be back another time for another session”. The punch and power in him easily tore apart the vinyl covering on the Western jazz drums but not the animal skin covering the African drums. Nii Anum Telfer describes climbing on stage with Ghanaba as a feeling “I will never forget!” Bang!!! A fire cracker would announce their entrance, “… then we were transported into another realm, a new world, a world we’ve never been in before.” In addition the music he created was similar to paintings that brought to mind images of Africa. Once before a show, he appeared backstage in authentic African wear. However, the club owner (African Room) was forcing him to wear an Uncle Tom outfit, complete with a torn and tattered straw hat which was the norm for all Calypso and African musicians at the time. Ghanaba stood his ground and adamantly refused to change, from then on everybody started to dress like him both on and off stage.
His first album Africa Speaks, America Answers was recorded on the Decca Records label. It wasn’t initially a success story. However, genius recognizes genius and it quickly became an underground collector’s item, a base reference point for all forms of African inspired music. It established Ghanaba’s reputation as a credible musician who established the African presence in Jazz. His debut album cross-fertilized African and Western rhythms and introduced pure authentic African rhythms and instrumentation into Jazz. In 1964, Decca Records in collaboration with the German musician Bert Kaempfert released an orchestral version of ‘That Happy Feeling’, the most popular song on Africa Speaks, American Answers on the Swinging Safari album. It became a hit, took the world by storm and went platinum.
A year later, he worked on the release of his sophomore effort Theme for African Drums (RCA Victor, 1958). For this album he wanted to use voices, drums and a trombone, with an overall African influence. He collaborated with the great trombone player Lawrence Brown on the album, Brown told him what his was doing was not common in jazz and that it put him one step ahead of the [others]. My Story saw him give the recording of his lifetime; he described the song as the story of a “man who had at long last won the battle of the spirits.”
In December 1959 readers of Drum Magazine voted Ghanaba as the number one drummer in a poll conducted by the magazine.
His third effort African Rhythms (Decca, 1962) was supposed to be released a year earlier with Columbia Records, but the deal fell through. He then teamed up Martin Salkin and Milt Gabeler both of Decca Records and together the album was released in 1962. This album was important to him because he felt it was a perfect album, direct from his soul with no adulteration or filteration. Guy Warren was truly a genius, all who heard his music could not dispute this fact. As a result, he is listed in the Encyclopaedia of Jazz and many other valuable and informative books on Jazz music as a trail blazer who first injected African rhythms and instrumentation into main stream jazz music. He knew his subject thoroughly and was extremely resourceful and well informed in his chosen field of Jazz. He once performed in the early 1970s at a concert organised at the Ohene Djan stadium in Accra the crowd walked out on him. It was at a time he had given up on live performances and had literally hung up his drumsticks because of the uninspiring cultural atmosphere and lack of respect shown to his art by the political structures and society. He only released two albums in the 1970s The African Soundz(RCA Victor, 1972) and The Divine Drummer(1978). He asked Nii Anum Telfer who worked with him to trace a letter from Africa Obonu, later to be known as Ghanababii, a drums and percussion ensemble based at La in Accra that had written to Ghanaba. It was after Ghanababii were contacted that he began to perform again. He played a lot of gigs including the monthly Free South Africa shows he and Nii Anum Telfer organized at the Accra Community Centre in solidarity with Nelson Mandela then in prison and the people of South Africa who were fighting against apartheid. By March 1979 he had brought together Zagba Oyortey, Ofei Nkansah, Wendy Addae, Dorothy Gordon (aiti-KACE), Akuoko, Akwasi Adu Amankwa, Anthony Akoto Ampaw(Che-Che), Fui Tsikata, Prof. Akilagpa Swayer, Nii Kwate Owoo, George Quaynor-Mettle, Takyiwa Manu, Kwaku Opoku, F. Ato Austin and James Quarshie. Their aims and objectives were to collect, preserve, document and promote African arts and culture. During the Soul to Soul concert held in Accra on 8 March 1971. He gave a thunderous performance with an ensemble of gourd players from Benin.
Music 1980-2008.
Ghanaba moved from his Achimota Residence to the SamSam Valleys at the Korleman Village during the early 80s in an attempt to get away from civilization. Although he didn't release any major albums during this period he remained active in the music industry in Ghana. He was instrumental in the set up of the Musicians Union of Ghana and led the union as its National President from 1989 to 1992. As president he advocated the need for Ghanaian musicians to use indigenous musical instruments, and these were not mere empty words since he literally lived what he preached. Ghanaba’s greatest work in his opinion is the African Talking Drums interpretation of the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel. In 1981, in recognition of his versatility and mystical powers he had over the African Drums, he was enstooled as Odomankoma Kyrema (The Divine Drummer) by Aklowa, the African Heritage Village, based at Takley near London, England. Three historical concerts in dedication of Africa’s Contribution to the World took place at the Royal Albert Hall, London in March, 1986. From this period he mostly performed his music at various shows at the National Theatre, the Goethe-Institut, the Dubois centre and other similar places in Ghana. In addition to learning from books Ghanaba also liked to share ideas with other worthwhile musicians. He was introduced to Robyn Scshulkowsky the leading female drummer from the U.S. living in Germany by Sabine Hentzch of the Goethe-Institut in Accra. When he met Robyn he said “My whole life I thought I was the only one on earth who is crazy enough to deal with music the way I do. And now I have to recognize that there is another one; a woman, a white one.” In 1992 he also set up and edited “Hwe” (Observe) a weekly newspaper. In February 2005 during the Black History Month celebrations, Ghanaba was awarded a ‘Life Time Achievement Award’ at the W. E. B. Dubois Centre in Accra. He passed away on 22 December 2008 to join his ancestors.

Ghanaba was more than just a gifted artiste, he was one of the pioneers of the African renaissance. From a very young age he believed strongly in staying true to his African roots. He showed this by dropping out of Achimota in 1942 because “I was bored stiff with my studies and the stern discipline of the college which attempted to change me into an Englishman.” He was so proud of his African heritage that everything he did portrayed his love for Africa; his music, the way he lived and the things he stood for and even in the clothes he wore. He explained that “I have experimented with all and have found my current dressing to be the most comfortable and sensible.” His goal was to make the African presence felt in world music. Some people made fun of him, others called him crazy.But he did not care, as he always said “I am way ahead of my time.” His belief in the culture of his people was absolute. This led him to change his name from Gamaliel Warren Kpakpo Akwei to Guy Warren of Ghana to Kofi Ghanaba. On the 1st of July 1974 on the anniversary of Ghana’s Republic Day he changed his name to Ghanaba. Ghanaba was politically active and concerned with development in Africa and Ghana in particular. He was disturbed by the desire for many Ghanaians to settle for material possessions manufactured from outside the country at the expense of the best from their own country. In the affairs of state Ghanaba was a member of three hand picked intellectuals by Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah to give advice on political, spiritual and personal matters. He repeated the same service to Jerry John Rawlings when he became head of state. In the 70’s he teamed up with African Obonu later known as the Ghanababii and others to perform the monthly Free South Africa Shows. These were organized at the Accra Community Centre in solidarity with Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa who were at the time fighting apartheid. Other shows were organised to commemorate important dates in African history like Namibia’s Independence Day and also to honour Africans such as Azumah Nelson and Ike Quartey for their achievements. His great intellectual hunger was sated by voracious reading. This was evidenced by the sign he had up in his house “I would rather read”. He collected many books, newspapers etc. and hoped that once properly catalogued they could be preserved and used by future generations. The New York University has expressed interest in his collections and this has lead a professor of African Studies at NYU to establish the African Heritage Library in Accra. Most of the material comes from Ghanaba’s collections. Decades earlier however, he had wanted to donate it to the Government of Nigeria because of their commitment to the second edition of the World Fesitval of Black Arts in 1977.
A true patriot and Pan- Africanist, he opined that if political and economic developments do not go hand in hand with cultural developments no meaningful progress would be made. Ghanaba lived fully, but like his mentor Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the legacy of his works appear to be far ahead of his time and are yet to be better understood and applied to the benefit of Africa and mankind.