This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Prof. Francis Nii-Yartey, 69, born on January 26, 1946 and passed away on November 22, 2015. We will remember him forever.

Watch the Tribute: Bukom Boy


Dress Code: White

Night of Tributes & Performances at the National Theatre of Ghana:
7th January 2016 at 7pm.

Wake Keeping: Friday, 8th January 2016 at his residence (Madina New Road) 8pm.

Burial Service: 9th January 2016. State House Forecourt. 8am

Thanksgiving Service: 10th January. Bukom Square. 10am

Interment: 9th January 2016 at: Private Burial.




Posted by Halifu Osumare on November 22, 2019
I first met Nii Yartey in 1976 when he was just appointed as Director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble andI was an wide-eyed African American just visiting Ghana for the first time to learn the dance. He was always gracious and giving. We continued our friendship in the U.S. at dance conferences and in Ghana on my subsequent trip. He always had (has) a giving, creative spirit, and I miss him.
Posted by Amarteorkor Amarteifio on January 26, 2019
Nii, my brother and friend, it s that time again. So much to tell you and I don’t even know where to start. I know you are at peace and happy where you are. Over here, I am still trying to find somebody so talented as you are. We all learnt and did so much together because of your humility. Such a giant in the arts and yet never too big to receive suggestions when offered. As such nobody over here has been able to produce anything near what you were able to do here. I love you Nii and yes you will be forever missed. God bless you wherever you are.
Posted by Jeannine Osayande on November 22, 2018
Hummmmm, three years. God Bless you and the family.
...At Ursinus College we are using your book this semester for our studies on Diasporic African Dance traditions. What a gem! Give thanks.
Posted by Ebibimanmu Amandze on September 7, 2018
Hmmmm, I am shocked today. I never knew that Nii Yartey is dead. I was doing research today and was checking out Ghanaian performing arts masters/experts abroad and in one of the photos, I saw a memorial card. OMghosh! 
In the first place, I wish the bereaved family my deepest Yaako. Nii Yartey was the artistic director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble at the African Studies Department, University of Ghana when we were students in Theater Arts ( Dance). My contemporaries are Eric ( now Kwame Ansah -Brew of USA, Poulele Lekuu Amartus, Agnes, Johnson Edu) Together we were called ASSPA. Our dream then was to make sure all the Dance Students travel abroad after graduation. Nii Yartey, Oh Nii Sowah, Kelly Sowah, Dr. Martin Owusu, Sandy Arkust, Prof. Adinku, Mr. Newman, Ms Kwakwa were our mentors. Together, they encouraged us to soar to the ultimate level and now I can boast that all of us are abroad as ambassadors of the Ghanaian culture and arts. May God grant Nii Yartey a perfect rest. Such a pillar lost but we are assured that Nothing Just Happens, His Word Says.    Harold Akyeampong ( LV-Nevada)-0907-18
Posted by Amarteorkor Amarteifio on January 26, 2018
Nii, today is your earth day oooo. You are sorely missed and we think and talk about you often. The seeds you sow here on earth have also turned into beautiful trees. God bless you wherever you are and grant you peace.
Posted by Halifu Osumare on November 22, 2017
Nii Yartey and I were the same age, and I first met him in 1976 at Legon when he first became Director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble. we remained a close friends, and we always had an ease of communication because we were on the same page: bring dance to the masses and show love. I'm adding a new photo of he, Oh! Nii, Terry Ofosu, and myself in 2008 at Legon, the day after Barack Obama was elected. I orchestrated a spontaneous dance and drum celebration, and Nii Yartey was fully present. Miss him much!
Posted by Amarteorkor Amarteifio on November 22, 2016
Does a leaf, when it falls from the tree in winter, feel defeated by the cold?
The tree says to the leaf: that's the cycle of life. You may think you are going to die, but you live on in me. It's thanks to you that I am alive. Its also thanks to you that I have felt loved because I was able to give shade to a weary traveler....Paulo Coelo

Nii, this is for you.
Posted by Barbara Hampton on May 24, 2016
It is with immeasurable shock and grief at the loss of a dear friend, brother, former classmate, colleague, and much admired and respected artist that I express condolences to the family of the great choreographer, dancer, and dance educator Prof. Francis Nii-Yartey. We studied together at Legon (he from Akuafo Hall and I from Volta Hall) and as graduates embarked on careers and, later, families. We brought our spouses and children together on both sides of the Atlantic for celebrations and simple enjoyment. And we toasted the achievements each of us made as we pursued our careers. 

Prof. Francis Nii-Yartey’s career was illustrious and of great service to Ghana and to the international community of scholars and performers. He also left special imprints on New York City. His teachings and consultancies, albeit informal on occasion, with DanceAfrica at the Brooklyn Academy of Music are among them. One summer he led the Ghana Dance Ensemble in performances at The Aaron Davis Performing Arts Center in Manhattan, the experience of which Harlem will always cherish. During his year at Swarthmore College he enriched and inspired the students and larger audiences when he briefly visited the City University of New York and offered a master class and lecture on Ghana’s dances, which will remain forever emblazoned in their memories. My family was happy to receive and to host him on occasion, and for the majesty of his company and keen intellect we were delighted to share a meal of homemade kenkey or banku when he was in New York and in Pennsylvania. 

Wherever he went—and people across the globe wanted a place on his calendar—he took knowledge about the high quality, the profound and broad impact of Ghana’s dances and related arts. And he demonstrated Ghana’s achievements of excellence in every lecture, every master class, and every performance. It will be difficult moving forward without him, but it is even more difficult to imagine what the world of African dance would be today without the wonderful gifts that his magical hands and feet sculpted into it .

My brother, Nii Yartey, we thank you. We honor you. You left us much too soon, but will remain forever in our memories. Ya wo dzogban minyeminuu From your sister, Adukwei, and her son, Kwabena.

Barbara L. Hampton, Ph.D.
Professor of Music
City University of New York
Posted by Daniel Brown on January 29, 2016
Gone but still in our hearts , the ball is set rolling and knw we seeig the gab left for us, oooo niii who will fill this gab , oh who will fight for us hmmmmm only god knows best , sleep well , we knw ur spirit still lives with us, forever missed.
Posted by Jeannine Osayande on January 27, 2016
One Love on your birthday
From Jeannine
Posted by Amy Appiah on January 26, 2016
Happy Birthday to Prof. Gone but not forgotten
Posted by Amarteorkor Amarteifio on January 26, 2016
Happy Birthday Nii. So much to tell you. Things that only you would understand. Be in the light bro
Posted by Fieshah Amlak on January 9, 2016
Condolences to the Family of Nii.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and looking after me and the group whilst we were in Ghana in July 1983. You opened many doors for us to see the role drumming and dance plays in society, organised dance and music classes with the Institute of African Studies and the dance ensemble in Legon. We were privileged to be taken around your home town to see many festival celebrations in the Ga traditional area and further a field in Anloga, in the Volta region.

You were like my father when I first came to Africa and I was so happy to see you with the dance ensemble when you came to Birmingham, England. I returned to Ghana briefly in 2005 and met you and I was glad we spent some time although very briefly not knowing it would be the last time. I know you touched many hearts here in Birmingham and from all my fellow colleagues.

Rest in peace.

(Nicky Reid) aka Fieshah Amlak
Posted by Seth Gowen Kormieteh-comm... on January 8, 2016
You were a great uncle "the senior brother of my mum Patricia Yarkor Tackie the sister that looks just like" that I never had the chance to meet you when I became of age but all the time saw you in a distance anytime I watch you on tv and at the numerous programs that was displayed at the national theatre. it was my greatest wish to come to the house to meet you but duty called and never the chance to do so. Now I have great joy in me that though you have departed from this physical world that the eyes alone sees you have gone into our hearts where our spirits lives and I say you will forever by us. Uncle Francis as we your nieces and nephews calls you we rest in peace in the bosom of the almighty God till He allows us to see again, uncle "yaa wo Ojogbaaan".
Posted by Mac-Jordan Degadjor on January 8, 2016
Nii-Kwei and Nii Tettey, I am deeply saddened by the loss we both share. I am assured that we will be comforted by Prof. Nii-Yartey memories. I can't imagine how you're feeling right now and I won't pretend to know the loss that you're experiencing. Please know that you're not alone and I'm just a phone call away.
Posted by Abdul Shaibu on January 8, 2016
Dearest Nii Kwei ,
I was saddened to hear about the demise of your loving father. Please take care of yourself and May his soul rest in perfect peace
Posted by Peace Schaffer on January 8, 2016
It"s still very hard to believe that Nii has gone,everyone has gathered to say goodbye and honor you in the best way they can.NII had been a blessing to everyone around him. Someone you would look up to for a role model.Someone you would learn things from, and he is someone you would be inspired by.Nii was a man of emotion.Nii was a man of his opinion, whether you agree or disagree with. .Nii was a man of courage and strength. Those qualities made Nii a person he was. Nii yaa wor dzogbaa. Rest in perfect Peace.`
Posted by Aretha Amoakoh on January 7, 2016
Nii, you left so sudden without notice. The foot prints you left will forever be cherished and remembered . Nii Tete- Fio will continue to make you proud , we miss you dearly. May you rest in peace.
Posted by Andrews K. Agyemfra-Tette... on January 6, 2016
My Most Eximious Honourable Professor,

So, who will continue to choreograph all these pioneering musical works that I have been quietly transcribing and programming 24/7 over the past 15 years for Professor Nketia and the Field, most of which you and I presented together to coveted acclaim at the National Theatre in 2003 and 2004?

Your courage and boldness, coupled with your consistent ability to get the job done, come hell or high water, shall always be my undying principle!

Your solemn maxim still rings in my ears: "Never chase the skunk into the Korle Lagoon, nor wrestle with a pig, because you will all smell the same!"

Now a little English:

Mantse-Onukpa-Nuumo Yartey,

Although you were an incorrigibly nonconformous firebrand, (because you placed imagination and innovation above mere education and certification), your underlying unorthodoxy never entirely bordered on the antidisestablishmentarianistical! You humbly upheld, defended, transcended, as well as nimbly defeated entire systems!

Your philoprogenitive postures, as juxtaposed to the anthropomorphical characteristics of the Almighty God are indubitably theomorphic!

Mathematically speaking, Sir, your achievement quotient has not only been statistically stimulating, therefore demanding further calculation and analysis, but also that your subjective lack of polarisation and no-nonsense demeanour, enabled a whole generation of dance students and professionals to emulate your epochal example, and to trust you implicitly, thereby lending incontrovertible credence to the universal assertion, that, anokwale, you are a man of inexpugnable record, inexpungible craft and inextirpable passion!

In your current apotheosis, as you proceed forth into the pantheon of the Greats, to join Amu and Mawere Opoku and all our ancestors before them, we bid thee Goodnight, Goodbye, Godspeed!

Until we meet again,

Yawor diiinnnnn!!!

Posted by Felicia Asampana on January 6, 2016
Nii to me was a gift, a great man and a star fallen from heaven right into my arms. The first test for a great man is his humility and no doubt Nii possessed all these qualities – a good listener, an advisor, a good communicator, a teacher, and of course a good friend. You were very respectful, patient, tolerant, hardworking, selfless, compassionate, sweet, calm, trustworthy, dependable, disciplined and content. Rest in Peace
Posted by Nii Moffatt on January 6, 2016
Prof. permit us to call you Nii, because that is how we have known and called you all these years, It is difficult to change now. Nii you were as solid as a rock and taught us to be disciplined and focused in all we did.

You drilled us like soldiers and ensured that we adapted to your techniques because you made us understand that it was necessary for us as dancers. You were our father, brother and friend.

We did not only dance and learned from you, interpret your ideas, which eventually turned or transformed into the pieces, which all have come to enjoy, but shared our thoughts and problems with you as well.

By the time you retired as our Artistic Director/Choreographer, we knew you had left so much for us to continue from where you had left. Even then you still involved us in all your programmes both here and abroad.

You made Ghanaian dance very popular and we took our bows around the world with great pride because we knew you had turned us into stars that shone around the globe under your leadership.

Nii you virtually plucked some of us from our towns and villages raw and turned us into stars. Your training regime was tough and it took some of us time to realize that it was all part of shaping us into what we have become today.

But how sad! Today we are here to mourn, because you have left this life suddenly without saying goodbye. Nii travelling is part of our job because we need to showcase what we have here to others around the world.

So your trip to India was one of the many that you often took to lift high the flag of Ghana. But this time we heard you had fallen ill and then gone into a coma and eventually dead.

It was unbelievable. Nii has moved on to join the ancestors. We cannot complain because we know that at the appointed time, each one of us will go to meet our maker and all we can say now is, “Thank you Lord for the life of our father, big brother and friend.

Nii lived life to the full and has left so much for us to work with. Even though our grief is deep and our sorrow profound we are comforted because we know Nii sewed seeds that are already germinating across the world and particularly in Ghana and Africa and so his name will live on for as long as his works are propagated by us.

We say our final farewell to you today with tears in our eyes, but we know your spirit lives on and we will be guided by what you have taught us all these years. We will not disappoint you but continue to lift the flag of Ghana high wherever we find ourselves.

Fare Thee Well Nii
Yaa Wor Dzogbann
Rest In Perfect Peace
Posted by Prof. Alex Appiah on January 6, 2016
Nii, what a sad situation. My friend, rest in peace we will all miss you. I was at the Institute of African Studies upon your return from the University of Illinois. At the time, I was serving as a Teaching Assistant-National Service and helping with the Youth-Wing of School of Performing Arts and mostly working with youth from the University Primary School on Campus. I engaged you in helping create a viable dance tradition throughout schools in Accra. Rest in Peace till we meet again. Thanks for your contribution to enhancing traditions started by Emeritus Professor Mawere-Opoku.
Posted by Dr. Franklin Yartey on January 6, 2016

Nii Yartey and I were privileged to have spent decades at the feet of a group of visionary, passionate and creative personalities who were leading the creation of a new national culture. Ephraim Amu, Kwabena Nketia, Efua Sutherland, Jawa Apronti, Joe DeGraft and of course your primary mentor Mawere Opoku. You often spoke of how the unique experience offered by the Institute of African Studies expanded your mind, released your creative energies  and set you on a path which you could hardly have dreamed of as a child.

Nii Yartey, you never forgot your origins neither did you fail to acknowledge those who had helped you to grow along the way. But the exciting thing was that you when you were ready to soar off on your own creative journey, you were not afraid to depart from the revered patterns established by your mentors. For many years afterwards, you spoke like a seer. You warned of the death of our culture without change and growth.

Sometimes you and I would argue over the need for the Ghana Dance Ensemble to act also as a living archive in order to preserve and propagate the classical dance forms of our people. We always ended up respecting each other’s views because we both knew in our heart of hearts that there was room for both preservation and change.

You often called me ‘Seestah’ in acknowledgement of your position as one of my mother’s sons. You were one of those who gave her the quiet satisfaction that she and those artists of her generation had been blessed to meet talented persons to whom they could pass on the insights and passion for establishing African arts firmly into the future. To you she was a precious source of pride and admiration and sound advice. After her death in 1996 and up to a few months ago, you would repeat to me that one of your greatest regrets was that you had not taken the time off to heed a call she had sent out to you, to come and see her for an urgent discussion.

But you indeed took excellent care of the knowledge, passion and insight passed on to you. You exuded the positive energy and confidence of an African artiste who knew his worth and the sheer value of his artistic heritage.
Often I listened to you as you shared your vision for dance in Ghana and its place in Africa and the world. You were impatient with all those who did not seem to understand that dance, if handled professionally, had a great potential to put the imprint of the University of Ghana and the country at large on the global consciousness. I look back at the strategic plans and curricula that you helped to develop. I recall meetings we attended together in the University, in the Ministries responsible for Culture and among artists and cultural activists. I remember us fighting on the same side for the recognition of the power of the arts to transform. 
The fact is that we have lost a consummate artiste and visionary champion of the arts at a time when we could least afford it. I must hope that actors in the world of dance and the arts in general will honour him by rising above parochial interests and picking up his far-reaching ideas, his discipline and his passion.

As for me, strange as it may seem, I console myself with the personal eclectic memories that dance before my eyes of our mutual respect and concern for each other and glimpses into the past: Now I am showing his daughter to the rising sun. There is Nii solicitously helping me down the stairs,walking me to my car and admonishing me to stop working so hard . Now he is insisting that I edit his writing… But we always had too much to talk and dream about : And so much to Do! So Nii, as you always said with a smile on your face when we had to suspend our discussions: - TO BE CONTINUED!
Posted by Mavis Addotey on January 5, 2016

The late Prof. Francis Nii-Yartey joined the staff of the University of Ghana on October 1, 1971 as a Production Assistant/Stage Manager. He was attached to the Ghana Dance Ensemble (GDE) and while there, proved himself an adept performer. He was identified as having the potential to understudy Emeritus Prof. Albert Mawere Opoku of blessed memory, the founding Artistic Director of the Ensemble. He was awarded a scholarship to study for an MA in Dance in the University of Illinois, USA. He returned in 1975 and was appointed Lecturer in Dance in the School of Music and Drama (Now School of Performing Arts).

In 1977, on the advice of the then Director, School of Music and Drama and Institute of African Studies, Prof. J. H. Kwabena Nketia, he accepted a teaching appointment in the Institute of African Studies (IAS) as Lecturer-in-Charge of teaching Dance in IAS and Artistic Director, succeeding Prof. Mawere Opoku. In 1980, he was designated Research Fellow and promoted Senior Research Fellow in November, 1987. He ended his academic career at the rank of Associate Professor with a significant number of publications and numerous productions to his credit. He was a visiting scholar to a number of academic institutions including Swarthmore College, and Keene State University in the United States of America. 

In recognition of his work, the National Commission on Culture engaged him in 1992 to help establish a Resident National Dance at the National Theatre where he was on secondment from the University until his retirement in 2006. He returned to IAS in 2008 on post-retirement contract and later served as Head of Department in the Dance Department of the School of Performing Arts.

Prof. Nii-Yartey in the course of his career led the GDE to tour many the USA, Canada, USSR, India and many countries in Europe and Africa, He also attended various workshops and conferences, serving as a Speaker or Resource Person. As part of his professional development, he was also attached to the National Dance and Theatre Company of Jamaica in 1979 at the Institute of Jamaica and the African Caribbean Institute in Kingston, Jamaica. Professor F. Nii-Yartey over the years became highly sought after as a choreographer and collaborated with several world-class colleagues including Nana Nilsen (Denmark), Monty Thompson (Virgin Islands), H. Patten/Harley Matthews (United Kingdom) and Meno Preto (Cape Verde), Reginald Yates/Jeanine Osayande (USA) and Jacque Van Meel (The Netherlands), Germaine Acogny (Senegal/France) and United Cultures for Development Network (South Africa). 

Examples of his outreach work abound. He led the Swedru Brass Band and Masquerades and Stilt-Walkers to participate in Street Music Festival in London and Glasgow in 1988 for example, and was called upon on numerous occasions to choreograph national and international pageants, spectacles and events including the 2011 African Union Day Celebrations. His contribution and impact on the Arts Industry at home and abroad cannot be quantified and his career is truly a study in how new areas of knowledge can be opened up in African universities and the ways in which academia can interface fruitfully with development. Even though he had a busy schedule, he accepted a request from the IAS to act as Artistic Director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble for the brief period between September, 2015 and July 2016 in the absence of the substantive Artistic Director, who was on Fulbright Scholarship abroad. This was to have been a special opportunity for the Ensemble to benefit from the accumulated professional experience of its world-famous alumnus  

On assumption of office, he received an invitation from agents of the Indian government to select and lead a group of drummers to represent Ghana at the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit which was scheduled for October 24-29, 2015 in Delhi, India. For him, this was the opportunity to give the Ghana Dance Ensemble a boost and he thus did not hesitate in recommending the GDE to take up the challenge. It was while he was on the trip to India that he fell ill, and unfortunately passed on November 22, 2015.

Prof. Nii-Yartey will be remembered for his high sense of humor. He always referred to himself as the “Bukom Boy” of Accra. He was passionate about his work and contributed genuinely to the various committees to which he was appointed over the years. Professor Nii-Yartey was a disciplinarian to the core, and showed tough love in training the large number of dancers and performers from all over the world with whom he worked. He will also be remembered for the many lives he touched both at home and abroad and for show-casing the principles of African Studies as a field.

We at the Institute of African Studies are painfully aware of the loss of a standard bearer and a colleague on whom we were counting for knowledge and inspiration. In spite of this, we must thank The Creator for lending him to us for a while and pray that he rests peacefully for he has indeed played his part.


Posted by Agyeman Ossei on January 4, 2016
Only a polite man like Nii Yartey can make an artistic commentary on the squalor of Bukum and keep it inoffensive and aesthetically pleasing. My memories of one of Bukum's rehearsals in 1988 at the Dance Hall of the School of Performing Arts, Legon, still remains most memorable of all the creations of this dance iconoclast I respect. Ghana and Africa will forever be thankful for your legacy.
                                        Agyeman Ossei
Posted by Nii Moffatt on December 31, 2015
From humble beginnings
You rose to become a
dance colossus. 
Developing and promoting dance.
to many you gave a chance
to shine and glitter as stars,
to take bows if even on Mars.
Nii, you reached the pinnacle
your trade and sold articles
of your creativity across the world
that put Ghana on the map.
You crafted dance to the joy
many in Ghana, Africa and beyond.
Your distinct footprints would
enable others to walk in paths
you had trodden for posterity’s
Go on as others before you did,
to tell the ancestors what you achieved.
Tell them you passed with distinction
and left legacies that would root
in our culture, show them the way
to what is right and proper.
Now you can drink and dine with them
that left before you.
work is done, good worker.
The path has been cleared for your passage,
to the great beyond and guides wait
to lead you to them who would keep you
Quicken your steps, divine dancer
for the drums beat the message of your arrival
as the atentenben begin to whine in solemn harmony.
We salute you! For you have played your part.
welldone, welldone, welldone, welldone
The fontonfrom proclaims 21 times
Receive your 21 dance salute
Take your place brother… Take your place
For you have earned a place among them that are GREAT.
MY journey into the fold of the arts family was influenced by a number of people as a young man. The first on the list was the late Saka Acquaye whom I watched most evenings rehearse “Obadjen” a musical with his group, the late Evans Hunter and Emary Brown who held my hand on the drama trail and Edward Ameyibor who pointed the road for me in the area of journalism.
  Then came Nii Yartey who out of the blue with tact and cunning got me to work with him for over a decade. Even when I managed to slip out of his hands, he still managed to get me to work with him on many of his dance projects.
  I owe some of the sharp skills in administration, the discipline and sound work ethics I possess to this gem of a man who decided that I had something to offer the Ghana Dance Ensemble and the University of Ghana.
  In 1986, while working as the Public Relations Manager of the Arts Council of Ghana, I was approached by F. Nii Yartey (The F remains that even though it is Francis) to join the Ghana Dance Ensemble, based at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana. He explained why he needed me.
  According to him, he wanted to have a National Dance Company like the Guinea Ballet, which travels around the world and has made Guinea very popular while raking in so much money for that country.
“Moff, we have more dances from our many ethnic groups than they have and yet we are not making it as we should. Please, join me to push Ghana on the map of the world,” he said to me.
I told him I would think about it.
However, I did not even have that luxury of thinking about it and within a month, I was a staff of the Ghana Dance Ensemble. The rest is history. We researched dances, ran workshops and participated in dance festivals and engagements at theatres across the world.
  Nii was a genius in every sense of the word and managed to spot talents as soon as he came into contact with them. He moulded them to suit his purpose, which was dance and included them in his team. Dance was his life and just editing his articles and papers on dance and its development was enough tutorial for me to understand that performing art.
  He was the epitome of strength and never seemed to tire and worked the group like a military set–up, drilling dancers and drummers into sharp disciplined performers who were not allowed to bleach, grow unnecessarily fat or belong to other groups apart from the Ghana Dance Ensemble.
  Many who complained about the drill, after exiting the company, eventually praised his strict training regime especially on joining other professional dance companies.
  The production and administrative staff, closed only after he called it a day. Not many people who joined the company lasted long but thankfully, his executive team of Grace Djabaki Djabatey, Production Manager, myself, Theatre and PR Manager, David Amoo, Stage Manager and our Secretary Juliana Hanson stuck together through thick and thin. We ate together and watched each other’s backs, so to speak.
It was, however, not always rosy. There were times when tempers rose purely in the area of work. This happened mostly when there was an upcoming production.
  Nii was a perfectionist and wanted everything done to the last detail. That was not always possible and the frustrations and anguish turned into shouts and threats, which became normal after the production. He could not stand to see anyone moody or out of sorts especially if he thought he was the cause.
  We often took advantage of this soft nature of his to keep him in line and sober during rehearsals for major productions. His ready smile and affable nature was extremely infectious and I am yet to find anyone who does not like Nii.
  A believer in our culture and a true patriot who recognised the need to have a sound foundation of our dance, music and dramatic traditions, he fought and employed Prof. Emeritus Mawere Opoku and Saka Acquaye who were both retired as resource persons to impart their vast knowledge to the group.
He did everything to ensure that the National Dance Company was the best in Ghanaian dance. I don’t know if the University of Ghana has forgiven us for moving out with the company to become the resident company of the National Theatre.
  He, together with Dr Mohammed Ibn Abdallah, fought for the autonomy of the National Dance and Drama companies to enable them blossom to the fullest. One of his major concerns as Chairman of the National Theatre of Ghana Board, was the plan by the National Theatre to integrate the national companies, which he believed would lead to the curtailment of their independence, something we know was not won on a silver platter.
  The formation of the Noyam Dance Institute was another of his dreams that came into fruition and has successfully trained a number of young people who have become professional dancers holding their own in Ghana and abroad.
  Nii’s creative pieces, which can be classified as classics, were and are still a joy to watch and they would be around for generations to come. Moreover, he trained so many people who would follow his footsteps as his footprints are imprinted at several places across the world.
  Prof. F. Nii Yartey, our plans remain on hold until we meet again because you have taken the lead too early without even a goodbye. What more can I say, except to thank the good Lord for your life, which you lived to the fullest.
  My brother, colleague and friend, farewell! May you be guided to the right path to the great beyond by the light, which will lead you to the ancestors and into the bosom of your maker, where you will enjoy eternal peace.

Nii Yartey Yaa Wo Odjogban
Rest In Perfect Peace
God Be With You
Posted by Daniel Brown on December 31, 2015
Yes we lost the greatest of all, in the art field, Nii ur legacy still remains in our heart , rest in peace proff
Posted by Bob Ramdhanie on December 29, 2015
Francis Nii Yartey

In Memory of……..

I cannot recall the exact year or date

Over three decades ago, on the Legon campus I arrived late

My purpose was, Prof. Nketia to meet

But he had since left Ghana yet it turned out a treat…

A young man was striding with confidence and vim

The receptionist told me, I should call out to him

I did and was greeted, a smile wide and broad

Nii Yartey the young man, and I’ve since thanked the Lord

His car keys he gave me and with me a dancer he sent

To collect my suitcase at the airport, so off we went

Twas my 1st day in Ghana and what a welcome

I was driving and chatting, I had arrived home

The start of that journey has grown ever since then

On dance projects we worked, without any end

A year’s sabbatical in England I brought him to teach

From the art centre I ran, Nii did lot’s of dance outreach

We’ve travelled together and ideas we shared

In Europe, in Ghana, over decades we’ve compared

Our families, our dance notes our dreams and our visions

And many, we’ve realized, with or without opposition

Nii Yartey, my dear friend, he’ll always be

Creative, resourceful and full of energy

His vision was complex, his world without end

I’m truly blessed, to still call him a friend

We’ve joked, we’ve laughed and had a few verbal fights too

But we’ve remained brothers, over thirty years through

His last app to me, 90 year-old Regina Brett wrote,

So I remember him fondly, as from his last message I quote

I am so blessed to have lived enough to have my hair turning grey, 
and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and too many have died before their hair could turn silver.

I like the person I have become.

Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy clothes. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special
Posted by H Patten on December 27, 2015
Professor F. Nii-Yartey – Tribute to a Father, a Brother a Dear Friend – ‘H’ Patten

Nii was a father, a brother, a dear friend,
A strong rock, but a most sensitive and caring example,
Of what a man could and should be.
He touched so many through his artistry,
He knew how to motivate and bring out your best,
Sometimes he had to crush, push and almost break you before,
Moulding, guiding and fixing you,
Assisting you to be whole once again,
An artist much better and greater,
Than you could have ever imagined to be.

Nii was like a chameleon,
Travelling so many countries all over the world,
He adapted and changed, being both friendly and stern,
Humorous and shrewd, he could charm.
But always Nii showed, all the way to his core,
He was a strong Ghanaian man,
A true national treasure!

Nii came to the UK many times,
From the very first time we met back in 1982,
I was told, I was meeting a rare and special man,
As part of the Danse De L’Afrique dance company,
In Birmingham, England we could see,
Nii would change our lives and personally,
Nii said, “Give me one year and I will make you,
The top African male dancer in the UK”,
I gave him six months and with modesty,
I can say I became a top artist.

As a family man, Nii was powerful and gentle,
Not always easy, but open, fair and caring,
He was the pillar that held all together.
A truly wonderful husband, father, brother and son,
Nii balanced the traditional Ga family,
Alongside government ministries,
And his dance families – Ghana Dance Ensemble, Legon;
The National Dance Company; and Noyam
Nii was the channel through which,
Many artists now live all across the globe.

But above all things,
Nii recognised and loved people,
That is why the Almighty has called him home,
So that when it’s our turn and we make that final journey,
Nii will have choreographed the most epic production,
Starring you and me!
Sleep on my beloved brother – Sleep well!

'H' Patten - Artistic Director of Koromanti Arts and 'H' Patten Dance Theatre, Lecturer in Popular Culture and Theology at Canterbury Christ Church University, currently pursuing a PhD in 'Dancehall: a Genealogy of Spiritual Practices in Jamaican Dance'.
Posted by Amarteorkor Amarteifio on December 24, 2015
Nii, would you remember the many great projects we did together
Would you remember our trials and tribulations
would you remember our kenkey sessions with sista Grace and bro Amu
would you, would you
would you remember us when you cross the river
But perhaps there is no memory when you cross over
Go into the light bro. You go.
Posted by Kafui Tay on December 24, 2015
Owuo yi Owuo yia
Meda a menda oo
Owuo di na apakan ebesi ma efikyire
Owuo yi Owuo yia Meda mendaooo
Ewisia ee gyae su..

Dad, why would you not wait a while for me?
Why would did you not tell me?
You will leave us so suddenly?

You have filled our eyes with bitter tears
Our heads are bowed with woe
Because we mourn
I miss you
Yet i shall not forget your last words to me

You said,

I miss those long talks and the encouragement
And the jollof rice you personally cooked and brought to me at the Legon hospital while I felt sick during a performance.

You gave me the opportunity to become who I am and what i aspire to be.

You became the Father who understood me

Thank you

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Halifu Osumare on November 22, 2019
I first met Nii Yartey in 1976 when he was just appointed as Director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble andI was an wide-eyed African American just visiting Ghana for the first time to learn the dance. He was always gracious and giving. We continued our friendship in the U.S. at dance conferences and in Ghana on my subsequent trip. He always had (has) a giving, creative spirit, and I miss him.
Posted by Amarteorkor Amarteifio on January 26, 2019
Nii, my brother and friend, it s that time again. So much to tell you and I don’t even know where to start. I know you are at peace and happy where you are. Over here, I am still trying to find somebody so talented as you are. We all learnt and did so much together because of your humility. Such a giant in the arts and yet never too big to receive suggestions when offered. As such nobody over here has been able to produce anything near what you were able to do here. I love you Nii and yes you will be forever missed. God bless you wherever you are.
Posted by Jeannine Osayande on November 22, 2018
Hummmmm, three years. God Bless you and the family.
...At Ursinus College we are using your book this semester for our studies on Diasporic African Dance traditions. What a gem! Give thanks.
Recent stories

Kelly Anthony

Shared by Kelly Anthony on October 6, 2018

I met Nii at Indiana University, as well.  Nii's spirit touched the lives of so many people and we still carry his spirit with us today.  When he walked into a room, he would bring the sunshine with him.  When a smile appeared on his face, it would light up the room.  These memories of him stay with you so vividly.  He was so rich in spirit and he freely gave his spirit when he engaged with each individual. He consistently brought out the best in others across the globe, which is one of the greatest contributions a human being can make in our world. Thank you for pushing us to achieve a higher level of intensity in our dance performance.  Thank you for seeing in others a greater version of themselves and pushing to bring that to the surface.  Thank you for being such a gift to so many people. 

Shared by Gameli Tordzro on January 15, 2016

Many years ago, Nii approached me with an invitation to work with him in the National Dance Company, but my ambition at the time was to continue studying and my target was to study film directing. After I completed NAFTI and was freelancing as a multi-arts practitioner he asked me again to work with him on a new project - Noyam. I was really excited by that but could not free up the time to get involved. The fact is I knew if to work together with Nii, it had to be with full commitment and even thought I already had many budding projects of my own and could not get involved with Noyam, I never stopped planning to collaborate with Nii. Finally in 2015 this dream came to pass with Nii bringing three young people here to Scotland on the Vessels International Exchange Project. I was also thrilled to introduce him to Researching Multilingually at the Borders project at the University of Glasgow. Now, we had this collaboration we have both waited for going and getting ready to progress it this year. We shared many precious moments in Glasgow and Greenock and on the long Emirates flight back to Accra. It was not difficult for Nii and my research colleagues who came on the trip to Ghana with me to become engrossed in deep intellectual conversations. My friend Tawona who thrives on conversations had found a new friend and many times we departed with Nii saying “… to be continued” in fact, those were the very last words he said to me; “… to be continued”. Now I have a deep understanding why he said that several times to me, and I am not sure but I suspect to many others; “… to be continued” He has left a big legacy; he enriched many of us; he touched lives; he has inspired many; he was kind; he asked a lot of us because he gave a lot of himself; and I have witnessed the passion with which he gave of himself over many years! This is not easily understood by some people. But this is the case when a person’s life and contribution to society is larger than life they are not totally understood by all.

Today, with the warm scarf I got as a gift from Nii when we worked together last August in Greenock, I join many people across the world to celebrate the ‘larger-than-life’ and treasured memories of my dear friend, brother and colleague, Prof Francis Nii Yartey. I had this wrapped around my neck in the cold November morning in Copenhagen when I heard the devastating news of his passing! He has enriched many of us with his life, his work and wisdom. He has touched many hearts with his love and compassion beyond understanding. But in our lives and in what we do we will continue to share his gift.

This is what he kept drawing my attention to when he was here in Scotland and when we were together in Ghana when he kept saying “… to be continued”

Nii de nyuie,

Yatey ne yi blewuu!

Kuwode kple kutome

Gazu nunyuiawode!

Hena mie kodzogbeawo

Gazu kloloe!

Gameli Tordzro

Nii Yartey as an Open Spirit

Shared by Halifu Osumare on January 10, 2016

F. Nii Yartey was a man of Ghanaian culture, but a spirit of the world. This photo was at Ohio University's African Performance Conference in 2006, in which we both presented our research. I have known him since I first went to Ghana in 1976 as a student of African dance, the year he first became the Director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble.  He was always welcoming and sharing with me about Ghanaian dance and his unique artistic vision.  

Then in 2008 during my Fulbright Fellowship, teaching in the Department of Dance Studies and researching the hiplife music movement in Ghana, I interviewed him about his career and his focus on Contemporary African Dance.  His thoughts and visions will be captured in my forthcoming book Dancing in Blackness: A Scholarly Memoir, where l have many quotes from him put in the context of his artistic contributions to African choreography in my chapter, "Dancing in Africa."  

Nii Yartey was a beautiful and giving man who will always be remembered for his open spirit. 

May His Spirit Continue to Dance,

Halifu Osumare, Ph.D.