They traveled all the way from Ghana, Congo, Kenya and Nigeria to enter universities in Turkey. In their new location, they were brought together by music and founded the group, “Highlife”. Today, the five musicians are playing at festivals or venues all over the country.
Emmanuel, the drummer says he had been living in Turkey for six years when the idea of the group emerged. “I’m 27 years old and I’m studying aerospace. I’m an engineer and also a musician, says Emmanuel Quist, 4th-year student of Middle East Technical University (METU) Department of Aerospace Engineering, We were going to church in Turkey. We loved music very much. We sat down with friends in the church and thought ‘why don’t we form a band’ and we formed this group”.
As well as jazz, blues and African music, Highlife plays Turkish sounds, wishing to be close to its audience.
“We worked hard in a studio for 6 months. After that we started to travel, we went all over Kızılay, and we went to venues to ask them if we could play. That’s how we first go on stage.’, explains James Asenji Mwanje, a 4th-year student of METU Petroleum Engineering.
The musicians say they learnt Turkish by playing on the streets and talking to curious passersby wondering what was this African group performing some Turkish music.
“We need to find a job after school, otherwise, we will continue to make music. We love music very much, we can do it in Turkey or abroad. Turkey is a very beautiful country. The culture, food, etc. are very nice. I like it very much.”, says Emmanuel.
After winning the hearts of the Turkish people, Highlife is ready to seduce fans all over the world.