Founded in 1991 the Archive for the Music of Africa contains a collection of modern African music unique to Germany on sound carriers of various formats (shellac and vinyl records, audio and video cassettes, CDs and DVDs). The archive currently holds around 15,000 sound recordings, some of which date back to the 1940s.

The beginning of the collection was marked by the purchase of about 500 shellac records from Ghana in the early 1990s under the then head of the archive Dr. Wolfgang Bender. Subsequently, the collection steadily expanded its holdings - among other things, by adding the vinyl record holdings of the "Radio France International" station from Paris, which parted with its analogue collection, and a music collection from the Frobenius Institute.

Regional focal points are Ethiopia, Ghana, Cameroon, Congo (ex-Zaire), Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. In addition, the collection contains more or less representative holdings from almost all countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which is still being built up through regular acquisitions. Most recently, the collection was specifically expanded to include music from Madagascar.

Several thousand newspaper clippings are kept in the clipping collection, which is sorted by country, musical style and musician. The articles, reports, interviews, record reviews, etc. offer a rich fund of background material that can be consulted on site.

We are currently working on successively entering all archive holdings of about 15,000 sound recordings in the OPAC online catalogue of the Mainz University Library, to ensure that the holdings are searchable. Currently, about 11,486 audio carriers (as of Jan. 2021) are accessible in the OPAC online catalogue.

The archive's founder, Dr. Wolfgang Bender, was director until his departure in 2008, after which Prof. Dr. Matthias Krings took over temporarily. Since March 2010, Dr Hauke Dorsch has been the academic director of the AMA.


Inventory (as of Jan. 2021):


  • Acetate (approx 110)
  • Shellac (78rpm/approx. 960)
  • Vinyl LPs (33 rpm / approx. 6370)
  • Vinyl singles (45 rpm / approx. 2750)
  • Music cassettes (approx 2020)
  • CDs (approx 2980)
  • DAT tapes
  • VHS (approx 1300)
  • DVDs (approx 250)
  • Video CDs (approx 270)
  • other (journal articles, posters ...)