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Opinions of Monday, 25 October 2004

Columnist: Ojah, Maximus

Ghanaian entertainment and Ghanaian attainment

Letter to Osagyefo

Eyo Osagyefo,
It?s been ages since you last heard from me. As someone would say these days, ?I am aware?. I was holidaying in Ghana for sometime. It was a nostalgic feeling to be back with my family and people I had lost some touch with. I could very much still identify with the culture because you know me, Osagyefo; my heart is where my home (Ghana) is.

Rosalinda, Rosalinda, Rosalinda! This word triumphed in a conversation I overheard amongst some young Ghanaian girls I passed by. One hit song in Ghana over the summer was ?Linda?. My first thought was to guess that Rosalinda was a name of a song of one of those hiplifers who are flooding the music market. It surprised me to find out that it was a name of Mexican telenovela. This show was obviously very popular among the young crowd and I found out many Ghanaian youth felt the same.

Oh, you dey blow, make you land! Osagyefo, I am still in the air, and I am about to land, but not in London. I am on my way back to land of milk, honey and proud war heroes as I type. At one particular time on a restful evening, I turned on the TV to enjoy the products of the local television industry. GTV was showing a Mexican show and I switched to other channels. Like fate would have it, Metro TV and TV3 were showing different Mexican telenovelas. At the same time? It wouldn?t be long and we would all be acting like Mexicans. Whether that is a good or a bad thing, we live to see.

I read something from the Daily Graphic (which is not graphic) about Traveler John gracing a ceremony at Half Assini. The occasion? It wasn?t a new school, or computer library, or factory, or NPP office. Half Assini was now going to actively receive GTV signals. Traveler John said that the area had only been having channels from Cote d?Ivoire and were beginning to behave like them. Do you catch my drift now? If GTV is to make Half Assini citizens behave like Ghanaians, then we better put Ghanaian programmes on TV!

I will not skirt around the subject so I will proceed to unleash the Ojah, the truth, and nothing but the truth. Kwame, I can?t worry if it sounds bitter, but I can rejoice because I say it as it is. I had the pleasure of sampling ?Whims of life? on television. I was baffled at the end of the show as to whether it was to educate the public or make the youth feel that indiscipline is cool. Osagyefo, the problem is much bigger than where our priorities lie; it also arises in what we expect from Ghanaians. Programmes like Sun City and Efie Wura would score with their audiences, but we need more than viewer ratings. We need to affect positively our actions through the media.

We may be getting all these foreign programmes on the cheap side. I think there are a lot of Suzzy Williamses and Brew Riversons waiting out there for an opportunity. I realized that some reality TV programming is seeping into the culture, but how many real life beauty queens exist? Fashions shows are going left, right, center and if this is being done to encourage more Abuskelekes, then God help us! I guess that?s not the point, but I would rather think that Ghana at this point in time needs programming about surviving in Nima or exploring its beautiful attractions like the Nzulezu river village and Bonwire. I came across a page when I was browsing where Kwaku Sintim Misa stated that there was no Ghanaian film industry. Ghanaians are virtually out of the production business and it is rare to see their films in theatres. The theatres probably don?t even open these days. Our citizens don?t enjoy the films anyway because they lament the poor production and bad acting. These statements may well be true. We haven?t been to leave the psyche of the Cantata, Akan Dramas, Abibigrommas, Thursday Theatres, etc. Stage acting in Ghana has always been great and I think it is about we market these at a higher level and even sell our talents abroad. However, we have very little screen-acting quality.

Our filmmakers have given up and are marketing films from Agege land. As if we didn?t have enough 419 and armed robbery in our nation, we have invited Nigeria Hollywood to invade our culture with half African, half American movies. Tic Tac from Ghana, Tony Tetuila from Naija: we can?t be triumphed, Kwame, we come first! Little is heard of NAFTI these days. We need to start from scratch. We need to test the pulse of our people and come up with movies that will resonate with their feelings. We can also open their eyes to things they are not noticing, success stories of youth, conquering social vices like immorality, drug abuse, etc. We can change Ghana through the media.

Osagyefo, I am afraid, all we are doing now is copying Nollywood, and marketing churches. Ghana has gone gospel and as much as we know of the scandals rocking the church system, we may as well want to learn how we can prevent these occurrences and forge a healthier and positive community. Our writers have left us with nostalgic books and appealing novels. This is where we should look to first. Movie producers should sit up, exercise our poise and blow us away. It seems the Ghanaian movie industry died with Nancy.

In the entertainment industry, people look and refer to present developments in society to come out with their works. We can choose to do the normal or we can choose to make a difference by being different. Education would not do it alone; we need to educate Ghanaians about the model Ghana nation we crave through the media. Osagyefo, there are enough ?Oye Nonsense? attitudes in our entertainment industry. If we don?t change, how will we know change is good? Nya Ntitie Pa should be at the forefront. The Vice President may have lost some steam, but Osagyefo, we can?t lose it now, or ever!

I will be back,
Maximus Ojah.

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