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Entertainment of Wednesday, 22 November 2017


It’s not about Shatta Wale, it’s about our Ghana - Bismark Odum Sackey

Shatta Wale Shatta Wale

Want what you have. Do what you can. Be who you are. (Forest Church) This is one of the myriad of mantras that has lived with me ever since I was introduced to the book called Love and Death by Forest Church.

The mantra like any other philosophical text is polysemic and hence can be used to explain different phenomena depending on your level of understanding and its relevance in the context.

In this piece, I will contextualize the mantra to explain the ongoing entertainment battle between Ghana’s Shatta Wale and the fans of Nigerian’s Wizkid. I intend to be very objective here and bring some sensitive issues to the fore as it is supposed to be done.

I have observed with interest, happiness and intermittent disappointment the various publications from some notable people, fans, and some publicists; they have been a fascinating read. My ultimate disappointment came from an article I read on titled “Bobrisky’s Gateman Is More Popular Than You, Your Lips Are Bigger Than Your Career- Nigerians Descend on Shatta after He Said Wizkid is Not a Star”.

This article, sourced to a Senior staff who for reasons best known to him/her alone refused to state his/her name. In the said article, the coward of all the adjectives in the world used the word ‘Gbee Naabu’ to describe Shatta Wale in his opening statement.

I am still thinking about some of the possible motivations and the desired effect behind his/her use of that word. For the motivation, I am still thinking around to get one but maybe just maybe the effect is that the person has succeeded to lure the International Talkative to pick his pen after a long while. Now to the mantra...

Want what you have!

I am not a true fan of Shatta Wale, in fact my favorite Ghanaian artiste is Sony Badu. Not to say I am an all Gospel boy, No, I am an open minded music lover who loves all forms and genres of music provided it appealing to the ears. I love Ghanaian music and I admire the commercial and melodious nature of Nigerian music. I will find another time to give you my analysis of the two someday. If I am to choose between the two, I will choose Ghanaian over Nigerian music any time and any day .

In the same vein, I will choose a Ghanaian artiste over a Nigerian artist anytime. My choice will not be influenced by how nice the song is or how talented the artiste is; far from that. My choice will be solely influenced by the love for my country and that to me is greater than any rhythm, melody or talent. I am a proud Ghanaian and no matter how ugly the systems may be, I still love my Ghana. I want what I have!

In 2012, I was working as the operations Manager with 2131 Conglomerate (2131 Records, The Tavern, The Radio Advertising People). It was work and happiness because I doubled as the best friend and personal and road manager to Atumpan, the musician. One of the two side gigs we played behind Jay Foley was in Nigeria (Foley, you will have to forgive me for this).

Atumpan was invited by the creator of the most expensive suit in the world, Alexander Amosu, who is a Nigerian (you can google him) for his birthday party in Lagos. We stayed there for three days taking advantage to do some promotions and granting interviews. Atumapan’s song, The Thing, was the song of the moment and it had crossed to some African countries and breaking the airwaves. I remember in Liberia, I counted one TV station airing the video of the song for 36 times within a day; that was how big the song was.

Throughout our stay in Nigeria, I heard only three Ghanaian songs. One from Sarkodie, one from Afya and ‘The thing’ by Atumpan. I was super surprised. Before interviewing a Ghanaian artiste, I expected to hear them play some Ghanaian music to prepare their listeners or viewers, No way! The climax of my surprise was on the performance day. There were some popular and unpopular Nigerian artistes around and Atumpan was the only Ghanaian artiste.

My brother, the way the Nigerians would cheer the artistes, both popular and unpopular, was pleasing to watch. When Atumpan was introduced, my sister, it was bad; it was like the audience has been forced to clap, even dancing was a problem. Interestingly, these were the very people who were dancing to Atumpan’s song prior to his introduction. However, as soon as he was introduced they made Atumpan realize that he is in Nigeria and not in Ghana. It was very unpleasant yet motivating. That experience made me conscious and from that time till now I have not supported our media houses in their quest to saturate our airwaves with foreign content.

The penchant of Ghanaians for foreign products is immeasurable and this has been proliferated by our media houses. We have refused to want what we have. Do you know how much musicians have to pay before they get their contents aired? I have recently facilitated the payment of about GHC32,000 just in the promotion of Atumpan’s new single, Wait In Vain (please check it out). We have made the system very difficult for our own but very easy for strangers. We have succeeded to enslave our artistes in their own country and rendered them powerless. We always talk about Nigerians being commercial and having a vibrant industry forgetting that we can make ours better and mightier if we want what we have.

Do what you Can!

The only gift you can give to Ghana is doing all you can in any form to support the developmental process. We always expect things from Ghana and hence our numerous complaints about our government. Ask yourself Mr Dj, producer, blogger, writer, dancer, painter, craftman, poet, how often do you project Ghana in the work you do? Is what you have given Ghana enough to warrant your expectations from the country? One of the easiest way to support our country is by patronizing and promoting Ghanaian products. By doing this we will benefit directly from it.

I hear most media people saying ‘Ghanaian musicians no dey pay’. Where do you expect them to get the money from to pay you? Start making them big and see if they won’t pay you. Ask Fireman Songo if Captain Planet of 4X4 left him unattended to when he came on his show. Ask Dr. Pounds if the big artistes he interviews don’t reciprocate the love. My brother, you cannot work for Multimedia and receive your salary at EIB; No, it doesn’t work that way. If you get the opportunity to work, do it with all your might and with no expectation for any material benefit from anyone and trust me nature has a way of rewarding your efforts. This is a lesson I have learnt from my current employer and I am a testimony of this.

Be who you are!

One fact I have come to accept is that, you become more successful when you are able to know, and wholly accept, who you are. We are all unique in our own sense as individuals and as a group. What will make others admire you or your group is how you are able to project your uniqueness. If you are able to recognize and acknowledge this very simple fact, you will be able to understand people and live in unity with them.

Shatta Wale is a different musician, and his uniqueness is the reason behind his success. In my opinion, he is not the most talented artiste in Ghana but he has proved to be the most liberal musician in Ghana. That is the reason why he is successful than most of the super talented artistes. He has his flaws and may sometimes sound very nauseating but you cannot take away the fact that he has succeeded to remain relevant all these years with these very traits. How long will we continue to live in the shadows of other people, we spend our entire lives trying to be like others.

Neglecting our very selves and patterning our lives after that of others and that is why we leave our own and promote that of others. That is the reason behind the numerous telenovelas on our screens, which is why foreign artistes are superstars in Ghana, which is why we will always need a foreign artiste before tickets to our events can sell. That is why our musicians will go every length to get a foreign artiste to feature on their songs and that is why Pragya of Kumkum Bagya is bigger than Nana Ama McBrown in Ghana.

We have forgotten that the secret to our success lies in our uniqueness. Whether good or bad I am a Ghanaian and everything Ghanaian is who I am. Both the good and the bad comes together to define who I am; a proud Ghanaian.