...Sounds on da ground and seens on the see-ins
This week, I have been listening a lot to Ghanaian radio (my Africast link has been failing me) and I have used it to stay up to speed on the celebrations of Ghana's golden jubilee back home. I caught Bernard Avle's CITI FM Breakfast show on Wednesday and he played an excerpt of his discussion with Kwaku Sintim-Misa (from Monday) which generated some controversy, with some people agreeing and disagreeing with Ghana's most foremost stand-up comedian. Basically, KSM had said that black people have not been using their brains like white people have, that's why black people are "lagging behind" all over the world. Instantly, I linked this discussion to one of my favourite songs this year, Anyen (devil) by Obour and A.B. Crentsil. Hey, the two musicians call it the anthem for Ghana's golden jubilee.
Obour and A. B. Crentsil have banded together to produce an album (Best of the Lifes) which unites highlife and hiplife and I must say that they have given the music world a masterpiece. Many of the songs are hiplife remixes of Crentsil's classic songs, together with some tracks from Obour. Aponkyereni is the Konkontiba remix, and other songs include Okoaba, Juliana, Adwoa, Moses, Aburokyire nkomo, I don't know why, Our Father, and Gyae su. Anyen is a remix version of Crentsil's ever popular Devil (you devil, go away from me). The song talks about how the white person uses his witchcraft for technological innovation while the black (wo)man uses his/her wizardry aka African electronics to destroy his/her neighbour. The difference between the two versions (original and remix) is Obour's rap, where he encourages and calls on Ghanaians to use their wizardry to make Ghana a better nation, because the destiny of Ghana is in their hands.
Kwaku Sintim-Misa didn't mean to say the white people have better or bigger brains than blacks. (see that I generalize Africans and everyone else as black). He lamented how we haven't put our brains to work and developed a culture of PHD (pull him down) that has hampered the relative great efforts and strides we have made as individuals and as a people. I love how KSM uses his TGIF show on Metro TV to promote Ghanaian talent and ingenuity and I suppose he is trying to encourage us all to do better. He made a harsh statement in a public domain which may have angered a lot of people but it should be a wake-up call for us to be more excellent in what we do and hone our abilities more for the betterment of our nation, Ghana.
It's about time we dedicate ourselves to innovation, change and entrepreneurship. We have equal ability and we possess some of the best brains and talent around the world. We populate some of the best academic institutions in the world and we are on roll calls everywhere in industry. I want to believe that we haven't used our wizardry for the betterment of our cultural neighbourhoods and societies and our knowledge is mostly kept within us.
A. B. Crentsil mentions how certain individuals do not enjoy seeing their neighbours progress and do everything in their power to halt their forward movement. This holds true presently, through the way we constantly bypass the successes of our own homegrown solutions for foreign ones. A typical example was the awarding of the presidential palace contract to an Indian company. This came as a rude shock to me. Did we really need a foreign entity to construct a presidential palace for us? Are we building a Taj Mahal? I would be hoping we are building a masterpiece which would serve as a celebration of our culture, our ingenuity, and our infrastructure. How couldn't we be the best people to represent our own culture in a building/palace?
The song's first verse talks about the unification of hiplife and highlife. This can be paralled to the unity of youth (hiplife) and adulthood (highlife). The generation gap that exists in our societies is very appalling. Our old folk find it hard to entrust their well-beings in the youth and difficult to invest in their ability. Our youth are disillusioned with their beginnings and culture and find it hard to relate to what defines our history. There have been many Ghana@50 celebrations across the USA and where formal Ghanaian associations have organized these events, the youth have been conspicuously absent. Cost has been a factor but I feel there are cultural divides between first-generation Ghanaian Americans and their parents, as well as social divides between Ghanaians abroad in academia and Ghanaians abroad on business/greener pastures.
Good wizardry exists among us. It is not televised or published in the newspaper but if we seek, we shall find. We need to encourage and build upon the talents we have, and dedicate ourselves towards innovating and engineering homegrown solutions for our socio-economic development. We don't need to concentrate on what the white man has already given us (chuku chaka, aeroplanes, mobile phones, etc), I challenge us all to introduce something different that represents who we are and would be an positive achievement of our own wizardry.