In Ghana - talking about issues, ideas and not people
...Sounds on da ground and seens on the see-ins
I can't tell you how happy I feel to be in Ghana. Yes, it is home, but it is where I find the most peace. When there is a boring moment, I am thinking. When there is a sad moment, I am thinking. When there is a happy moment, I am not thanking anyone, because it is just routine when I am in Ghana. I must be selling Ghana to you and it's no secret why I may be doing so at this particular time, with the African Cup of Nations underway in Ghana in just over two weeks, every inch of Ghana is being sold. On the back of Ghana's golden jubilee, Ghana wants as many people to be in Ghana. Wanlov is no different.
Wanlov aka One love aka Odo Baako aka Sumo ekome is a Ghanaian musician. The son of Ghanaian father and Romanian mother, he wouldn't strike you as Ghanaian on first glance. You will find it difficult to place him under one genre - he's that good. Wanlov had been stationed in the US for awhile now and just returned to Ghana late last year. He had spent the most of his time abroad making singles, touring the US and performing. I vividly remember him doing a show in a college in Connecticut and then performing in California the next weekend. 'In Ghana' is one of the tracks on his debut release, Green card' which is out now. 'In Ghana' gained popularity in late 2006 after Ghana's debut at the World Cup, it was one of the songs promoting Ghana. Read the lyrics and it's easy to see why, the Ministry of Tourism must hear this one.
"Step off the plane, Kotoka Airport, Accra" - Every time I step off a plane at Kotoka and see the Akwaaba sign, it is one of the happiest times of my life. Sure, I realise the change in weather almost immediately, the cool air heats up in a second, and my face reacts. I loose my jacket and the preceding experience is a long lost memory. I smile at my traveling mates, the airport security, the workers, everyone. I am at peace, I can do no wrong. When I am greeted in English, I respond in Twi. I forget about the possibility of being followed and being marked for robbery. "No gun crimes, no wars, but watch out for Ike's bazooka".
"Soccer is our favorite sport" - this is maybe the truest statement you could hear from a Ghanaian. Soccer is even driving our national development; countless businesses have been created in conjunction with Ghana's qualification to Mundial 2006 and hosting of CAN 2008. Most major roads in the country are lined with Ghanaian flags and MTN flags signaling the intent of Ghana going for glory at the soccer fiesta. Every major business has put its marketing schemes on hold and tailored them to meet the interests and joys of soccer-crazy fans. Like Wanlov says, "World cup, everybody runs outside when Ghana scores goal".
"Tunes from Ranks Shabba, and Priest Maxi" - I would not be surprised if Ghanaians purposely turn around these popular names. Ghanaians are some of the silliest people you can find. You may not even take us to be serious with the frequency at which we crack jokes. Besides, the songs that sell the most in Ghana are those with funny or silly lyrics whether it is the old folk enjoying moments of youth to Ambulley's Simigwado or young folk acting a fool to the tunes of Th4kwages or VIP. "Proverbs are used to respect our elders" - Ghana has a culture of respect and reverence for the elderly in society. It has its shortcomings, but it keeps us all in line and defines the roles in society.
Wanlov mentions a gazillion foods in 'In Ghana'. Can't blame him, we love our food. We have embraced Chinese fried rice so much that we have a name for it - check check. There's always ice kenkey, abebe, asana, poki, waakye to go around. Whoever buys whichever food may be a question of who's rich or poor and not necessarily who uses "chewing sticks or toothpaste". Anyway, we are all united by the fact that we all "buy pure water" at Achimota".
Two of my favorite lines in the song are "extended families living together in one compound; when we speak, it's not digital but it's surround sound". One of the things I really love about Ghana is the brotherliness and family values. All too often, it breeds nepotism and other ills, but the support system it brings is beautiful and necessary. It takes one village to raise a child, a child grows up with help from too many people that when he/she is successful in the future, he owes his success to so many people and is indebted to help them succeed and prosper as well. "Out of one love, we all eat out of one bowl".
"Smiles are free, they are not by force, they are not fake" - Ghanaians are famous for their hospitality. It is often said that the best chip Ghana has is its people. You don't go to Ghana because of some wildlife or magnificent edifice, you go because of its people. Who else can claim that? "Cool sea breeze, very bearable weather; when we say it's our pleasure, we really mean it's our pleasure" - bearable weather is up for debate, but you can ask those who've been in Ghana before you. You can also ask those who wear "ntama and ahenema" or " those who wear "shoes and political suits".
Wanlov does a good job of selling the experience of being in Ghana. He can't fit all of it into one song so you will have to find out more for yourself. "Night life? don't test yo, we've got clubs; don't be surprised if you see superstars in the disco". Everyone is a superstar in his/her own right, the people of Ghana go through a lot and to keep those smiling faces is 'superstarry'. The only way you will agree with me is to be "in Ghana".