After meandering through the winny and unpredictable road in search for the ultimate platform that will not just celebrate Ghanaian music, but showcase our rich cultural heritage through rhythms and melodies inspired by Ghanaian creativity and traditions, the Ghana Music Awards has successfully carved a special place on the Ghanaian calendar. Since it’s inception in the 90’s, the Ghana Music Awards has given hope to a lot of creative Ghanaians, not just through exposure, but by reviving the feeling of patriotism and nationalism in them. It is for this reason that the Ghana Music Awards must be! It is for this reason that Ghanaian music must be celebrated! And, it is for this reason that we must wholeheartedly celebrate our own.
Patriotism can be a difficult thing to sell outside the classroom. In Ghana, it is mostly during international soccer tournaments like the FIFA World Cup that we see our Ghanaian colours flying high, but music is gradually changing this behaviour. Popular phrases from Ghanaian musicians like ‘Bandana from Ghana’, ‘ Da Ghana Bwoy’, amongst others, are unconsciously re- echoing the pride of the Ghanaian to the world. The evolution of Ghanaian music has seen Ghanaian artistes use foreign names in the past and gradually switch to Ghanaian names presently. For instance, it began with the youthful and energetic Hiplife music with big names in the 90’s such as Reggie Rockstone, Native Funk Lord’s, Talking Drum, Ex – Doe, Chicago, General Marcus with only a few Ghanaian names; even though they still sang in local Ghanaian dialects. But how important is a name to a brand? During the era of the slave trade, changing the indigenous name of an African slave was a psychological way of robbing him or her of their identity. Therefore, one may conclude that an African name is much more than a ‘tag’, but a link to one’s people. Ghanaian music is currently reinforcing this fact as most of the present top Ghanaian acts bare Ghanaian names. Some are BET Award winner Sarkodie,singing sensation ‘Efya’ who changed her name from ‘Jane’, Kuami Eugene, Kwesi Arthur, Bisa Kdei, Sista Afia, Akuabua and many more.
Ghanaian music is the ultimate marketing tool for Ghana. Other aspects of Ghanaian culture have been highlighted as efficient cultural attractions such as Ghanaian cuisine, Ghanaian hospitality, and fashion. But it is only music that has the ability to combine all these and conscientize the listener or viewer (if a music video) about these things. For example, in the 90’s, it took a song by Hiplife duo, ‘Buk Bak’ called ‘Comi k3 Kena’ to make a Ghanaian delicacy a ‘national topic’. Rocky Dawuni’s song, ‘In Ghana’, also gave the outside world another window through which to see the former British colony. And Fuse ODG’s ‘Azonto’ remix with Grammy Award winner Wyclef Jean, also sparked a global ‘buzz’ about the new Ghanaian dance.
In conclusion, Ghanaian music can no longer be relegated and must be seen as a revenue generator other than just entertainment. Therefore, we must encourage, patronize and celebrate our own. For it is no longer a choice, but a responsibility we owe to the preservation and continuity of our culture and tradition. Long live Ghana Music Awards, long live Ghanaian music, long live Ghana.
By Jerry Wonder