I was a guest speaker at the Rotary Club last two weeks. Speaking on the subject of the state of our music industry, I had the opportunity of answering a question I have interest in sharing with you all.
Just like a curious student, a gentleman asked, “What are Ghanaian musicians doing about Nigerian music since it is taking over the music industry?” Immediately, my mind was taken aback into how the Ghana meets Naija billboard had Wiz Kid take the center frame whiles R2bees, Edem and myself flanged sideways as the true supporting artistes as we were for the event.
Also, I thought of how P Square’s “Beautiful Onyinye” is played in every club, radio stations, pubs and even TV channels more than contemporary Ghanaian music. And then it pricked my mind that the quality of a Ghanaian artiste is measured in the amount of impact he or she makes internationally, especially in Nigeria.
Yes, it is true that Nigerian pop music has colonized Ghanaian and even African music. It is true that Nigerians compete for the same attention and airtime space in Ghana, which Ghanaian musicians do not get in Nigeria. Reasons for this are countless, but paramount of it is that few Ghanaian songs are designed to cross the borders.
There are two basic answers that popular people give when they are asked questions. One is to tell the truth or give the answer that is most appropriate for PR. For a brief moment I didn’t know what type of answer to give, I opted for the truth, at least in my opinion.
My answer was simple, Ghanaian musicians must do nothing about the current situation, because I believe it is a good thing. My reasons are simply because Nigerians are our cousins, we have the same culture, eat the same food, same type of music, look alike, we are all ex colonies of Britain, speak the same English, in fact, Ghana is a smaller version of Nigeria, or Nigeria is a bigger version of Ghana.
I don’t see why their music shouldn’t be loved, played and performed in GH. After all, twenty years ago Nana Ampadu, Amakye Dede, Abrekyireba Kofi Sammy and many Hi-Life acts were the main stream artistes in Nigeria, so if the reverse is happening, why you for bore?
There was a time this music xenophobia was social. In the early 70s the government through the Aliens Compliance Order repatriated Nigerians out of Ghana, and when Nigerians reciprocated in the same kindness, it raised eyebrows. Don’t forget the number of armed robberies and coup d’états that followed.
Let us not even consider the Nigerian national agenda to spread their culture through music, the capital investment in their entertainment industry, the respect and support for talent. The involvement of knowledgeable managers…O! Their aggression towards success.
It is funny how a Ga father might say ‘NO’ to an Ashanti marriage for his daughter because of distance, but when the daughter brings an American, everybody in the family is happy. One major cause of disunity in Africa is due to the fallacy of separateness.
Ghanaians are worried about the influx of Nigerian music but nobody is worried about the continuous dominance of American music on the minds of the youths and culture. It is because of American music (Hip hop) that our young brothers are walking around with their dross showing; it is because of American music that my four-year-old son says ‘sh*t’ and ‘f*ck’; arguably this same American music is contributing to ‘sakawa’ through the Hip hop concept of get rich or die trying.
So back to Nigerian music, I believe that it must play on. I believe that we should research, learn and understand how they have colonized Africa. I believe that we must collaborate at the individual and music union level.
I believe Ghanaian musicians should compete positively in this capitalist environment and let our music be played, heard and loved in Nigeria the same way we love theirs here.
I believe it is the biggest extension of our market, not only for our music but for a total cultural exchange if we have to be wary of any form of music, it should be an American music, but I believe we should let Nigerian music play!
At least in my opinion this is the way, what do you think?