Bibiara wo Accra, aden? Why!

I originally posted this in my Facebook Notes on December 17, 2010. Yes, 5 years ago. See if anything has changed since:

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Accra has become Ghana. I mean all the important things we do governance-wise is located in Accra. The legislature, executive, headquarters of the judiciary, ministries, just name them. The same situation runs through Corporate Ghana. A friend who lives in Tamale in the Northern Region received a phone call for a job interview which will be based in Tamale. He was told to travel more than 12 hours down to Accra for that interview. Can you imagine?

It is not surprising but nonetheless very disheartening to note that our entertainment ‘industry’ has towed a similar line. Every major entertainment event this yuletide for example is in Accra. It has always been but my observation is that it has become more pronounced this season. Let us run through the events past and those coming up which are all based in Accra. Just gone by we’ve had CITI FM’s MOGO Concert at the National Theatre; JOY FM’s Hilife Party took place the same day at the Alisa Hotel. Then there was JOY FM’s Nite with the Stars on December 10 at the Conference Centre.

Still to come, we have Y FM’s Loud in GH concert at the Dome on December 18; CITI FM’s December to Remember (D2R) on Friday December 24; the maestro Kojo Antwi continues with his traditional 24th nite concert same night before KSM mounts the stage on Christmas day. Sunday December 26 seems the busiest; another episode of the thousand laughs concert comes on; Joyful Way Incorporated are in no mood to break their usual boxing day concert; JOY FM’s Keteke Fever also comes on the same day. Then on Monday December 27 which has been declared a public holiday, Charterhouse will organize their GH Rocks concert at the same time that Abrantie Amakye Dede celebrates his 25th anniversary in the industry with a concert; JOY FM’s Christmas Party in the Park is also on the 27th. Big bearded American hip-hop star Rick Ross is on stage in GH on December 28th. Uncle Ebo Whyte’s Festival of Plays starts from December 27th and runs through to January 3.

Now, these are just the MAJOR shows I know of. There are lots of other ‘smaller events’ still spread along our beaches, nite clubs and streets of Accra in particular. Now somebody tell me that this is not a packed yuletide for GH, sorry, for Accra! There’s very little happening elsewhere. I have always known Kumasi to be a lively place where its people like to have fun. But I know lots of Oseikrom brethren and sistren who have come down to Accra and others who have chosen shows to come see down here. So what exactly is preventing event organizers from going outside Accra? I will love to look into that in another piece after I’ve done some asking around. A cursory look at the events though tells us that there are three main categories;

A) Musical concerts

B) Plays and

C) Comedies.

Same Acts

4X4, 5 Five, Castro, Praye, VIP, Richie and his LYNX Squad (Asem, Eazzy, Zigi, OJ Black), R2Bees, Sarkodie, Trigmatic, Kwabena Kwabena, Amakye Dede, Tinny, Samini…..same names. These are the same guys showing up on one stage after another. I mean seriously, why will I wanna watch any of these guys more than once in a week? Let’s face it, we do not have artistes in Ghana who are so infectious to be able to attract patrons to their concerts days apart. I have read stories of people who have followed say Jay Z, R.Kelly, Alicia Keys, etc from state to state. But it is because these guys simply make you love the way they do their music and one will just want to have more and more of them.

What is my problem?

My problem is that why will I wanna watch any of these guys when all they do is to mime? I think I will be better of playing their CDs from my home theatre. I doubt if I am the only thinking along these lines. Seriously, it gets funny sometimes when I respond to artistes from my seat. I have seen videos of Jay Z performing with a whole orchestra, not  a band oo. An orchestra. I have seen TI do same too at one of these awards ceremonies. And he does pure, unadulterated hip-pop. So when I find our boys only turn their mics on when they wanna give shout-outs and mute them when they ought to be singing, then aaaargggghhhh I wanna scream and kick them where the sun don’t shine.

Secondly, I think organizers have just become sturbborn, unrealistic, and bad planners. May be it is my mind but I think they should be losing financially and perhaps reputation-wise too. Do they have the numbers at their shows? I don’t know. The artistes will of cause accept their two to six thousand cedi cheques and show up anyway. Perhaps if there was some order in the system event organizers will be able to find a middle way to maximize their own profits so we do not have 4X4, 5 Five, Castro, Praye, VIP, Richie and his LYNX Squad (Asem, Eazzy, Zigi, OJ Black), R2Bees, Sarkodie, Trigmatic, Kwabena Kwabena, Amakye Dede, Tinny, Samini…..showing up at one show and the other the next day.

Thirdly is it out of place for some body, be it the city’s authorities or some other overseer of the ‘industry’ to streamline events not only in Accra but in GH in general? There ought to be some order folks!!!

I personally will not want to watch any of these chaps more than once in a month…except perhaps Kwabena Kwabena.

Venues

With the exception of the party in the park and other club-based events, the lot will all be held at the Dome, Conference Centre or National Theatre. I think as a country we have not done a good job developing places for events like concerts, conferences, etc. I was in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso almost four years ago to attend FESPACO, the Pan African Film and Television Festival. I was awed at the number of cinemas that country has. It was not just about the numbers, but the types, designs, and state of the art nature of most of them. Clearly, they have developed these because of FESPACO which they have been hosting every two years for several years now. In GH, after all our too-known and our claims to have been the first in this and that, we have just 2 (I wont even add the Dome) places to boast of. Worse still, they are not quite state of the art too, and we wouldn’t dare try host and serious world class entertainment gig. We can do better.

Way out?

I do not foresee any government either now or anytime soon in the future investing in a world-class entertainment venue. It obviously would be a worthwhile investment but I reckon the private sector combining their strengths may do a better job. It will be expensive, but the returns too would be great. I hear it cost $12, 000 to rent the Dome for just a night! That is huge, ei? I am not sure how much the Theatre and the Conference cost though. So that gives us an idea of how the returns to such an investment would be. By the way, has anybody bothered to check on the physical well-being of these venues? Looking at the frequency of their use, its life span and safety condition may need to be assessed. I mean I know my car gets tired a lot and the tires wear faster if I travel between Accra and Sunyani too many times within a given period. Abi?

Where will I be?

Personally, Kwame Gyan will want to see Ebo Whyte’s Unhappy Wives Confused Husbands. Then I will be at D2R. I hear 5 Five’s new track is cool and I am waiting to hear them mime to me, and hopefully to see Apietus on stage. So is it true he started singing because of Richie? Just asking ooooo!!! Then I will wanna be at JOY FM’s Christmas in the Park. I will also wanna see KSM. I like him. At least he makes current jokes about people I know. All of this kraaaa I will need to check my pocket. If I do not get a couple of free tickets then I may as well go for just one bi pe.

Merry Christmas and Happy Oily New Year to you all.

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