Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rock bands can be really awesome, if you’re into that sort of thing, that is. I prefer a slightly watered down version, that’s why I would take alternative rock and soft rock over hard core heavy metal any day. But God in his infinite wisdom created us all very differently and as such every ear has it's musical inclinations. For instance, I can’t imagine a bunch of hard core Biker Boys grooving to a Ghanaian Gospel track by Ohemaa Mercy (no matter how loud she bellows out her notes she won't reach rock band status), or a song by Agya Koo Nimo (what category does his music fall under again?) let alone hiplife. In much the same way, I can’t see my grandmum rocking to sounds of Metallica or Pink Floyd.

So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (as always), analyzing and pondering over the various reasons why one thing may fly in this airspace and plummet in another. I narrowed my mental monologue to rock music and reasons why it would never fly in Ghana. Here are a few:

  1. Crowd surfing. Ghanaians don’t quite get the concept of crowd surfing? Imagine being at the National Theatre or the Accra Sports Stadium and having someone like Tic Tac suddenly jump into the crowd of people. There are two possible outcomes; a) The crowd parts way and he lands painfully on the bare ground or b) the crowd sort of catch him and by the time he is halfway through his "fans", he is stripped of any valuable item on him save his boxers. Items stolen will include his bling bling belt, bling bling watch, sneakers, baseball cap, t-shirt etc.

  2. The Gothic Look. You see, to be a veritable rock band, you must have a certain look. For rock bands, the Gothic look is what it is all about. We’re talking fully blown black make-up, black nail polish, black eye-shadow, rings through the nose and out the ear, eye-lid piercings and anywhere possible...the list is endless. In Ghana, this look would be considered demonic and you’ll have the entire nation holding national prayers against you. So obviously, that's a definite no-no.

  3. Expensive Stage Theatrics. Most successful rock bands, usually destroy their guitar or microphone after every performance. It’s all in the act. In Ghana, we can’t even afford to hire the best DJs (spinners) in town, even hiring instruments for the show requires us to dig deep into our very shallow pockets. While we struggle with the air-conditioning and basic lighting at our event locations, bands like Pink Floyd utilize burning gongs and crashing airplanes as part of their stage show. Now, be honest with yourself, which of our theatres do you see that happening?

  4. No chorus. Usually the structure of rock music avoids the popular music structure of choruses after each verse. Now we all know that for the everyday Ghana-man, you’ve got to have a catchy chorus to have a hit song. Otherwise you’re not going anywhere with your music! Your situation is powerless even with large sums of payola. Ask Praye or Wutah, they'll tell you.

  5. Who is going to produce you? For a music genre that would require actual instruments to be played, this might pose a problem for both our musicians and producers. Now, I’m not sure if Apietus, JQ, Bandex or even Mike Okraku Mantey would like to produce a rock band in Ghana? It’s a complete waste of time for all the above mentioned reasons!

  6. Musical Talent. To have a rock band, you need to actually play a musical instrument. Even the lead singer would have to play at least the guitar. Do we have that in Ghana? Huh? Do we? Can Kwaw Kese string two or three musical chords together to produce a melodic tune all by himself? Does he even know an octave from an octopus?

  7. Climate Challenge. The prescribed attire is usually ALL BLACK. Evidently, with all the heat and humidity in Ghana, that will be a challenge that would require a national concerted effort.

  8. Till Death Do You Part. Lastly, rock bands usually stick together forever, but with the very predictable resume of hiplife groups falling apart after one or two hits, keeping a band together for 10-20years would be utterly impossible! Lumba Brothers, Buk Bak and very recently, Wutah are just a few examples.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

world.cup: Woes, Worries and Wins

I'm glad the World Cup is over. Thankfully, I no longer have to wake up to the sounds of a vuvuzela from the neighbours. That was a bit of a nuisance. For that period, we forgot all about our cheap politics and corruption scandals and for those reasons, I miss the World Cup.

Despite the odds we faced, we were the most favoured side to win and just when a few steps away from the top, we were "robbed". We did everything right and had we not given up mentally after the missed penalty shot, we might have gone right through and perhaps kept the trophy on the continent. The Stars outdid themselves and exceeded all expectations and in many ways succeeded in unifying most part of the continent through a simple game of kick ball. That for me is the most intriguing and heartwarming detail of this experience. You had people across the continent and the rest of the world wearing the colours of Ghana. And it wasn't just for show.

Our loss against the Uruguayans brought about an immense support for the Orange Eleven and we couldn't wait for them to thrash our new found arched enemies. We didn't care that just days before the start of the world cup, we had been beaten by the Dutch in a friendly match. We just wanted revenge and that's definitely what we got. Never before has Ghana supported the Netherlands so.

[caption id="attachment_232" align="alignright" width="430" caption="Ghana Colours the Continent"][/caption]

Admittedly it shattered our dreams of making history, they killed us with a cheat, and although we were awarded a penalty and lost that too, we felt that the Uruguayans had not been punished enough. The fact of the matter is that we lost painfully and no matter how many talk shows we develop this topic, no matter how many shouts of rage we conjure, or how many curses we invoke on Suarez, the fact it simple - we lost. There's no use mulling over this any longer than we already have. Let's make the most of the loss and move on.

Although we didn't win, we are enjoying the endearment and sentiments of the entire world. Had we been on the side of the argument, and committed the same foul as the Uruguayans, I doubt if we could still hold our chin high and chests out like we are doing right now. Cheating, in every way or form helps no one. See what happened to the French squad (Les Blues). They cheated their way through to qualify and could not even win a single match! This end surely justified the means. If Uruguay were to have gone ahead and won this competition, they will be known as the team that robbed the better team to win. We need to keep our eyes on the prize and sometimes the prize isn't always that which glitters.

So trophy or not, we did win. We won the hearts of the South Africans and that of the rest of the world. We won the admiration of the world, the respect of our fellow Africans and now, it means a little bit more to have a Ghanaian passport than before. But beyond that, there's a lot more than has to be done. We need to do is to accomplish other important feats globally like qualifying for several disciplines in the Olympic games and bringing home quite a few medals, creating world-changing inventions that defy logic. We must contribute a lot more to the world than just a good name in football. Football is only the starting point. Let's not make it the only objective of the nation. We need a lot more Ghanaians as Nobel Prize winners and other international awards like the Heineken Prize, Wolf Foundation Prize and so on. The events of this tournament point to the fact that if we would die a little, we can live a lot more. If we try a little harder, we most certainly can beat the world and for me, that's more than enough proof of our capability as Ghanaians and as Africans. No more excuses. I am tired of hearing us blame the slave trade for our woes. Had we been smarter or slightly advanced couldn't we have also gone and colonized the British or whomever we chose to? Note this: There's a new world order and we must take advantage of the current that's blowing, because it is moving us in the direction of success.

[caption id="attachment_234" align="alignleft" width="258" caption="Hopefully, the Rebel Ryter will pick up Nobel Medal sometime in the near is very possible you know?"][/caption]

But in all this, let's not be fooled, we will not enjoy silver platter opportunities just because we are Ghanaians or Africans, no not at all. If anything at all, it'll be more difficult for us. The world out there is full of Suarezes and as we continue this journey, they will get all the more ruthless. They are willing to do destroy your dream so they can preserve theirs. So by fair means or foul, these Suarezes will do whatever it takes to get you out of their way and sadly enough sometimes it works. Giving up is exactly what they would like you to do. So rather than allow them to crucify our dreams, we won't give up or let down, we'll keep fighting and remind ourselves than whatever they've got, we've got a lot more going for us.

That aside, there is one more very important lesson I'd like to leave you with. If you've gotten nothing out of this epistle, we must remember always that soccer has had, should have and will have only one goalie.