When news broke that Ghanaian Reggae artiste Rocky Dawuni had earned a Grammy nomination – making him the first ever Ghanaian to get on the scheme – I don’t quite remember I had the courage to explain to those around me why my emotions run the gamut from utter composure; through sadness and to sobbing quietly.
Indeed, it was a development that left a lot of people giddy with anticipation. A Ghanaian had managed such a feat and nobody had a justification for feeling anything other than extremely happy…. and in truth, neither did I – far from it! I was somewhat happy for him but recent disturbing developments in Ghana had me a bit worried and I fervently prayed that this, unlike many others, wouldn’t go down the same road. But drat! Before I could say the final Ameeeen…. Horror of horrors! My greatest fear was upon me [us]. The sudden patriotism of Ghanaian ‘celebrities’ had be awaken on social networks and there was no turning back.
A bit of a background
Until quite recently, say about 10ears ago it was great to see any Ghanaian excel at a global stage and we often claimed their determination, sense of self-belief, hard work and their apparent never-say-die attitude in our stride; their achievements as Ghanaian – as if it had anything to do with it. Folks like Osibisa, the Ramblers Band, E.T Mensah, Kofi Annan were all worthy global ambassadors… sold Ghana to the world in their own inimitable way that made us all proud to be associated with them. I quite remember how back in primary school, I smugly basked in the awesomeness that Kofi Annan – then the UN Secretary General – was Ghanaian. That was a novelty…. And a Black star shining, by extension also I meant I was shining by association. Those, in my humble opinion were the merrier times.
That was way before the advent of social media where you’d have people purring out in numbers to spryly publish vaguely inspirational emoji-laden visceral claptraps purportedly in support of somebody in contention for a top global prize or as a congratulatory missive to someone for having hassled his/her way through a very rough patch to come to global acclaim even though those self-styled patriots never gave a rat’s ass when their support was most needed and sort for. The production line for these hashtag driven bandwagons were not operational and patriotism wasn’t reduced to an avenue to clamor for a few RTs and likes.
A wind of change is blowing through the entertainment scene in Ghana. Its effects have left all objective observers quite perplexed. Reggie n Bollie have hustled their way through thick and thin in the UK since ominously leaving the shores of Ghana and are now getting some sort of recognition for their efforts and now every tongue [thumb] in the ever talkative blogosphere……… every tongue that can taste pepper and salt are rallying ‘support’ for them, attempting to partake in the fame [and fortune] they’ve found. You see large swathes of the social media space in Ghana making an erroneous claim that their [Reggie n Bollie] hassle as a “Ghana success story.” I really never cared much about whatever was going in the UK and certainly not a reality show which I stood no chance of watching from my base in Accra but my attention was drawn to it when it became apparent Reggie N bollie’s ‘good deeds’ were earning them some rave reviews in the UK and around the world.
This wiped up quite some reaction and a gratuitous sense of patriotism amongst folks on those social media spaces (facebook, Instagram, twitter and more annoyingly WhatsApp), canvassing for votes for them ever since they made it to the finals of the UK X-factor. My obvious worry with this kind of ‘patriotism’ is that, it tends to cut out all those who are not Ghanaian from the fanfare and it creates and a We-against-the-world sort of scenario. That could potentially be injurious to their hopes in the competition. What if the millions of Brits decide to play a similar patriotism card and opt to vote for their own irrespective of their performances, what will become of our Reggie n Bollie? That would threaten and eventually defeat the purpose of the TV show in the first place. It is a popularity contest and by the sheer law of averages, we are in the least stead to be playing the nationality card here. The numbers simply does not support us.
Several Ghanaians around the world have shown endeavor and have supported Reggie n Bollie throughout their X-factor journey, but those who’ve actually provided the wings on which they’ve flown to where they are today are the Brits, not the social media activists in Ghana – no matter how well they mean. So if we keep in this harming precedent we’ve set, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn they are in fact sauntering farther and farther away from the X-factor crown.
What’s even more alarming is our on-air personalities’ [celebrities] sudden knack for clamoring for votes and public support even though they wallowed in Laodicean indifference when Reggie Zippy and Bollie were back home(Ghana), struggling to make headway in the careers. Does it matter that they probably would never have had such a massive endorsement if it were a local competition in Ghana with the same endeavor they shown which is giving them all the attention? Does it matter that it had to take citizens of the UK to tell us how good our ‘own’ were? … and what’s it with all the talk of “Ghana flyng High” spluttered all over the social media landscape? With nebulous comments like “Ghana to the world!” My friend had so many repetitions of ‘Ghana to the world!’ splashed across his TL that the comment was virtually coming out of his ears. In his subsequent bout of high fever, he swore he could see his tombstone crawling with several ants, all bearing little flags that read, “Ghana to the World!” [I jest]…
Mr. Dawuni’s success is evidently due to his being such a gregarious person, showing genuine interest in his chosen career. Anyone with such enterprise as prosperous as his “Branches of the same tree” album in my motherland would have been standoffish and pompous. Not so our Rocky. Since his nomination, he’s taken every opportunity to talk down the enormity of his achievement and roped-in some acts in Ghana – singling them out as his inspiration for the work he’s done. Modesty has gotten a new definition. That virtue has taken my respect for him a notch higher and I really hope he goes one better – be the first Ghanaian to actually win a Grammys.
If only my people supported our own no matter what. If only we never talked down our own while praising others. If only we didn’t have to wait for some other people to appreciate our own before we see the quality of our own, maybe…. Just maybe… Yemi Alade wouldn’t have mustered enough courage to dig into Stonebwoy for winning a BET award over her.