Category Archives: GH2013

An Appeal to Our Leadership to Get Some Self-Respect

 

*Stick with me Atlanta readers. This post is about Ghana, but it concerns you too!*

Over the last few weeks, there has been much ado about the lack of respect for Ghana’s leadership and in particular, for the office of the presidency. Several members of parliament, a smattering of traditional leaders and now recently, presidential staffer, Sam George have made plaintive noises about Ghanaians’ absence of regard for the country’s leadership core. They complain that people “get up” and make “any sort of statement” they wish about the presidency. This ought not be so, in their estimation. Fair enough.

I for one believe that we must respect the office of the presidency – or the office of anyone appointed, elected and/or entrusted with a leadership position over our lives and land. I also believe that it is incumbent upon those who occupy these positions whether it be for 4-8 years (or a lifetime) to respect themselves AND that office as well. The only way to earn the respect of others is to have at least a modicum of respect for oneself first…and Ghana’s leadership at ALL levels is suffering from a severe deficiency in that area.

The primary problem with Ghanaians (and many African nations) is that we misinterpret the term and definition of “respect”. To respect someone means to have a feeling of admiration or a recognition that they are valuable, important or good. There is an understanding, based on the previous deeds of this person, that they are serious and therefore must be treated in an appropriate way. The “African” definition of respect is fealty, obsequiousness and credulity. Elders do not want to be questioned or challenged not because they are wise, but because they have occupied space on the Earth for a particular number of years. Presidents and MPs want an unquestioning, servile, and silently longsuffering populace to perform at their whim and fancy, not because they have the best interest of the nation at heart, but because they won an election (or overthrew another government by the gun) and think it obedience is theirs by “right”. Again I say, the problem with Ghana’s leadership is that they have done too little to earn the nations respect.

Respect is earned, it is not a gift.

There are too many examples of how Ghanaian leadership has portrayed itself as a band of clowns at a circus and shamed our country repetitively and globally. I wouldn’t be able to contain them all in one blog. However, I know it is imperative to detail at least a few examples so that the leadership can see itself from our eyes and work on doing better. I am merely holding up a mirror!

1. Your public Facebook profile, which is accessible to your counterparts globally, has you listed as “Former Aide to D Chief of Staff”. D Chief of Staff. You don’t even respect your title enough to present yourself professionally to the world.

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2. Our (current) president takes pictures in front of CNN logos like he’s on a secondary school Yankee safari.

This will never NOT be funny

This will never NOT be funny

3. In 2011 our former president, John Kufuor took time out of his presidential schedule to meet with broadcast journalist Forrest Sawyer discuss how AMAZEBALLS Ghana was. “You can even walk around with a $100 bill in your teeth, and no one will rob you!” President Kufuor proudly proclaimed! That wasn’t true then, and it certainly isn’t true now. But that’s not the point. The point is, why is our president meeting with a guy who has no real influence on travel and tourism? And furthermore, isn’t that what the culture and tourism minister and his/her entire team are for?

4. Anita De Sousa tried to convince the entire nation that dwarfs and juju – not market fluctuations or failed fiscal policy – were responsible for the decline of the cedi. No really. Black magic caused the currency’s decline, according to this woman.

anita-and-the-dwarfs

5. The entire world watched and mocked as our football team, the Black Stars, held the Ghana government hostage when they refused to play their second game at the World Cup because they had not been paid their promised appearance fee. Personally, I was proud of them for using their leverage, but it’s awful that they were put in a position by an untrustworthy government where they felt compelled to.

"Y'all berra have ALL my money!"

“Y’all berra have ALL my money!”

6. The (un)official response to the cholera outbreak was nothing if not laughable. Remember when your favorite Accra mayor ordered the burning down of the makeshift homes of the slum village behind Arts Center, leaving dozens of families homeless? Who could forget? It was monstrous. It was barbaric. It was inhumane. Oh… and it didn’t solve the cholera outbreak.

A lot of Accra and the surrounding areas look (and smell) just like this.

A lot of Accra and the surrounding areas look (and smell) just like this.

7. Oh gosh. The bribes. The corruption! They are so many. The Soli 100 bribes. The 13 vehicles presented the members of the National House of Chiefs bribes. SADA. GYEEDA. Acronyms that translate into millions of dollars that should have gone into infrastructure that have instead vaporized into some “honorable” man/woman’s pockets. We know this because Victoria Hammah fully expected not to retire from politics until she had made at least a million dollars. Poor, poor Victoria.

8. The insistence on racing to the bottom and striving for mediocrity. Ghana was ranked 76th out of 76 on global school rankings. The Minister of Education’s official response was to: (i) decry the results as presenting a ‘false’ picture (ii) dismiss the results because it did not list every country in the world (because if Somalia had been on the list, Ghana surely never would have placed last!) (iii) derail the conversation by pointing out how many of Ghana’s children have access to education, while we completely ignore the poor quality of that education, thus ensuring that we will remain 76th out of 76 forever.

9. In the midst of President John Mahama’s “Buy Made in Ghana” campaign, Parliament has AGAIN ordered furniture and other fittings for the Job 600 office complex for Members of Parliament from China. This time, Majority Leader Alban Bagbin has boldly asserted that importing furniture will “preserve the nation’s dwindling forests”. Deforestation is a major problem in Ghana, and we’ve lost thousands of hectares of forest growth without any conservation or replanting efforts. But please, let’s be serious. Ordering chairs from our neo-colonial masters is not going to save our forests. Parliament is merely diverting monies that should go into our R&D and manufacturing industries and giving it away. What does Ghana get in return for you settling your black bum in a chair made in China?

So in a population of 25M, NO ONE knows how to make tables and chairs? Huh? NO ONE??

So in a population of 25M, NO ONE knows how to make tables and chairs? Huh? NO ONE??

Atlanta, this one is for you. Watch this video. Just watch it! I have some friends who have said that Phaedra Parks was wrong to put then VP John Mahama on blast. (This episode came out 2-4 years ago, I believe. I watched it when it first aired but it’s just now making the rounds on social media.) Look. Phaedra is a reality TV star, and has no control over what footage Bravo or any other network decides to air from the 24 hour cycles in which they are consistently filming her. The problem isn’t that Ms. Parks did a monologue about her conversation with our VP-now-president, the problem is that common Phaedra Parks has unfettered access to his cell phone! This is like Afia Schwarzenegger having access to President Obama’s private cell phone and putting it on Channel O for the world to see. How was this allowed to even be possible???

 

You see what we mean, Mr. President and co.? You lot don’t even respect yourselves. How are we now supposed to manufacture respect for you? Please find some time to unearth some dignity so that we can get Ghana back on course to reclaiming her past glory. We are 400 years behind the mark. We are still stuck in medieval mind frames. Too many people actually believe (because this is what YOU have told us) that God will miracle a solar grid or hydro-electric dam from the sky if we pray hard enough. We don’t have the facilities to treat the mentally infirm because you’re spending that money to import Italian cars and Chinese chairs. I even spared you the agony of mentioning dumsor. But no, seriously, enough with the lies and the excuses. #DumsorMustStop.

You have disgraced yourselves and your positions, and we will not be bullied into silence for pointing it out. Ghanaians will keep demanding better, and you ought to want to do and BE better. Over to you.

 

 

A Legacy of Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams and Our Ecomini

Yvonne Nelson is a Ghanaian actress and a producer. Physically, she was built for modeling or volleyball. Academically, she could have been anything she wanted. Professionally, she chose to enter into the entertainment arena, and has worked towards it with such passion and dedication that she has earned the moniker of “celebrity”. Yvonne Nelson is now leading the charge for a May 16th 3dumsormuststop vigil and is now the voice of a “voiceless people”… but it ought not be so. Ghanaians should not need Yvonne Nelson to speak for us.

But we do.

We need Yvonne Nelson, Lydia Forson, Sarkodie, EFYA, Shatta Wale and any other individual with a platform and a regional/international presence to speak for us, because our own government has methodically and intentionally rendered us voiceless. They have stripped the people of their power and their voice for their own selfish gain, hoping that the elite and celebrity classes would be also so equally egocentrically driven that they would leave the masses to flounder and drown in our mess. The bloodsucking members of Ghana’s military leadership, parliament and eventual executive branch have taken Ghanaians for fools for almost 40 years in all that time, did not account for the fact that some of us may have been brought up with some national pride and would one day call them out for their misdeeds.

It started with One Simple Step. It continued with the Occupy Ghana marches. Today it is the #dumsormuststop vigil. Tomorrow, there will be another call to arms. Ghanaians will NOT stop until our government has delivered to us all that it has promised and all that is ours by right as a nation.

Ghana’s energy crisis is but one of many crises the country has to grapple with. We have a long standing employment crisis which has led to decades of Brain Drain. We still have a health crisis with a deficit of doctors in many specialized fields, including psychiatry and oncology. Ghana’s education system is churning out thousands of graduates every year with no critical thinking or reasoning skills. Many of them serve in public office. We have a series of environmental crises, compounded by poor city planning and management. The energy crisis has only gone further to compound all of these existing problems. We were not promised an attempt to keep a lid on a mashup of disasters by our leadership. We certainly were not promised a government that would create more problems for its people. Ghanaians were promised a fair, transparent, empathetic and efficient government and the bill has come due. The people have come to collect.

2020viz

The (P)NDC has overseen the lion’s share of Ghana’s (under)development since Flight Lt JJ Rawlings unleashed his coup to end all coups in 1981. Ghana has been on an oscillating pendulum of hopeful progress and decline ever since. There was a plan to bring the country on par with its Asian counterparts Singapore and Malaysia called Vision 2020 which I wrote about here. (A copy of the document also exists online if you are curious about the details.)

The (P)NDC government anticipated population growth decades ago, and talked about a mixed approach to solving this foreseen problem to include wind, solar and nuclear energy. What the people got instead was daylight robbery. Our coffers were looted by officials with federal monies being deposited into Swiss accounts; our sugar, rubber, tomato processing and shoe making factories were decimated; our beaches which could rival any in the Caribbean for their beauty were fouled with human waste. When our brothers venture to sea, they haul back tin cans, diapers and bio-waste in their nets. This is in our food supply. Now Ghanaians MUST import basic lifestyle items like tomato paste, canned fish and toothpicks. But what’s worse, perishable food items (like frozen chicken) are held up in port for weeks and go rotten in freezers that cease operation when the lights go off. They are held up in port because the workers are not paid, and the only way to clear one’s items is to pay your way through the intentionally constructed labyrinth of bureaucracy that features an itching palm at every turn.

The NPP had 8 years to change the course of this tide, and in my opinion did not do enough to do so. Nevertheless, President Kufuor did a lot more for the country’s reputation in his two terms than any other leader besides Nkrumah. It is mind boggling what the Mills/Mahama combo has been able to undo in such a short time.

Ghanaians are scratching out a living. This is not what we were promised! We are literally under siege by those whose lifestyle our taxes and fealty finance. Every week, several times a week, the population is insulted by either the current president or some member of his cabinet. We are called “unsmart”. We are called “prostitutes”. We are told we are doing the dirty work of the opposition while our infants are dying in non-functioning incubators or our fathers gasp for last breaths because the hospital lifts do not work and the oxygen tanks are on the bottom floor. We are taunted to vote them out if we dare. Yentie obiaa…we don’t hear you, we don’t care.

In our culture, the worst thing you can call someone is a liar. As far as I know, there is no word in any of our vernacular for “maybe”. Our tradition mandates that either you do something or you don’t- and you certainly don’t make a promise that you have no means or intention of keeping. In other words, let your yes be “yes” and your no be “no”.

Ghanaians are angry, frustrated and feeling hopeless and it is President Mahama’s fault, no matter what his minions, sakawa boys and yakiri kubuus may say. Rhetorically, they ask: “So did dumsor start with President Mahama? Is he the one who brought it? Heh? Did Mahama cause dumsor?!?!”

What pseudo Socratic thinking.

No. He didn’t. We’ve had a power crisis since the 80’s. However, he ran and won his election on the premise and promise that he had the answers to solve the crisis. It was part of his manifesto. He made it a habit.

 

Now that Ghanaians are demanding that he keep his promise, his sycophants have charged us to come up with ideas, rather than criticize. One of Ghana’s most learned sons did just that, and offered to provide his services for free. Benjamin Dedjoe is  the Chief Electrical Engineer for the US Army Corp of Engineers’ Arsenal division. He was rejected by the Ministry of Power and Energy and told that it was not expertise that was lacking, but rather “resources”.

Rejection Letter MOPE

A year later a Ghanaian delegation including a man wearing his wife’s coat went to Germany in search of their expertise to solve our problems. Until the Germans can solve our African created problems, the government wants us to conserve energy. How can one conserve something (s)he gets 30% access to?

This is why Ghanaians are angry. Our future is being sabotaged. Our past is being denigrated. The culprits responsible for this mayhem are lacking in both compassion and common sense, and the people are expected to be silent in the face of such abuse. We will not be.

I’m looking forward to the day with Yvonne Nelson and our celebrity core will not have to serve as the “voice of the people”. I look forward to the day when we get our power back. It is soon coming…I can feel it. In the meantime, we march, tweet, think and agitate with her.

Burglars and the Single Woman

Me looking serious

Home invasions are a terrifying – and frequent – occurrence in any metropolitan area. Accra is no exception. As a child, our home was burgled on several occasions, with the thieves making off with appliances, clothing or VHS tapes. The specificity of the items stolen indicated that that the burglar(s) had been in our home before, possibly as a guest or a worker. In fact, most victims or burglaries are familiar with the thief and vice versa. A thief studies the habits of his his target, familiarizes himself with their home and executes his attack when he has gathered enough information.

This is a frightful thought for anyone…but what about when you live alone and the thief turns out to be someone paid to protect you? Nana Darkoa shares her story. Please watch and share, and more importantly, stay vigilant!

Ghana: A Haven for Sociopaths and (Child) Rapists

I asked a question recently with regards to a certain rape case and a certain ace broadcaster. Yes, I know you guys are tired of hearing me talk about it. I don’t care. Log off. There are wider implications from the behavior exhibited and the outcomes that affect us all, and we need to talk about them. The question was:

How many years and abortions did it take before this 50 year old male “celebrity” switched his MO to carrying around and dispensing the morning after pill to his partners (or victims)?

I don’t have the hour or so needed to write about these issues, but I certainly will delve deeper into it when I have the time. For now, watch this and lets answer why/how we let a man who, according to doctors, needs psychological help walk the streets without treatment, a proven history of sexual violence against minors, and easy access to Postinor-2.

That’s not okay. Roll film!

 

Oh John Dumelo! Why Should we Try to be Rome?

This post isn’t about John Dumelo, my ex-boo. A while ago I wrote about how much I admired him and how compassionate and brilliant he was. Then we went and started speaking off script in a series of videos, tweets and radio interviews and my regard for him imploded. The gravitational pull of my contempt for him destroyed the walls of the ivory tower I’d mentally placed him in. It’s not like someone close to him hadn’t warned me about John Dumelo earlier, either. But as the old adage says: I can show you better than I can tell you.

This post isn’t about John Dumelo. It’s about a nation of John Dumelo’s – or rather a large enough section of population that share his philosophies and thought processes. These are the people who – in the midst of the worst power crisis Ghana has ever seen – want to lead us to proverbial Rome.

Welcome to Ghana, land of my birth. Akwaaba! In the metropolitan areas, there is a load shedding schedule that cycles on 36-48 hours of electricity off, 12 hours on. I’ve heard of people going on 8 day stretches without electricity. My father was one of them. There is very little manufacturing that takes place in Ghana for a myriad of reasons: Corruption, coups, mismanagement, fraud. Pick a combo from the menu; the results are the same. Ghana consumes WAY more than it produces, and the power crisis only goes further to hinder the efforts the few manufacturers that dare to operate under these conditions. In the middle of all these comes John Dumelo, megastar actor and beneficiary of the ruling government’s World Cop “generosity”.

He appealed to Ghanaians to give the president time to fix the power crisis.

“After all, Rome was not built in a day.”

You see this? This is the sort of Post Traumatic Colonial Disorder that plagues the nation. This is anti-Blackness. THIS is why Ghana is spiraling downward. Remember when MP Nelson Baani (NDC) wanted to stone/hang adulterous women because “that’s what they do in Afghanistan”? He was reminded before he went slithering back into obscurity that Ghana is NOT Afghanistan, it is not a caliphate and his job is not to function as anyone’s executioner. But it’s not his fault. Like John Dumelo, Nelson Baani suffers from Post Traumatic Colonial Disorder. He can’t think for himself. He relies on a prescribed set of rules from people who have never had his or his own people’s interests at heart to dictate what and HOW he thinks.

Why would we want to look like Rome, I ask you?

The Romans were notorious copycats. They stole from the Greeks, North Africans and Persians. They appropriated global cultures and presented it as their own inventions with such veracity that the antics of Kylie Jenner and Iggy Azalea pale in comparison. They were a democratic society, but they were far from egalitarian. Their survival and progeny was wholly dependent on violence, and that violence kept power and privilege centralized in the hands of the few. The strategies that Romans used to facilitate slavery would later serve as the handbook for a successful 400 years of African enslavement in America, right down to determining who was fit to reproduce and who wasn’t. Oh, and they had some really nice gardens, pottery, aqueducts and a coliseum. But is Roman society what Ghana is meant to aspire to?

Oh, John Dumelo-ites!

In making his comments about Ghanaians and their expectations for leadership to do their jobs in regards to solving the energy crisis, the actor came off as insensitive and completely out of touch. This was the impetus for fellow entertainer Yvonne Nelson’s hashtag #dumsormuststop which went viral in hours. It consequently led to an interview with the BBC the next day. This of course, made government officials livid. Several of them went on a rampage, calling Yvonne Nelson and her compatriots “liars” and seeking to discredit them. Please. The proof is at Kotoka (Ghana’s international airport), where the lights just off a few weeks ago for the world to see.

But let me show you how dumsor (lights on – lights off) affecting real people. The following infographics have been brought to you by Fazebook and Twirra.

The Problem:

photo 1(4)

 

The Promise(s):

The Influential Defenders of Incompetence:

jmelo

 The Outrage/Grief/Disbelief:

The “Unofficial” Official Government Response:

photo 2

In case you are wondering who this misogynistic bloke who is more interested in policing the bodies and relationship statuses of Ghanaian women, he is a former aid to “D” President’s Chief of Staff. Chances are, he’s still functioning somewhere in Ghana’s government.

photo(1)

And that is the cycle, my friends. This is why Ghana will NEVER progress…because at the end of the day, our political officials, religious leaders and business titans are more concerned with the location and preferences of a woman’s vagina than they are dedicated to solving pressing issues.

Because Rome.

Cash for Coverage: Ghana’s Media Elite Are on Consignment

At the core of journalistic professionalism are the ethics of honesty, integrity, non-partisanship and objectivity. In Ghana, it appears that those ethics have been brushed aside in order that the most elite of the country’s journalists may benefit from the ruling NDC government’s goal of fostering a culture of generosity with news outlets.

That’s what they are calling bribes in the annals of politics these days: “A culture of generosity.”

Tweeaaaa….

Like all evil times, there is always a remnant of men and women who possess enough strength of character and honor to expose rot, even when that decay swaddles those whom they call comrades. Had it not been for the bravery of Ato-Kwamena Dadzie who has been credited with breaking this news, none of us would have ever known that the Chief of Staff called 100 senior journalists to Flagstaff House for a meeting, and then shelled out a total of GHC100K to these individuals at its conclusion.

Ato Dadzie

When we think of media collusion and bribery involving powerful entities like the government or multinational conglomerates, we often imagine huge sums of money passing between hands in dimly lit rooms. At the other end of the spectrum, a terrified and conflicted journalists may take a bride in an attempt head off a bodily threat or harm to his/her loved-ones. Not so in this case. Greed was the only factor at play here.

It’s common knowledge that media professionals are sometimes pressured to either kill a story or slant it in a way that benefits the rich, powerful and/or famous. It is the masses who are either lulled into forgetting the undesirable or cajoled into  eagerly consume fables presented as fact. This was never the goal of journalism. The code of ethics journalists are bound to compels them to serve in the public’s interests, not those of the powerful few. Usually, a journalist – a senior and seasoned one at that – who has studied his/her craft and perfected it over time would balk at the idea of betraying that hard won trust. It takes years to build the reputation as a trusted news source, and that investment is not something a true journalist would throw away for a pittance…unless that journalist was part of the Soli 100 in Accra this week. The term “soli” is short for “solidarity”. In the simplest terms, it is ‘Cash for Coverage’. It is immoral, unethical, and it does not serve the public interest.

This is how pathetic the situation with our most trusted reporters is. About a month ago, I gushed about the designer bag I had purchased from F&W Style. The embossed leather accessory cost me $315, after tax. At the time, I felt it was a good investment. However, had I known that for a mere $15 more – or 45 more minutes of paid work at my part time job – I too could be the proud owner of a Senior Ghanaian Journalist’s fealty, I might have saved my money and picked up a journo on the way home. One never knows when one will need to bend the will of the public in your favor, so it’s always good to have a “respected” journalist in your pocket, isn’t it? That’s what every journalist who took the NDC’s money this week did: sold their honor for the price of a handbag.

The identities of the journalists who took the bribes have been kept very hushed, with some reportedly threatening any colleague with “brimstone” if their names are leaked to the public. Now, what have these men and women got to hide, if their actions were so honorable and do not betray any ethics? What is there to fear? I am curious as to what “brimstone” might look like, but I have a general idea.

Ato Dadzie2

It is no secret that the media landscape in Ghana is dominated by male chauvinists who are highly invested in preserving a culture of patriarchy. It is also no secret that many women in media have had to compromise themselves morally in order to advance their careers. Some have had to turn blind eyes to practices that violate ethical codes. These women are frequently bullied on the workforce and in social spaces. I myself witnessed this (albeit on a moderate scale) when Gary Al Smith and I had the following interaction on Twitter:

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This exchange was in response to my most recent vlog on online harassment, of which Mr. Smith was one of my subjects. Notice how I referred to  “people” in my comment. Notice how he then includes the twitter handle of Ama Agyemang Asante (a female broadcaster), identifying her as the sender of those texts. This tweet went out to Gary Smith’s 14,000 followers, some of whom are mutual colleagues of the two media professionals. Do you think she went unscathed by this, as vindictive as Ghana’s media corps have proven itself to be? Furthermore, is this the type of individual (Gary Smith, I mean) who you would want at the helm of sensitive information in an international news organization…one who would publicly name a colleague in a private texts that YOU sent and put her at risk for a potential vicious backlash? I have never worked a day as a journalist, but even I know from 101 that you don’t reveal sources. I am ashamed for this man and for his uncontrollable impulses. This was cyber-bullying at its least refined. He knew exactly what he was doing when he pulled that move, and if he claims he didn’t, mores the pity. It reveals an acute lack of self and professional awareness. This gender based hostility just one aspect of the type of unprofessionalism that is rampant in Ghana’s media and further fueled by an atmosphere that politicizes everything. Only God knows what the journalists who took this bribe would stop at to keep up their facades of decency while attempting to hurt those who they feel “betrayed” by.

I am amazed at how the government located GHC100,000 to extend as a gesture of “generosity” to the media during a time when the country finds itself under IMF scrutiny. Is there a line item in the austerity budget for such “generosity” that we were not told about? What about the cripples and the homeless? Can they expect some fruit from this new culture of goodwill? Some who have benefited from this blatant  criminality or see the sum as “minimal in the grand scheme of things” are attempting to normalize this corruption by diminishing it. Well, little acorns grow into mighty oaks. It is not the $330 received that is of utmost importance: it is the potential long term benefits to an incumbent government in a campaign year that are. How many favorable stories (or unreported calamities) is $330 worth?

Our eternal gratitude goes to Ato-Kwamena Dadzie for revealing this scourge. Those few journalists who refused to prostitute themselves in broad daylight also have our admiration. The rest only deserve our disgust and scorn… and they have it.

My Favorite Moments from the 2015 VGMAs

Last night (and part of this morning), Vodofone hosted Ghana’s version of the MTV/American Music Awards in this year’s edition of the Ghana Music Awards Festival. Whereas the average American Awards show is 2-3 hours, the VGMAs was an endurance testing 6-7 hour affair which ended around 5 am GMT.

Reviews of the show have been mixed, with a number of people of the opinion that this was the worst VGMAs they’ve ever seen. This was my first time watching the show, and I felt privileged to be able to view it online. The fact that it was streaming worldwide was a win as far as I was concerned. I’m not a big awards show fan and avoid them wherever possible, but the VGMAs was worth eschewing my principles for just one night. It was many things: entertaining, confusing, dull and inspiring. Here are my favorite moments.

The Red Carpet

Sister Durrrby’s Dress: Ghana Twitter went absolutely insane over Deborah Vanessa’s dress last night. Hands down, she was the best dressed entity out there. I’m talking better decorated than the stage, the lights, and any bi-pedal being at the show. Sister Durrrby is often makes fashion statements with her clothing (or lack thereof *ahem* nudes *ahem*) and last night was no exception. She was a stunning mix of old world fantasy, modernity and queenliness. The dress was commissioned under the Wusuwaah’s Diary label after Deborah told her she wanted to “look like a princess” for the night. Home run! Check out the label’s tumbl’r account here.

 

Blaque Boy’s Coat: Chale, chale, chaaaale. Without a doubt, Blaque Boy was the worst dressed person on the red carpet, and that’s a pretty impressive feat, considering he’s a dude. Guys have two choices when it comes to red carpet attire: black or blue. Pick any shade of the two. Occasionally, you may even venture out and try on a white jacket – but even then, one must be careful. White jackets if done incorrectly can be interpreted as an attempt to pose for the new face of the Cream o’ Wheat box. As for Blaque Boy, he threw all caution to the wind and showed up as a mix of ringmaster, paisley upholstery and a meth overdose. And he took these liberties while in the function of the red carpet host. How were any of the viewers supposed to care what the artists where wearing when the host showed up as the conductor for a rave party? I think his coat was made in Ghana, which can be forgiven and is even admirable because…

 

Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, Ghana’s Minister of Tourism was filmed strutting the red carpet in a stunning azure dress with crystal details that was made in Morocco. Minister Ofusu-Agyare was trilling on and on about supporting Ghanaian artists and showing the world what Ghana is capable of in a Moroccan dress. What bigger night than this to showcase a local designer? Heh? But it’s okay. These are the tactics of the current government – to tell Ghanaians to patronize made in Ghana goods and then fail to do so themselves at critical moments themselves. She was right in line and step with this lip service administration. Well done, madam minister.

But you know who kept it real? Who kept it absolutely one hunned and ten? Yvonne Nelson. Yvonne Nelson don’t care what none of y’all think, how none of y’all feel or that you’re in your feelings about her looks. In what can only be described as Viola Wig Shedding moment, Ms. Nelson glided down the red carpet in a short ‘fro and bare feet you guys! Just coming off the heels of filming ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ which required her to cut her hair, she chose to rock her natural tresses without pressing, dying, weaving or gluing any attachments. This was really brave, particularly since Ghanaians are so critical of short hair on grown women. (That’s a whole ‘nother discussion.) Asked why her shoes were off, she said “They are Loub’s (Louboutins) and they are beautiful, but they hurt my feet.”

Yvonne-Nelson-at-2015-Ghana-Music-Awards

That’s grown woman stuff right there. Someone please come and dash her dambs, because clearly, she is fresh out!

 

The Show

Wiyaala was the opening act for the show and she brought it. She brought that old school – Tina Turner -rock goddess – Grace Jones – AC/DC – that funk and that power to the stage. Whooo! I wish I could find a gif for this one move she did with a back-up dancer where they melded – literally fused bodies – together using nothing but their thighs and toe nails. Then she did a back bend while balancing on his quads. I was like “ OH MY GAWD!!!!” And she never missed a note while singing Tinambanyi (Here We Come). I’m getting chills just recalling it. She looked like a frikking warrior deity. Someone said she could have taken bold Leonidas’ position in 300: Rise of the Strong Women. I agree. She’s taking the musical game, devouring it, and asking for seconds.

I love that woman.

Dark Suburb. Humph. These boys. (Or boys and girls, no one knows.) Their show was so full of energy. I was exhausted! There were flipping dwarfs, bare chested dudes painted in white clay, lightening, growling, strips of leather; You get the picture. They are just different and in a league of their own. But as impressive as they are/were they couldn’t touch…

The Compozers Lawd have mercy. I said lawd *stomp* have *stomp* merrrrcy!!!!!! They opened up their set with a rock inspired, smooth version of the Ghanaian national anthem that was so incisive in its delivery it almost made me proud to be a Ghanaian again. (No seriously, the country is so wrecked I feel like we’re living through a lost episode of LOTR: The Desolation of Mahama.)

Musicianship is something we’re losing not only in Ghana, but globally, so it’s always a thrill to see people who can still play an instrument. My generation is the last to remember what it was like to go to a show with full bands backing a singer exclusively, rather than a DJs turn tables and it’s great to know that this sort of performance isn’t going the way of the pterodactyl just yet.

 

Special/Touching Moments

Wiyaala won awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Songwriter, both well deserved. She worked really hard this year and the lyrics to all of her songs are important and impacting. When ascending the stage to accept her award, she brought her mother along to accept it with her. (Her mom also brought along her handbag.) Wiyaala has spoken frequently about her mother’s unwavering support for her dream to sing and entertain, and as a mother myself, watching the two of them together in that moment got me right in the uterus.

You know what else was special? Lydia Forson’s face when her co-presenter starting rambling in broken English and fake slangs about his business prowess and innovation. Apparently, every Ghanaian award show that was ever performed in the history of mankind was his idea. I asked Lydia to tell me exactly what she was thinking and in what exact order, but she hasn’t yet. She doesn’t need to. Every woman watching her face that moment was thinking it too.

Crazy dude in his crazy coat making crazy claims

source: Ameyaw Debrah Look at her face. Now imagine an epic side eye. Heish!

 

As excruciating as that was to watch, it was not nearly as painful as waiting for Daddy Lumba to take the stage to perform his set. Daddy Lumba’s back up dancers deserve the MVP Award for the night. This living legend sent 4 women in black booty shorts and crop tops to dance on stage like four hapless kittens while he sat back stage doing God-knows-what for a full 8 minutes. That’s 8 minutes of dead TV air time, watching 4 grown women jiggle and gyrate to nothing. Someone buy them Poki and meat pie. They’ve earned it!

Reggie Rockstone’s refusal to speak in English touched my heart. His group VVIP won something (by this time I was getting sleepy and didn’t care who won what), but in his portion of the acceptance speech (delivered in Twi), he commanded the entire auditorium to stand up and sing him ‘Happy Birthday’.

They sang in English.

 

Weirdness

In 2007 Tic Tac, aka Ghana’s Busta Rhymes, had a hit called ‘Philomena’. It was about a girl who had poor personal hygiene. It was/is arguably his best and most well-known song. He forgot all the words to this song on stage. Every last lyric. Why?

Akosua Agyapong is like our Rosie Perez. She was our Jennifer Lopez in the Fly Girls days. Akosua Agyapong did the robot during last night VGMAs. Akosua can’t dance anymore.

At one point, every hip life/hip hop was on stage pretending to be the African Oliver Twist, asking crazy questions like “please sir, can I have some more”. Apparently, they want the Ghana Music Association to make sure they are still getting paid when they are “no longer relevant”.

Dude.

Come on now. If you know you are planning to be irrelevant as an artist in a few years, invest your money NOW…and I mean right NOW.

As strange as that request was, nothing beat Blaque Boy’s slangs. He was speaking clear, intelligible English, but he just didn’t sound…right. Here, try this: Put your fist in your mouth. Now say ‘cup cake’. Now talk like that for the rest of the day. You see the problem?

 

I can’t wait for next year!