NPP’s Unofficial-Official Response to Theft: We Will Take Whatever We Want!

There’s something about politics and political allegiances that turns otherwise rational people into absurd versions of themselves. Something in the brain just switches off and confusion sets in. Fealty coupled with credulity renders these individuals like the proverbial bull seeing red: It robs them of their intellect and reduces them to an undignified spectacle. I was reminded of this yesterday.

On my most recent post, I talked about plagiarism in Ghana citing Poka’s work as just one example of the trend. His work had been altered by a “rogue NPP supporter” and industrially distributed on the ‘I am for Nana’ Facebook page… a social media effort that one Kow Essuman takes credit for creating. (More about Mr. Essuman, Esq. to come later.)

The majority of people who read yesterday’s post agree with the sentiments and understand the gravity of what’s taken place. A handful of others have claimed that my pointing out this infraction is much ado about nothing, and certainly shouldn’t be charged to the NPP flag-bearer’s account. I find that sentiment rather interesting, particularly since it is this same set of people that has dubbed our sitting president as “incompetent” for his party’s many failures. It doesn’t matter whether JDM personally set fire to the trader’s homes at Arts Center or not; whether he’s personally responsible for directing the mess at our harbors or not; whether he has failed to use his body generate the megawatts needed to end dumsor or not! Somehow, he is personally to blame. Yet instinctively, we know John Mahama’s incompetence does not exist in a vacuum. He has surrounded himself with and is being advised by incompetent, semi-literate people. He made the choice to entrust each of these people with particular aspects of his presidential agenda. Likewise, Nana Addo, his running mate and all the bottom feeders looking for a reward in return for their support have entrusted a cadre of individuals to represent the party on social media.

A number of those individuals are failing him, and giving Ghanaians a glimpse of grim things to come if these are the sort of crass bullying tactics they intend to use to sway public opinion, regardless of who they trample on in the process.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 8.07.12 AM

Yesterday, I shared 2 images of Poka’s plagiarized work on twitter, juxtaposing the original work with the politicized alteration. In the course of conversation, Kofi Asenso recommended that an invoice be sent to Kow Essuman, a man who describes himself on twitter as an aide to Nana Addo, among other things. For someone who is supposed to be a lawyer and an aide to a presidential candidate on the campaign trail during an election year, he displayed the sort of sickening arrogance that one expects only after the coveted seat in power has been won. I suppose Essuman should be commended for showing his true colors as one of the NPP’s many mouthpieces responsible for public engagement. It will spare us all future disappointment. Here is a sample of the condescension he exhibited to the horror of his friends and colleagues.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 4.18.40 PMClick the image to witness the splendor of Essuman’s pompousness

 

Saa? You don’t pay people by heart, but your teams steal property by heart? Ahh, ok. Honestly, it would be possible for me to concede that the theft of Poka’s intellectual property (and potentially several other artists we may discover in days to come) was a one-off incident committed by a rogue party zealot if not for the existence of this second image that came filtering into my private messages.

The image on the left was created by Poka to celebrate the coming New Year. The one on the right is the hijacked NPP version.
The image on the left was created by Poka to celebrate the coming New Year. The one on the right is the hijacked NPP version.

This is just beyond the pale! In this instance, the culprit was Nana Boakye, who is incidentally a member of the NPP’s social media strategy team and a trained lawyer to boot. It is his team’s appropriation that I find most ironic. Depicting NPP as a ship to bear Ghanaians to better fortunes promising development, prosperity, quality education and JOBS, it cannot escape anyone that this cabal would rob a man of a job opportunity and simultaneously steal his intellectual property in the process! This can’t have eluded Mr. Boakye’s consciousness…not unless he willfully parted with civility and his sworn duty to uphold the law. And make no mistake: what his team did here was unlawful. Furthermore, if Poka’s art was good enough to steal, it was good enough to pay for. (Or he could have simply asked Poka to use his work and accepted a potential refusal with grace.)

As I generally do, I reached out to Nana Boakye for his reaction and provided him with an opportunity to give a justification for his actions. In part, my query to him read:

 

“I would like to be fair to you and give you an opportunity to explain why you felt that you had the right to appropriate the work without the artist’s consent, and what your feelings would be if he should decide to sue. Also, do you believe the flag-bearer of your party would approve of your tactics? Are there other artists you plan to/have appropriated work from?”

 

Mr. Boakye has yet to respond.

Several people have intimated that Poka ought to sue and be done with the whole affair. But this is bigger than just one artist. This is about an elitist group who thinks it has the right to rob people of their work for the benefit of their political agenda. For Poka to have his work politicized without his knowledge and/or consent is unconscionable, especially given the vindictive political atmosphere that Ghanaians live under today. The “wrong” allegiance can rob you of opportunities until the “right” party gets into power. That’s our sad reality. And it’s precisely why so many professional people remain closeted ‘party-of-choice’ supporters until they decide it’s safe enough to come out.

But here is the bigger question: Is this how NPP wants to set the tone for its campaign in 2016? If it’s discovered that other artists have had their work appropriated, do they really want to mar their campaign with a class action lawsuit? Why do that when such an incident is avoidable in the first place?

Back to the guardians of Nana’s image: Do they understand that he is not Nana Addo running for the position of head boy of some primary school in Atebubu? He is running for the highest office of the land! And if this is the caliber of person he is surrounding himself with – men who have NO regard for the Ghanaian creative/entrepreneur and whose propensity is to mock, rather than reflect when a real infraction has been pointed out – then he’s doing the rest of us no favors. We might as well make John D. MaHaHa president for life. If this behavior is considered acceptable on this level, can you imagine the level of imperiousness the higher up the political food chain?

Why is this important? We live in the digital age and for many people, virtual reality is more “real” than our lived experience. Our thoughts, opinions and convictions are often formed or influenced by something we’ve seen on the internet. That’s why social media teams have such a great responsibility to uphold. They are the first/only link to a candidate that a certain segment of the voting population will ever have. And let’s be honest – to the impoverished villager who had to feed his kids scummy pond water this morning, copyright infringement means nothing. That doesn’t mean we must ignore this plight. Because the end goal is to lift that villager from poverty so that they too can develop modern, patented ideas and express themselves creatively and/or scientifically. Shouldn’t that person at least be able to expect that a whole political machine wouldn’t devour their intellectual property to suit its own purposes?

It’s unlikely that Nana Addo and his management team are aware of this (repeating) issue, even though it affects them personally. It’s Mr. Addo’s face and his promises emblazoned on these stolen images. He ought to be concerned. His overzealous (and at times, overbearing) supporters ought to be concerned about the manner in which they represent their party to the public. As it stands, the NPP social media team is proving itself to be a group devoid of original thought, save a few points of light. We’re seeing evidence of this with increasing regularity. One cannot easily forget how they have shamelessly ripped off the CPP’s “Ghana Must Work Again!” slogan, coined by its current General Secretary Akomfrah. This type of knavery constitute the many ugly seeds of corruption.

And yes, indignant NPP foot soldier about to swan dive into my comments; I know NDC is guilty of the same. We’ve already had a good laugh at them on Facebook. It’s your turn now.

 

 

*Copyrights are automatic under Ghanaian law, meaning the day the work was originated it had copyrights; however, the originator of the work would need to register it in the copyright office of Ghana. The registration is what protects against plagiarism or gets the originator compensation through the licensing of the work. If you have intellectual property and are wondering how to further protect yourself from plagiarism, you can seek legal counsel. One place to start is Globetrotters Legal Africa, where teams specialize in copyright and trademark law.  A ballpark estimation to have your work trademarked will run between GHC15,000 – 45,000.

  • Ama

    A thief is a thief, whether they wear blue collar (NDC) or white collar (NPP)! Both have become so arrogant and audacious they are beyond belief! A further tragedy is that their leaders don’t rein their thugs in, so they are to be blamed too. In the meantime, artists and the general populace whose votes they seek, get shafted! That’s why I support Samia Nkrumah, the only politician without a whiff of scandal about her.

    • The buck has to stop somewhere. If the leadership doesn’t control the small foxes, then who will? If we are ever to move away from this trajectory of becoming a failed state, we have to discourage this behavior IMMEDIATELY, if not before. *Sean Paul voice*

  • OH gosh, this is so disappointing and disheartening to see! And exactly, if an artist’s work is good enough to steal then it’s definitely good enough to pay for. Ahhba! What a shame. Done by educated lawyers as that??!

    • Isn’t it awful? Kinna Likimani (of Kinna Reads) gently informed him that a simple acknowledgement of the issue and a promise to look into it would do. He snapped on her.

      As for the other lawyer dierrr…

  • G.p bentil

    This really a face to face pirate.we have to accelerate from our slowest gear to bring a Change in Motion

  • GOK

    This woman paaa. Are you sayng that you aren’t aware of any images that have been doctored by NDC’s social media advocates? Or that corporate entities used the work of artists at the Chale Wote festival without permission? You were pushing an agenda and had no interest in addressing (or being fair to) the issue, which makes you the same as those you seek redress from. But who knows, you may have been given some crumbs to advocate for the NDC. This is Ghana, after all.

    • Lol! You are unserious, unread and uninformed.

      • Clay

        “And yes, indignant NPP foot soldier about to swan dive into my comments; I know NDC is guilty of the same. We’ve already had a good laugh at them on Facebook. It’s your turn now.”

        Malaka, if you’d only had the presence of mind to include the sentence above, that might’ve obviated GOK’s little outburst! Lol!

        • *sigh* You would have thought that including the sentiment in the body of the post would have sufficed!

        • GOK

          Oh boy, aren’t you a genius!! My eyes aren’t that bad.

          Oh, so she is having a big laugh about this isn’t she?

          And the overall issue about intellectual property and copyright abuse is so important to her, isn’t it?

          If it had not happened to someone she knows and likes, she would’ve never engaged in this “battle” to seek retribution on the artist’s behalf. And when her initial attempt was rebuffed she came up with this half-baked idea to draw in the flagbearer of the party the perpetrators support, in an attempt to hit the perpetrators where it hurts. Poorly executed strategy which still hasn’t yielded any results. Use your noggin bro.

          And as for politics in Ghana, I could care less about any of those entities you call political parties.

      • GOK

        Hahahaha…..And you are serious, well read, OBJECTIVE, and sensible, that’s why you try to settle a personal score in this matter. You really need to grow up.

        • And you really need to get your life.

          • GOK

            I have a great life. I retired at 48!!

    • Did you read the last paragraph?

      • GOK

        I sure did. Think deeper about what she was trying to accomplish….please!!!

  • The last time the spokespersons and campaign team were out doored I never saw Kow Essuman”s name among them.

  • James

    I think you mean well but to be attacking the Npp to the extend of accusing them of stealing from cpp is quite unfortunate and hypocritical, I am beginning to think you have a hidden agenda. Visiting the sins of individuals on a whole entity is just not fair. Why didn’t we hear your voice when P-Square did a similar thing to Poka but you just found your voice now.

    • Nonsense. YOU didn’t hear my voice about P Square. My 3K plus followers on Twitter and everyone on Facebook did. I talked about it extensively.

      Don’t be as mundane as this. Hidden agenda indeed!

  • Kakra

    You could have uttered this piece without this deep political tone and it would still be brilliant.

    • But it IS political. How is no one able to see that?

      If for example Kobina and the 256 people who shared his post had vandalized public property while shouting party slogans, how could we separate the politics from that?

      Likewise, when these now two men contravened the law and plastered their work all over a campaign page, it IS political.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

  • Kafui Amanfu

    This is just unacceptable. I had same sentiments when I saw that stolen work, plus same image used by another follower of Pastor Chris.
    Wrong is wrong and must be dealt with.
    So sickening.

    • Wrong is wrong. But some people, like this GOK character for instance, will fight tooth and nail to defend it for infantile reasons. It’s so irritating.

      • GOK

        Please re-read my comments again. The problem I have is you being unfair to the issue, as well as roping in the flagbearer of the NPP, simply because you thought that would get his supporters to kowtow to your demands. Not a well thought out approach. I’m done! Have a good life.

  • Isaac Nuamah

    Hi, Malaka, this my first here even though i heard heard (not read) of interesting write-ups including the one on KKD. You come across as quite straightforward and firm. I think the NPP follower need to acknowledge the original source of the image. I think it bothers on copyright theft. However, linking it to the Nana Addo misses the point and the last time i checked Mr Essuman was/is not an aide to Nana. Secondly, it was not a corporate decision by the party to “steal” the artwork . Nonetheless, the first “stealer” needs to apologise to Poka.
    I promise to be frequent here … you have interesting stuff ..lol

    • I’m sure that will come as news to Mr. Essuman, who seems QUITE confident in the level of his importance! Lol!

      You’re welcome here any time.

  • Great piece. POKA is a dear friend of mine and it is disheartening to see such nonsense.

    • Thanks for the kind compliment.

      I haven’t met POKA in person, but I feel really protective of him (and all my artist family, really) that I had to speak up. I’m glad you and so many other people care as well!