By Arnold Asamaoh-Baidoo
As we congratulate Charterhouse for the efforts in putting together the 20th edition of the scheme, it is also imperative we mention the other happenings that didn’t befit an event that was marking its 20th anniversary.
Today, I won’t let the Stonebwoy – Shatta Wale rumpus, which has already taken the headlines also take my headline. I am focusing on one of some awkward moments that transpired on the night; Amakye Dede and Kuami Eugene.
During the set of Kuami Eugene, he invited on stage, the legendary Amakye Dede and they performed a song by the legend, after which Amakye Dede proceeded to remark on how he believes the young lad is the best Ghanaian musician to project and protect highlife music. He then crowned him ‘King of Highlife’!
The spectacle is a reminder of another contentious episode where the legendary satirist, Kweku Sintim Misa (KSM) was said to have crowned the younger comedian, DKB, as the ‘King of GH. Comedy’. That coronation was not accepted by all comedians in Ghana, as well as patrons of Ghanaian comedy. The only person who basks in that glory is DKB!
Every activity that happens on the itinerary of the event is scripted and that includes the joke of a play that was enacted by Amakye Dede and Kuami Eugene, thanks to the scriptwriter (s) for the event.
The reception given to that gimmick tells of how awkward the episode was. The act was shabby, unnecessary, ill-timed and time-wasting. It had no business being in the programme line-up for the event.
To make it worse, the actors in that play were bad actors too; making it obvious they had no or less rehearsal and their confusion on the stage – on what to do, where to stand, when to place the crown etc. was abysmal.
Whoever suggested that the VGMA platform was the best place for the crowning of a so-called ‘King of Highlife’ got it totally wrong and it is befuddling to realize that none of the members of the Planning Committee, if there was any, envisaged how dreadful it would look to millions of people watching in Ghana and across the world.
That event was for a Ghana Music Awards, a ‘national’ awards for all genres of Ghanaian music, not a Highlife Awards and not a platform where ‘Kings’ of music genres are crowned.
Who Made Amakye Dede Kingmaker?
For a moment, I thought there’s a Council of Elders for Highlife Music in Ghana, which has personalities assigned to rummage, detect, appoint and crown ‘Kings’ – and the legend, Amakye Dede occupies such a role. No, there’s no such gathering and he has not been appointed by anybody to crown another.
There’s no doubt about Amakye Dede’s status in the music industry; he is a legend and his contribution to the culture and the craft is inestimable, but that is where it ends! He has no authority, on a platform set for everybody, every genre and every artiste – under the direction of the organizers, to put some crown on somebody’s head.
Amakye Dede is no ‘King of Highlife Music’ either. He is one of many pioneers who have paved the way for many others to follow, with the many also paving the way for the young ones to emulate. Nobody, in the history of the genre, has made it his/her business to make ‘Kings’.
I do not think anybody would have had an issue with the legend if he had organized his own concert, invited Kuami Eugene and handed him whatever crown and accorded him whatever title; that’s his business. But, on a general platform like that of the VGMA, that action was an affront to all the pioneers of the genre, all the hardworking acts that came after the likes of Amakye and all the enterprising young folks who are trying their best to project the genre.
Kuami Eugene Is Not The New King of Highlife
First of all, there’s no ‘King of Highlife Music’. There was none in 1960, we had none in 1970, nobody assumed that role in 1990 and in this new generation, there’s still no ‘King of Highlife’.
If Kuami Eugene believes he is ‘King of Highlife’, he can tag himself as such; there’s no law that bars him from branding himself with whatever title (s) but we won’t allow that stunt to be imposed on us via a grand event like the VGMA.
I won’t even expend time and pen commentary on the kind of music he does and whether he deserves to assume any imaginary role of a King. The argument on whether he even produces quintessential highlife music is quite inconsequential to me. Highlife music, just like many other popular genres across the world, have evolved and the young lad is only doing his part.
The point is; Kuami Eugene and his handlers have done well for his brand and whatever music he projects. He makes good music and has been able to elevate his craft and brand to such impressive heights in such a short spate of time and the future looks bright. However, he is no King over anybody! He should just play his part, make his money, better his life and sit somewhere!
Let’s Get Serious
In all honesty and with all seriousness, it is very disappointing to have Charterhouse endorse the stunt of Amakye Dede crowning Kuami Eugene as ‘King of Highlife’ – considering the fact that, we are facing a tumultuous moment in our lives as an industry between Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale, a tussle that has everything to do with ‘King’ of Reggae/Dancehall’ in Ghana.
This self-acclamation of Kingship in our entertainment industry has caused problems for us; rappers agitating over who is ‘King of Rap/Hiplife’, female acts scrimmaging over who is ‘Queen of Dancehall’ and of course, that edgy wrangling on who befits the crown of ‘King of Reggae/Dancehall’. So, it makes no sense that the organizers of the well-accepted Music Awards, would offer such a platform to crown another King? Why?
And they expect the other young highlife artistes and their followers to sit, watch and not react?
By conceptualizing and actually pulling such an act, are they (Charterhouse) trying to help curb this canker or to exacerbate a gnawing problem in the industry?
If you want to crown any artiste ‘King’ of whatever genre, that’s fine; next time, please call the fellow to the Office, in the full glare of staff and give him whatever crown – and not impose any inanity on everybody. That’s foul!