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NANA KWAME AMPADU: Legacy, Recognition & State Burial

By Arnold  Asamoah-Baidoo

NANA Kwame Ampadu, a colossus in the Ghanaian music industry is dead and tributes have poured in from all walks of life.

His influence and impact in the industry was inestimable and also transcended the music industry into film, television, culture and administration.

Since his unfortunate demise, conversations have gone on extensively about how our legends and luminaries in the arts are treated before and after they take a bow from the earth.

The aftermath of Nana Ampadu’s death has been characterised by talks of his legacy, recognition accorded him and whether he deserves a state funeral or not.

Legacy

A legacy that makes Ghanaian music history look grand is what Nana Kwame Ampadu presents; a relic who influenced generations of artistes, projected Highlife to a pedestal and altered the face of music administration in Ghana.

He is said to have produced close to 1,000 copyrighted songs, many of which became hit songs. He was arguably the best storyteller ever, had the most meaningful, thought-provoking and life-altering songs and produced one of the biggest Ghanaian songs of all time in Obra.

He was pivotal in the formation and continuous existence of the collection society in Ghana, having been instrumental in the passing of Act 690, which led to the creation of the Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO) in 2011.

In 2014, when GHAMRO faced a leadership crisis, Nana Ampadu sought to instill sanity in the industry as he galvanised others in what was tagged ‘Nana Ampadu & 100 Others’ and took the organisation to court. He won the case.

Musically, he did influence different generations of musicians and he indeed left an indelible mark, with his story-telling skill seen through the likes of Obrafour, Kwadee, Fameye and many others.

Recognition

Nana Kwame Ampadu is touted to be one of the greatest Ghanaian musicians of all time but there’s nothing to show for it. There’s no National Exhibition Centre that showcases his works and achievements, there’s no Museum that depicts his works and achievements and there’s nothing like a Walk of Fame that celebrates his legacy.

Nana Ampadu’s memorabilia can fill rooms and arenas – collectibles, together with those of other Ghanaian legends, can actually fill an entire edifice and make money via tourist attractions. A seemingly simple project like a Walk of Fame, we do not have!

The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,690[1] five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of musicians, actors, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others.

According to a 2003 report by the market research firm, NPO Plog Research, the Walk attracts about 10 million visitors annually—more than the Sunset Strip, the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s), the Queen Mary, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art combined—and has played an important role in making tourism the largest industry in Los Angeles County.

State burial

Nana Ampadu’s passing has instigated another round of conversation about persons within the creative industry and state funerals.

There’s been a strong school of thought pushing that the music legend be accorded a state funeral and of course there have also been persons who have pooh-poohed that idea.

The country, Ghana, holds state funerals for people of national significance and records show that only 22 have thus far been accorded the protocols of a state funeral.

George Kingsley Acquah, Ebenezer Ako Adjei, Francis Allotey, Kwesi Amissah Arthur, Kofi Annan, VCRAC Crabbe, W.E.Du Bois, Emmanuel Evans-Anfom, Mary Grant, Aliu Mahama, J.H Mensah, John Atta Mills, J.H Nketia, Kwame Nkrumah, P.V. Obeng, William Ofori Atta, Atukwei Okai, Victor Owusu, Nathan Quao, Emmanuel Charles Quist and Jerry Rawlings are the only astute persons to be given state funerals.

Among the 22, only two are from the creative industry – musicologist J.H. Nketia and poet/playwright Atukwei Okai.

There can be no dispute about Nana Ampadu’s influence and impact on the nation. There can be no argument on how significant his works have been to the nation and there can be very little argument how his music has been widely enjoyed by Ghanaians, spanning decades.

It will therefore not be out of place for the country and the board/committee/entity in charge of state sunerals to give Nana Kwame Ampadu one.

Among the 22, only two are from the creative industry – musicologist J.H. Nketia and poet/playwright Atukwei Okai.

There can be no dispute about Nana Ampadu’s influence and impact on the nation. There can be no argument on how significant his works have been to the nation and there can be very little argument how his music has been widely enjoyed by Ghanaians, spanning decades.

It will therefore not be out of place for the country and the board/committee/entity in charge of state funerals to give Nana Kwame Ampadu one.

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