By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
The newly constituted Board for the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA), in one of their preliminary meetings, has instigated a tense debate, even before nominations for the 22nd edition are announced.
They claim the indefinite ban on Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy that was applied in 2019 has been lifted!
The decision has generated rhubarb, with some industry stakeholders frowning on the call, especially when the announcement was done without the consultation and approval from the camps of the two artistes.
Others are of the conviction that, once there were no deliberations with these acts, there was no need for the Board and the organizers, Charterhouse, to deliberate with these artistes before the public declaration.
The VGMA Board, after the melee that transpired at the 20th edition of the awards, decided to ban Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale indefinitely from any participation in the scheme. The Board also stripped them off every award annexed on the night and demanded them to return the plaques they won on the night.
For thwarting the night, the VGMA Board felt it necessary to punish the two and Charterhouse also reported the disturbance to the Police – a situation that caused the arrest and prosecution of the two artiste.
The decision to ban them indefinitely was a wrong move, considering the fact that, they hold such influence on a critical element of the scheme – the public, and ostracizing them would not inure to the benefit of the scheme. What also makes the ban an infamous one, was the role the two artistes play in the sustenance of the scheme. With the awards hinged heavily on public participation and with two having large following, every other punitive measure could have leveled at them but definitely nots ostracizing them from the scheme.
Reason for Lifting of Ban Is…
The two were banned indefinitely from participating in every aspect of the scheme – nominations, selections and performances at the VGMA obviously for their misbehavior at the event; Shatta Wale walking onstage uninvited, Stonebwoy pulling a gun and the ensuing melee.
The ban, albeit not the first in the history of the scheme was huge, too huge the Executive Director of Charterhouse, Mrs. Theresa Ayoade, in a press briefing, had to tell the media to rise above any chattering that concerns the two top artistes.
Just after a year of serving the ban, the Board, after some deliberations, decided in principle to lift the ban. Yes, they want to lift the ban.
Unfortunately, the Board did not assign the reasons that caused the decision to reinstate the two acts into selection, nomination and performances in the VGMA.
Show them Respect
It is a fact that, the Board did not consult the artistes when they were offering the ban, so, it is germane for anybody to muse that, it does not need to inform the two or hold any form of discussion with them before lifting the ban. Unfortunately, such thinking is pedestrian.
The ban is being lifted for a reason; the fact that, the organizers and the Board have come to the realization that the scheme needs these two artistes. It has nothing to do with the acts being on good behaviour, especially after the infamous incident two years ago. Which barometer was used to check that?
The point is; if the business of two stalwarts in the industry is not needed by the scheme, the ban would still persist. The business of the two is the influence and following they offer to the scheme, which is a public-oriented scheme where the followers of these acts are expected to expend money to vote to choose winners.
One can also not underestimate the level of noise the involvement of the two bring to the scheme. The hype, the banter and competition generated by these two alone, are enough to catapult the scheme.
Considering how pivotal these two are and what they bring to the table, plus everything they have been through including the prosecution and public ridicule, it was only judicious for the organizers to have a talk with the two, or at least, inform them with cogent reasons that the scheme intends to lift the ban and would like the two to be part of the scheme.
If the organizers and the VGMA Board recognize the effect of the artistes and their involvement in the scheme, it was just right for them to accord them respect by having a conversation with them before the announcement.
This Is Business
No award scheme is operating for charity. It is business and the award industry has always been a business venture.
Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy are businesses on their own; they are bankable brands that have been running businesses over the years, so in respect of their stature and brand positioning, it is only appropriate that, once you detect their business can affect your business, you have a sit-down with them and have a fruitful discussion.
Giving them the recognition doesn’t mean paying them to be part of the scheme, but speaking to them is just an indication that you recognize their impact and influence, their command over of a section of the public that is crucial to the betterment of the scheme.
It is the gesture that counts! Show it!