In days leading to the 2016 General Elections and its aftermath, Samira Bawumia, wife of the Vice President of the Republic, had been in the spotlight, generating rave reviews for almost all her endeavours – from her campaign speeches to her fashion sense, but, last week, she got a taste of bad press.
She was in India as one of the main speakers for the International Conference in Women Trafficking in Mumbai, India, but unfortunately for her, the decision to visit the cast and crew of the popular Indian-produced television series, ‘Kumkum Bhagya’ made the headlines and gave her a stint of what backlash actually feels like.
The reproach of that infamous visit and picture-taking moment was so intense, the adorable ‘Second Lady’ was reported to have taken to her social media platform to explain exactly what she went to India to do – speak at a conference.
Interestingly, while multitudes of the people are expressing their disdain for the move by the ‘Second Lady’, the folks at Adom TV, the television in Ghana that showcases the series are said to have applauded the lady for her gesture – and it makes sense, of course!
Intense Rejection of KumKum Bhagya
The Indian telenovela is not the first to generate such hoopla in Ghana; the likes of Acapulco Bay, Cuando Sea Mea, Esmeralda, and Second Chance among many others have all had their run but the legend of Kumkum Bhagya is beyond comparison.
The series, since its premiere has faced taut repudiation from almost every angle of the society – from the film industry, the church, children advocates, educationists and activists.
Educationists claim the series is corrupting the school children and affecting the education system, where the students are fawning over the show instead of their books and quite astonishingly, some schools are even setting examination questions on the TV series.
Church leaders are blaming the refusal of their members to come for services on weeknights on the telenovela while others are saying business women would rather watch the show than sell stuff to their customers even when the customers are standing right in front of the shops. Amazing!
As for the film industry, if they had their way, the show would have been cancelled a longtime ago as major players have placed all the problems in the industry on the doorstep of Kumkum Bhagya.
People Love The Series Too
The talk of Kumkum Bhagya gets confusing most times, because, while a section of the public scoffs at it, a seemingly bigger section of the same public are smitten by it – making the subject very dicey.
The show has been showing for almost three years and its popularity has grown bountifully, making it the most-watched television series in Ghana in the last 2 years – and intriguingly, the show’s admiration is nationwide as people in the villages across the country are all familiar with it. So popular is the show that, a Chief from Assin Asaaman in the Central Region, drove all the way from his region to Accra and presented a cow to the personnel of the television station for telecasting an Indian telenovela in the local language.
The acceptance of the show is felt heavily in the corporate fold, with close to 30 companies sponsoring the showcase of the series, much to the delight of Multimedia Company, owners of Adom TV.
There’s little doubt that the popularity of the series in the last two years has catapulted Adom TV to the top of the log as one of the most-watched stations in the country.
How Did Samira Bawumia Goof?
Regardless of the love that some Ghanaians have exhibited to the telecast of the series, the negation has also been extremely loud, and such disclaimer comes from very influential bodies, pressure groups and individuals in the country.
In view of this, it was not expected that the ‘Second Lady’ would go on a visitation to the set of Kumkum Bhagya and gleefully embark on a photo-session with its cast and crew and then justify the decision to make such a move.
But wait, maybe Samira, just like the many other Ghanaians, love the series and has been watching, and still watches it in her presidential villa. Why would she not take the opportunity whiles in India to visit her TV ‘idols’? Why should any naysayer put a blockage in her way when she has the power and resources to visit whoever she deems fit?
But, wait again – she went to India in the capacity as the wife of the Vice President, representing the country on an official visit, thus, her photo-taking spree with the Indians and her justification of the decision is a clear endorsement of the series showing on Ghanaian television. Her justification of the decision makes nonsense of all the protestation made against the telecast of the series in Ghana in the last two years.
Samira’s PR Gaffe Is Evident
The wife of the Vice President was in India for a purpose – to attend and speak at the International Conference in Women Trafficking in Mumbai, India. The visit was communicated on major media platforms a month or so before the Conference and there was nowhere in that communication that stated that, she would be using the opportunity to visit Kumkum Bhagya.
Moments after the photos went viral, the ‘Second Lady’ was in the spotlight, with the news inundating major portals and social media over her visit to the players of the Indian TV series and all the talk was fixated on that moment. Nothing on the very important Conference on Women Trafficking made the news.
After the backlash, the PR machinery guided Mrs. Bawumia to post a response on her social media page with more photos of the meeting with some of the cast of Kumkum Bhagya.
She wrote; “Meeting with some key members of the Indian Entertainment Industry, exploring possibilities of collaboration to boost the budding movie Industry in Ghana”.
That is a good response but what makes it corny is the fact that, there was no representation of the Ghanaian movie industry in that visit, nobody from the Actors Guild Film Producers or even from the National Commission on Culture.
Can We Cut Her Some Slack?
Is the visit being blown out of proportion? How inimical is the visit to the film industry in Ghana? Would it affect the debilitating patronage of our movies and local productions? Will it derail the government’s resolve to help the industry blossom?
The ‘Second Lady’ since her ascension to the high office has welcomed a lot of actors and movie stakeholders in the country. She’s met and held talks with the likes of Yvonne Nelson, Nana Ama McBrown and many others, so, why should her meeting with the cast and crew of Kumkum Bhagya be contentious.
Again, it may be a PR move to deflect the bad press with the collaborative talk, but she occupies a high office and something good may come out of that talk. It may be a matter of funding, a necessary component for the revival and sustenance of the movie industry.
Let’s give the woman the benefit of the doubt and wait patiently for how that collaboration would pan out.
Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo, www.entertainmentgh.com