‘Ghana Month’ – In celebration of Kwaku Sintim Misa (KSM)

BY: Arnold Asamoah - Baidoo
Kwaku Sintim Misa (KSM)
Kwaku Sintim Misa (KSM)

On The Radar continues to celebrate legendary Ghanaian entertainers who have contributed immensely to the Ghanaian arts industry and paved the way for the new generation of entertainers – and this week, we celebrate Kwaku Sintim Misa (KSM).

KSM is a living legend whose versatility, immense influence on radio, television, script writing, movies and most importantly, comedy cannot be disputed.

He’s made such significant impact on almost all aspects of show business and he did all that with a touch of class, professionalism, technical expertise, tact and so much intelligence – traits that many entertainers in the trade ought to learn.

The road has not been all rosy for KSM but he has surged on, surmounted the challenges and broke new frontiers to become the first in so many endeavours within the arts sector.

Beginnings & Sojourn

KSM was born on December 5, 1956 in Kumasi. He attended the UST Primary School before going to the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School (PRESEC), Legon, in the 1970-71 academic year.

After his first year, he left for Prempeh College, Kumasi, to continue his secondary education between 1972 and 1977, where he also completed the sixth form course.

With such passion for arts, the young KSM sought education in that field at the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) and so many years after leaving the Institution, he is regarded as one of the best pioneer students and also one of its illustrious alumni.

Still having the arts at heart, he enrolled at the Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, for his first degree in Theatre Arts, majoring in acting and directing.

He then enrolled in New York University for the Masters of Fine Arts Programme in film production.

He later worked with several film companies.

He parlayed all that he learnt in Ghana and the United States into a meaningful and productive career in film and theatre with a variety of Off-Broadway and Public Theatre roles.

He was also featured in the popular American crime series, Law & Order and on the drama series, Medal of Honor Rag (by the Tony Award winning director Lloyd Richards.)

He became the first African to stage an original Off-Broadway play when he produced ‘Thoughts of a Confused Black Man’, an immensely popular one-man show that elicited such gripping questions about race in the United States.

Return to Ghana

With how fast he was rising in his acting career in America, he could have stayed to become one of the most-sought-after actors, directors or scriptwriters in Hollywood, but his heart was still with Ghana and the challenge of helping change the narrative of a promising but floundering industry brought him back.

Inspired by the experience and success he attained in America, KSM decided to return to Ghana in 1997 with a film he produced, directed and starred in, The Wages of Sin - a movie that was poorly patronised.

Several years after gaining the popularity, clout and influence in the industry, KSM faltered again with the release of another movie, Double, in 2009 – which performed abysmally on the movie market.

He attributes the poor showing on the movie market to connivance and machinations that hurt individuals that aspire to effect some change in filmmaking in Ghana.

Though his exploits in the movie arena is not as telling, he’s made such significant strides in the areas of radio, television and most importantly, comedy.

He is god of Ghanaian Comedy

Approbation goes out to the likes of Tommy Annan Forson, Fritz Baffour and others but it is KSM who takes the cake for his ability to commercialise and make stand-up comedy such an appealing and well-revered craft.

He was able to make one-man satire shows a mainstay in the Ghanaian entertainment calendar and nobody does it or has been able to do it better than him.

He has written, directed and starred in a series of one-man comedic plays, most notably Saga of a Returnee, Afia Siriboe, and Politically Incorrect among many other enthralling plays.

One dominant trait of KSM and his plays is the uniqueness of his performances and his ability to get people to laugh at themselves - something he does to high-profile personalities, politicians and clergy.

Before the Tyler Perrys and Madea, there was KSM and Afia Siriboe, one of KSM’s most outstanding plays – a production in which he had to assume the role of a four-time female divorcee with a passion for provocative dressing.

Under the aegis of his Sapphire Company, KSM always used his comical characters to illustrate the key social, economic and political issues concerning Ghana.

Regarded as one of Africa’s greatest stage sensations, he has performed extensively in other countries such as the UK, USA and Canada thanks to the ability of his humour to cut across race and culture.

Considering how influential he’s been over decades, the title “the Undisputed Master of Satire and King of Comedy”, bestowed on him by critics and industry stakeholders is totally deserved.

Radio Luminary

Radio talk shows have become one of the integral parts of radio programming but that attraction was made possible by the likes of KSM, who, without any formal training in journalism, particularly radio presenting, was able to break through and be reckoned as a legend in the field.

Shortly after arriving in the country, he became a prominent radio talk show host; commandeering the show, Talk Shop on the defunct Vibe FM, a show that introduced Ghana to broadcasting’s potential for generating controversy.

In an unprecedented move, he used a combative, confrontational and inquisitorial style that surprised listeners into frankly discussing relevant national issues without feeling intimidated.

In another groundbreaking move, he introduced another intriguing show, Nyame Som Ye De, a programme that pushed Ghanaians to think beyond religion to define their broader spirituality.

He went on to the defunct Choice FM to host two gripping shows, That’s My Opinion and Connection With God – programmes that commanded a mammoth following.

Inspired by the fact that he endured and survived life in the US, while yearning and gaining his own salvation, he sermonised on radio for two reasons.

First, to disprove the assertion that he was anti-Christian and second, to speak to the frustration people had with Christianity that prevented them from going to church.

Television Gem

Over the years, under his Sapphire Productions, he has written and produced a variety of television shows, including Build Your Ark, Divorce Court, Action Security, Ogya FM and a number of medical documentaries.

KSM used the deluge of shows to address very pertinent issues of social, economic and national interest.

Not satisfied with all the achievements already chalked in television, KSM introduced one of the most popular late night talks show on TV – Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) which later became The KSM Show.

TGIF, at its inception, was the first programme of its kind to fuse serious talk, education and humour to attain such attention and popularity, earning KSM the Radio and Television Personality, Television Entertainment Show Host of the Year Award in 2011.

The KSM Show has been the biggest prime time show in Ghana for many years – giving the platform to a myriad of personalities, from celebrities to ordinary Ghanaians who are thriving to effect positive change in their lives to affect the society.

Long Live KSM

At his age, KSM is still passionate about the well-being of the Ghanaian youth and he is highly sought after for his informative talks on personal and professional development. He gives lectures around the country at major universities and he sits on quite a number of Committees and Boards for various entities in the arts industry in Ghana.

We pray for KSM, long life, good health, peace of mind, strength and success in his endeavours.