Next Friday, December 2, when Koforidua hosts this year’s National Farmers Day (NFD), I’m praying, once again, that the recognitions will include the Bomaa Paradise Choir (BPC). It’s perhaps an unfamiliar name, but effectively it’s an important partner in the observance.
The BPC is by no means an agricultural enterprise. However, I view the choir as an NFD partner because their acclaimed song, ‘Ghana akuafo’, has clearly become an unofficial theme song of the Day.
It is regularly heard on the airwaves during the NFD season and thus the evergreen melody has come to be associated very much with the Farmers Day. Conceivably, many people know it well enough to hum or even sing along, but how many know that it’s a composition of the little known BPC?
As it has virtually become the anthem of the NFD, I think the BPC and ‘Ghana akuafo’ should have been recognised and placed officially on the celebration’s ‘honour roll’ long ago.
This column first suggested the need for that recognition in 2018, in the following article:
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THE (ABRIDGED) 2018 COLUMN
At this time of the year, in Ghana it’s not the sounds of carols playing on the airwaves that signal that Christmas is near. Usually, it’s the sound of the melodious tribute to Ghanaian farmers, ‘Ghana akuafo’ (Ghana’s farmers), which indicates that the festive month, December, has arrived.
GHANA AKUAFO LYRICS
Ghana akuafo e (hail to Ghanaian farmers)!
Yɛmamo amo o (We say congrats to you)!
Yɛma mo ayikoo, ayee! (We say well done! to you)
Mo ayɛbi o (You deserve commendation)
Mo ama aduane aba (Thanks to you, there is plenty of food)
Mo ama sika aba (Thanks to you there is money in pockets)
Ɔman yi yie yɔ gyina moso. (The development of the country depends on you)
Ɔman yi nkɔso gyina moso (The progress of the country depends on you)
Twedianpɔn Nyame nhyira mo (May the good Lord richly bless you)
Na ɔma mo ahoɔden (And give you strength) …
The inspiring and danceable patriotic song, some lyrics of which I have reproduced above (with my translations!) is mostly used by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), the organisers of the National Farmers Day (NFD), as a jingle to advertise the event on Radio Ghana.
Typically, the highlight of the NFD week of activities is the grand ceremony at which the Best Farmer and other winners are given prizes.
However, on the subject of prizes, I don’t recall that the composer of ‘Ghana akuafo’ has ever been given an award, or has ever been mentioned for the role the song has played over the years, as a most fitting backdrop to the NFD.
To my mind, the song’s importance follows close on the heels of other patriotic songs, such as the National Anthem and ‘Yɛn ara asaase ni’.
Of course the name of Philip Gbeho is known to every schoolchild as the composer of the original Ghana National Anthem; just as they know the name of Ephraim Amu as the composer of the second National Anthem, ‘Yɛn ara asaase ni’. But what about ‘Ghana akuafo’?
Yet, it is always said that agriculture is the backbone of Ghana’s economy. This means that, as Minister of Agriculture Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto told Parliament when he briefed the House (on the 2018 NFD), by implication, “the farmer (is) the focus and target of (the) Government’s policies and programmes.”
In that case, why no recognition for the marvellous, catchy tribute song to farmers when farmers are being celebrated?
(Reliable sources confirm that) ‘Ghana akuafo’ is credited to the Bomaa Paradise Choir (of the Tano District of the then Brong-Ahafo Region). It was composed and arranged by Yaw Badu of Bomaa, sadly now deceased.
Has MoFA ever given an award to the Bomaa Paradise Choir?
My searches didn’t reveal that information, not even on the Ministry’s website. But, in my view, that song more than deserves to be on the MoFA site, along with all the information about the National Farmers Day.
Surely, the BPC qualify to be recognised at MoFA events, notably during the NFD?
In fact, as their song is used every year, the recognition should be yearly because it has become more or less the anthem of the national thank you to farmers for their contribution, especially to the national economy.
If the Bomaa Choir is still in existence, my suggestion is that in future they should be invited to perform at NFD, as part of the opening and closing acts.
By now the classic tribute song by Yaw Badu and the Bomaa Paradise Choir in honour of Ghana’s farmers should even have earned them State recognition.
To me, evidently the Ministry of Food and Agriculture owes them this appreciation. (Column of December 7, 2018, Farmers Day: any award for the ‘Ghana akuafo’ song?)
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Incidentally, the BPC also have in their repertoire other famous patriotic songs, including ‘Dwene oman yi ho’ (Think about the nation), ‘Osee yie Ghana o’ (All hail Ghana)’ and ‘Aniha mu nni biribi sɛ ohia’ (The only reward for laziness is poverty).
Regarding this year’s NFD theme, ‘Accelerating Agricultural Development Through Value Addition’, it seems to me that over the years the Bomaa Paradise Choir have in their own way added high, refreshing, melodic value to the Farmers Day. Therefore, their recognition by MoFA as a valued partner is long overdue.
On the other hand, I would be more than happy to be proved wrong if since 2018, the Ministry has maybe quietly honoured the BPC, or recognised in some way their melodious, popular contribution to the celebration.
But even if that is not the case, although Mr Badu is no more, the choir can still be honoured. Undoubtedly, that would be a well-deserved dream come true for them, for Bomaa, and also for their fans.