Interestingly, 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 following melodious tribute to Ghanaian farmers, ‘Ghana akuafo’, which indicates that the festive month, December, has arrived.
Ghana akuafo e (Hail to Ghanaian farmers)
Yєmamo amo o (We say ‘congrats’ to you)
Yєma mo ayikoo, ayee! (We say ‘well done!’ to you)
Mo ayєbi o (You deserve commendation)
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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)
Twediampɔn Nyame nhyira mo (May the good Lord richly bless you)
Na ɔma mo ahoɔden (And give you strength) ….
The inspiring and danceable patriotic song, ‘Ghana akuafo’, (Tribute to Ghana’s farmers) some lines of which I have quoted 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 song precedes the details of the event announced in the main local languages, and in English.
This year, Tamale is hosting the NFD, celebrated on the first Friday of December, and the 2018 theme is ‘Agriculture: Moving Ghana Beyond Aid’. The highlight of the NFD week of activities is the December 7 grand ceremony, taking place today, at which the Best Farmer and other winners are given prizes. In recent years, the top prizes have been improved to a tractor, a pick-up truck; and now a three-bedroom house, with other additions.
However, as this column has stated many times, I have a problem with the way the MOFA organises the event, and I think the awards scheme is not fair.
Why should the major prizes go to the mostly rich, commercial farmers who already have houses, cars, tractors and other equipment, while the smallholder farmer awardees, those who really need the substantial prizes, are given minor rewards for their toil?
We constantly hear expressions of concern about the ageing farmer population and the lack of interest of the youth in agriculture, the urgent need to replace the aged ones. But how on earth are the youth expected to be enticed into farming when they don’t see any of their peers getting some of the fabulous prizes on Farmers Day?
Anyway, fingers crossed that this year the story will be different and there will be appreciable incentives to attract the youth. But, going by past awards, I’m certainly not holding my breath!
Furthermore, on the subject of prizes, I don’t recall that the composer of ‘Ghana akuafo’ has ever been given an award on National Farmers Day, or has ever been mentioned for the role the song has played over the years, as a most fitting backdrop to the NFD.
I don’t know anything about music beyond what I like or don’t like; what I like to listen to or what I can dance to. But to my mind, the song’s importance follows close on the heels of other patriotic songs, such as the National Anthem and ‘Yϵn ara asaase ni’.
Of course the name of Philip Gbeho is known to every school child 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 ‘Yϵn 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 reportedly told Parliament earlier this week when he briefed the House on the 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?
I confess that before I started drafting this article, I tried hard to remember the name of the composer of ‘Ghana akuafo’, but, shamefully, I drew a blank. In desperation, I turned to the Internet and put out an appeal on Social Media platforms.
Even then it took many hours before a dependable friend went out of her way to find the information for me: ‘Ghana akuafo’ was composed by the Bomaa Paradise Choir, a knowledgeable source at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation told her. And on getting this information, the name seemed to ring a bell; I must have heard of the choir long ago!
Later, another source added: “the composition and the arrangement were done by Yaw Badu, from Bomaa, in the Tano District of Brong-Ahafo”. (Sadly, Mr Badu is now deceased, the source said.)
Does the MOFA know that the jingle they use so religiously was a composition of Yaw Badu and the Bomaa Paradise Choir?
If they know, has MOFA ever given an award to the Bomaa Paradise Choir? If not, why not?
Even if they have in the past honoured or rewarded the Bomaa choir, it must have been ages ago because my searches on the Internet didn’t reveal that information. And in my view, that song more than deserves to be on the MOFA site, along with all their information about the National Farmers Day.
I would be very happy to be proved wrong by the MOFA!
The right thing must be done by the Bomaa Paradise Choir, and as soon as possible. They quality to be recognised at MOFA events, notably during National Farmers Day.
In fact, as their song is used every year, the recognition should be a yearly affair because ‘Ghana akuafo’ has become more or less the anthem of the national thank you to farmers for their contribution, especially to the national economy.
If the Choir is still in existence, my suggestion is that in future they should be invited to perform at the 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 have earned them State recognition. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture owes them this appreciation.