My Farmers Day plea: an award for the farmers tribute song

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari
When will Mr Yaw Badu be honoured?
When will Mr Yaw Badu be honoured?

This week, Friday, November 6, the winner of the 2020 National Best Farmer will be announced in Techiman, together with a coveted prize.

The other awardees, too, will be getting attractive rewards for their hard work. But there’s one more person who I think deserves to be honoured but is never mentioned.

A name which to my mind should also be on the list of National Farmers Day (NFD) award winners is Opanin Yaw Badu, the composer of what has become synonymous with the national salute to farmers, the tribute song titled simply, Ghana Akuafo.

And until the last chair has been carted away from the event venue in Techiman, I’m sure the melodious Ghana Akuafo (‘in praise of Ghana’s farmers’), will be featuring prominently in most of the Farmers Day publicity and activities, as has always been the case.

The inspiring and danceable patriotic song, is mostly used as a jingle by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), who are the organisers of the NFD, to advertise the event every year.

As the Farmers Day prize winners lists are probably being finalized now, or in the next few days, I ask again the question I posed two years ago (column of December 7, 2018, Farmers Day: any award for the ‘Ghana akuafo’ song?): has any thought been given to honouring the composer of the song?

According to informed sources, the credit for the pulsating anthem goes to Opanin Badu and a choir in Bomaa, but is the MOFA aware of that?

I suggest again that the song should be part of the Farmers Day awards because of its central role in the event, and because it expresses so well the nation’s gratitude and should thus be seen as complementary to the celebration.

The following is my rough translation of part of the lyrics, sung in Akan:
Ghana akuafo e (Hail to Ghanaian farmers)

Yєmamo amo o (we say congrats to you)

Yєma mo ayekoo, ayee! (We say well done! to you)

Mo ayєbi 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)

Twediampɔn Nyame nhyira mo (May the good Lord richly bless you)

Na ɔma mo ahoɔden (And give you strength) ….

This year’s Farmers Day is to be hosted by the Bono East regional capital, the famous market town of Techiman, on the theme: ‘Agribusiness Development under COVID-19 – Opportunities and Challenges’.

The Day was instituted in 1985 by the administration of President Jerry Rawlings and the Provisional National Defence Council in appreciation of the role farmers played in transforming the country’s food shortages situation after the devastation of the 1983 drought and famine.

It normally takes place on the first Friday of December, but this year it is being held a month earlier because of the general election on December 7.

Over the years, the celebration has grown tremendously and the prizes have improved magically from the era of Wellington boots, wheelbarrows, machetes and the like, to even tractors, cars and houses.

Noticeably, this year has not seen the usual bumper harvest of donations to the Ministry from corporate bodies for NFD prizes, no doubt because the coronavirus pandemic has affected a lot of businesses.

Anyway, I don’t recall that the composer of Ghana Akuafo has ever been given an award on National Farmers Day, or indeed at any time, or has ever been mentioned for the song which has played a most fitting accompa­­niment to the celebration.

Every account of Ghana’s history and record cites agriculture as the backbone of the country’s economy.

Minister of Agriculture Dr Owusu Afriyie-Akoto himself is on record as saying sometime ago, addressing Parliament in connection with the NFD, that “the farmer (is) the focus and target of the Government’s policies and programmes”.

That being the case, why no recognition for the marvellous, tuneful tribute song to farmers when they are being honoured?

My research findings in 2018 confirmed that Ghana Akuafo was by the Bomaa Paradise Choir, and the composition and the arrangement were done by Yaw Badu, from Bomaa, in the Tano District of the then Brong-Ahafo Region. (Sadly, Mr Badu is now deceased, the source said.)

If the Ministry knows about Opanin Badu and the Bomaa Paradise Choir, has MOFA ever considered them for a NFD award? If not, why not?

Furthermore, is the choir, or its representatives, not entitled to a financial reward for use of the song?

Hopefully, if the Ministry has an explanation to prove me wrong, it will come out with it soon.

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 performances.

By now the classic tribute song by Yaw Badu and the Bomaa Paradise Choir should have earned them State recognition, even if posthumously.

In my opinion, the Ministry owes him this appreciation.

And surely if that too has been overlooked by successive governments, the Bomaa Paradise Choir is also owed royalty payments.

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