CAF Awards: Attention – Mr Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko

BY: Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
Efya performed Ghana’s National Anthem at the CAF awards
Efya performed Ghana’s National Anthem at the CAF awards

Dear Gabby,

I know you are a very busy man but please allow me a little of your time to discuss some very critical matters that affect an industry and thousands of Ghanaians whose lives are dependent on how well or badly the industry fares.

But, before I get into such matters, let me commence with the aftermath of the CAF Awards – the major instigator for my rant today.
I was stuck somewhere in Ivory Coast during the telecast of the awards, so, I could not catch even a glimpse of the spectacle, but I was not worried because I trusted Ghanaians to inundate social media with their varied commentary on the awards, and I was not disappointed at all.

Sir, I found your tweets very interesting and to me they stood out from the horde, because, you are a ‘big’ man, and that’s indisputable.

You’re a ‘big’ man because of the position you wield in government.

You do not hold any position, at least, that is what you make us believe but regardless, your clout and influence in government cannot be over-emphasised.

Permit me Sir, to remind you of some of the most trending tweets from your handle;

“Almost a perfect programme at the CAF Awards soiled by lack of local content. But, why, they couldn’t find any Ghanaian musician? Pathetic!”

“CAF was very disrespectful of Ghana tonight by putting up performances from artistes across the continent, including several from Nigeria, and not a single one from Ghana was good enough to be on stage here in Accra? Shocking and, in fact, embarrassing for CAF.”

“Instead of treating us to some good Ghanaian performances, as well, CAF decided to populate the stage with Naija ones plus others, including a Nigerian artiste who was dressed as if he lost his way to the gym. I hear he is called Wizkid.”

Based on your tweets, I would like to address some issues you raised and how, almost all of your concerns are directly linked to our disorderly industry of arts and culture.

CAF’s So-Called Disrespect

You had issues with the Confederation or its sponsor’s decision to, in your own words, populate the stage with Naija artistes plus others, instead of treating us to some Ghanaian performers.

Contrary to your outburst, CAF indeed had some Ghanaian representation on the stage in the persons of Efya and KiDi, so, your criticism of the Confederation was uncalled for.

As a Ghanaian, I was concerned too and would have loved to see a higher representation of Ghanaian acts on that stage, but mind you, Sir, that, CAF was under no obligation and was not bound by any law to populate the stage with Ghanaian performances.

Unbeknownst to you, maybe; Ghanaian artistes, who contribute immensely to the economy of Ghana, have suffered over the years in this same regard – where international events held on our soil are populated by foreigners, who are very well paid, sometimes twice or thrice more than the Ghanaian peers.

So, you see, CAF and any other international organisation has the power to come to Ghana and deride our system and major players within the arts and culture fraternity, because, our lawmakers have always looked down on the arts, refusing to provide a legislation that would protect our own.

The Cultural Policy

Sir, you also mentioned in your tweets, how pathetic the lack of local content for the awards was.

You are lucky, that you just realised how sad it is that our arts/entertainment space is dominated by foreign content. We, have been dealing with this pitiful situation for years, so, welcome to the party, Sir!

For your information, the panacea to this is already in the system but lacks support for its implementation. If you take time off your busy schedule and peruse the Cultural Policy of 2004, drafted under the leadership of Prof.

George Hagan, you would realise that, almost all the problems with the industry are adequately addressed by the Policy – including the 70% delivery of local content on our airwaves.

It is quite upsetting to realise the brains that have worked extensively on this Policy, for it to be given this kind of treatment.

Elsewhere, this Cultural Policy, first drafted by Emeritus Prof. J.H. Kwabena Nkekia in 1957 and adopted by UNESCO, would be treated as the ‘Bible’ for the sector.

Let me commend you and your government for the revival of the National Commission on Culture (NCC). In the one year since you assumed office, the NCC has been extremely active, thanks to its Director for Creative Arts, Socrates Safo. However, the Commission faces challenges of funding and support.

The Creative Arts Council

Presently, there’s a Creative Arts Council that was formed by the Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture last year to oversee proceedings within the creative sector, and this body, together with the NCC are the right entities to help address issues like that which transpired at the CAF Awards, but as you can see, the Council is useless and the Commission has not even been able to issue a statement on the matter.

The Creative Arts Council is inoperable because it has no legal backing. Ideally, a Creative Arts Bill should have been passed first; this is a document that would give legal backing for the setting up of a Creative Arts Council, which would be a regulatory and advocacy body for the arts industry in addition to assisting government in the development of the industry.

Clearly, the Ministry consists of three different sectors but tourism is given more premium than the arts and culture sectors respectively and one of the principal reasons for the Bill is the alignment of arts and culture to tourism with regards to governmental support, policies and empowerment of stakeholder within the fields, taking into consideration, the importance of the sectors with regards to job creation, income generation and its potential of marketing Ghana internationally.

The Creative Arts Fund

Sir, you also had issues with the many Nigerians that performed on the night, going further to deride the apparel of one of the biggest African musicians. I will forgive you on your jab on his attire but kindly check the credentials of Wizkid and see how decorated he is; how he’s been able to project his brand and his country to the international market. Go ahead, just google him!

I don’t blame the Nigerians, and I don’t expect you to. You know why? The Nigerians are everywhere, especially their music and as much as you hate to hear this, Sir, they rule Africa in terms of show business.

They are everywhere because, aside their aggression and unity, they also have some form of financial backing, a critical element that allows them to permeate any market in and outside Africa.

While in opposition, your party, in its manifesto, promised to set up a Creative Arts Fund, one of many reasons some persons in the creative sector voted for the party, but disappointingly, the government announced in the 2017 Budget, that it would rather conduct some feasibility studies on this fund.

Who is going to do this research, we don’t know and when this feasibility study would commence, we are also not privy to. This is almost looking and sounding like another ‘joke’ already, Sir!

The industry needs the implementation of this initiative and a disclosure of its modalities, and operation. It’s time to move from the now-boring narrative to action, an accomplishment that would see the industry and its practitioners perched at a very gratifying position.

Trust me, when all these matters are properly addressed, you will watch another edition of CAF Awards or any other high-profile international event in Ghana, and you would not vent on twitter!

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo