This week has been a very eventful week. Ghanaians took to social media to demand a better standard of living. With the #FixTheCountry and #FixGhanaNow hashtags demanding accountability from the Politicians and people in power.
One of the oldest means of creative expression is music. It is a common language with a long tradition of usage as a medium of art in activism. According to German composer and pianist “Music can change the world”. This statement has since proven to be true, over the years Oppressive governments have targeted Musicians who use their music as a tool to bring to light the corrupt nature of these governments. Societies have always agitated for change. This yearning for change is unending. Music has been used as a vehicle for social reform for decades.
Music Activism has proven to be a very effective tool. Artists have used the influence of music to express vital messages, encourage action, and promote long-term transformation through music activism and social commentary.
Bob Wine became a symbol of hope for the youth in Uganda through his socially conscious music. During the EndSARS protest Davido’s “Fem” became an Anthem of the youth telling the corrupt government to keep quiet and stop propagating lies and false agenda.
In Ghana, some Highlife pioneers Like Nana Kwame Ampadu, The Guitar Boy Coup, Kofi Sammy of Okukuseku II Band during the 20th Century before Ghana became a Republic used the power of music to highlight the struggles of Ghanaians. Highlife songs are known to be entertaining songs but they also reflect the challenges of daily social life.
Throughout Ghana’s history, highlife has evoked or mirrored significant political events or trends. At vital junctures, an album is published that captures the political climate of the world or parts of it. In the 21st Century, Ghanaian artists such as Avit and Tolu Dadi have also taken up the mantle to use their music as a communication tool to add to the already existing outcry of the people.
In a brief conversation with Avit and Tolu Dadi, they speak on using their music to highlight economic hardships and how music has been an important tool to get their message across.
1. What does it mean to be a music activist in Ghana? i.e. Using your music as a tool to bring to light economic hardships and corrupt leaders.
Avit: To me, music is a very efficient way of communicating and informing people about events that they may heather to, not be aware of. Music gives you a voice and a platform to express yourself and when the listener can relate to those words, it triggers a lot in their heads and hopefully, it leads to them taking action.
Tolu Dadi: To be honest I don’t consider myself to be a music activist, i am just somebody that cares, somebody that is bothered you know. I love my people and we deserve better, nothing changes for the better and it is frustrating. As an artiste and an African i feel it is my duty to talk about it…try to push for change till change starts to happen…that should be important to all of us…we must use our voice for something bigger than us..Something real.
What informs you in choosing a particular “theme” or “topic” for your Song. What does the process of songwriting look like for something that is felt by a lot of people?
Avit: I believe that my feelings, my understanding of issues and my mindset is that of the average Ghanaian. Once there is a strong feeling in the air about a theme; meaning those sentiments are shared and felt by a lot of people – that is the topic. The process of writing a song of this nature is usually fluent as it is a case of putting deep thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper. I often research thoroughly, to capture the accurate feelings of the diverse population. I try to be as direct and “pedestrian” as possible in delivery of the message, to ensure maximum assimilation.
Tolu Dadi: Life. Real Life does, everything I sing about is based on experiences, events, and real feelings. If I lived in paradise I would probably sing about coconut trees and a beautiful black woman rubbing Shea butter in my hair every time lol. I live in Africa, my music must portray Africa if you know what I mean. It is just sad that our leaders don’t care to make this paradise of a continent be what it is.
What do you think the way forward should be in Ghanaians speaking up about the poor performance of Governments and Economic hardships?
Avit: The year 2020 showed the world the power of social media with the various movements that were started i.e. Black Lives Matter, End SARS and the like. Individuals should continue to use all resources available to them to not just express dissatisfaction, but also to applaud efforts when the chance arises. For creatives, we should not let our weapons lay idle, lets write skits, draw depictions of current societal ills, write books, articles and poems to lay down markers of what we see wrong and right. I would continue to make purposeful music and follow the likes of Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Peter Tosh, Burna Boy, Wanlov the Kubolor, M3nsah in making music that speaks for the people.
Tolu Dadi: I think we all need to get serious, speak on the relevant issues and also act on them Force these people(the Politicians and government) to do what is right, make them accountable. Occasionally we can vibe and catch cruise but we need to change our world. Everyone needs to think of how they can impact this world We spend too much time and energy on trivial things Nobody even wants to listen to you talk about important issues…it baffles me. We literally watch things get to an unbearable and irreversible point before we say anything. That must stop.
Stream Tolu Dadi Stimuli
Stream Avit Election Day
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