THE TOURISM INDUSTRY
Tourism as an industry may not have been sufficiently developed to attract the sort of international patronage required of Ghana, a major force in Africa and as well, possibly, to generate the necessary revenue for local, regional, and national development. One of our major standing reservations may be our lack of maintenance culture as a people, which is supposed to put historical landmarks in better architectural health and still retain their firm historical countenance and foreign-derived aesthetic impositions against a welcoming autochthony of native genius, while at the same time adding a commanding gloss of emotional, economic, educational, and cultural value to them.
We have the proverbial example of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and of other historical landscapes associated with the priest-politician-philosopher, Okomfo Anokye, in relative neglect. Not even are curators trained well enough to care for these potential national wealth-generating historical sites. While we take great pride in erecting and developing public capital and gracing the political landscape of Ghana with it, admittedly sadly, we lack strategic policy focus and capacity for maintenance technocracy. This is why our historical landmarks are aging at such an alacritous rate of material or physical deterioration. Maintenance technocracy should be built into blueprints for public capital. The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum can be a multi-million industry if it receives the attention it deserves.
This calls for a serious pedagogical methodology of reliability engineering and statistical quality control in our engineering, architecture, planning, law, computer science, land economy, building technology, urban studies, and mathematical sciences schools. We may, however, have to quickly add that maintenance engineering has no design or structural utility without oversight institutions enforcing building codes and other regulatory laws. Lack of or policy de-emphasis on maintenance engineering in the practical discourse of architectural or structural engineering actuations, coupled with poor public hygiene, dehumanizes these precious historical landmarks thereby undermining their potential marketability and revenue-generating capacity. This is one such important area the political class, cultural institutions, and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts may not have sufficiency looked into for a tactical need for comprehensive policy redress and necessary reforms.
We should not expect to attract foreign tourists and investors into the country in the face of seeming universal public defecation and ambient miasma resulting therefrom. Bureaucratic frigidity complicates a potential policy redress of such questions. These are all beside the point that tourism is exclusively restricted to physical structures and histories undergirding their material posturing. Exquisite fauna and flora can and do attract a special pedigree of curious tourists. We should, therefore, invest in faunistic landscapes where the potential of the extinction of exquisite fauna piques the intellect of some creative individuals and, above all, adds economic value to the marketing psychology of tourism, while simultaneously expanding the inventory of faunistic knowledge for individuals and enhancing scientific knowledge. It is in this context that combatting pollution and unregulated lumbering activities should be given the policy seriousness it deserve.
This means collective agency is a plus in enriching the culture of tourism. We are directly referring to collaboration between the private sector and government. But we should not make historical sites the exclusive focus of external patronage. We should also target and increase the focus of local patronage. In the first place Ghanaians should be the primary beneficiaries of the historical knowledge upon which these physical structures were erected, beyond economic imperatives. The poverty of historical knowledge among ordinary Ghanaians as well as among the educated class is shocking. Rectifying this anomaly constitutes one of the essential methodological strategies of Afrocentric pedagogy.
One way to achieve this policy objective is to include these sites in the formal curricula of schools. The Ministry of Education may issue a directive encouraging educators and principals of primary and secondary schools to include sight-seeing as part of the praxis of the education of school children, as well as prepare a travelogue of these sites for instructional purposes in schools. Invalidating rote learning and making it a thing of the past, the past of dinosaurs and mammoths, is welcome news. Parents should pay on-sight fee. Religious leaders and institutions should involve members of their congregations in the patronage of these sites. There is also the misplaced contention that, unfortunately, being a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Hindu, and so on necessarily means a negation of one’s indigenous culture. Yet we sometimes forget that Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and so on are themselves other people’s cultures.
We have no idea how much the historical sites of Israel and Saudi Arabia, to mention but two, contribute to their GDPs! Promoting the positive aspects of our culture should be the primary responsibility of every Ghanaian regardless of the emotional particularities of ideology, ethnicity, religion, class, sex, and partisan politics, and appropriately so, because the body politic of Ghana belongs to a harmonious collectivity, a creative one at that. Thus, it is our position that television and radio documentaries and adoption of these historical landmarks as locations for locally produced movies can enhance their educational, cultural, and economic profile and marketing appeal in the Ghanaian public psychology. Our musicians can also appropriate them in their music video for purposes of aesthetic appeal, instructional intimation, and visual stimulation. Steele Pulse’s music video for “Door of No Return” provides a perfect instance of this proposition. Senegal’s Corée Island is featured in this music video. Wizkid’s music video for “Jaiye Jaiye,” a collaboration with Femi Kuti, shows the floral richness around Fela Kuti’s internationally known musical location, Shrine.
In sum, let us improve public hygiene, hospitality services, and security around these sites. Corporate Ghana, traditional leaders, and Chief Executive Officers of Metropolitan, Municipal, and Districts Assemblies (MMDAs) should partner in the provision of the necessary leadership required to effectively deal with these questions in the localities where these sites are accommodated. These historical landmarks are part of the national identity of Ghana and of the priceless historical legacy connecting the sea of variegated humanity and the emotional compass of time. They speak to the wickedness of the human heart, the indomitability of the human spirit or the triumph of good over evil, and the continuing deficits and strengths of the human spirit. Therefore, let our local celebrities and media promote these sites for local and foreign patronage. Charity, they say, begins at home.
THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
It seems our music and movies are behind Nigeria’s in terms of quality, technology, aesthetic appeal, and international reach. This controversial statement takes into consideration our keen acknowledgement of genre differences in musical compositions from the two countries, as well as of marked differences in market and population size characterizing the two friendly but competitive nations. For instance while a number of music genres—dancehall, Afro pop, Hiplife—have evolved over the years in Ghana, most of the music videos accompanying them are poor in quality, lacking a touch of aesthetic and sensual appeal and demonstrating uncreative instances of anachronistic directorial buffoonery. Some artistes use ordinary phones to make music videos. One might be quick to conclude that some of these music videos parading as serious works of art are directed or put together by parietal or cave artists!
With regard to music, Kumawood particularly requires marked technological and artistic investment for enhanced viewership or patronage. Our English movies are not significantly better. One major problem why our movies are generally aesthetically poor might be the internal architecture of movie scripts, whose rhetorical and kinesthetic delivery lack natural spontaneity of artistic or aesthetic finesse and structural cohesiveness in mortal translation in the makeup of many a Ghanaian actor and actress. We have not done enough as a people to address these professional lapses in the creative arts. Our movie directors, producers, and film makers can also learn from the trailblazer, Kwaw Ansah, an artistic genius who detests the name “Ghallywood” to the extent that he will not either submit to its authority or have his films reviewed under or associated with that label.
Nigerians, on the other hand, have resorted to tapping into a large pool of talents from around the world, particularly across Africa, to address encroachments of unprofessionalism in the creative arts. Ghanaians can learn from them.
One instance of this creative approach to eliminating or minimizing unprofessionalism in the creative arts is what some prefer to call “collaboration.” Some creative collaborations have a touch of internationalism or global appeal. We see the duo P-Square going international with Rick Ross (“Onyinye”) and Akon (“Chop Money”). D’Banj scored one collaboration with Snoop Dogg (“Endowed”). These artistes are merely following in the footsteps of Fela Kuti, who went international with his music genre of Afrobeat, so too were Majek Fashek and Sade, though the latter two did not necessarily achieve their international stardoms via collaborations. However, we are not implying one is necessarily gifted only when one goes international. Rather, we are addressing our concerns to artistic expressions of natural or acquired gifts via the medium of creative internationalism with an assortment of professionally mature and gifted acts in complementary terms.
Neither did these artistes achieve their international stardoms by feigning foreign accents, otherwise called “locally acquired foreign accent,” and uncritical adoption of English-American gesticulatory idiosyncrasies as Shirley Frimpong’s cast is known for. Fela Kuti’s sons Seun Kuti and Femi Kuti have achieved international commercial success by retaining Fela’s trademark pidginized lyricism and Africanized rhythmicity, two important facets of their father’s musical pedigree. In another example we see Wizkid in a creative mode of pidginized delivery and seeming gesticulatory or kinesthetic scatterplot in “Jaiye Jaiye” against a backdrop of sinusoidal saxophonic whining from Femi. All these go to underscore the aesthetic momentum of creative essentialism regarding local or nativist content in advancing the creative arts on the international stage.
This is not to say Ghanaians in the creative arts do not value the role of local content in advancing the cause of the creative arts on the international scene. Azonto achieved that feat. King Ayisoba and Wulomei are another. The legendary Ephraim Amu developed his unique blend of Western sheet music and Ghanaian music traditions. Hip-life is international but in a limited sense. Notwithstanding, our young artistes have not religiously followed in the footsteps or managed to achieve the international stardom Osibisa chalked, though a few exceptions exist in the musical careers of artistes like Rocky Dawuni, to mention but one. It may be that Dawuni’s international success should be attributed to his association with a music genre, reggae, which is already international in aesthetic and commercial appeal.
This example immediately recalls the international success of South Africa’s Lucky Dube and Ivory Coast’s Alpha Blondy. The situation is uniquely different from Nigeria’s Ras Kimono and Ghana’s Felix Bell. On the other hand, Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour and Benin’s Angelique Kidjo have equally achieved enviable international stardom by pursuing another creative detour of music genres from that of Dube’s and Blondy’s, reggae.
Having acknowledged the artistic and aesthetic deficits of Ghanaian music, we should be quick to endorse Sarkodie’s collaboration with America’s Ace Hood (“New Guy”), Becca’s with South Africa’s Hugh Musekela (“I Love You”), Reggie Rockstone’s with Jamaica’s Beenie Man, M.anifest’s with Eryka Badu…These teachable collaborations are commendable though more of such are required to breathe professional versatility and internationalism into Ghanaian music. Our primary concern is expanding the global reach of Ghanaian musicians and revenue brackets for artistes and Ghana. There is a high probability of sophisticated technology transfer in creative collaborations. Beyond these general considerations, we should not overlook the specificity of originality problems in the creative arts as far as Ghana goes. Teachable examples abound. Thus, we cannot made any headway in reforming the creative arts if we ignore these statements of fact!
Here are some notable examples: We have Wanlov da Kubolor and Mensa (“Broken Language”) copying the “Broken Language” rap track of American rappers Smoothe Da Hustler and Trigga the Gambler. Kodwo Antwi copies Gerald Levert’s soulful ballad “I’ll Give Anything” merely by dissembling the lyrics under a shady cloud of reggae beats, in other words giving it an appearance of lovers rock, yet fails to emulate the elastic vocal range Levert displayed at the close of the ballad where a semblance of lyrical and rhythmic syncopation required a stretched tuning of the vocal cords or folds. Finally, the dapper lyricist Guru is one such gifted or talent widely associated with theft of intellectual property controversies. Yet he is not alone in this regard. Our Hip-life artistes steal and copy American hip-pop videos with reckless abandon, without the benefit of attribution. This reinforces the originality problems in the creative arts.
There appears to be no moral direction from the leadership of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) in terms of sanctioning artistes who flout conventions protective of intellectual property. More so, we have reliably been informed that Nigerian media—radio and television—pay Nigerian artistes for using their work and we wonder aloud if this is the situation in Ghana! Where does the Ghanaian political leadership, specifically the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, stand in these matters?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Nigerians have successfully used the concept of creative collaboration to advance their movie industry beyond the shores of Africa. Some of these collaborations have involved Africans from Ghana, Gambia, Cameroon, South Africa, and other African countries. Thus, by involving other Africans in their movies Nigerians bring the continent of Africa on their side. In doing so, they give non-Nigerian Africans the tactical impression that they are part and parcel of Nollywood. There are excellent implications for wider patronage and revenue for Nigerian film makers, producers, directors, and the country as a whole. Revenue from Nollywood made a significant impact on the rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP, which helped propel it to the forefront of economic metrics as Africa’s largest economy, in the event displacing South Africa.
Regardless, no institution has used this concept of creative collaboration better than Hollywood. For instance, by assigning John Boyega, a British-Nigerian, a prominent role in the newest edition of Star Wars, Hollywood in one tactical sweep of ingenious calculation has potentially laid the groundwork for expanding Nigerian, African, British, and general black viewership and patronage for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” This may attract other non-black American minorities toward movie theater destinations. The implications for a potential larger revenue-generating capacity need no elaboration. This is why diversity is such an important concept in management science and ethno-race, human, and international relations.
Diversity provides a relatively wider pool of talents from which candidates are tapped. But diversity is not all. Management, intrinsic individual talent, and image also count. The exposed genitals of Wanlov da Kubolor and Wisa in the public domain does not speak well of the creative arts industry. These misguided entertainers somehow think artistic competitiveness and commercial patronage are realized by developing a maverick public personality, a fictive one at that. In this way, regarding why our music and movie industries may be lagging behind Nigeria’s, it could be that Ghanaian managers are not working as hard as their Nigerian counterparts. The School of Performing Arts and our psychology and management schools have a lot of work to do.
We shall return…