Business in Ghana

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Clone Me A Moomen. Critical News, 5th July 2015

Posted by Business in Ghana on July 6, 2015

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

The Friday crowd was no joke. I was completely out of my depth, didn’t know whether to look left, right, north or south or even maybe corner my eyes surreptitiously from some place. I was at the National theatre to watch a satirical comedy on events that play out in Flagstaff House periodically.

It was a chance meeting with the two gentlemen who were both acting and promoting their play and I promised them I would be there and so I was. The bonus I did not figure into the attendance was all the youthful and fun-loving crowd who showed up to support their mates.

The skirts were nine inches above the knee, dresses were hugging well-formed hips and the stretch jeans were hard pushed to show off any more than they were designed to do. It could have been a Hollywood BET red carpet event, but the handbags did it all for me.

These carry sacks the ladies have taken to balancing in the crook of their elbows, held daintily with palms floating upwards in a tandem hip swivel with each step, now show the class of ladies in town. And there were plenty of those on offer.

And it lived up to expectation for them. They laughed, sang along and kept up with slogans and poignant messages, all of them aware of the outcome of the show, except me, who still thought the incumbent president would still win the election petition.

In this engaging scenario, even with all the similarities of the Supreme Court justices and the election pink sheets, over-voting, double-voting, destroyed ballots and voting results declared long before the count was in, the incumbent lost the slot and the true outcome was only punished when the outgoing president declared a three week “dumsor” on residents in specific communities to “teach his opposers a lesson”.

So I enjoyed the two hour event, didn’t realize I had spent that much of my life having fun and only realising much later that night, that I actually have been spending too much of my time talking economy, governance and processes and procedures to fix an ailing Ghana.

So off I went again on Saturday, this time a different event, same venue and a more different crowd.

“Wᴐgbε dzεkε”, on stage at 8pm. I prefer the later programs, takes you into that surreal world when you can fade away into the dark and not worry about roadblocks that will appear in strange places in Accra, that you never dream of.

This one I nearly hit broadside, Saturday night, was halfway through the road at the corner of Kojo Thompson, no lights, no reflectors and you couldn’t see the sole operator on the side, and you know its an illegal barricade right? And there he was, fleecing any taxi or trotro he could find, blatantly challenging them at 11pm on a dark street.

The police MTTU is doing an excellent job, still taking bribes, but nonetheless, making sure they are at the right places at the right time and seeing to traffic flow very professionally. Yet this “my guy”!

But I was so impressed on Saturday and I continue to revel in one of the most engaging and near-perfect choreographed productions I have seen from a wholly Ghanaian cast, produced and directed by Ghanaians with set design and costumes, all made here in Ghana and conceptualized in Ghana.

The crowd was different from the Friday crowd, more subdued and involved in the ancient history of Ghana and our migration and trajectory onto the stage of modern Ghana and its tribes.

That the audience was not ready to leave even when they saw the end game, was a clear message to this crowd and Ghanaians that the University of Ghana School of Performing Arts and the graduates of our colleges have arrived to claim their space in the region and eventually world stage.

The play by Chief Moomen and his 150 cast and stage handlers gave me more hope than I can ever explain. I have said in one place or the other in my writing that I am impressed with our culture change from highlife to hiplife and Azonto and moving ahead into more sophisticated expression, yet all without the involvement of government.

This is what made the “#dumsormuststop” demo so important. That a group of self-funding entertainers, determined to express their creativity, felt so burdened with the infrastructure handicap, they used their self-generated popularity to make a statement to Government on its inefficiency.

I met Deputy Minister for Tourism Dzifa Gomashie in the audience after the event and had a dig at her on how efficient private sector can be, if left alone, but she was more than rude to me, I need not repeat her retort.

If you did not get a chance to see the play, I suggest you wait for the repeat, if the funders, Keysoap, can stretch out a bit more, because I say this is a must-see play.

The music displayed the dances of Ghana, the dress combinations showed off the best in our attire and culture and combined with the smooth delivery of the narrators, you hardly noticed time slip by.

We were all engrossed in the narrative history of our ancestry, from Mansa Musa and Togbe Agokorli, from Nii Okai Koi, Osei Tutu, Prempeh I, from Ntim Gyakari and Okomfo Anokye and finally crowned with the promise of an epoch into the modern day; the UGCC, UP and CPP. We already got a bite of the fruit when Kwame Nkrumah made his debut at the end.

The Heritage Group has done exceptionally well and they are promising us more of the same.

So we are waiting for the results from Tallensi to see if the winner will make a serious mark on the indelible content of parliament, whether this by-election will create any new debate in the dull and directionless legislation, who sway whither way with the wind of expediency, and if by some quirk of fate, this will position a favorite party in pole position for the 2016 general elections then so be it.

Already, the election fervor is beginning to catch, and our president has already promised he will not be spending “roff roff” this time round. And going with his track record of promises, you know what to expect.

I said my piece in the week. Why is the NDC bothering to run in Tallensi? If they lose, it will send a big message to them that the electorate is not in a mood for any new lies. If they win, it cannot erase the fact that they are in a potential stronghold and even if they win, the balance of control in Parliament stays same. They have nothing to gain in this contest.

But many disagree with me, same as many disagree that mine and Franklin Cudjoe’s call for the head of the CEO of Cocobod must be chopped and another more competent business focused person be brought in.

Cocoa is not a frivolous crop. We are the second largest cocoa producing country in the world. This crop is not to demonstrate our cleverness in how to grow Cocoa, it is a business pillar that generates immense wealth for Ghanaians. It needs competence and sound business mindedness to ensure that we do not over-predict a crop and cause a major imbalance in the supply dynamics in the world.

No one should be able to incompetently miss a production target by 200,000Mt of a crop we have nurtured for decades and that has seen even the likes of Kwame Nkrumah held in offence for using its proceeds to self-rich his political ambitions.

So I need to clone more Chief Moomens. Quality entertainment is essential in our society and home grown activity supported by those who believe “tradition must go on”, is the best we can do for ourselves. Their interjection this week has slightly restored faith that we can and should do for us, what Parliament, if they had a mind, would do in the face of this economic insanity.

I am impressed with what the Heritage team has done and I look forward to another production and more competition at this level to bring some pride and satisfaction into world stage theatre from Ghana.

Moomen, I am impressed. You have done this country and your education proud. But ……

Ghana, Aha a yε din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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