Ok. So the email pops up and the information contained in the email is 'Come let's celebrate the finest”. Finest what? Well it was a who? [email protected] What? KKD is 25 years old. I knew there was something wrong so I read further and there it was. The World Bank is celebrating a true media icon whiles he is still alive. I thought it will be a great event when it was handed over to me by my editor and, I was right.
A simple press sioree at the World Bank office annex, for a great Ghanaian who lives and loves Ghana. What else could be more exciting?
I was not exactly surprised when the event took off as planned, because knowing the kind of man we were there to celebrate, you should not expect anything less. Kwasi Kyei Darkwah is a consummate event and programmes manager and an exceptionally gifted marshal of events with extraordinary oratory skills.
His fashion panache, strange as it is, has been a hallmark of the man who gets on stage and articulates these words in a suave tone echoed by the mic, “my name is Kwasi Kyei Darkwah.”
I wanted to tell the world about everything I know about the enigma, KKD, but I thought celebrating an individual who has excelled in DJ cum radio, broadcast production & brand management without allowing his colleagues to speak on the issue, will be an empty attempt at celebrating his life and works. So I did, but not after I had spoken to the man himself.
The man gladly taps me on the shoulder, sips a glass of Sprite and asks to know which media house I am coming from. So I tell him; Myjoyonline; and he goes off in Twi “Oh Joy FM, modeε mo ka brɔfo", to wit, as for you at Joy FM you speak English and so proceeded to chat with me in the Queen's language and that unmistakable, is the platinum quality voice that is only his.
I asked him to spare me just 30 seconds of his time, and luckily he gave me almost 10 minutes for just two questions and I ended up with my same old convictions, KKD can talk.
KKD passionately shared his beliefs on the kind of journalists and media practice we have in Ghana now, noting "journalists in Ghana are trained essentially to think politically and there is a general lack of interest in entertainment in this country and I think that the lack of interest comes from the agenda setting of the media houses. Every media house is only interested in pleasing a government that can buy advertising space in its paper and pleasing the telecom company that can promote its new chip and calls at midnight for its network."
He told me most of his bad experiences have come from working in Ghana. “The difficulty we have here is, you find somebody who has a little bit of money who wants to do a programme and they think, that (KKD) is a good presenter. If I get him he can do everything. He does not understand that because he has the money, he is the organizer or the executive producer and what he needs to do is to hire a producer to run the show for him. And if it's a big event then he needs to hire a show director who will have a backstage runner.”
With a sense of awe loudly etched on his forehead, 'The Finest' added “they get you and they think KKD is good, he will do everything. So on the day of the show, you are running backstage; you are looking for the next musician; you are telling the musician that you are not happy with what he is wearing; how he has arranged his repertoire is not right for the audience. You virtually are doing the work of the producer and the director. And it's the norm here."
KKD's cheeks lighted up when he shared the worst experience in his career: “My worst experience happened after a show when I went backstage. A lady who was virtually naked embraced me. That was terrible. I was young at the time and it was an absolute distraction.”
But his most exciting moments occur “where you are on stage with a musician and his voice is cracking because he needs to get some fluid and his assistants are not anywhere to be found because he is doing great on the stage and because of that you have to go onstage and maybe even actually sing a song as he runs backstage to lubricate his throat and get back on. The thing is, the audience think it is either planned or you want to take over the stage. I won't tell you which musician it was but it has happened like five different times: Twice in Ghana, once in the UK once in the States and once in Senegal.”
How his friends feel about him
KKD and some friends at the press soiree
So now lets see what friends and colleague icons say about KKD right in his company and not posthumously as Ghanaians are known to be good at.
Mark Okraku Mantey
Kwesi Kyei is a big brother. We all grew up listening to him on GBC. When it is hip hop or R&B he will do it to the extreme. When he has to do it hilife he is very deep. I respected him for his collection of music and he is a tight orator. His communication is tight. And I see it as a gift that he has worked on and so you realize that a lot of us like Bola Ray, DJ Azigiza, KOD were inspired by KKD. I keep saying that a great person is not the one who has been able to achieve too much but the one who has made a lot of people great. So if you pick KOD, DJ Azigiza, Bola Ray, Cox Tamakloe and you think that they have achievements, then you acknowledge what KKD has done.
I keep saying that he is one of the ultimate when it comes to branding. You have to see him even in the dark although he is black. You will notice from the way he poses when he stands. For me he has paid his dues. We should just salute him and respect him for what he has done. For me he is more of an MC-Presenter than a DJ. He is a better communicator than most of the top men today.
I remember once I was lying down at JOY FM (after working overnight). It was a Sunday morning and he came in there talking with his buddy-buddy Cox T. Cox was my buddy too. KKD thought I was sleeping, he did not know I was listening to what he was saying and then Akosua Larbi complimented him (in Twi) thus "Kwasi εnε woho ayε fε", to wit Kwasi you are looking great this morning, to which KKD responded (in Twi) Oh wei koraa yε me pajamas, (Oh this is even my Pajamas) and he was in full suit and tie. That is the kind of man we are talking about.
Kofi Okyere Darko(KOD) (a cousin)
KKD is one personality that knows what he is about. At age 7 he knew what he wanted to become. I think it was because his father was into promoting African music across Africa. That really exposed him to music. We were lucky we had uncles and relatives who are very outspoken. A great speaker like P.V. Obeng is one of them. At a very tender age I had to be under his care. As old as I am now I have to read before going to bed because of an attitude he instilled in me. People don't know the other side of KKD. He is irreplaceable. He has mentored other entertainment guys like Cox Tamakloe, Azigiza, Kwame Faakye, the list is endless.
So we attended a fashion show in London. KKD took me to that fashion show and I think he was the most well dressed in the house. He was wearing 'Ahenema' (a Ghanaian traditional footwear), so they called him and asked where he is from. He looked very different, and he said he is from West Africa. From a place called Adanse, where they build houses on gold. For me that is what comes to mind now but trust me he has not done the craziest thing yet.
Amandzeba Nat Brew
KKD is the first presenter that I enjoyed by way of organic music, talking about hilife, and music in general. He is one guy I can put a finger on and say that I will be very comfortable at anytime when I hear he is making a presentation of music… He is very articulate, eloquent, he is very broad. What I can actually say about him in one word is he is versatile. He is fantastic and such a wonderful person.
The craziest thing I think he has done is to force me to sing 'AMA' because 'AMA' is his mother's favourite song. He told me about the fact that his old man sometimes, when he falls foul of the 'domestic law', would play my song AMA to get the old lady cool down.
Karim Issaka (Rim Artex) a fashion designer
KKD is a wonderful guy, just that at times he can go really mad beyond reason. He likes fashion, he presents fashion. He is not just a presenter. He understands the issues around production.
The craziest thing I have seen about him is when somebody was supposed to write a script for KKD and he did not write it well so he dropped the mic and walked off stage.
James Agyenim Boateng-Deputy Minister of Information
For me KKD is an icon, I mean one of the finest broadcasters this country has ever seen. I think that everything broadcasting, he has it. He has style, fantastic diction, pronunciation, he knows how to present. He knows how to get his audience glued. I think he is a man who has paid his dues to the industry. In many respects he is incomparable.
Kofi Tsikata-Communications Director at the World Bank, Ghana Office
I started working with him since we started incorporating creative works into our programmes. We started looking at cultural, traditional and creative industries and how they can advance economic development. So then you can't do something like that without thinking about the people in the industry who are making it tick and you have someone like KKD who is a true son of Ghana. He epitomizes creativity and culture and media and everything put together. He is a good ambassador for culture and for the creative industry for music and for the media.
On his last but one birthday, I was actually on leave but he invited me to his office in Tema. On that occasion he celebrated his birthday with 'ETOR'(mashed yam with palm oil) and eggs, that is the man KKD, totally local.
Kojo Antwi The Maestro, Music Man
I have known him for sometime and I can say without fear that he is the most talented presenter I have seen. I cannot describe the feeling when I see him on stage. He is just phenomenal and I must say that he has helped promote Ghanaian music and especially hilife music. He needs to be congratulated for the great work he has done for this country.
The craziest thing I have seen him do is to walk off stage in the middle of an event when the people who had to work on the production of the event were nowhere to be found.
Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere
A fine gentleman I have known for a long time. He is the best at what he does, be it locally or internationally. He promotes his country better than most people and loves to edify himself.
What I know for sure from our long friendship and association is that whiles KKD may be into all the hips of this world, that is, hip hop, hip life, highlife and some jazzy blues from New Orleans which is musically correct for his young age, we both enjoy the music of Bob Marley, Kojo Antwi, Ambulley, Abrantie Amakye Dede and Nana Ampedu except that he can sing and rap.
Right, back to what I think of the man. In one word, this dude is a Do-It-Right-Or-Do-It-Not kind of guy. Yeah I meant one word!
Before I end this piece let me share with you what he shared with journalists at the soiree.
He asked; “why would a Ghanaian DJ play more P-Square music and very little of Kojo Antwi's. He thinks that by playing a lot of P-Square songs people will think he has a passport and he has been to Nigeria before. It doesn't help. Unless you can pride yourself of what you have nobody is going to respect what you have."
Hmmm! What can I say after the verdict. May KKD live his dreams.
Story by Derick Romeo Adogla/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana