Suddenly and surely as the night follows the day and the day follows the night, they are all dying one by one in rapid succession. In their heydays, they filled our painful hearts with joy and soothed our troubled souls with melodious authentic highlife music before our tympanic membranes were invaded by organised noises of today euphemistically referred to as hiplife and dance hall music performed by those latter day puppets behaving like classical candidates for the psychiatric hospital. The end of these great performing artists almost have one thing in common; all of them almost died in pecuniary poverty after suffering from life-long diseases which kept them some of them bedridden for an unreasonable and painful length of time.
In their heydays, they took more pride and delight in performing in front of their enthusiastic and adoring fan base. They performed and acted like men and women of the Salvation Army. They never gave a thought of making enough money which could secure their future in their old ages. You cannot blame them. Most of them had little formal education, came from humble beginnings and poor families with illiterate parents and with no role models to guide them. Performing arts was still in its infancy and amateur state. Managers, promoters, directors, and financial advisers had not been developed to look at the professional and financial wellbeing of the performing artists. They just lived form hand to mouth and simply enjoyed the adulations of their fans.
It is not only the performing artists of old who found themselves in that sordid state. The sportsmen and sportswomen of old also suffered similar fate. Today, there are many sports personalities of old who find themselves in Lazaro's state. They do not know where their next meal ticket will come from in their wretched state assailed by lifelong diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Some have their legs which they used to mesmerised the adoring spectators amputated without any insurance policy to rely on for salvation, Some walk with difficulty after suffering an attack of xxxxxxxxxx and are only waiting in their painful state to the inevitable: death.
In their state of utter neglect, we wait for them to die painful death and then call for a state burial for them and request for some state edifice to be named after them. This is a nation where the brains of the people have been relocated from where the good Lord originally placed them. We cannot think straight, we cannot act correctly and we cannot behave normally. This is a country with the massive debacle of the World Cup financial fiasco in Brazil behind us. We never learnt any lessons. We do not punish wrong doers. We pat them on the back and promote them to higher level of inefficiency and corruption and leave them to commit worse crimes.
Otherwise how come that a few years back from Brazil, we can still afford to put vagabonds and criminals in charge of our sports whose stock-in-trade is to smuggle 16 additional names of people classified as swimmers to an international sporting event. The additional 16 cannibals, incidentally, was more than the authentic 10 swimmers. There is no doubt that the 16 wretched characters who were smuggled to Australia cannot even tell a difference between an Olympic swimming pool and a dry dock. Readers will note that the 16 which was padded to the number was far more than the official number of 10 screened swimmers. This is only in the case of swimming. We have not come to the other disciplines. Wonders shall never cease in this jungle we call Ghana. The money we callously wasted in sending all those non-performing sportsmen and sportswomen and their blue-eyed officials plus those who still continue to troop along with sacks of physical money acting as cashiers without payment vouchers could have been used to support our suffering aged sports personalities who had served this nation in their youth and now withering on their sick beds or in their wheelchairs waiting for death to take them away in painful sorrow.
Recently, I was lucky to meet one of those wonderful musicians of old whom I will refer to as the “Father of Gospel Music” in this country at a Kwabotwe classmate's birthday party. The musician is called Yaw Agyemang Badu (YAB) from Kumasi. Years back, he came out with an album with an artistic name YAB with about five wonderful and soulful tracks. One of the tracks was: “ni mu na nkwa wo” (in Him lies salvation). That album was a great hit all over the country. I still have my copy among my collections of albums. I consider him the Father of Ghanaian Gospel Music because as far as I can recollect, he was the first gospel artist to pick up verses from the Holy Bible and weave songs around them. For example the track I have referred to earlier made used of verses in one chapter of the Holy Bible, the Genesis story about the beginning of the Word.
Of course, early on in the late sixties, the fantabulous Kwanyaaku Brass Band had come out with its own wonderful song of what today can be termed Gospel Music: “Onyami tie maasem, fa mi ye wo di daa” (God listen to me and take me as your own) which became very great and popular hit throughout the country. In those days it used to be the students' marching song on the Legon campus at any time the students went on “aluta” and took the campus by storm. At that meeting with YAB, he told me a few things about the music scene in this country which made in sick and sad. Suddenly, as an academic writer of Accountancy books, I could see that academic writers and musicians in this country share a common enemy; piracy and unless that enemy is killed the future of both the performing arts and text book writing would be very bleak. .
BY Kwame Gyasi