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The Creative Industry and Partisan Politics – A new Deal?

Creatives participating in politics, as I have amply demonstrated, is certainly not a novel phenomenon and not a bad thing per se.

Quite recently, the latest sensation in the music space, King Paluta, met with the Vice President and flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, months after the NPP used his latest song, Aseda on their campaign trail.

There’s been a lot of conversations since then, about the moral justification of aligning with a political party.

In this piece, we’ll delve into the history of creatives involving themselves in partisan party politics.

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Ghana is blessed with a lot of talents, especially in the creative arts industry. Every government since independence, has worked with the creatives – music, theatre, sculpture, fine art, architecture and other expressions of the creative arts.

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Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, for instance, made sure that in most of his assignments abroad, he went along with Ghanaian musicians to represent our creatives. Some also composed songs in varying ways to support his government.

Nkrumah also set up the Arts Council and the Brigade Bands to help propagate his ideas and ideals. Notable musicians who benefited immensely from such deals include the late ET Mensah, King Bruce, The Uhuru Dance Band, EK Nyame, Bob Cole and King Onyina.

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Dr Abrefa Busia also used the creative industry to propagate his policies by giving an import licence to Dr K Gyasi to order musical equipment at subsidized prices to sell to music groups.

The famous Soul to Soul Concert which was staged on March 6, 1971, saw the attendance of the late international sensation, Tina Turner and her husband, Ike Turner, together with other equally popular singers from the USA; it was courtesy of the Progress Party.

The late General Kutu Acheampong who was ousted by the Busia government on January 13, 1972, also brought in the Osofo Dadzie Group as part of the creative industry to use drama to propagate his ideas.

Some musicians like the late Nana Ampadu and Kofi Sammy also composed songs to shade his military dictatorship and poor governance.

In 1978 when the ban on party politics was lifted by General FWK Akuffo who had taken over from General Kutu Acheampong in a palace coup, various musicians composed songs for the various parties.

It is evident that past heads of state had resorted to music as a medium of expression through which they’d disseminated their ideals to the people.

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Notable among them were Dr Hilla Limann’s PNP party song composed by the late Kobina Okai of EK Nyame’s Band, Independent Candidate; Mike Diamond Addy’s campaign song by the late Nana Kwame Ampadu, William Ofori-Atta’s (Paa Wille) UNC Party’s song by the Damas Choir; Victor Owusu’s PFP song by the Bomaa Paradise Choir; Dr Ackah Blay Miezah’s own by the late Jewel Ackah with Kwame Nyanteh also having his fair share of political party songs from the late Senior Eddie Donkor.

Several other Independent candidates and parties also had musicians and groups compose campaign songs for them.

Prolific musician, Smart Nkansah, also involved himself in the composition of a song for Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, after the latter took over from Dr Hilla Limann in a coup in 1982. Various choral groups also composed songs to propagate Rawlings’ revolutionary chants.

The Keteke and the Obra Drama Troupes were also created to help the PNDC administration spread its governance messages through the power of television. It was spearheaded by Madam Grace Omaboe, Joe Eyison (Station Master) and others.

In 1992 when the ban on party politics was lifted, the late Jewel Ackah composed NDC’s anthem which is still in use today.

In 1996 the diplomat, the late Kwadwo Donkor of Ogyatana Show Band, composed a song for the “Great Alliance” between the NPP and the PCP.

In the year 2000 several songs were adopted by the various parties and some also composed songs. The most popular one “Kufuor JA Kufuor” was from the stables of Nana Nkrumah, a musician who had played with the late George Darko and several other bands. Cindy Thompson’s “Mobro hu fuor agya” song, was also adopted by the NPP.

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The 2008 elections saw the likes of Daddy Lumba, Kwabena Kwabena, A Plus, Sidney, Lucky Mensah, Philipa Baafi, Lemny Akpadi and others whose songs were used to fetch votes for the two leading parties the NPP and the NDC.

The 2012 elections saw Sidney, Adamgba, Diana Asamoah and others also joining the fray. Nacee was not left out. In 2016, Kaakyire Kwame Appiah, Diana Asamoah, Nacee, Shatta Wale, Ampong, and several others lent their services to the NPP and the NDC.

Pasco Abrante’s hit song “2020 Four More for Nana” and Nacee’s “Onaapo” were the two main songs in contention in 2020 for the NPP and NDC respectively.

Currently, there are various people in the creative industry associated with the NPP including yours truly, Appietus, Kaakyire Kwame Appiah, James Aboagye, Helen Omaboe, Socrate Safo, Ampong, Omane Acheampong, Diana Asamoah.

The NDC, has Rex Omar, Nacee, Christiana Awuni, Nero X, Big Akwess, Clement Bonney (Mr Beautiful), Amandzeba, Kalsoum Sinare, Mercy Asiedu, Abrobe among several others.

Creatives participating in politics, as I have amply demonstrated, is certainly not a novel phenomenon and not a bad thing per se.

Which songs will come on board in 2024? King Paluta’s song “Aseda” has taken a ‘comfortable lead’.

Let’s cross our fingers as we wait to see which new creatives or established stars would lend their talents to the campaigns of political stalwarts and parties. Bring it on!

Good beads don’t rattle.

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