Five years ago, Lynx Entertainment brought together ten of the best musicians to do a rendition of Ephraim Amu’s patriotic song, ‘Yen Ara Asase Ni’. The initiative which was sponsored by the World Bank, UNDP and ECOWAS was meant to promote peace.
Richie Mensah ganged up with Tinny, Zeal of VVIP, Quabena Maphia, Eazzy, Ayigbe Edem, Zigi, Ambulley, Okyeame Kwame, Jael Wiafe and Efya and sent a strong, passionate message in a musical piece of 5 minutes.
This write-up has had to resist the urge to talk about the impressive deliveries of all the other artistes on this record. We have had to fast-forward the song to reach the point where the Rap Doctor delivered one of the most profound messages of all time.
Veteran Ghanaian rapper Ambulley juggles words in a few sentences in the Fante dialect, as is characteristic of him. He ends with the statement, “It’s all about the peace!” and drops an exclamation. It is incomprehensible but makes a befitting warm-up for Okyeame Kwame, who pauses half a second and comes in with the following:
Phones no adum, stores; yatutum
Police ayi fum, ewiase ayɛ sum
Topayɛ paepae , nnipa nyinaa haehae
Ehu ahyɛ akoma mu ma, mmarima nyinaa adane mmaa
Wo afa wo ba wo dɔ no, na wo de no asi wuram
Wose modwane atɔ sirem di no akɔtɔ agyam
Wo radio no akye BBC: “Ghana is no more!”
Mabɔ pitrim afi me dae mu na meretiem, “No war!”
It is expected of Richie, the producer to have taken a few layers off the instrumental for the rapper to add up. But he maintains all the constituents intact, nevertheless. So, to keep it at an appreciable weight, Okyeame goes in with a voice soft enough for the same reason. The energy he carries in his voice is light and diminished. It sounds like that which is used to announce bad news.
Apparently, the rapper creates a mental picture of horror and terror in the mind of the listener. With the images of disconnected communication networks as meant in “Phones no adum”, the closure of shops; “Stores yatutum” plus the clause ‘Ehu ahye akoma mu ma” (fear fills the heart), an atmosphere of chaos and tension is evoked.
The mention of darkness also symbolizes something close to an apocalypse – like the end of the world.
Point of View
In this objective point of view, the narrator is a detached observer (in a dream) who does not assume a character’s perspective. He merely reports from the third person point of view and lets the reader supply the meaning. That is how Okyeame Kwame gets away with a national issue as sensitive as this, without sounding like a prophet of doom.
Common in all forms of literature, metaphor is a way of comparing things by stating that one is the same or very similar to another seemingly unrelated object. What is commoner with Okyeame Kwame’s everyday poetry is describing an image or event by comparing what he is describing to another image or event. This is called metaphor, and it gives the reader a fresh, sometimes startling way of imagining what’s going on.
Psychologically, the use of metaphor often expands the way the viewer understands the world around him, as it does in this rap. He illustrates the outcome of disunity on the life of the masses. Unlike other artistes on the song who preach essence of harmony, Okyeame rather preaches about the absence of it in a metaphorical way.
The third stanza has an illustration of the power of love, regardless of the commotion. The character in this statement makes an escape with the child who she dearly cherishes. And a high-pitched voice of the distressed child is heard over that of the rapper. It is loud enough to typify the sorrow and extent of suffering. In essence, love is that drive that makes us selfless in trying times like this.
This is where Eazzy’s line, “This is not a peace song, it’s a love song” is emphasized. It’s beautiful but doesn’t take away the melancholy and the fear that dominates the song.
The rapper’s 20 seconds rendition is stuffed with end rhymes all over the stanzas together with internal rhymes at the beginning. For example, in the last 2 statements…
Wo radio no akye BBC: “Ghana is no more!”.
Mabɔ pitrim afi me dae mu na meretiem, “No war!”
There is a repetition of similar sounds in the final syllables, ‘More’ and ‘War’.
Bra Kwame, on this one employs a couplet in the rhyme scheme. A couplet contains two line stanzas with the rhyme scheme that often appears as AA, BB, CC and DD.
Many pieces like this one that follow the AABB pattern are broken into quatrains, which are four line stanzas, where the first and second lines rhyme and the third and fourth lines rhyme.
In simple terms, hyperbole is an exaggeration or an overstatement. We can mention three things that were exaggerated to represent the situation beyond reality. “Mmarima nyinaa adane mma” means ‘Men have become women’. “Police ayi fum” is translated as ‘The Police have fled’. The purported BBC Radio announcement, “Ghana is no more!” plus these two events are mentioned to represent the instability in a more severe form. I mean, it is rare to find the police run helter-skelter during a fight, unless it is an exaggeration.
Gunshots, the bomb explosion, the siren blare of the police van, the phone signal transmission sound, the wailing from a tortured victim, the crying child are laid over the rapper’s voice to connote the situation in a more realistic form. It is the work of Richie Mensah’s magical fingers. It’s scary – like a war film. It couldn’t have given a clearer picture than it did. It’s both effective and creative: that is what sound effects are supposed to be. It projects the situation in a way that makes you want to replay.
The song as a whole upholds unity, tolerance for others, respect and love. It is important for us, as a people to muse on the words of this song and purpose in our heart to keep the nation war-free.
The blocking of communication lines, the closure of shops is a clear analogy for unavailability of basic life amenities when conflicts prevail. Wars have accounted for the incidence of poverty, instability and underdevelopment is several African countries. If there is anything to take a cue from to avert misunderstands, it is the hidden messages planted in this song.
As we head for the 2016 polls, we must eschew all forms of irregularities that could spark conflict. Peace and Ghana are getting married, so let us keep the love strong. This is our own native land. Let’s promise on our honor that we will never fight, because Ghana is a happy place; a joy we should defend. And this should be easy!
By Patrick Fynn
Author: Patrick Fynn (patrickfynn.com)
Follow the author on Twitter @PatrickFynn