“Do they realise the power in what they do at all?” This was what I asked myself when I heard veteran highlife artiste Amandzeba and music duo Gallaxy speak recently on illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’ in Ghana.
I was gobsmacked when Amandzeba told JoyNew’s MzGee in an interview recently that it was useless for musicians to campaign against illegal mining through music and that fighting the menace is government’s responsibility and not creative artists’.
“It is not the preserve of cultural activists like me and others to make the entire nation aware of what is happening, the damage that we are causing the environment. We have to focus on the politicians who are leading us,” he said in the interview.
He explained that these politicians are the main perpetrators the illegality and also wield the political power to enforce the laws but have failed to make these laws work.
In a related development, music duo Galaxy, have also said that they would not record any song against the ‘galamsey’ because it will not have any positive effect on their brand.
The group, comprising Bra Chiky and Kwasi Dav said they do music as business and do not think singing against ‘galamsey’ will put money into their pockets.
Hear them speak to MzGee: “We are business people, we do music to sell and I don’t think the consumers are ready to buy this kind of music so singing about ‘galamsey’ I don’t think is going to get that audience appeal.”
These statements by our musicians make me sad as a Ghanaian. It is shameful that creative artistes who wield so much power as change agents would say these.
As experienced a musician as he is, I am sure Amandzeba knows of the psychological importance of music. Therefore, his utterance should not be left to slide.
Music, like any creative art form, is a very powerful tool in communication. Musicologists have discovered that music influences a lot of behavioural patterns among human beings.
Music makes people, happy or sad. Music educates the general public on facts and things to do to be better. Music informs. It is not for any reason that words are used to compose music. The lyrics of songs are not for the mere composition. They serve a particular purpose.
There have been times when people have been influenced by lyrics of songs to do good or bad. Some have eschewed certain ills because of the words in a song.
It is therefore very necessary that in situations like ‘galamsey,’ we get these same musicians to sing to create the awareness. Creating the awareness is one thing and getting the laws enforced is another. The former precedes the latter.
Amandzeba also reiterated that some of the politicians are engaged in ‘galamsey’ and that they need to solve the menace and not the musician.
My question to Amandzeba is that “what are we doing to press on the government to enforce the ‘laws’?” Advocacy comes in many forms. Amandzeba could as well have used his music to press on government to enforce ‘galamsey’ ‘laws.’ His song could also have spelt out the negative effects of ‘galamsey’ so the general public will be more conscientised.
Solving such societal problems requires a holistic approach. The fight is not only the preserve of the leaders – nor is it the media’s. Every well meaning citizen has to get involved. Don’t sit on the fence because the rippling effect will get to all citizens including you, when it gets to the crunch.
Now to Gallaxy! Honestly, Gallaxy’s opinion was lame and unpatriotic. Citizens who only think about themselves and believe that whatever happens outside their space does not affect them are not good citizens. Whatever affects one directly, by extension has a bearing on a lot of other people.
Gallaxy is only concerned about singing about women’s butts and sex won’t sing about a menace that can claim the lives of the people that will patronise their songs. Music goes beyond singing about boobs and butts and using risqué language. Let your music affect society positively. It is true that the commercial songs will get you quick income but once in a while, it is prudent you tackle issues of social development.
Just as the media houses have taken it upon themselves as part of their corporate social responsibility to campaign against ‘galamsey’ and other social vices, so must the creative artistes and every Ghanaian citizen. Kwabena Kwabena for example, has a project for people with heart related diseases. Okyeame Kwame has been fighting Hepatitis B for some time now. So have other arts personalities. Gallaxy, sometimes think beyond your pocket!
We live in a country where musicians only come together to compose a song when someone dies. The Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) for example has not made any attempt to help arrest the situation. The last time I spoke to their Communications Director, Ahuma Ocansey, he said the union had not planned to do any song in that regard. Obviously, they want people to die so they rush into Nacee’s studio to compose a dirge.
In fact, Amandzeba and Gallaxy have a right to share their opinions but our opinions must be responsible. We need to encourage citizen participation in governance. It is not compulsory for all creative artistes to do songs on ‘galamsey’ but if you won’t do it, you don’t come out to make comments that kill patriotism.
Fortunately, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. The ‘galamsey’ campaign by media houses including Citi FM and pressure group OccupyGhana is yielding results.
After Citi FM had petitioned parliament on its core mandate of the campaign, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Peter Amewu has also given illegal miners within the country an ultimatum to halt their activities.
The Citi FM #StopGalamseyNow campaign, for example, is predicated on these five core mandates:
#The total cessation of all small and medium scale mining for a period of six months
#The cessation of the issuance of new mining licenses for a year
#The reclassification of mining categories to reflect the use of new/larger equipment
#The allowance of water bodies to regenerate their natural ecology
#Tree planting and a land reclamation project
Rapper The Gem, poet Makafui Awuku and Gombilla The Poet have done works in this regard. Music man Kojo Antwi has also hinted that he is preparing a song with Stonebwoy and other musicians to fight ‘galamsey.’
We must all play our part in making sure the change we desire happens. More creative artistes Pastors, Imams, teachers and all leaders of institutions must use their mediums to augment the fight the media has started.