The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mark Okraku-Mantey, has highlighted how Afrobeats and Nigeria’s dominance on the music market has drowned the identity of Ghanaian music.
Okraku-Mantey, a former music executive, said in an interview on Joy FM‘s ‘Super Morning Show’ on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 that he travelled to Dubai and heard a shop attendant describe a Bisa Kdei song as Nigerian.
“The man was Moroccan and he thought the music was [from] Nigeria. And I have experienced a lot of these things where Ghanaian hard work is going to Nigeria. Because they make so much noise such that there is a perception every music you hear from Africa is from Nigeria. And we made a mistake by also accepting that we are also performing under Afrobeats,” he said.
He said Nigerians quickly claimed Afrobeats (with the “s”) after it became a term for music produced from Africa.
“The word Afrobeat itself was coined by Fela Kuti years ago, without an “s”. So the moment you hear Afrobeat, the owner of that word is Fela. Then overtime, the West said Africa has too many rhythms so why don’t you call of them African rhythms. Because we were known for highlife and we were bullying them with our highlife, quickly they opted for the Afrobeats. Unfortunately, my brothers and sisters went to joined them. They don’t know that all their hard work is actually going to Nigeria because the perception about Afrobeats in Nigeria,” Mark added.
“I heard Camidoh’s song in Tanzania, Arusha, and people around thought it was from Nigeria. And that is why Nigeria is getting the buzz they are getting. Everybody is thinking that almost at the music you hear from Africa now are from Nigeria,” he noted.
The issue of Afrobeats’ dominance on music markets across Africa has been of a great concern to a lot of musicians and music lovers in Ghana.
While some believe that the only way Ghanaian musicians can also get international exposure is to tap into the Afrobeats trends, other are of the opinion that Ghanaian musicians need to set an agenda to use highlife as the name for any form of music that comes from Ghana, just as their Nigerian counterparts have done to Afrobeats, which is a far cry from the Afrobeat (without an “s”) that was created by Fela Kuti.
In Ghana, a lot of artistes including Kelvynboy, Camidoh, KiDi, among others would rather want to be referred to as Afrobeats artistes.