CALEB ENSTIR EGHAN
Music has always a significant role in the country’s political landscape even before the independence struggle. Music has always been used in conveying messages about the candidates, the party or the issues at hand. Though in today’s mass media system, songs play a small role, if any at all, we must remember that before the TV, before the radio, songs were one form of mass media in Ghana.
As a vehicle of integrated marketing communications, good jingles from experience can get stuck in one’s head and even sometime to the point of insanity. Example, we hardly remember a good speech but good songs we remember and spread it and as a result politicians and their campaigners have long recognized the value of a good song to cement a message about a candidate in the public’s mind.
With that said, the existence of political songs extends far beyond the obvious especially since 1996 and it became more prominent in 2000 and 2004 elections. Do you remember Sydney’s ‘obia y3 obia’ and A-Plus’s famous political songs? In all of those songs political biases of the composer and lyricist are shown.
Veterans of political songs makers were not spared, many have suffered and continue to suffer for songs they made for political parties or candidates. The most recognized and the most documented victim of political songs is veteran highlife musician, Jewel Ackah.
After composing the much loved theme song of the NDC. The opposition party supporters who were in the music industry virtually closed all doors on him. From engineers to producers to distributors to even Dee-jays and radios stations blacklisted the artist and his music so the reports claim. Jewel Ackah’s, situation grew worse when the party he supported went into opposition in the 2001 and the rest they say is history.
Fast forward to 2016 and it’s a political season again. Songs are swinging from left and right. Many musicians are switching camps while others are joining the train and the checklist is growing by the day.
Among all the songs is ‘Mahama Paper’ and it’s by far the dominant this season. A song the NDC has clearly adopted to push their candidate. The song is an adopted song so it does not really push the ideas and philosophy of the NDC and perhaps the NDC faithfuls like the song because of the context in which the musician Shata Wale mentions the name of the President.
The song is a typical Shata Wale song with high hitting metals and bass. The song is a brag song. The musician in the song like any dancehall Ghanaian artist brags about his brand being profitable and superior to others and that it doesn’t matter if its Ghana cedis which he symbolized as ‘Mahama Paper’ or the U.S Dollar which he symbolized it as ‘Franklin Paper’, he sells.
He made his point more emphatic when he said in the song ‘mini woho ni ha ee’ which literally means ‘what are we selling and they won’t buy’ in other words he got the Midas touch and everything he touches turns to gold. It is the above line in the song that perhaps got the NDC to adopt the song.
The strategy of the Shata Wale camp is very interesting. The adopted song continues to push the Shata Wale brand and at the same time avoid the excesses that comes with election songs. His critics cannot come for his neck because he released the song prior to the elections and his camp has come out openly to say it is not a campaign song.
There is no doubt ‘Mahama Paper’ is catching on with many Ghanaians and anywhere the song is played, be it rallies, parties or even private homes the image of the president and the NDC campaign pops up in your mind.
The Shata Wale camp should be ripping in more royalties from the NDC. For now, the ‘Mahama Paper’ is dominant among all the campaign songs this season until a new song emerges and take its crown.