by michael eli dokosi/www.blakkpepper.com/ghana
At the 2019 edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) which happens to be the 20th, event organisers Charterhouse together with lead sponsor Vodafone Ghana brought together artistes, industry people, captains of industry, diplomats and politicians for a music feast.
All seemed to going well till Stonebwoy was named the Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year winning that particular award for the fifth time. Having gone on stage to receive his trophy from broadcaster Abeiku Santana, rival Shatta Wale and his crew made their way to the stage in a move he would later claim was to congratulate and not to cause him harm as many had speculated. The incident led to Stonebwoy drawing a gun apparently to protect himself but thankfully didn’t fire a shot.
Following the brawl on May 18, Charterhouse’s VGMA board led by veteran singer Amandzeba aided by Kofi Okyere Darko (KOD) and Theresa Ayoade announced an indefinite ban of the two music acts from the awards scheme on May 23.
Theresa Ayoade, CEO of Charterhouse, clarified “indefinite ban means pending good behaviour” and it is possible for them to be accepted back to scheme depending on their behaviour in future.
Both Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale were also stripped of all the awards they won at the 20th edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards meaning Shatta Wale is no longer the winner of the ‘Highlife Song of the Year’ for ‘My Level’ and ‘Reggae/Dancehall Song of the Year’ for ‘Gringo’.
It also means that Stonebwoy had to return the ‘Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year’ and ‘Best Collaboration of the Year’ trophies won on the night. At the press conference at the Alisa Hotel, it emerged the ‘Artiste of the Year’ and ‘Most Popular Song of the Year’ categories had been annulled because both artistes were to win one each.
Following their brawl also, the two artistes were arrested by the police on May 19, a day after the event. When they appeared at the Agyebeng Court on May 22, both pleaded not guilty to Offensive Conduct to Breaches of the Peace with Stonebwoy also pleading not guilty to an additional charge of Display of a Weapon in a Public Place without permission.
After the hearing, they were granted bail of GHc50,000 each with one surety and cautioned to be of good behaviour with June 20 set as their next court date.
For Shatta Wale, he has not dimmed his social media presence sending videos, making posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. A video which surfaced showed him dancing with a pal with an imbalance in his leg mimicking rival Stonebwoy who has had surgery on his knee which got affected when he was in involved in a car crash on the Tema Motorway years ago claiming his twin brother and leaving him bedridden for three months.
A corrective surgery on his knee in a European country has made his movement much better but that has not stopped Wale from mocking him every now again.
Upon posting the visual, many ordinary Ghanaians expressed displeasure with the act urging him to pull the video down. However some fans and observers reckoned there was nothing wrong with act pointing to interviews and social media videos where Stonebwoy equally took a swipe at Wale slyly focusing on his lips.
With some folks berating Wale for his insensitive dig at Stonebwoy adding they will no longer be his fan; he retorted //Nobody will force you to be a Shatta Wale fan, it’s a calling.//
In subsequent posts he rendered //Business is always important. Music has always been my faithful wife ..The two brought me the happiness I wanted in this life .. @aboudechaaba//
This is after he erected a photo of him with a car dealer with a Ferrari car key and a picture with black Ferrari ride and also urging his fans to post photos of their business posters so they could network on his page, a call the fans have taken to wholeheartedly.
The Storm Energy Drink ambassador appears unfazed by the May 18 brawl, police pick-up and court appearance as he readies for the Storm Reigns Concert in Tamale on June 8 with northern delight Maccasio.
Curiously, on June 8 also in Kenya, Stonebwoy is billed to perform at the Kasarani Stadium alongside the Morgan Heritage reggae band and other artistes for the ‘Tomorrow Leaders Festival’ in the East African region.
Since the incident, Wale released ‘God Is Alive’ while Stonebwoy shared ‘Struggles‘ a tune he was featured on by Beniton, a Jamaican act. There is also ‘Shuga’ from Stonebwoy featuring Beenie Man.
Both have also released statement apologizing for their scuffle although Wale’s press release came a tad late.
Wale has also revealed he is erecting luxury homes in Kumasi branded ‘Laplaka Luxury Home’ to meet the needs of those with the money to spend.
The likes of Samini and Sarkodie stand to gain the biggest following the ban of the two artistes in the Ghana Music Awards scheme. Given the pair also command a respectable fan base roping in floating fans as well, should event organisers who owe allegiance to Charterhouse decide not to book Wale and Stonebwoy, they could feel a dent in their pockets. Not that it will matter seriously as certain elements in Ghana’s entertainment space already despise Charterhouse for being being owned by Nigerian man- Iyiola Ayoade although run by his Ghanaian wife CEO, Therasa Ayoade. Their spite for the Ayoades could make them decide to hold a show on the same day of the next VGMAs putting both Stonebwoy and Wale on it to slice away people, money and prestige from the VGMAs.
Again other artistes who over the years have felt undone by the event company could pair with the newly banned artistes and boycott the show. Things could get tricky if notables like Sarkodie and Samini join that fray.
While there is no doubt that the two brawlers needed to be sanctioned to show, even they had limits to their stardom, many have expressed disappointment with the demand for the pair to return the awards they won on the night although many seem to agree with the decision to leave the coveted Artiste of the Year and Most Popular Song categories without a winner. The concerns expressed have been that there was no need to strip the pair of the awards they’ve already been named as winners having beaten other contenders.
The two however have other schemes eager to nominate them including Sadiq Abdulai Abu’s run 3 Awards and Lawrence Nana Asimah Hanson operated Bass Awards.
Already Stonebwoy has earned nominations in the 2019 Ghana Entertainment USA Awards where he’s been nominated for Best Song for Top Skanka, Reggae/Dancehall Act, Best Music Video for Most Original, Best Collaboration for Kpo Keke, Best Male Act and Best Entertainer.
Again the 4th edition of the Ghana Music Awards UK have opened nominations for musicians whose work falls within the calendar year from April 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019 which certainly will have both Wale and Stonebwoy featuring prominently alongside others.
Reggafest scheduled for July 19 has also billed Stonebwoy for a concert which has Black Prophet, Kenyatta Hill, Blakk Rasta and other notables on the bill.
Afropop artist, Mr. Eazi has offered to buy the rights of a joint album by Wale and Stonebwoy paying in dollars to forge unity and increase the peace. It’s a possibility given in the evening of Thursday, May 30, both Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy posted an image with caption of their meeting to mend fences on their various social media pages.
Shatta Wale posted a photo of him and Stonebwoy with the caption:
//Unity is strength
Love is the key to many doors
Brotherhood is Loyalty
Peace is Freedom ..
My brother and I got a great vision for Ghana music and we taking it to the world ❤️.. @stonebwoyb//
Perhaps the peace pipe has been smoked and all is well. Perhaps a song might even be birthed by these two. The VGMA ban will surely have some effect especially when an Artiste of the Year winner from the scheme stands a chance of being nominated in the BET International category and actually win on some occasions as Sarkodie and Stonebwoy’s win proved in 2012 and 2015. However when these artistes have a productive year including hit songs, an album, playing prominent local shows and international gigs as well as landing solid features in addition to staging a successful shows by themselves, even a VGMA ban can hold little power.