I have not made many friends on social media since I decided to take a pro-Charter House stance in most discussions about the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA).
Charter House will undoubtedly rank high in a top 10 list of most vilified institutions in Ghana. Its fiercest competition will only be the Presidency, ECG, MTN and maybe, the Ghana Police.
Surprisingly, however, and similar to widely held opinions about even ECG, I often find most issues people have against Charter House as either ill-informed, sedated with malice, highly exaggerated or just borne out of ignorance. By the time you are done reading this piece, I expect one of these two reactions from you: ‘wow, he has a point but still….’ Or, ‘my friend, give us a break…’ and if I am not lucky and you feel like being more charitable, I may receive a few uncomplimentary salutations as are common in the Commonwealth Hall at Legon or Casford of UCC from you.
But words have never killed anyone; so I guess I only have to go on and say my mind.
Sarkodie took to his twitter page last week to rant about unfair treatment meted out to him by Charter House. The firm, he claimed, had used his name in a promo of the music awards show, though negotiations had not been concluded. He said when he confronted Charter House, they initially denied doing so, only to admit later and seeking to make amends.
Well, this certainly got me angry. In 2015, and at the 16th time of organizing this event, such nonsense was perpetrated or allowed to happen with so much impunity? Charter House was wrong and should have known better. But, be that as it was, was Sarkodie also right to take to social media and consciously or unconsciously court public anger towards Charter House, especially few days to what is arguably the biggest music event in Ghana? Weren’t there any diplomatic means that could have been used?
I agree that Sark has every right to choose when, where and how he says whatever he wants to say; but my only problem is that his utterances bear too much resemblance to past rants by other artistes; and this suggests a consistent trend of Ghanaian artistes, attempting to extort from Charter House and on failing, they embark on a vile course to tarnish the image of the company.
Credible reports have it that Sarkodie demanded over GH¢100,000 (equivalent to about $25,000) to perform on the music awards night. Well, just to put that in perspective, he demanded over one billion old cedis, just to perform for 10 minutes or so. Cristiano Ronaldo ‘mpo mmfa ne ho’. Remember also that the reason Shatta Wale did not perform last year was because he requested for GH¢75,000.
Well, before you start retorting that artistes have the right to charge what they wish blah blah blah, let me remind you that regardless of what you think, the VGMA is an awards show; not a music concert. How much does Sarkodie pay himself when he organizes his annual Sarkoholic concerts and performs for close to an hour, if not more? :- mind you, the Sarkoholic concert is not only heavily sponsored but Sarkodie also gets his artiste friends to pass through for free. Can Sarkodie dare quote such a crazy amount when he’s called to perform before ‘cleaners’ at the BET awards? Was he paid for being on stage during the MTV Base awards last year? Or wait, is it a case of ‘four legs good, two legs bad?’ – ‘white man no pay, good; blackman no pay, bad’?
Many artistes in Ghana obviously have deep seated antagonism towards Charter House, which is fuelled by xenophobia;- they say because Charter House is owned by a Nigerian, it is wrong for a foreigner to virtually run our entertainment industry. It is wrong eh? Since when? From the dress you wear, through the mobile network you use to the food you eat; which is locally produced? What have we been doing as Ghanaians all these years? We ah, we can’t create, someone has started too, we can’t copy and perfect, yet all we know is complain plenty? The awards scheme has been running for the past 16 years, between then and now, aside complaining, what has stopped us from mounting formidable competition and alternatives if we were so appalled by how it has been done over the years?
I worked at Charter House for about three years until 2012 and out of the over 100 or so workers there at the time, only two, aside the CEO, were Nigerians. I am reliably informed that even those two have since left, so you see how moot the Nigerian cum foreigner attachment to Charter House is? And oh, before you re-state the cliché propaganda that Nigerian acts who perform at VGMA are paid higher than their Ghanaian counterparts, be reminded that Charter house has severally said that most of these foreign acts only take per diem and not performance fees. If you have any contrary evidence, we can have a conversation; till then…
The Ghana music awards has assumed a national character, over the years, and is easily the most patronized, authentic and popular awards scheme in Ghana. For three years now, the venue for the awards has changed from the 7,000-seater ‘Dome’ of the International Conference Centre, to the main hall of the Conference Centre with a maximum capacity of just 2,500 seats. Have our artistes who are making such senseless financial demands averted their minds to the fact that the lack of adequate space means fewer audience can patronize the shows, thus more financial losses to organizers of the show? Ahinaah sponsorship comes in for the show that you alone should be paid what can be used to pay six to 10 of your colleagues.
We must be reasonable at all times in our demands and not behave selfishly; only seeking our comfort. At this rate of antagonism, the worst that can happen is a collapse of the awards scheme; have we thought of the implications? Or because Sarkodie has won enough to fill his cabinet, he could care less about up and coming acts?
Whether we like it or not, Ghana music is blessed to have Charter House, however imperfect and wrong their actions sometimes are.
If Sarkodie or even Shatta thinks that being an event organizer is so easy, let any of them try staging a biennial show; charge GH¢ 70 or more and pay themselves even a quarter of what they request from Charter House. Maybe then and only then, will they understand the ridiculousness of their demands.
Let me end here, and hope I have made sense so far. But as for those of you who complained about every aspect of the awards show you watched on TV, I won’t waste time and ink responding to you. Buy a ticket next year, go and watch the show and if you still have issues, you have a moral right to complain.
Twitter – @Pasinoman
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