The Creative Struggle

A killer intro; a mandatory aspect of any great literary piece.

That’s what I aim for, but sometimes I can go through loads of intros before I settle on “the one”.
Other times I just give up and move on to other distractions…ever hoping for a bulb to light up amid the chaos.

Deciding on what to write isn’t the problem, but creating that perfect intro cripples my creative spunk. It is the “easiest” to put together but the hardest to craft and master.

I am not a perfectionist…but I do try my best.

It is indeed gut-wrenching to find readers skip past the intro that kept you up many a sleepless night. This is my umpteenth attempt at this intro, but who is counting, right?

I break my squishy brain for the “perfect intro” and no one reads it.

SIGH!

My creative foibles aside, this little predicament raises a concern that haunts creatives the world over: the infamous “Creative Block”.

If you find yourself in the creative sphere – writers, musicians, performers, artists –  then you know how far-reaching this “block” really is.

It is a deep pit of despair from which only the determined can escape…and mind you, the act (of escaping) may last for days, weeks, months or even years.

When you lose your muse, you better put on the best show of your life to win her back, or in the very least, break down every door known to man until she’s nestled safely in your arms once again.

Being creative isn’t the cakewalk some claim. Sure, it might come easy to some but the truth hits hard when you realize even the best of the best plunge headfirst into the “block”.

It comes with the territory and quite normal to wander its labyrinthine maze on occasion.
Heck! It took me quite a while to put this post together, so yeah…it is a global epidemic.

For some though, getting out of the “block” can be as easy as staring at a blank page for 3 straight days…or as daunting as seeking inspiration from someone else’s works.
Inspiration does works: I do it often, although my case requires I stare at random images till the lazy brain hamsters start showing their worth – they are quite the lazy lot.

But where does “getting inspiration” end and “stealing’ begin?

A creative mind is oft lauded and appreciated, even when most don’t know the hardships (and headaches) such a mind endures. We love the creative people who have made an enviable living out of selling the crazy and innovative ideas scurrying around in their heads…and some of us hope to someday walk beside them, or better yet, ahead of them.

But how can we push boundaries and break down restrictive molds if we forgo our ability to think and glaringly steal ideas?

People are fierce at stealing ideas, but for today’s lesson we will focus on Ghana and her many green-eyed citizens. I know you’d all love to see me point just one finger at Kofas (a Ghanaian movie director) and watch him run into hiding again, but that won’t be fair to him.

The sad truth? This sin of intellectual thievery goes beyond Kofas’ blunder; it is a canker in Ghana’s creative sphere that just won’t die (T1000).
Ghana’s creative industry is actually not as competitive as those in western countries, but the breakneck speeds at which content – videos, music and pictures – is pushed to the public opens up a very big avenue to steal intellectual properties with us none-the-wiser.

Local production houses steal entire movies – foreign and local – and then repackage them as new.
In an industry where a single production house can shoot 4 full movies in a week with barely any script, we should not be surprised if new movies recycle plot from old movies.
Heck! Even Hollywood is doing that…so why not Ghana.

That much content in such short a span negates the need for brainwork for some creative individuals in Ghana. A few put up a valiant effort, but like moths to a flame, they embrace the system: recycle and steal…because no one cares.

Kratos in the North and Mortal Kombat in bushes.

Just so you know, Kratos speaking Dagbani is as weird as it sounds…

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From the Shadows

When Kofas and his merry band of actors announced John & John, a movie that bears an uncanny resemblance to Skeem, I doubt they were ready for the backlash that was to follow.

All things considered though, Kofas’ “remake” of Skeem could have gone unnoticed if both movies had been obscure:
BUT NOPE! They were as high-profile as they come, with Skeem benefiting from the publicity and media coverage that comes from being critically acclaimed.

John & John, a blatant and unrepentant copy of Skeem could have been a remarkable hit in Ghana, if Kofas’ folly had not reared its head.

He has since gone into hiding, but this blight on his record invariably calls into question his prior endeavors…and that is a shadow I fear he might never pull away from.

I would like to think this issue would educate the creative public in Ghana about intellectual thievery…but I fear I might be asking for too much, considering the first presidential speech from President Nana Akufo-Addo lifted passages from the speeches of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

What can I say? It’s in our blood.

 

NB: Go here for a surprise.

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The ‘ICE DROP’ Challenge.

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Ghana is known for many things…but a country with thoughtful companies?
Better look elsewhere.
We don’t have those. OH NO!!! Not at all.
Some might say otherwise but as they say, “it only takes one bad nut to ruin the nut-sack”…or something like that.

PSST: at the end of this post, I’ll throw a challenge your way and hopefully you will take it on.

I would so love to shoot pebbles at all the incompetent companies and organizations in Ghana but today I want to focus on just one: Baron Water House Limited, the makers of the ICE DROP sachet water.

Few people might know this particular brand but a lot of Ghanaians (…and foreigners) are drinking it, without a care in the world.
To a large extent it’s not our fault; we’ve become desensitized with the over-abundance of sachet water currently on sale…to the point where we don’t check the labeling or if it has even been approved and stamped by the FDA.

We just drink away…because in the end, they are all the same to us.

Now to the few out there actually paying attention; I am sure you’ve noticed something extremely wrong with “ICE DROP” …and if after this ghastly discovery/realization you’re still drinking it, then…ummm…Godspeed.

ICE DROP is indeed unique but for the wrong reason.
Pickup an ICE DROP sachet water and you’ll notice the logo; a drop of water caught in a hangman’s noose.

At first glance, it looks rather interesting and if you switch your brain off, drinking the water would be the next step…but think about it a little more and the questions will start popping up;
why?
Why??
WHY???

Want a taste of moi?

Want a taste of moi?

Why a noose and a drop of water?
Why that imagery??
Why would any sane company even consider this as a logo for a consumable product???
Do they not know the symbolism attached to these elements?

Some elements shouldn’t even be seen in the same frame and I shudder to think of what possible reason they could have for placing water, the symbol of life, inside a noose, a symbol that carries with it decades of terror and intimidation…a tool for murder…an instrument of death…a symbol of pure unbridled racism.

Why oh why would a company do this?
Simple;
1. They have no focus groups.
2. The hamsters upstairs are obese from the lack of exercise and probably watching G-FORCE on infinite repeat.
3. Too stingy to actually contract a thinking artist/designer.
HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Just because something looks good doesn’t mean it’s acceptable…and besides, fusing some elements is a big “No No” in the design landscape.

But how can a company brazenly advertise and sell such a product without any known complaints?
Because the people drinking it aren’t aware or are just apathetic.
They drink it anyway because, “Hey pure water is pure water”.
Ghana is a very superstitious country but boy have we lost ourselves.

This post wants to create awareness so please let it.
If you know anyone even remotely associated with ICE DROP, ask them the meaning behind their logo: that’s my challenge to you.

If you get any info please let me know.
I’d like to know their dumb reasoning…and then blast them some more.

We need to send a message to all the companies out there;
“Think before you do anything!”

It’s time we make them accountable.
We have the rights, the choice and the money they so desperately need…let’s make them earn it.

 

PS: I’ve actually thought up meanings behind the ICE DROP logo and the best one I got was:
“Life from Death!”

Dumb right?
God please have mercy on Ghana.

 

PPS: Sorry for the terrible pictures. I took a shot at an electronic billboard…in a moving vehicle.
Will do better next time. 🙂

AIRTEL, WHY DO YOU HATE ME?

I don’t go looking for trouble…unless it comes begging, and neither do I sit still when it speeds at me.

Airtel probably didn’t get the memo, so they decided to play with my “Cellular Life” from the 5th of February to the 12th of February 2016.
Maybe they use a different calendar from the rest of us so their 1st April started on 5th February…but even so, April Fool’s day is at most a day’s long activity.
So Airtel, why did you play with me for a week?

What am I talking about?
Airtel “Temporarily Suspended” my phone number for one week…and their reason;
“We don’t know!”
It was bad enough my line was blocked but why do you not know what caused it?
…and why did it take 6 days to fix?
Well, it isn’t totally fixed…because even though I can now make and receive calls, I can’t send sms or receive them.
It is never that easy when it comes to resolving problems in Ghana.

Three times the people at Airtel told me the problem had been fixed but it wasn’t.
At one point, I could only receive calls but could do nothing from my side.
Well, if I’m to look at it that way then I guess it was a victory on their part…cos now I can make calls.
I guess they figured I don’t need sms.
A bloke with a smartphone don’t need no archaic method of communication.

 

ONE WEEK WAHALA (wahala = pandemonium)

Two days in, I realized I had to get a new sim. That was to be expected, but the calls I missed pissed me off to no end. Aside the normal and business calls I have come to expect, there were other more important calls I just had to receive.
I placed an item on sale on Tonaton and I needed it gone that weekend (5th – 7th).

I was so flustered with my Airtel wahala, I forgot to replace the “dead” number with the new one I purchased…and it wasn’t until Monday, the 8th February, the thought occurred to me.
My buyer probably called but as I’ve established, there was no way I could have received it…and I can’t find out who called during my exile.

I am tempted to sue…but they will just throw around a lot of disclaimers we the end-users have never seen before. Also, I don’t know any lawyers nor do I have the money to hire one.

Thinking my old sim had been decommissioned for good, I called a lot of my friends and business folks informing them I had acquired a new mobile number…only to call them back with my old line that it was a false alarm.

If this is how Airtel repays loyal customers, then I’m going back to Kasapa…wait…ummm…Expresso…wait wait…Sudatel…wait…screw this. Bottom line is, I’m leaving you.
I know it’s Valentine’s Day but I’m certain you’ll get over me.

In the end, did Airtel single me out? I don’t know…but the fact is, Airtel services have been dreadful for a very long time now, so I know for certain I am not the only one facing this problem…nor am I the only one with an axe to grind.

NB: Airtel stole GHC1 of my credit on my “dead” sim.
I don’t even want to get into that…they’ll just say it was a service charge.

PS: And GLO, go back to where you came from. No one wants you here, can’t you tell?
You are like a venereal disease; No one wants you…but you just won’t go away!

Gasmillah is a cheapskate (AKA…Stingy or Chisel)

I’ve never been one for Ghanaian local music; it is instrumentally monotonous, lyrically bland and totally devoid of any emotion. Ghanaian musicians have a proclivity for following the guy ahead but never really forging a unique path. Thus, the Ghanaian music scene is cluttered with very generic and same-sounding songs from all genres.
…to each his own right?

My stance on this subject won’t change…but there’ve been some few songs that have drawn out my inner Ghanaian…and one such song is Gasmilla’s Telemo.
To be quite honest, Telemo is a real joy to listen to but mostly because of its chorus.
The rest of the song isn’t half bad but it is the chorus that kept reeling me in.
It is nothing remarkably extraordinary but what can I say, it makes me wanna sing along;
If any musician can achieve that in any song, then that is a win in my books.

Moving on; prior to listening to Telemo I knew practically nothing about Gasmilla…(I believe we’ve established I’m a hermit)…but after a rather short search on the internet, I found all I needed about the Telemo Man.
Apparently he has been around far longer than I first thought, released other hit songs (3 points) and is somehow an alumnus of Wesley Grammar.

Gasmilla

“Hard work and Determination really does pay off”

After the success of Telemo (plus the fame), Gasmilla has been wounding people with a GH¢40,000 – GH¢80,000 appearance/performance fee.
Is that outrageous? Maybe.
Does he deserve it? Ummm…probably, but I guess it is his sworn duty as a sane Ghanaian musician to make as much money possible before his Telemo train grinds to a halt…because, unlike Sarkodie, a lot of Ghanaian musicians desperately try to stay financially afloat with their one-hit-songs. When the buzz fades away, they try recapturing the lightning in their bottles but when that doesn’t work, they either go into hiding with what’s left of their money or reinvent their music careers; Shatta Wale anybody?

Anyway, Gasmilla is making it “big” but his recent attempts at creating another hit song have so far been middling…but hey, he’s trying. I can’t fault him for that.

Now, on the 31st of October 2015, Gasmilla was invited to the Wesley Grammar Homecoming celebrations and was made a celebrity judge at the Talent Show.
After a very bizarre dance-off between four groups, the winner was picked.
Oh yeah…they danced off to Telemo.
I bet you didn’t see that coming.

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The Wess-G HomeComing.

It was at this point Gasmilla irreparably broke my heart. He went up to the stage, sang a very off-key line from the Telemo chorus and then delivered a not-so-charismatic speech.
It went a little something like; “I admire talent and I always try my best to invest into the lives of anybody talented. It is because of this I’m giving GH¢200 to the winners.”
(Paraphrased…but very accurate.)

Obviously, the kids were excited (no surprises there) but I was so shocked I lost some (a lot) respect for Gasmilla.
I wonder how much he would have invested if he thought they didn’t have talent.
In this economy what can GH¢200 do?
Maybe they can get matching socks. That way we can easily tell they are all from one dancing group.
Or maybe get a celebratory fufu from Aunty Mansah’s chopbar.

GH¢40,000 – GH¢80,000 a show and our magnanimous Mr. Gasmilla dishes out GH¢200?
Unless he’s mismanaging his money, he has no excuse and quite honestly, GH¢200 is an insult.

“All os a fudden”, Telemo angers me every time I hear it.

Gasmilla, I’ve never been a fan and if I were, I’d chase you around town with a signpost reading, “You are a cheapskate!!”
Be a better role model and don’t be cheap.

Thank You.

PS: …You just know the kids won’t see a pesewa of that GH¢200.

NB: It appears Gasmilla is trying to make amends for his folly with “Gasmilla Father Christmas Show”.
The premise of this “show” is pretty simple; “put smiles on the faces of little children on the 26th of December, 2015 (Boxing Day).”
Children who participate in the games (held at Efua Sutherland Park) will win prizes ranging from bicycles to T-shirts…with one lucky child winning a scholarship to any school desired. Whether that child has the brains or not is completely up in the air.
For all its worth, I am glad he is “giving back” to society…even though he is gonna demand a gate fee for the “Christmas Show”.
Such irony.

DEAR DARK SUBURB, TREAD CAREFULLY!

OOOH…Shiny.

 

I have been meaning to write this piece for a while now but it seems Prophet Daniel Larbi forced my hand. I missed my shot at first place but second place isn’t bad either.

Well then, let’s get on with it;

Dark Suburb needs a pan to the head.

For the uninitiated, Dark Suburb is Ghana’s first rock band. Indubitably, that is a nice feat but one that might quickly fade into obscurity.
I am not making that statement lightly and the rest will think I am just a hate-filled Ghanaian who abhors change but you should know this, I have a very large collection of ROCK MUSIC. So trust me when I say, “I know what I am talking about”.
Dark Suburb needs a pan to the head because it is becoming increasingly apparent they have no idea what they are doing…as far as their public image is involved.

Dark Suburb will probably take offense but I will pull no punches. Why should I pull ‘em back when everything lends credence to the fact that the band is built on a foundation of absolutely no planning, no research and no education. Just plain NOTHING.
The very iota of rock music is all they have a claim to.
Dark Suburb has the crew, the equipment, the “ok” music and then…Zilch.
I am a fairly imaginative person and I can think of many scenarios detailing how they came into being and rest assured, none will feature a smidgen of analytical thinking.
They didn’t have the “talk”.

I’m being highly critical because they are hitting very close to home and I honestly can’t stand it.

I’ve loved rock music since the late 90’s and in my years of listening to that particular genre, I’ve come to realize something;
Even though rock is influencing the Ghanaian music scene, the majority of Ghanaians quickly and unequivocally associate rock music to drug addicts and satanism.
This is a fact I have lived with since I abandoned mainstream music.
It is a not-so-alarming discovery but I will say with utmost certainty that, some of my readers have the same reservations.

ROCK MUSIC ISN’T SATANIC”.

People naturally have fears and Ghanaians are beyond reproach in this region…for good reason: Ghanaians are superstitious. This invariably skews their perceptions on a lot of things; rock music being one them.

The average Ghanaian knows little to nothing about rock music, save for the preconceived notion that any song with an electric guitar falls in the loop. But to be fair, education on the matter is practically non-existent in this country.
The little info Ghanaians have on rock is what they glean from the five-to-ten seconds of screen time rock bands get in movies. The featured bands are predominantly from the Death Metal and Hard Metal scene, playing songs filled to the brim with death growls, heavy guitar riffs, and to make matters worse, these movies scenes contain morbid imagery.
Now, with all these things considered and as far as reactions go, one shouldn’t be surprised when Ghanaians quickly judge rock.

Now imagine how quickly my excitement turned to disdain when Ghana’s first rock band swooped into the limelight with teaser images and video clips employing the use of the aforementioned “unholy” things Ghanaians have associated with the genre.

In their first official teaser video (The Awakening Video), Dark Suburb employed the use of hand-drawn animation which features a wizard/sorcerer reciting weird ‘demonic’ incantations that seemingly bring corpses back to life.

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Visually appealing but illogical.

 

 

Under the direct influence of this demonic entity, these skeletal beings exit their coffins with musical instruments in tow, and are driven by a single purpose: play music for us normal Ghanaians.
Thus, they will entertain us with demon-inspired music.

Now from the average Ghanaian’s viewpoint, this band embodies everything about rock music they have come to fear and hate.

Dark Suburb, you have managed to secure a small fanbase in an otherwise rock-averse country and instead of finding a more palatable pill for the masses, you flipped the birdie and decide to go against the grain. That to me is the dumbest thing since the invention of the DVD-Rewinder.

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Take away the musical instruments, replace them with guns and we have the “Escuadrón de la Muerte” (Death Squad).

 

To top it off, there is the issue of mistaken identity.
Some rock acts in their early years can’t properly categorize the genre they fit in and unfortunately, Dark Suburb is trudging along in that particular trench. Their “High Priest”, who is the band’s leader, says he gave life to his undead bandmates and achieved that through ancient sorcery. They are The Skeletons and their studio The Graveyard.
This description puts the band into the Death Metal category but in actuality, they are an alternate rock band with hiplife and highlife influences.

That ultimately goes to show that the people who make up Dark Suburb are a bunch of guys with decent-enough talents but no discernible reasoning skills.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot…over and over again.

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Why would you dress up like this? A bunch of kids at a costume party.

 

All things considered though, Dark Suburb makes OK music.
It is not great.
It is not amazing.
It is just OK.
That isn’t a bad thing for I believe they are yet to find their perfect form.
So I guess in that area I can cut them some slack :).

Dark Suburb, please listen, unless you rebrand and reinvent your band, you might bloom like the Corpse Flower and wither into obscurity.
Do that or risk being a speck in the ever-growing pool of failed attempts in Ghana.

There is bad music everywhere and in every genre, but rock is the designated runt of the litter…and Dark Suburb jumped head first without a helmet.
If they are willing to shed their current image and think long and hard about the future of their band in Ghana, I am almost certain they will be pioneers of the rock scene in this country.

Rock is great. Rock is awesome. It is awesometacular and as the first rock band in Ghana, you have the privileged opportunity of educating Ghanaians on the sweetness of rock music. “Replacing the bad with the good”, so to speak.

SO DARK SUBURB, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER AND DON’T MESS IT UP.

*THUMPS UP*

 

PS: You’ve got to admire DARK SUBURB’s dedication to their image and secrecy…even though it is very dumb.
They are lucky no one has the time to fish out their real identities.
Ghana needs Paparazzi.