Was Shatta Wale right but his approach wrong? 

Was Shatta Wale right but his approach wrong? 

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Shatta Wale, in his bid to drive a concerted effort against the popularization of Nigerian music in Ghana, has blown everything out of proportion and made grave mistakes in his utterances.

His reactionary rants and emotional outbursts have rubbed many the wrong way and triggered an emotional upheaval amongst Ghanaians and Nigerians alike.

Shatta Wale, who has a penchant for “stating his mind”, was not mindful of his speech, which he genuinely wanted to use to cause a definite and lasting change and to propel the Ghana music industry into a transitional state of positive change.

What went amiss?

Assessing what Shatta Wale has written and said about his angst against why Nigerian artists, with little or no effort, are getting their music onto the Ghanaian airways, I felt he had a strong point but failed in his communication.

He failed to thread the thin line between stating the fact and also not bruising emotions, stoking division and arousing the sentiments of fans on both sides of the music and geographical divide.

Shatta Wale, unbeknownst to him, made remarks that could be termed as xenophobic or outright envy of Nigerians. He also verbally berated and disrespected the entire Nigerian community, which could probably feed into the local glaring yet simmering animosity some Ghanaians have and exhibit brazenly toward Nigerians doing well in Ghana.

Shatta Wale, as a celebrated public figure, has failed in most instances to get his message across without stepping on toes, pointing fingers accusingly or spitting on those he wanted to buy into his ideas.

On the back of that, some Ghanaians have expressed their reservations and somewhat thrown their support behind their Nigerian brothers, which, in turn, has left Shatta Wale high and dry.

What was Shatta Wale’s point?

Shatta Wale, after he held what could be termed as a successful end of year concert at Ghana’s biggest capacity stadium, the Accra Sports Stadium, decided to relay his deep-seated message to Nigerian artists and to categorically affirm why he would never need their support or backing in order to pull the crowd.

The mammoth crowd that stood all night and cheered from dusk to dawn served as a spirited motivation to Shatta Wale, who rode on their shoulders to give credence to his message to Nigerian artists. He understood and appreciated the fact that the crowd that came out to jam with him, resounded his relevance, cemented his appeal, and made a strong statement about the fact that he was the “King of Dancehall.”

They said I won’t be able to fill my own stadiums, I don’t need any Nigerian Artiste to sell out Ghana’s Stadium, F*** all Nigerian Artistes” Shatta Wale said while on stage.

He carried the vendetta to Twitter, where he started deviating from the tangent of rallying Ghanaian music-loving fans behind the “Appreciate Your Own” mantra and sending a clarion call to industry players to rise and seize the opportunities. He began throwing shots at selected Nigerian artists by dragging their hard-earned reputations thru the mud.

Shatta Wale’s initial move was to use the success of his show to ask Ghanaians to kill their taste buds for foreign music, especially Nigerian songs, and start enjoying and appreciating local talents. He intimated that by so doing, Ghanaian artists would rise to the high echelons of musical glory and be on par with their Nigerian counterparts.

Where did Shatta Wale get it all wrong?

When Shatta Wale started throwing virtual tantrums and expressing his legitimate frustrations, he shouldn’t have roped in the good people of Nigeria. Insulting the conscience of Nigerians as if they were the sole reason for the music industry’s stunted growth erodes the sense and import of the message he wanted to put across.

That was a huge blunder.

But, as we have come to know Shatta Wale as the so-called “hard guy” who has no phobia or whatsoever when it comes to speaking his mind and making his stance on issues known, no matter how controversial and sometimes ill-informed they may be, some of us were not surprised.

The SM President failed the test of social media conversational etiquette by attacking Nigerians and blaming them for their nemesis. You cannot disrespect the very people you are expecting to popularize and drive the virality of your music in their country. That is now how it is done. That was a bad move.

Shatta Wale’s action will definitely sow seeds of discord in the hearts and minds of the daughters and sons of Ghana and Nigeria, which, if not checked, could metamorphose into gross hostility between the two powerhouses in the future.

What Shatta Wale should have said and done

Firstly, it was unnecessary on the part of Shatta Wale to get engaged in and sustain a social media brawl between himself and Burna Boy. It appeared the SM President failed to acknowledge the fact that Burna Boy was miles ahead of him as far as contemporary African music was concerned.

Burna Boy has been nominated for and won Grammys. His career has shot up, and since he broke and shattered the glass ceiling, Burna Boy has been on the rise. Shatta Wale creditably should be acknowledged for his input in Burna Boy’s career when it was starting to burgeon, but that could never be grounds for disrespect and disdain.

In fact, Shatta Wale should have been thinking of being tied to the apron strings of Burna Boy since he now has the Midas touch as far as the music scene on the continent is concerned. Shatta Wale should have approached it by reaching out to Burna Boy and soliciting ideas on how Ghana’s music industry could produce similar giants.

“Shatta Wale can rant all day, but the FACT is that Nigerian acts are steps ahead of their Ghanaian counterparts. Filling an insignificant portion of a stadium, has, sadly, given him a false sense of self-superiority. Synopsis: If you can’t beat them, just humbly join them.” – [Twitter: @BongoIdeas].

Instead, he chose the wrong approach by reproaching his competitors, belittling their work and casting an indelible slur on their image. That should never be accepted and condoned by well-meaning Ghanaians who understand how the music industry works.

Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, and other top Nigerian artists have made Ghana their second home. They have found reasons to literally relocate to Ghana, where they plan and execute projects, where they come to rest after weeks of work and where they vibe with fellow artists.

That opportunity should be grabbed with both hands by Ghanaian artists who are serious about collaborating with Nigerian artists and, in effect, catapulting their underground careers to the top. The fact that Nigerian artistes are doing well and better than their Ghanaian counterparts does not mean they need to be seen as intruders who are trying to block their shine.

Our light has dimmed and it behoves Shatta Wale and co to seek illumination from these top Nigerian artists, who I believe would be ever ready to help.

My Opinion

My personal opinion on Shatta Wale has never changed; it has remained the same. I believe he is reactionary, fainthearted, and may be suffering from an inferiority complex.

The hate that emanates from his tweets and public utterances against local, Nigerian, and foreign artists and celebrities is despicable, contemptible, and condemnable.

It reveals the weakness of Shatta Wale, who feels people doing better than he does owe him a slice of their pie. It does not work like that. In my on-the-spot tweet about Shatta Wale, I stated unequivocally that the IGP needs to put a restraining order on him.

The fact that Shatta Wale sees himself as the musical overlord in Ghana does not augur well for the growth and development of the industry. The industry needs doers, not talkers. And Shatta Wale, who has been talking, ranting and hitting his chest, has not given Ghanaians much to celebrate over the last 5 years.

His career has plummeted and only seen a temporary resurrection when Beyonce got him featured on her Lion King album. That should have been a moment of gargantuan and eternal breakthrough for Shatta Wale to be known beyond the shores of Ghana, but he failed to capitalize on it and blew it.

As pained as he is, he feels whatever small success he chalks up needs to be overly trumpeted for the world to recognize that he has still got something worthwhile to offer.

Meanwhile, he has forgotten the age-long adage that “Don’t seek to be relevant, just be consistent.” Relevancy rests in the midst of the resilient! When leaders do nothing about something relevant to their role, they become irrelevant. ”

Conclusion

I recognize the genuine concern of Shatta Wale, which has been corroborated by other artists and celebrities. On the other hand, I also acknowledge the dissenting views on what Ghanaians and Nigerians felt went off in Shatta Wale’s recent unchecked explosion of emotion.

The bottom line is that Ghana’s music needs to sell. Artists need to make money, build careers, and reach higher heights. Ghana must not wait for Nigeria or any other country to offer a helping hand before getting all hands on deck.

Artists, managers, DJs, the media, statutory institutions like the Creative Arts Ministry & Council, GHAMRO, etc., need to understand their role and play it to the letter. No stone should be left unturned in that process. While Nigeria has all the advantages in terms of number, reach, and quality, Ghana needs to start to fix the fundamental problems such as payment of royalties, promoting local talents, fostering love and unity among artists, and the strict regulation of the music industry.

To paraphrase Vice President Bawumia’s famous political quote, “When the fundamentals are strong, you actually turn your weakness into strength.” That is what Ghana must fix. That should be the centre of focus.

Shatta Wale does not need to be the lingering, uninspired crying voice in the wilderness of mediocrity, pathetic quality, and shallow-mindedness. He does not need to be allowed to be the one using social media and the fame he has got to muddy the waters and throw the industry into a state of irreparable disarray.

“On a more serious note, IGP Dampare needs to put a restricting order on Shatta Wale. Unless, of course, Shatta relishes another chance to serve a full jail term. Shatta Wale always hyper-reactive and rarely makes sense. He needs to be muted once and for all. We need sanity.” [Twitter: @Bongoideas]

Shatta Wale is part of the problem. His attitude and behaviour in recent years have gradually rubbed away the glory of Ghana’s music.

Consequently, he does not have the moral authority or ethical permission to speak or fight on behalf of Ghanaians. He needs to be stopped immediately.

Ghana’s music will rise, but it will rise by lifting each other. 

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Bongo Ideas

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