Why I weep for Ghana and Africa’s failing film industry |


Ghana, like many other African countries, is confronted with lots of developmental issues and so the movie industry, which is solely seen as for entertainment purposes, can wait, whilst we seek answers to our ‘pressing’ troubles. That’s correct; but seeking answers to our never-ending challenges has taken away our attention to the extent that a monster has been built at our blind side by film makers to destroy the people we need for our very development.

This is not good for all of us from the Negro race because institutions and governments need the minds of their people fine-tuned towards a certain direction in order to be able to achieve certain results. This is where what a country’s people watch or listen to come in- The camera industry!

Check this 82-year old quote. I find it very important to our conversation. They are words of Hadley Cantril and Gordon W. Allport in their book “Psychology of Radio” published in 1935.

It says “When a million people hear [or watch] the same subject matter, the same arguments and appeals, the same music and humour, when their attention is held in the same way and at the same time to the same stimuli, it is psychologically inevitable that they should acquire in some degree common interest, taste and common attitudes”. Excellent!

They are saying that, as humans, we are moved by what we hear or watch, to the point of developing attitudes from them. In other words, someone can get us to change our mind, opinion or perception on a subject through what we are given to watch or listen to. That is the power of mass communication.

Films or movies are creative works. Not everyone gets to think like a movie or film producer. It is an industry that requires the finest brains of a country’s human resources. Downplay its seriousness and you are near doom either as an institution or a government.

That said, Ghana or the African continent has people who are able to think like that. For long, they have helped bring laughter and joy to our homes. The likes Ekow Smith Asante, David Dontoh, Egya Koo Nimo, Bob Santo, Super OD, the cast of Obra and Kantaata were all people and productions we long miss. We cheered, laughed, loved and celebrated their works. Growing up as a child, it was virtually impossible to miss Key Soap Concert Party on Saturdays and Kantaata on Sundays. We describe them as ‘good old days’.

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But this is where I have my issues. These productions have been the very problem with the film industry in Ghana and the continent. Our industry is one that is built on laughter and jokes. Just pause and reflect on the industry. What do you see? Our “best” have been the “office type” productions by Frimpong Manso, Chris Attoh, Olu Jacobs, Ramzy Noah, Genevieve Nnaji and the likes. That’s what it is! The rest are centered on witchcraft and primitive cultural practices that are consistently failing to see the times in which we find ourselves and the development gap ahead of us.

The problem is that, movie or film producers have failed to communicate the national developmental agenda through the entertainment industry as is the case in the Western countries. As if we of the Negro race overwork to the point of needing the comical strand of movies and entertainers to help us cool off.

Film makers and television networks in our part of the world do not know or are yet to come to the realization that, their works can be used as a tool to get people, particularly children to be concerned with the things that matter most to our country’s development. That is what Cantrell and Allport said about mass communication way back in the 1930s. For us, we do not use the creative works to advance development agenda but to cool off. Perhaps, we work more than those in the Western world.

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We have had to be confronted with a movie industry that portrays the all-important teaching profession as demeaning to children, and parents clap while watching it with them. We are confronted by an industry that portrays old people as witches and wizards and that people who move to cities become richer and respected. When it dawns on us, we get back to fight over-population in the cities and indiscipline among youth.

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It is particularly pathetic that whereas the Western world is using the camera industry to show what the next generation must be concerned with, the advancement in science and technology and flaunting their supremacy over other countries, ours is one that has heavily been built on jokes and comedy that has done little to the African particularly children.

It is now very evident that the Ghanaian or Nigerian child cannot compete with a child maybe below his age in China, US or Korea. This is because the sort of images the TV channels at home communicate through the minds of these minors is that of “Kumkum Bagya” and soap operas with very obvious adult themes.

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We lack love making skills maybe! The next bigger threat is even already here and well; the Indian and Mexican telenovelas! Like seriously? Africa! Has it gotten to this? Someone sits far away from your country and continent to decide what your people should be watching? Are Africans this easily manipulated? Who said we lacked relationship tips and that Indians and Mexicans should show us how to do it through their telenovelas? Is love and relationship our immediate concern so much so that we need to see in movies as countries and a continent? If you care to know, check the themes of all these Telenovelas on sale and on screens and see what it’s all about. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

The cheap and lazy approach by many TV station owners in Ghana and elsewhere on the continent, who do not want to invest in quality productions, or simply lack the approach to doing it, is what has brought us here.

So it’s not surprising to wake up in Ghana to the cheering and promotion to stardom of a poor young “malafaka” Brekum girl who herself could not pronounce the very expletive that won her fame; ‘motherfucker’, after spending almost 14 years in school. That’s what our production houses are applauding. If you’ve seen or heard no evil till now, the video shows a teenage girl’s abusive and offensive rant targeted at a supposed boyfriend of no worth and it went viral. The light-natured Jigwe Awards had it in their categories and that should speak of the directionless film industry we are confronted with. It’s dangerous that this is what is shown to Ghanaian and African children. When the dust settles, we come crying foul over indiscipline.

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It gets very heart-breaking when our attempts to correct it even end us nowhere. And so you have one respectable production house in Ghana that attempted to raise the bar for young children also deciding to dwell heavily on nurturing dancing moves and skills, as if those constituted our next generational challenges. Far away from science and technology! That’s the reality!

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And so I laughed when some people were surprised to see class two pupils in a viral video on social media performing Ghana’s dancehall artiste Shatta Wale’s song “Kaikai” and “Taking Over.” Again, it should not surprise anyone because of the maxim preached by Cantrell H and Allport G as I indicated earlier. That’s what has “Taken Over” their minds through TVs and radio sets at home.

Imagine if these children were introduced to movies and music arts that are directed at entertaining Ghanaians through problem solving, the many Ghanaian problems wouldn’t be left alone on politicians.

But should we be surprised by these developments? It’s a huge NO because, our film making industry has been left without direction and a vision. No one “controls” or “directs” what is “supposed” to be produced or sent out there for our next generation in particular.

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As for Kumawood, I want them to tell us on what basis do they continue to produce movies full of witchcraft? I do not get it! Is it what they have found about Ghanaians that many of us are practicing witchcraft and that they produce those movies to speak against it existence or what? Really! Shockingly, they are shown in buses and at public spaces and if you dare question, some women will consume you. Witches and wizards in buses! We the lovers of these movies must also begin to check ourselves seriously on what gets hold of our interest.

Zoom in on the African continent and you will see that film makers on this continent have failed as well. People are homeless in the United States. Women and Children are abused. Rainstorms flood streets and kill dozens. Infectious diseases and road accidents kill people equally in the white man’s country. Marital problems abound and many women are depressed. Corruption happens at the highest level. Backbiting and bitterness, as well as police-related racial abuse and robbery cases are happening in their sinful forms, yet, none of these happenings get to feature in their theatres or movie industries.

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Actor Idris Elba left all these issues in the United States and came to Ghana to portray one of Africa’s “forgotten histories” in that humiliating production titled “Beast of No Nation.” He did not see Africa Rising but children at war fronts, and we hailed him. We saw or heard no evil!

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But I was not surprised though because for decades, happenings like these in Africa are what have engaged its film makers’ attention. We are helping the western world to always paint us black.

I’m not saying we need not to talk about these in our theatres, but when it consumes our film makers’ attention for many years, it becomes a tragedy and we need to purge ourselves from it. We have involved ourselves in comedy for too long. No one is saying the jokes and comedies must seize completely, but they must be used for their true purposes: to lighten the load we carry as we strive for development.

One way of doing so is “liaising” with governments to understand its vision and the direction it intends to send our countries. If it’s about advancement in healthcare and science and technology, film makers could team up to pull resources together or even form Joint ventures to carry out these big projects that require heavy capital injection. I am sure you see the introduction of blockbuster movies and the number of production houses that teamed up or collaborated to produce them.

I think it’s about time what came out of the several thousands of cameras in Ghana and the African continent are properly directed to communicate a clear vision.

Take note that the perception about Africa out there entreats us all to change. We are not still living on trees with monkeys, as it is still found in some books of colonial “masters” in the western world. The more we continue to produce movies about witchcraft, the more we give people outside the continent enough reason to continue looking down upon the black race. If we are not ready to tell our own stories, we must not expect outsiders to speak for us!

By: Obrempong Yaw Ampofo/citifmonline.com/Ghana



Published on 15 September 2017 | 6:00 am at Source