Ghanaian Highlife Must Be Saved
At a national workshop of musicians on the development of intellectual property rights and contractual arrangement in Ghana held in Accra last week, the Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, S.K. Boafo, observed that music was an essential commodity with great potential for any nation. He went on further to say that the United States is benefiting immensely from the music Industry because the U.S. has been able to package her music well for sale to the rest of the world. Mr Boafo also observed that our highlife music is a potential foreign exchange earner because of its distinctive characteristics. He said that it is unfortunate that Ghana is unable to gain much from the lucrative world music market because of the present excessive reliance on high-tech computerised background production dubbed “hiplife” at the expense of our indigenous cultural flavour or highlife music. The Minister’s observation is also an issue of late which is causing much dismay and anguish to many concerned Ghanaians at the moment. The so called “hiplife” which is gradually destroying the indigenous Ghanaian highlife music is heavily computerised and also characterised with foreign cultural elements that are inimical to our progressive cultural values. This state of affairs is alarming and does not augur well for Ghana’s advancement as a nation. It is a fact that this kind of music known as “hiplife” is created and advocated by our young generation of musicians and it appeals strongly to the youth of today. It has virtually overshadowed the proverbial and famous Ghanaian highlife music, the pride of the nation of yesterday on the international musical scene. In order to check the cankerous effect of the so called “hiplife” on the indigenous Ghanaian highlife music and to forestall its advancement to completely destroy the popular Ghanaian highlife music, I suggest that the Musician Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) should as a matter of urgency hold a national forum to deliberate on this important issue. The Musician Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) should be able to come to a consensus as to what to do in order to prevent the complete destruction of our popular highlife music, the pride of the nation some years ago. Ghana must be able to redeem her image on the international music scene as well as make profit as much as possible from the international music industry. In order to realise these noble national objectives, the Musician Union of Ghana should be able to halt the present growing negative impact of the so called “hiplife” on our youth. To succeed in its efforts towards meeting this challenge, MUSIGA should solicit the assistance of the Ministry of Chieftaincy And Culture and other organisations like the copyright organisation, Broadcasters Association of Ghana, etc. Furthermore, I appeal to MUSIGA to comply strictly to the tenets of the Cultural Policy of Ghana published in 2004 and impress on their members to create their music to portray the progressive cultural values of Ghana as provided in this policy. The young generation of musicians in the country must be guided to follow the footsteps of their seniors who are doing well to preserve and propagate the progressive Ghanaian Cultural values in their creative efforts. The younger generation of musicians must be made to know that their tendency to project the “hiplife” music which is fraught with much negative cultural values is a danger and constitute an impediment to the healthy advancement of the nation. In order to save our indigenous and famous highlife music from total destruction, I suggest that the Union should take the following measures. 1. Periodic meetings should be held for MUSIGA members to deliberate and appraise MUSIGA’s achievements and impact and also to project into the future plans and programmes of MUSIGA. 2. Periodic workshops must be held for members of MUSIGA to improve upon their creative skills as musicians. 3. Periodic seminars or lectures should be organised to educate members of MUSIGA on the cultural policy of Ghana published in 2004. 4. Imposition of sanctions such as fines, suspension, expulsion etc. on members who are found guilty in various ways in the course of their functions as creative artists of the nation. 5. Musicians who are not members of MUSIGA must be made to follow the tenets of the Cultural Policy of Ghana published in 2004, and must be disciplined if they are found wanting to conform to the cultural policy in their creative endeavours. In conclusion, I have no doubt that the indigenous Ghanaian highlife Music, the pride of the nation since time immemorial, will survive and be preserved to enable Ghana to make a significant impact and also to gain immensely from the International Music industry. The young generation of musicians must therefore be held in check and subjected to discipline henceforth in the context of our rich and progressive cultural values as far as their music compositions are concerned. Ghana cannot afford to pay the price of degenerating into cultural anarchy in the 21st century!
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