On 3rd October, 2012, I raised this issue of our stars or celebrities spoiling our true Ghanaian names. Their justifications are that; “this is showbiz for you” or “this is my showbiz or stage name.” I sited few examples like: Efya instead of Efua or Afua, Cwesi instead of Kwasi or Kwesi, A2umpan instead of Atumpan, and a host of others. We all appreciate the fact that our stars or celebrities who sell Ghana abroad adopt our true Ghanaian names as their showbiz name, stage name or whatever they term it. Nonetheless, when they bastardize the names, then the whole idea of selling our origin is defeated!
When these celebrities used their colonial masters’ names, they spelt it correctly. For instance, when Jane Awindor hit the limelight, she spelt it correctly, but after regaining her African consciousness, adopted Efya, meanwhile the real name and its spelling is Efua. One essence of creative arts is that it should tell the origin of whichever setting it emanates. It is this same zany propensity that has caused us to now import ‘China Kente’ into our soil at the expense of our rich and revered ‘Bonwire Kente.’ While the westerners we copy are busy promoting their original arts, we rather keep losing our identity in our art works gradually.
The recent Ghanaian name spoiling that has caught my attention is two Ghanaian artistes; Bro. Qwaqu (of Kwaw Kesse’s Madtime Entertainment) and Nahna. Former Ako Nana now Nahna when he was asked on live television why he chose the latter name, he responded that he is doing re-branding. “I went to perform outside and was in my usual Western apparel – suit and tie. But one African artiste came to perform and the crowd cheered him profusely because of his African identity, so coming back home, I and my team decided to re-brand into my African identity,”Nahna revealed. This is laudable and a sign of maturity. However, the question is, Ako Nana and Nahna, which is originally from Ghana? So would Nahna go back to the foreigners he performed for and tell them that Nahna is rather from Ghana instead of Ako Nana?
Asked why Nahna, he answered: “there are many Nana so I want mine (Nahna) to appear distinct from the lots.” The funny thing is the way he mentions the Nahna, as though he is in competition with Ex. President Rawlings on how the latter calls his wife (he stretches the ‘a’ in the name) “Naana.” How do we sell Efya, Cwesi, Qwaqu, and Nahna to the rest of the world as original names from Ghana? As much as showbiz should be fun filled, we ought not take serious issues for granted. This is not an issue of am ‘too stiff’ or do not appreciate creativity. What is so ingenious about spelling Kwasi, Cwesi? It is this same continuous bastardization of certain towns, villages, people, etc. from the past that has changed our true identity for a name like “Ashanti” instead of “Asante.”
The logic is; if we continue changing our original names into something else, we lose our identity, history and heritage. I leave you with a quote South Africa’s celebrated musician Hugh Ramopolo Masakela said when he came to Ghana last year: “with the way we are losing our identity, someday you will sit with your son or daughter in Ghana, and yet he/she will look at you in the face and ask, father, is it true we once lived in a place called Africa? Think it over. My name is Osarfo. I will not spell it “Ocarpho” simply because am a showbiz person. Until then…..MOTWUM!!