Ghana’s Brazil 2014 Ambassadorial List: Why not Kumawood actors?

Kumawood stars

KUMAWOOD refers as local movies produced in Kumasi. Since “wood” has become generic name for movies in the world with Hollywood as movies produced from America, Bollywood representing the Indian or Hindi movies and Nollywood representing the Nigeria movie industry, the name Kumawood was derived from Kumasi and “wood”.

A lot of unpleasant things have been said about Kumawood regarding how poor the quality of its movies are. It has been blamed for being largely responsible for the dwindling positive image of Ghanaian movies. Actors have been castigated; technical handling and badly written scripts have been mauled; dialogue has had its share of condemnation; and on the whole, Kumawood has been seen as a joke.

It appears, however, that the practitioners in Kumawood don’t care much about whatever is being said about them, all their focus is on making from the low-budget movies they produce.

Even though the movies being churned out in Kumawood are mediocre, they have succeeded in attracting attention and creating a market for Ghanaian movies and gradually, they have succeeded in taking some shine off Nollywood movies, which at some stage, dominated the Ghanaian scene.

In as much as I’m not in favour of the poor nature of Kumawood movies, it is true that they helped the Ghana movie industry and saved it from sinking into oblivion.

Unfortunately, movie actors that play their trade in Kumawood have always have been discriminated against. The sad reality is that, the Ghanaian movie industry has been divided into two, the Kumasi-based Kumawood and English-speaking “glamour” movies based in Accra.

Whenever something related to movies come up, Kumawood which largely uses Twi dialogue, is overlooked and ignored with funny excuses.

In 2011, when Fred Nuamah started the Ghana Movie Awards, some of the winners which included Kumawood actors were promised a trip to the Cannes Film Festival in France but that promise was later abandoned with the excuse that, the Kumawood actors were not educated enough or did not have online presence as the “glamour” actors did.

Now the reason for writing this piece today, has to do with what happened on May 7, when the Ministry of Youth and Sports unveiled a number of musicians, actors and former footballers as Ghana’s official ambassadors for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The ambassadors comprised musicians Shatta Wale, Grace Ashy and Becca, former boxer champion Azumah Nelson, veteran footballers CK Akonnor, Tony Baffoe, Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, Kwame Ayew, Augustine Ahinful, Samuel Osei Kuffour, Tony Yeboah, and Ali Jarrah.

From the movie industry, the list included “glamour” actors, John Dumelo and Jackie Appiah. Kumawood actors were sidelined yet again.

The difference between the disappointments is that, the first was by a private individual who had organised a movie awards and therefore could be pardoned for picking whoever he deemed fit, especially since he was the one to sponsor the trip. But in the second instance, it was the nation’s Ministry of Sports.

Looking at the huge number of musicians and movie personalities that Ghana is blessed with currently, perhaps it will not be fair for anyone to castigate the Ministry for not including certain names and for that matter, names of Kumawood actors.

However, it is the reason that the ministry gave for its choice that is stoking the fires and making Kumawood actors vent their spleen on the ministry for their discriminatory stance in compiling the list.

Before I go into that, lets look at why the ambassadors were needed in the first place. Among other things, they were picked to champion Ghana’s off-the-field campaign at the 2014 World Cup. They were also expected to use their iconic status to promote Ghana and raise funds for projects of the sports ministry because the ministry intended to raise funds to support its plans of taking supporters to Brazil for the tournament.

Kumawood has not been happy since the list was released and the president of Kumasi branch of the Ghana Actors Guild, Bill Asamoah, has not minced his words about it.

He said, “Almost all the Black Stars supporters are in Kumasi and anytime they were here for a match, we the actors here didn’t forsake them. We visited, welcomed them and gave them every moral support needed but if they are soliciting for supporters for Brazil, how do they exclude Kumasi celebrities?”

He continued: “We are canvassing for supporters for Ghana as a whole but not for only Accra or Tema; it should have been uniform because there are two big movie industries in Ghana now.”

Bill Asamoah’s words were spot-on because all the Black Stars Brazil 2014 qualifying home matches including the 6-1 humiliation of Egypt was played at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi. And video of the some of the actors participation in supporting the team is out there for all to see, so on what basis were they not given any slot as ambassadors?

What is even more disappointing was what the Coordinating Manager for the ambassadors said in response to the concerns raised by the Kumasi-based actors.

Maame Efua Houadjeto said, “We wanted popular actors who can represent both the Twi and English language. Also acting is the sole business for these two people, John Dumelo and Jackie Appiah. These people (referring to John Dumelo and Jackie Appiah) have redefined acting in Ghana and have become icons in their own ways.”

What shows that Kumawood faces cannot represent the English language? What about the likes of Nana Ama McBrown, Emelia Brobbey, Vivian Jill and the rest who can still speak good Twi and good English language any day?

I personally believe that when it comes to the reasons for appointing ambassadors, I’m very certain that, the Kumawood actors can do a far better job than the English-oriented actors.

If Ghanaians buy more Kumawood movies than “glamour” movies now, can anybody tell me why Kumawood actors cannot help Ghana and the Sports Ministry better to raise enough funds to finance the project of taking supporters to Brazil?

By Ebenezer Anangfio/Graphic Showbiz


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