Any time I hear people say that English language actors look down on their Local language counterparts, and they hurl invective on the English language actors, I say to myself, “these people don’t know what they are talking about.”
It is simple; a very simple philosophy in life. A study in anthropology tells you that no matter how friendly and closely knitted we all may be with each other, there still will be classes of people. This is some diversity in universality at any point in time. It is therefore natural to have people inclined to relate better to some people than others.
Even in a family, some members jell better than others. It is real at work places, to have factions or better still smaller groups. Such is life.
That English language actors condescend to the local language actors isn’t strange at all. Because of the kind of movies these two classes of actors do, hardly do they come into contact, so they mostly don’t know each other personally.
The fact that we have been indoctrinated to hail anything that bears semblance to the whites is a reason why a local language may easily know an English language counterpart without the other also knowing him. The latter has almost invariably held some prestige and prominence over the former.
If a local language actor met an English language actor and the latter didn’t approach the former, it doesn’t necessarily mean the latter was being smug. They may not even know these local language actors. They may not have even watched their movies before.
I know a majority of the ‘Kumasi actors’ feel intimidated to approach their English language counterparts when they see them. They think of the gulf between them in terms of prestige, educational background, the ability to speak English language, and they cringe.
Sometimes when you see a great personality that you admire so much and you expect them to get to you but they don’t, you assume they are ‘too known’. But they may not know you. Just approach them and you will realize they are very nice people after all.
Why don’t our local language actors also try to thaw out with their English language counterparts? However, I think there are few who are naturally arrogant and may put up acts that reek of condescension. It cuts across both the English and the local language sides.
This is not to say they are enemies. It is just natural. If one is not your friend, until he becomes your friend, they are not your friend.
However, this attitude of inferiority complex has caged the local language actors to the extent that most of them are not even able to establish links that can put them on higher pedestals. This attitude has tethered them to one place and I am sure it is part of the reason why Fred Nuamah and his Ghana Movie Awards crew ‘sidelined’ them when they needed to send some Ghanaian thespians to Cannes Film Festival last year. Most of them need to go back to ‘school.’ They need to learn how to communicate in English language. It is very important! How did Abedi Pele and Azumah Nelson soon do it. At the beginning of their careers, they could not speak good English but when they realized the need to at least speak basic English, they employed teachers to take them through English lessons.
I always say Kyeiwaa would have gotten very far in her movie career if she could speak English and would be featured in English movies. I should also quip that Local language movies are not the preserve of illiterates only. There is nothing wrong for the Majid Michel’s, David Osei’s, Adjetey Annang’s, Jackie Appiah’s and Yvonne Nelson’s to star in Akan language movies. Doing that wouldn’t mean you are an ‘imbecile’. It rather shows your versatility and how well you can interpret stories in different forms.
Kudos to Emeila Brobbey and Nana Ama MacBrown who are able to ply both sides of the acting trade. The others should wise up. While I advise the local language actors to free themselves off the shackles of inferiority complex, I admonish the English language ones to also do local language movies. I will be back!
By Kwame Dadzie