Leave Ecow Smith-Asante alone

Any smart person can understand why Kumawood’s actors Agya Koo, Kwaku Manu, Akrobeto, Lil Win, Nana Ama McBrown and few others have joined in the chorus of the chiefs and people of Asankragua among others to lambast actor, Ecow Smith-Asante for his comments that Akan-speaking movies are nothing to write home about. Well, it’s an industry that has given them their livelihood.

Ecow Smith-Asante had said Kumawood movies referring to movies made in Kumasi are inferior and it is targeted at people “who do not know jack about lighting, sound, good acting among others and are not ready to know”, referring to the people of Asankragua, Sefwi Wiaso. My point is that, Ecow was spot on and right in his assertion.

Kumawood movies spearheaded by Agya Koo helped in lifting and standing up to the invasion of Nollywood movies in the country several years ago.

In those years, especially in the mid-2000s, Nollywood movies flocked the Ghanaian market and became the toast of many Ghanaians as a result stealing the shine off Ghanaian movies.

During that time, Kumawood movies kept the Nollywood ones at bay but few years on, the former has grown into total mediocrity. The movies being churned out regularly have forced many to question the direction they are going.

Kumawood boasts of the highest number of producers of movies in the country thus their influence cannot be downplayed.

Even though, they tend to focus more and produce movies based on Ghanaian culture, they most often ridicule themselves, as they either do not have enough information on whatever story they are tackling or they tend to disregard everything that needs to be adhered to in movie making.

Most of the English-speaking actors have complained about their inability to work with Kumawood actors and producers because of their disregard for scripts.

A great chunk of the movies are produced with the actors adlibbing and as a resul, their dialogues is most often disjointed.

People argue that, with Kumawood one can get a good laugh. A good comedy movie ends with  laughter but gradually that side of the industry has been turned into a laughing stock.

The question that lingers on, is comedy the only genre of movie that can be produced from Kumawood? What happened to the other genres?

Even when the story being tackled is a serious one, some comic elements are added which end up defeating the purpose or aim of the story.

An actor can be versatile but when he does not fit  a particular role, he should not be casted. After all, there is a reason why the movie industry is referred to as a make believe industry.

Another thing that comes in mind is the foul language used in the movies. Insults and the use of foul language has become the order of the day in Kumawood movies. It is even worst now with the influx of the new crop of actors.

Another headache is subtitling. A non Twi-speaking Ghanaian watching a Kumawood movie would usually fail to understand what the movie is about. Subtitles are always done poorly. If preparing banku in Twi is translated into English as “Help me drive the banku”, you will probably understand why Ecow is fuming.

There are lots of problems in the industry which need to be addressed rather than attacking Ecow for stating the obvious, a sentiment many Ghanaians share.

Aside mentioning names of some towns and places, Ecow was absolutely right and his comments shouldn’t be labeled as ‘ignorant’ and ‘unfortunate’.

The reactions to what he said should be channeled into helping and growing the industry. How many of the Kumawood actors truly didn’t know that indeed their industry has degraded the entire Ghana movie Industry with the kind of movies they churn out almost on a daily basis?

For now Kumawood is seen as not too serious industry always turning serious stories into comedies. That should be addressed immediately. Where in the Ghanaian culture do you have a lion flying to a household, kill people and also dance Azonto?

Having attended the last three African Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria, I can say that, movies that get recognition are movies that are similar to those produced from Kumawood, only that they have been done well. They portray the local settings and typical traditional African settings.

Kumawood professionals should be serious with their industry and work on areas which they fall short of instead of insulting someone who is offering them free consultation.

By Ebenezer Anangfio

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