ACCRA GHANA: On the 8th of February, 2018, Ghanaians lost a gem in the music industry. Ebony Reigns was touted as the next biggest star in Ghana’s music when a road accident took her away from the industry.
In the official posted report by the Ghana Police, the accident was mainly caused by a heap of sand for road construction.
“On reaching a section of the road between Nyamebekyere and Nsuta, there was a heap of sand in the lane of the Jeep which was being used for the road maintenance, and the driver in trying to avoid running into the sand, swerved onto the opposite lane and grazed the nearside portion of the bus and plunged into the railings at the edge of the road, killing the three other occupants identified as Francisca Nkansah Kuri aged 27 years, Priscilla Opoku Kwarteng [Ebony], and Lance Corporal Vondee Francis Atsu, aged 29 years,” the official report said.
Ghanaians were outraged. How could the government be so callous with simple things like fixing a road? Campaigns began, songs were composed, social media mourned, the talent was rightly awarded at the 19th Vodafone Ghana Music award as everyone wished the story could have been different. But it wasn’t.
A year on, the 20th anniversary of Ghana’s biggest award event in music had no death records ahead of the celebration. However, they had a bigger threat inside the auditorium than the heap of sand that took away Ebony from us – the foolishness of Shatta Wale and Stoneboy.
Beyond rivalry – Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy
Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy are in the top five Ghanaian acts when it comes to music. The two have put in work to painstakingly gain a fan base that is arguably unrivalled in the West African country.
Sarkodie is equally loved. But having dominated a unique ‘fast raping musical niche’ over the years, comparisons have almost always been general and not specific.
For Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy, the story is different. People will now seemingly judge you by just having a choice between the two. With how things have turned out over the years, you’re highly likely to be denied favour or service just by going the wrong way between the two depending on who is giving the service.
The rivalry has developed into unhealthy regions which the leaders of both camps fail to notice. It is easier to stereotype but both Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy would need to put in tremendous efforts to give the peace they both sometimes preach – something they have woefully failed to do.
In most of the previous narratives Shatta Wale has been the hot head. His posture on social media with the things he posts, his general attitude, the kind of acts he endorses from his following and the sheer chaos he normally causes is just unacceptable. He is a national problem that needs nipping in the bud as quickly as possible.
Stonebwoy is, however, not entirely innocent. His sneaky comments and shades have always fuelled the disgusting side of their rivalry. The final straw which is an unfortunate turn of events and unacceptable in all manners is pulling a gun at a public event, with thousands of people looking on.
That takes it from a rivalry to national problem.
Ghana’s dirty musical laundry to Africa and beyond
People’s brains have been fried simply by just being a member of either Shatta Movement or Bhim Nation. When there is a problem, the only problem they see is either of the two with the solution being the other that is not the problem. So, if Shatta Movement is the problem, Bhim Nation is the solution and vice versa. No other factors matter.
On Saturday, the 2019 Vodafone Ghana Music Award took place at the new dome at the Accra International Conference Centre. It was the 20th anniversary of the event.
Despite having their own problems in the past, the VGMA’s has always been a star-studded show. Fans on the 20th anniversary of the event did not also disappoint as filling the venue in numbers.
Shatta Wale was the first between the two to win an award. Then, he won a second. The ‘Gringo’ hitmaker was not around to receive any of the awards. His arrival at the venue at a later time still managed to erupt some cheers from fans who had seen their leader in the Shatta Movement.
Stonebwoy’s time was up next. The president of Bhim Nation was announced as the Dancehall Artiste of the Year, an award he has won for five times.
He steps up, makes a gesture that this is the fifth time he has won it and walks unto the stage.
Shatta Wale sits in deep thought (as facial expression shows), stands and makes his way unto the stage. Without any heads up to the organisers of the show or Stonebwoy’s management, Shatta Wale and his followers claim him walking up the stage was to congratulate Stonebwoy.
Meanwhile, Stonebwoy and his team get into action mode as they see Shatta and his team approach the stage. A few of the guys around him murmur a few words, do some formation movement and boom, Stonebwoy is seen on a camera with a gun in his hand, ready for whatever that may come.
A few pushes and punches are thrown between the two sides as Shatta Wale angrily leaves the venue with a few of his followers attacking and threatening some members of the audience. The show comes to a hault.
Ghana, airing in its unhealthy musical beef dirty laundry to Africa and beyond.
Blind defence and a threat to a nation
Lawless has been trivialized in Ghana. For many of the things that are not acceptable in other countries, people do it in Ghana and get a pat on the back.
Bias has been a major factor in fuelling the canker that is lawlessness in Ghana. In politics, people see their party as always right and the other as wrong. For the ones who point out the wrongdoings of their own team members, how dare you?
This unacceptable behaviour that has somehow come to stay is gradually gaining grounds in the music industry. Sarkodie is always right when it comes to SarkNation, Stonebwoy is always right in the eyes BhimNation and Shatta Wale is never wrong in the eyes of Shatta Movement.
Even after Saturday night’s/Sunday morning’s chaos, the defence was about who did what instead of tackling the what that happened.
However, the situation goes beyond what happened on the stage at the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.
In an ideal situation, the show should have been stopped once a gun was pulled on stage. Here’s why.
People attending an award show should not have guns. Security measures should be put in place to make sure this happens. Once all relevant steps are taken to ensure the best possible outcome, someone pulling a gun in an auditorium means there is a security breach. A security breach means there was an error that could result in other people having guns in there too. The next thing is to keep tabs on the person with the gun by detaining or any measure necessary and evacuating everyone. Safety first.
Sadly, there is not an ideal situation in Ghana for most scenarios.
Shatta Wale has become a nuisance that keeps on giving. Giving what a nation does not want or need despite a group of people feeding on it to fill their euphoric cravings.
Saturday’s act was idiotic as it could get. Shows have organizers for a reason. If anyone wants to thrill fans to a surprise, they talk to the organizers, organizers talk to Stonebwoy’s team and the audience is surprised.
One does not walk up a stage in combat mode and give a lame excuse of ‘congratulations’.
Notwithstanding, pulling a gun in the midst of 1000s of people should not be a subject we sweep under the carpets.
With the cult following of these two artistes, the action and reaction could have further consequences. What happens at the next event when everyone with a registered gun decides to show up with it? Who checks all the permits for all permit holders who decide to show up at an event with their registered weapons? What happens to the average show lover who can't afford a gun but can buy a ticket?
While thinking about these, what is the security measures are in place for artistes and the public to make someone not feel threatened or feel their lives are at risk. In the midst of chaos, what are the steps to address it without shifting blames? How can we have shows where everyone feels safe and not see the need to show up with a plan to protect themselves by whatever means possible.
In all these, Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy must be condemned and rightly so. The police have started investigations as they should. For what it’s worth, investigating, finding answers, solving the problems and finding a future solution to make this work should be a priority to the Ghana Police Service. Education on the use of guns is another topic to discuss.