Not many people can boast of attending 400 weddings in their lifetimes. But that is exactly what Alfred ‘Kabutey my MC’ Ocansey has been doing over the last six years.
He describes himself as a professional commercial emcee. For Kabutey, engaging in public activities was a very natural thing. As a student, he was involved in many extracurricular activities at school such as dancing and acting.
Occasionally, he would also emcee at events as a favour for close friends and family. However, he took up professional emceeing in 2011 after attending successive weddings during which he felt the master of ceremonies had not made the event memorable for the couples. He felt he could have done much better.
“These were weddings where you can say money was not a problem. So, everything was top notch; beautiful venue, decor, food. I mean everything you can think of…And I remember the look on the faces of the couple and I remember sitting there and thinking as for this one, I could have done better. All through that week, I was thinking about it and then the idea came that I can actually do this thing.”
Why is an emcee important?
As with most human activities, social events can get a little chaotic. As such it is the duty of an emcee to ‘guide and chaperone’ the event and its audiences so that the event is orderly.
According to Ocansey, the role of a master of ceremonies, has moved beyond announcing the next item on the bill.
“I approach emceeing like a performance, my philosophy of emceeing is not to be an announcer. I say that I don’t come to work on your event, I come to be a part of your event, I immerse myself in your event and that orientation alone, makes a big difference.
And so I like to say, the emcee has to build his or her skill beyond just talking and presenting and announcing, you have to find other elements to add to the craft such as understanding the psychology of an audience…So for me, when I stand in front of an audience, it is as though, I take on a character and then I play that character for that particular event.”
Making wedding memorable
Although Kabutey emcees all kinds of events, from corporate to funerals, he has managed to carve a niche for himself in matrimonies.
“My first call [when I started out] was that I can make weddings more memorable for the couple because they deserve it. That day is so important, they deserve it”, he says.
He adds that, “weddings are wonderful, in the sense that if everything goes well it will happen once in somebody’s lifetime.
So, it is an important day for them. [And the idea is that] 30 years down the line, they can look back on their wedding days and still have fond memories of it.
They may not even remember me but they should have fond memories of it and how people were happy on that day and for me, it is something that I enjoy and appreciate.”
And so that is exactly what Kabutey sets out to do every Saturday.
According to him, he receives about five requests to emcee an event every weekend. He selects only one; which draws delight from the lucky few and the scorn from the disappointed.
Demand for his services are so high that, some couples have gone as far rescheduling their weddings just because he was not available on the said date.
“[I remember] the first time a bride told me that she was going to change her date for the wedding because I was not available on the original date.
She was willing to go and convince everybody else so that she can change the date so that I can be available to emcee their event. I still can’t wrap my mind around that but it was such an amazing feeling. It was such a big honour.”
‘Good financial buffer’
Emceeing used to be a favour done for close friends and family. But with the likes of Kabutey in the system, a business has been crafted out of it. So, does it pay well?
“Oh it does. It does”, he repeats for emphasis.
“In my experience, emceeing has paid. It has been an awesome blessing in my life, I have to honest about it. It has been a good, good financial buffer and I think that it has opened many opportunities for me.”
Six years ago when he started emceeing, his charge was 150 cedis. But today, his asking price is 20 times that.. But the charge is subject to change dependent on the kind of event and other factors.
However, Kabutey is quick to add that, emceeing pays beyond the money, it pays in the networks he has been able to build from it.
“There are some people I would never have gotten the chance to meet but I met them because their daughter, their nephew or their niece was having a wedding or a party.
People invite you into their homes, their most private places, just because you are the emcee. And for me, it is just a rewarding experience. It pays money-wise but it also pays in terms of relationships and building a good profile.”
He also speaks highly of how social media has been extremely instrumental in building his profile. He has 14,000 fans on Facebook alone and 9,000 followers on Instagram which many use as an avenue for booking him.
Tip for amateurs
So, what would be Kabutey’s tips for any aspiring master of ceremonies.
First thing is to work on yourself; work on your craft. Work on yourself as an individual. Know who you are, your personality and the advantages and disadvantages of that personality.
Work on building a profile for yourself. Start with small events to build your confidence. Whether it is your work Friday sitting or your old school people are doing something or your church is having a little function; give yourself the opportunity to build confidence in front of an audience and to be able to try out little ways of engaging audiences to make it worth their while.
Build quality relationships with other event vendors whether it is décor, photographers, videographers, cocktails, deejays, especially if you’re an emcee. Your deejay should be your best ally on any event.
But after all of the that you need to remember it all boils down to the event so when you get any opportunity at any event, never make sure you kill it.”