Feature Article of Fri, 19 May 20171

Mr. Eazi: Ghana’s toil, Nigeria’s joy!

“Mr. Eazi is not a ‘Ghanaian artiste.” I heard this statement umpteenth times during the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards – and it has resurfaced after the release of the 2017 BET nominations.

The Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards recently released its nominees and for the Best International Act: Africa category, these artistes from Africa were nominated: Mr. Eazi (Nigeria), Wizkid (Nigeria), Davido (Nigeria), Tekno (Nigeria), AKA (South Africa), Nasty C (South Africa), and Babes Wodumo (South Africa) for the ‘Best International Act: Africa.’

Nationality is an issue that is strictly embedded in law. Every country has a law that stipulates how one becomes a citizen.

So how does one become a Ghanaian? Can Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade aka Mr. Eazi be described as a Ghanaian considering that he has lived and schooled in Ghana for more than 10 years? Well Ghana’s Constitution doesn’t give one automatic citizenship by mere long stay in the country but I trust there is a difference between being ‘Ghanaian’ and being a ‘Ghanaian Artiste.’

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The VGMA Experience

Last year, when I hosted George Quaye and Nii Ayite Hammond on ‘Flex on Pluzz’ on Pluzz FM, I asked them about the Vodafone Ghana Music Award’s definition of ‘Ghanaian Artiste.’

They answered but I wasn’t satisfied. They said any artiste that was Ghanaian was a ‘Ghanaian artiste.’

Then I asked how they would know each of the artistes was truly a Ghanaian. They answered that if one was not a Ghanaian, people around would know. That year, Mr. Eazi was not nominated in the VGMA on that basis.

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Ghana made Mr. Eazi

Like he said on KMJ’s show, Ghanaians play his songs like an anthem. Ghanaians took Mr. Eazi as one of them because he lives with them and does good music.

The kind of support he has received by way of airplay has been great. This is not merely because Ghanaians love Nigerian music but because they like his songs, coupled with the fact that he has done his homework well.

Because of the love Ghanaians have shown him, he has also lived as a Ghanaian. Yes, he has integrated well into the Ghanaian society.

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I agree Fuse sells Ghana wherever he goes. He’s done it through Azonto but is he a Ghanaian artiste?

Mr. Eazi has always shown appreciation to Ghana but I am sure as smart as he is he would rather want to be associated more to Nigeria, where he originally comes from. This is because Nigeria always has a bigger support when it comes to international awards like BET. They have a larger population and a more buoyant music industry.

Don’t get me wrong! I don’t know if the BET or any other international award has deals with the VGMA. I am not sure the VGMA has been contracted by BET to select people for the BET Awards. However, it is human beings that do the nominations and the voting.

Irrespective of what the criteria may be, one’s influence (including winning awards) in their countries could influence the choice of the voters.

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I personally believe that the VGMA should take a second look at who they call ‘Ghanaian artiste.’

If it will be limited to pure ‘nationality,’ then they must really authenticate with a ‘citizenry test.’ You can’t just know of one’s citizenship by looking at their names or faces.

It is a pleasure to have Stonebwoy nominated in the BET. Yes, he is the only Ghanaian in there but it calls for celebration.

Some people say Stonebwoy’s nomination does not call for celebration because it is not enough for Ghana. They say Ghana should have had more a nomination.

For the Best International Act Africa category, Ghana had 1 nomination, South Africa had 3 and Nigeria had 4, bringing it to a total of 8 nominations.

This means that out of 54 countries in Africa only 3 countries had nomination. Where are the other 51?

That notwithstanding, it would have been good if we had more nominees. Mr. Eazi could have been our second nominee but we ‘lost’ him to Nigeria where he originally comes from. In the event that he wins, he wins for Nigeria.

This is a typical case of ‘obi huhu ma obi keka,’ meaning someone works for another to reap the benefits. Ghanaians gave Mr. Eazi fertile grounds to nurse his career but today, Nigeria is enjoying the fruits.

Columnist: Kwame Dadzie

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