Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Who is Ghana's Manno Charlemagne?

I miss Haiti very much. I miss everything about my country; the people, the food, the language, and most importantly the music. I miss the music even more because music in Haiti is political. It is conscious and it can move mountains.
Haitians are reminded about the power of music every day, but Kanaval time is most poignant. Kanaval de Fle was celebrated this past weekend. Although not without some controversy, but strictly focusing on the music, it is was a huge success. And thanks to Radio Kiskeya, I had the opportunity to hear the songs that made that competitive schedule. Because Haitians take music very seriously, the best musicians amongst them are really some of the best artists of the world. The songs tackle poverty, corruption, love of humanity, love of Haiti, illnesses, water shortages, electrical problems and so much more.
Listening to the songs with my children instilled a slight fear in me. I am raising children in a country where they are not exposed to conscious thinking on a daily basis. I cannot turn on the radio in Ghana and have the children listen to a artist who wrote and arranged music that tackles societal problems. They don’t know Ghana’s version of Manno Charlemagne or Koudjaye, Boukan Guinen or Boukman Eksperyans. Even if argument can be made that the younger generation has dropped the artistic baton, where are the Fela’s in Ghana’s musical history? Where are the Emline Michelles?
For these reasons and more, I make sure my children listen to Haitian music on a daily basis. They also listen to Haitian radio on a daily basis. I’m focusing on Manno Charlemagne today because one song in particular could have been written in Ghana, by Ghanaians, even today. Here is a translational synopsis.

Tet Kole (Unity)
Human’s first thought is how to feed itself
The year things don’t go well, he is ambitious to make (societal) changes
It’s nothing serious. He’s morals are falling.  If by chance he succeeds, the people don’t exist. It’s Haitianess; other people’s misery don’t count.
All the candidates are power driven. They push the people to shout
The people as innocents, how else would they change things,
Then they realize that they were asleep and now awake he sees it did not work. He does not want to spill blood, so the bad intentioned are enjoying.
Things will work the day the people unite.
The people are trembling (looking like TB patients)
Let’s put the wealthy in medical facilities.
The people are very hopeful. They know what needs to be done for their peace to return. Pull a few of us out of poverty, our tongues are too heavy for us….Misery.
I heard there’s a loan to be given to develop the South. It was talked about every day.
One or two years later, all belts are tied.
Yes, you see movement of cement, trucks and a young guy drives by in an expensive car well composed.  He’s from the city and in charge of the project.
One or two years later, the South is further underdeveloped. The project guy did not care, because his main concern was to steal. Cars for him to use. He is just eating. It’s true.
Who is speaking these truths in Ghana? Who are the voices of the people? Where are the people? The ones whose every word and song are listened to as hymns? The ones the workers spend lunch time discussing and dissecting their every word? Who are the voices of our thoughts? The ones who know and understand the situation and working hard to change it? At least we will always have Haiti. Long live Ayiti Toma!