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WHERE IS THERE?

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Very often when people reach a certain pedestal in their career and they begin to act like it, others, who have appointed themselves as those who determine people’s status in life, comment that this or that person is “not there yet”.

I have been wondering what is “there” or where is “there”. And who determines where “there” is. And what criteria do they use to determine who is there and who is not? Very often when you look at those who claim to determine who is there and who is not, you wonder if they themselves are “there”, based on their own criteria.

You have heard Patience Nyarko say Joe Mettle is not there yet. Recently some bloggers are saying Wiyala is not there yet. What does it even mean?

Joe Mettle rolls with heavy weights in the global gospel music industry. He has stood on major stages around the world as far as gospel music is concerned. He was the first ever gospel musician and still remains the only gospel musician to have won Artists of the Year in Ghana. An event organizer in London rated him as the only gospel artiste from Ghana with a wide appeal so they are able to hold sold-out concerts with him in London. The response from his supposed colleague gospel musician in Ghana was that “the boy is not there yet”.

Now another Ghanaian act, Wiyala is making waves on the international scene, following the footsteps of his predecessors and seniors like Rocky Dawuni, Onipa Nua, King Ayisoba, Afro Moses and others. All of a sudden, some bloggers, who probably don’t even know how to write one line of a song, have appointed themselves judges to say she is not there yet because she has no clout locally.

I wonder how we cannot just be happy for our neighbor and support their progress, but we always want to put a message out there just to make the rest the world feel that the person they hail so high is not such a heavy weight in their own country. Very shocking how we easily exhibit the PhD (pull him/her down) attitude in the name of giving some expert advise.

Let’s bring it down to football. How many of our national team players, who have taken us to the major tournaments in the world, were really big on the local football scene before we selected them to play for the national teams? Weren’t most of them playing for second division and third division teams abroad before we called them to the national teams? Did they need to be local champions before we said they were there? No. So how come when it comes to the arts, we pretend as if one needs to be a local champion before he or she could go international?

My group, the Alabaster Box, have stood on several stages locally, but definitely not all the big stages. But we have also stood on very big stages abroad. The first time we stood on a big international stage, we were nobodies in Ghana. We were “not there yet”. We had just began our ministry and we were even struggling to record an album, which became a mess in the studio because the studio engineer saw us as nobodies and he just took our money and shortchanged us. But we became somebodies in the eyes of Ghanaian as we gain quite some recognition abroad.

Let me put it on record that a lot of the world class black American gospel musicians we hail in Africa may not necessarily be that big nationwide in the USA. They have a nitche and they ride on the back of that to gain fame in Africa and other parts of the world. Wiyala has a nitche in Ghana and Joe Mettle is actually a national brand, and yet some people who have some mediocre achievements had the efontry to say that they are not there yet.

Very few of our local brands, in any sector imaginable, have made it to the global scene, so if we have a few more putting our name on the world map, no matter how moderate their local clout is, we should focus on driving those brands in the face of the global audience instead of appointing ourselves to the ignoble job of pulling them down in the name of some nansins expert comment. We did not help them to create the global space they have. They did it on their own. Ours is simply to rob it in. If we can’t do that, the alternative is to shut up and not be negative about it.

There is more I could say, but let’s leave it here.

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