For a long time, the creative industry has been an important component in promoting global socio-political and democratic development. The contribution of the industry has been through the medium of music, drama, poetry, film and other forms of art.
Some creative individuals have used art to reflect political themes. Subtle as it may have been, the reggae legend, Bob Marley influenced the African liberation struggle and world politics through some of his songs such ‘Redemption Song’ and ‘Get Up Stand Up’ which reflect the global political themes of deprivation, inequality, racial and political consciousness and oppression.
The medium of art is a noble one, and those who find themselves in it must be conscious of their role in bringing about change in society. Protecting the interest of our society must be the ‘bulls-eye’ of every well-meaning artist; whether a musician, filmmaker, poet or actor. Where there is ignorance, injustice, political oppression and deprivation in our society, it is an opportunity for well-meaning artists to use their media to give voice to the down-trodden.
Over the years, some patriotic Ghanaian musicians like Kojo Antwi, Amanzeba, Rex Omar, Obrafour and others have come up with songs that seek to awaken the spirit of patriotism in the Ghanaian and African. These artists and many others, credited with producing works of art that are patriotic in nature, have proven their passion to see the betterment of our society.
Recent developments in the creative industry, however, pose a threat to this noble task of artists. The day our artists lose their sense of objectivity and relinquish the noble task of protecting the masses, our socio-political and democratic development will crumble.
It is a statement of fact that few governments in our political history have displayed the willingness to actively promote the creative industry. This neglect has made the industry less efficient in carrying out its role of furthering the national agenda. Sadly, many artists tend to be oblivious of the challenges of the industry, and are too eager to join these politicians to further partisan interests.
In spite of this neglect, our artists are the first group of professionals to be approached for favours during political campaigns. Suddenly, artists become an important ingredient in political campaigns and on political platforms. Many of our artists also jump on the bandwagon and forget their singular task to the masses.
How can our artists use their media to fight corruption, injustice and political oppression when they are publicly in bed with political parties, to whom they owe allegiance? How can a musician, for instance, sing a protest song to condemn corruption or abuse of power by a government, after he has publicly supported that government to come into power? Clearly, any such musician or artists would have sworn an oath of silence by their association with that government.
There is a theory that creative individuals must be free to publicly associate themselves with a party of their choice. While this may sound ‘trendier’, it is important for our artists to remember that the consumers of their works are the many ordinary people in our society. Many artists can be likened to the ‘magnet’ drawing fans from different parts of the country, diverse religious groups and political affiliations. This is perhaps the reason for which artists must be discrete about their political affiliation. In the eyes of fans, the artist is loved for their gifts.
The love for the artist is selfless, but by publicly declaring their political affiliation, this trust is broken and the artist fails to be an agent of change. The artist is no longer able to appeal to fans from different political persuasions. It is therefore not surprising that artists who have publicly mounted political platforms, have met their professional nemesis.
It is understandable that creative individuals reserve the right to join any political party of their choice. They are citizens and must therefore exercise their civic rights obviously in favour of their party of choice. The question is, can one think of a task more nobler than for the artist to be able to serve as an agent of change and bring about peace in society without associating with any partisan political party?