How TigoFest breathed life into Homowo celebrations

The teeming crowd that streamed into Mantse Agbona Park for the celebration of Homowo wielded blue, elongated balloon sticks ostensibly posturing that using Tigo was actually getting cheaper than a balanced diet.

With a Ga festival, Homowo, underway which meant hooting at hunger, the youthful audience could have as well give hunger a severe beating with their TigoFest-branded sticks.

TigoFest is Adom TV’s latest cultural invention meant to breathe life into the under-maximized but marketable cultural product – Ghanaian festivals.

They were not organizing it for just one or two festivals but 12 festivals in 12 communities – a major statement of commitment to culture when a simple coporate donation seems to be the order of the day.

They did it a couple of weeks back for the Ada traditional council during the celebration of Ada Asafotufiam festival. And the grateful posture of the chiefs there hugely underlined the slogan ‘Smile, U’ve got Tigo’. The chiefs were beaming with a smile reserved for foreign dignitaries.

So on August 10 2013, it was the turn of the Ga traditional area for the celebration of Homowo at Mantse Agbona.

For a festival meant to demonstrate a Ga victory over hunger, gospel musical sensation, Cecilia Marfo’s fond attachment to a white dress, white gear and a white cloth for her performances was most appropriate opening performance. It’s official; she won’t change it.

Her flagship song ‘Afunuba’ was a prayer of thanksgiving – an incense rising up to heaven.

There are times when you have to pay to watch a star, but there are times when it pays for a star to come watch you as you are – a normal Ghanaian fan with an abnormal admiration for quality performances.

If you didn’t understand Adolf Tagoe’s traditional Ga songs, you could still be entertained by the sophisticated dance moves.

Kakalika dance involved a violent trembling of the body while bending backwards in a way that tested the patience of gravity- folks don’t try this at home.

And we shouldn’t be worried about Nigerian artistes copying this dance as they did to Azonto. In the end they may need the services of a specialist to strengthen any disjointed spine arising from trying this musical stunt. Kakalika dance comes with a natural copyright. So Ghana – keep calm and dance kakalika.

Some artiste didn’t need back up performers like Gasmila. Some like Double who sang ‘Ei Mana mana’ didn’t need dancers and some – well, they didn’t even need their own music playing in the background. The crowd sang it for them. And one such artiste was – Screwface. You wouldn’t have guessed it if you tried.

For an artiste whose hit songs dates to 2007, you would be forgiven if you couldn’t really remember the lyrics. But Screwface showed that some songs are like the lasting lingering smell of goat soup on your fingers even two weeks after consumption.

Screwface’s deep affinity to the people of Mantse Agbona is an understudied fact. His performance was pointedly different from the others. The others impressed. Sure, but Screwface appeared he didn’t have to. It was like a brother-to-brother bond with the audience. They knew him. He came from them. And they loved him.

The crowd chanted his signature line – ‘Bue bue bue’. He talked to an excited multitude with a kind of convenience typical of making a tigo call.

The young musician who was nominated for the 2007 Ghana Music Award as a Discovery of the year sang ‘Maabena’ while the audience sang the chorus ‘oooooohhhh my girl, oooh my girl’.

Adane best, an offshoot of the beautiful Barristers of King Bruce band in 1980, showed how he got his songs while making needles. Needles?

He sang the popular ‘aaaooo George eeeeh’; remember? It was a song about a bet between two friends and how one friend’s prediction came to pass. So for those who are making bets about the Ghana’s Supreme Court gargantuan ruling on the election petition, know that one of you will be singing ‘aaaaoooo George eeehhh’

By now, the packed crowd was warming up to chants ‘Tigo! No Size! Adom TV! Yewo adze oye!!’. And if they knew they could win free brand new blackberry phones and free tigo modems they would have started shouting from home. A lady won a blackberry phone just by calling out the location of the Tigo head office. Free Blackberry at Mantse Agbona? Meeenhhh!

The last performance after the freebies came from Michael Elliot. Remember Elliot? No; he is not an American born Ghananian artiste. And no he didn’t fly into the country to perform and No; he is not related to Michael Bolton.

Michael Elliot Kwabena Okyere Darko is the name given by his parents who had no idea that it would become ‘Obrafuor’ – the executioner and a celebrated hiplife artiste.

The diminutive crowd-puller joined Homowo celebration to prove that Homowo can be a trans-ethnic celebration if we want to make it so.

Obrafour performed ‘Kasiebo’, the song he used to prove the Executioner was going nowhere. He came alone but he didn’t sing alone. It was a marvelous sing-a-long. And if there were enough spaces in the audience, it would have been a marvelous dance-a-long too.

Late into the night, you could sense the night was coming to an end. while Shata wale’s song dancehall king na d3 whole Ghana blared from the background as the crowd streamed out steadily, you could perceive that the satisfied crowd would be paraphrasing that song into ‘Adom TV, na d3 whole Ghana’ Tigofest na d3 whole Ghana! ‘Adom TV, na d3 whole Ghana’ Tigofest na d3 whole Ghana!

Story by Ghana||Edwin Appiah|[email protected]

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