The pictures were either in black and white or sepia and you would see most of the characters in “KHAKI” and white, or their printed African costumes. They were not very colourful because the cameras made the so but the storylines left households discussing for years or probably left the nation with a unique jargon. I believe you still remember “mari jata”, “na woy3 )w)”and “diabolo”. Yes, that was the beginning of film making in Ghana.
Film making in Ghana has seen major changes over the years. We have not only moved to an era where we get beautiful or I should say colourful pictures and great sounds but also to an era where we can watch it anytime we feel the desire to.
The journey started quite so well and has produced in the movie industry both for Ghallywood and Nollywood started many years ago. The industry has died and resurrected. There have been times one could not go on a Sunday night without the popular “Akan Drama”. If you are very young or probably might have been born in the late 90’s, you wouldn’t have a practical clue to this. There have also been times when actors acted instead of reading scripts. Oh yea.
If you ever wanted to see Super O.D, Maame Dokono,Odompo or Osofo Dadzie in action, all you had to do was to just finish your chores early, wait and find one “ krakye” in your vicinity who owned a T.V set that would take about 15 minutes to tune or maybe get hot , and enjoy the show. Don’t worry about where to sit.
The popular “ I told you so” was filmed. It is the first Ghanaian movie. The movie combines comedy in the local dialect to tell the story of how young women use wealth as a tool for marriage. At the end of the story, one gets a reminder of what might now be a cliché; all that glitters is not gold. It featured actors and actresses who have come to be known as veterans now such as Margaret “Araba Stamp” Quainoo, Lord Bob Cole and others. These names have just triggered memories,I guess. The movie is a classic. I should think that, this movie paved the way for what would later become great movies like “ love brewed in the African pot”, “ Kukurantumi: Road to Accra” and “Heritage Africa”.
Then, it is as if that era of quality story line movies died and the new, with a great quantity of witchcraft, voodoo, nudity and shallow screenplay emerged. As for such movies, I dare give examples because you know more than I do because we are all in the era. I do not doubt the fact that quality Ghanaian movies are still emerging but I am rather worried about how the efforts we put in is so little. I am worried about the overly poor depiction of our culture. I am also worried because we do not want to learn from veteran movie producers and industry players and I am also troubled about how we portray our own culture in ways that mock our identity; portraying ourselves in backward ways so much so that they paint us in ways we find so hard to erase.
Most Ghanaian movies have now become something most people wouldn’t want to watch twice. It is not because they do not want to watch them but the movies never call you to watch them again.
I cannot condemn “Kumawood” neither can I talk bad about what has now been described as “Accrawood” by Ghanaians because the latter in some few years ago revived Film making in Ghana. A new revolution of Film making was sparked by them. They have both also played huge roles in making Ghallywood special and broadcasting our rich Ghanaian culture abroad. However, there is this one thing I have always wanted them to know and that is dealing with reality in movies.
I think I just heard you shout “ but they deal with realities in most of the movies?”. Yes, they do but we must know that reality is not always about voodoos or witchcraft or poverty and neither is it always a love story. It is also about our beautiful culture, the lovely people and amazing sceneries. Reality, also, is not always about abusive words. Yes, all these come together to form the realities of life but we cannot continue to tell just a single story. That is very dangerous. I think we will talk more about this some other time.
The Ghanaian movie produced veterans who seem to have been lost now but the truth is, those people understood what movie making was about. They didn’t just make it script, they made it life. The likes of Regina Pornotey, Monica Quarcopoome, Victor Lutterodt, Mac Jordan Amartey, Kofi Bucknor, Professor Martin Owusu, Kofi Middleton Mends, Grace Omaboe, Grace Nortey (Maame Dokono), David Dontoh, Akorfah Edjeani Asiedu, Shiela Nortey, Eunine Banini, Edinam Atatsi, Mawuli Semevor, Dzifa Gomashie, Juliet Asante and George Williams have played very vital roles in bringing the journey this far. They made movie watching a delight and cinemas made money.
Now, a new breed of great talents has also emerged. In fact we cannot talk about movie making in Ghana without talking about great directors and producers such as Kwaw Ansah, Shirley Frimpong Manso, Nyankonton Productions, Abdul Salam Mumuni, AA Productions Leila Djansi and others and you cannot also talk about Movies without the mention of Kofi Adu, Jackie Appiah, Rose Mensah, Mecy Asiedu, Yvonne Nelson, Nana Ama McBrown, Emelia Brobbey, Yvonne Okoro, John Dumelo, Gloria Sarfo, Majid Michel, Ama K,. Abebrese and other great talents. They are doing very well but there is more room for improvement. We cannot go on watching Ghanaian movies and always be hearing American accents.
Inasmuch as there are still flaws in our productions, I believe the journey from the days of “I told you so” to this day of “Adams Apples” have not been easy but these people have done and are still doing very well in selling Ghana Abroad. We can chide them but we should know that when handshake crosses the elbows, it gets a different name.
EUGENE AGYEI BROWN, UNIVERSITY OF GHANA.