Thursday, 20 August 2009

Poorly organized Panafest ends, but last concert was good

First, the flop and second, the scramble to salvage the last end before the light goes off. So Amandzeba Nat Brew was brought in to do just that. He did not fail. But that is also not surprising if one knows the kind of skin Amandzeba’s soul is wrapped in.

His genre is way above the mediocrity that has engulfed the music scene in Ghana. Again, he is one of the few artists performing mature music that comes once in a life time. Such a stage means more to him because he glitters better, especially with the right audience.

The expectation was high for him when he took the stage. He was dressed in an all white local print material with sunglasses covering the eyes. That is Amandzeba’s style that perfectly fits his act. But he was disappointed with the attendance, and he openly said so.

Rabbi Kohain Halevi, Executive Secretary of the Panafest Foundation, who was sitting on a plastic chair dropped his face into his palms. He certainly has done a poor job and he knows it. He’s been at it over the last few years and each year the show records a poorer run. But there was more to come from Amandzeba, as he took issues with the quality of the instruments. He told them to “next time” get the right instruments for such gigs. I am sure Rabbi Kohain felt like sinking deep into a pit. His wife Mabel, sitting next to him, stole a quick glance. Kohain kept his face straight and firm. Then the instruments begun to roll and Amandzeba gave out his first cut.

The content was revolutionary as he took George Bush, Tony Blair and corrupt African leaders to the cleaners. His beef with both Bush and Blair was their poor human rights records as exemplified in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the African leaders he simply described them as ‘visionless’ who often roam around the world with “their begging bowl in hand” in search of aide. As if that was not enough, he said the same leaders swallow every “useless” policy from the west without examining its impact on “their people.”

African leaders by his standards are simply pathetic. It might not be implied but the song well fit the shambolic organization of Panafest. Kohain was looking on with opened eyes. He and his wife, regrettably though, were the biggest audience in the crowd. Amandzeba’s next song was ‘Kpanlogo ye de3.’ He won loud applause for that. The instruments were still giving him problems but he managed to waive his way through another song. Right after the third song he left the stage to the surprise of everyone. Not even the pleas from the crowd for him to come back were enough to entice him to get back on stage again.

The instruments were bad and he was unwilling to continue any further. The MC for the night walked onto the stage lying to everyone that Amandzeba was going to come back. He was lying and he knew it. Thankfully, most people in the audience did not buy into his lies. It was simply a face saving exercise that completely failed. He only came back to shake hands with Kohain and his guests, numbering only four.

The next performance was an acrobatic group. The group was made up of five energetic men. One of them, the leader, was sitting in a wheelchair. It was his performance that got everybody excited. His arms functioned as his legs and he used the legs as props, moving them in a very rhythmic pattern. He literally snatched the breath from most people in the crowd. Another artist who got some props was homeboy, Ambassador. He appeared to have shifted from the hiplife genre I knew him for more than four years ago. Ambassador has been around for a very long time but he’s still struggling to break into the mainstream market.

He was later joined by another underground US rapper from Atlanta. His performance was below standard and he wasted almost everybody’s time. Very little of his rap could be heard.

Prior to the performance however, three cultural troupes; Abankaba, Trinity and Elmina Dance Ensemble, teamed up and gave the crowd a taste of real traditional performance. The dances were as energetic as the drumming that backed it. The crowd responded to the beat of the drummers and the movement of the dancers. The theme of Unity ran throughout the very worthy performance.

Except for the concert the fact still remains that Panafest 2009 was badly organized and it’s important for Kohain and his team, if they are serious about seeing this programme succeed, to have government involvement again.

for the JIVE Newspaper

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