Saturday, December 18, 2010

Music in Ghana

Down Under

In general, the most heard music in Ghana (or Tamale to be more specific) is highlife or the more modern hiplife. Western music is present, most people enjoy ballads and don't care if they are a bit zeemzoet or not. Popular artists are Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, ... but also Blue and such. Younger people tend more and more to the popular American music (hiphop, R&B) and copy the dress code from MTV. Older people mostly enjoy gospel music or country and western.

In Sparkles, a popular restaurant in the centre of Tamale, frequented both by Ghanaians and foreigners, the music choice is different. The management has chosen to bring a mix of local and Western music, surpassing the ballads or hiphop genre.

Of course (there is a famous saying in Japan: the nail that sticks out gets hammered down), there are different opinions. Several people have requested to play more "Ghanaian music", but the majority of the customers comment very positive on the music choice. Both foreign and Ghanaian customers have mentioned to come to enjoy the different music and request songs or ask for more information about certain tracks.

Surprisingly, the most requested song is "Down Under" by the Australian Men at Work (recorded in the brilliant year 1981)!

Crossing language barriers

Last night, I was totally alone in the hotel. It was very late, so there we were: the nightwatch Abdul-Fatawu and me. Fatawu is a nice guy, he laughs a lot so I understand he has a nice sense of humour. Only one problem: he doesn't speak English and I don't speak Dagbani, so after the standard greetings, we hardly communicate.

To avoid the 'embarrassing silence', I play some old music. The player happens to get stuck on some tracks of Louis Armstrong. Fatawu, however nice, is hardly educated, doesn't understand the lyrics and has certainly never heard this kind of music before. Still, he starts to move slowly with the beat, tapping his hand softly on the table. We look at each other and enjoy the song together.

Thank you Louis.

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