OFORI AMPONSAH AND THE ‘AWKWARD’ MOONWALK BACK INTO THE ‘WORLD’

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Ofori Amponsah

The entertainment pages of Ghanaian newspapers-both prints and online have been dominated by one name: Ofori Amponsah. The reason being that, this one time, high flying highlife musician who denounced the world of secularists and joined the train of God has now jumped off the moving train and back into the old world of secularism.

When somewhere in August this year, producer and long time collaborator, Appietus revealed on his Facebook page that he is in the studio recording new highlife material with Ofori Amponsah, tongues began wagging.

The man who for two years had ‘Pastor’ prefixed to his name has now ditched the pulpit and is back to singing highlife. ‘Mr. All 4 Real’ as he is referred to, has put out a new single ‘Alewa’ featuring rapper Sarkodie.

Ofori Amponsah’s moonwalk back into the secular world obviously is seen as unattractive and distasteful thus provoking an enormous heap of backlash on social media.

When in 2013 Ofori Amponsah declared he was ‘born again’ and became a preacher man, opinions were divided. Some, mostly ‘born again’ Christians regarded his decision as the best. Others felt it was unfair to them (as fans) and to highlife music since the genre needed a ‘saviour’ to salvage the continuously dwindling fortune of highlife music in Ghana. Some clearly thought it as a gimmick.

It must be stated that Ofori Amponsah’s decision to convert came almost at the same time as another hiplife legend, Lord Kenya-one time best Rapper Alive in Ghana declared his ‘Evangelist’ status. 2014 saw one half of the highlife duo, Antwi Ne Antwi opting for the pulpit.

Musicians becoming ‘born again’ is nothing new on the Ghanaian music scene. In the past, we’ve had the likes of controversial high life singer, Paapa Shee, whose lyrics were considered extremely bawdy; former DJ/Musician Azigiza Jnr., rapper Nana King choosing to wear the white collar.

It is a known fact that from 2006 to 2010, the high pitched falsetto voiced Ofori Amponsah was the biggest musician in Ghana. Whatever single he dropped was solid gold. He never did wrong. Hit songs such as Odwo, Otoolege, Abelle, Cinderella, Poduo, Hello Hello were everywhere- radio stations, bars, pubs could not resist his music. His success rubbed off the likes of Kofi B, Kofi Nti, Barosky, and Richie Rich whom he collaborated and took under his wings.

But, the Ofori Amponsah brand came jolting down around 2010 following a very disastrous and insipid concert he headlined. Fans that trooped the Accra International Conference Centre to watch the biggest artiste in Ghana came to realize that the man whose music they could not live without was nothing short of a studio artiste. He was not a performer or a total artiste. He was a total flop that night. The discovery, in part sounded the death knoll on his career.

Coupled with the above was the continuous atrophy of highlife music on radio due in large part to the Azonto revolution. The making of highlife became highly unprofitable. Gospel music, on the other hand was enjoying a golden moment. The likes of Christiana Love, Kweku Gyasi, Ohemaa Mercy, Phillipa Baafi among others were not only dominating the music charts and radio, but were headlining big shows.

Though, these might not be the reasons which necessitated a career re-evaluation and subsequently a change in profession, the coincidence can’t be ignored. There were some who thought this move was nothing short of a gimmick-akin to that of his mentor Daddy Lumba, who at a point in his career chose to do gospel music. The difference between the Daddy Lumba and Ofori Amponsah is this: whiles the latter became ‘born again’; Daddy Lumba told the world his decision was purely financial- that doing gospel music was financially rewarding since Ghanaians, noted for their religiosity both gospel albums.

It is interesting to note that, Mr. All 4 Real’s new single ‘Alewa’ has received massive airplay than Onyame Asem, the record he released during his tenure as a ‘born again’ Christian. The rationale behind this change in mind by Ofori Amponsah could only be explained and sold by him to the general public.

If there’s one thing I know about Ghanaians, it is the fact they can forgive you for anything once the remorse is real and tenable. But when it involves the mocking of their religious beliefs and God, public forgiveness takes longer than a child taking its first baby steps.

By @swayekidd

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