Not long ago, the Dancehall King in Ghana, Shatt Wale, in an interview with Nana Ama MC Brown revealed that the reason he does not feature women is simply that they do not understand the work.
Though he has been featured by some females in the industry like Becca, Sista Afia, Wendy Shay to mention a few, the Freedom hitmaker stated that women do not understand what it means to be in the game, are not ambitious enough and are always careful not to step on toes.
In spite of some women in the Ghanaian music industry ascending the ladder of success, most are still struggling to get the necessary support and attention they need in the industry. Artists like Sista Afia and Wendy Shy have in an interview revealed that their quest for success is much harder now with so many cultural restrictions and expectations projected on them in the extremely male-dominated industry. These somewhat “archaic” cultural expectations have in a way delayed or stifled the creativity of these women in the music space.
With regards to that, I decided to reach out to specific women in the industry who are doing well to inquire if there really are any cultural expectations or limitations projected on them, and if so how does it impact their work?
My list of Ghanaian female artists included: Feli Nuna, Fantana, Freda Rhymz, OV, Stephanie Benson. Interesting mix of people right?
Well, I chose Fantana because she has lived most of her life outside Ghana, exposed to different cultures, and now the Ghanaian culture. I wanted to know which one of our expectations shook her the most and how she has been dealing with it.
Stephanie Benson on the other hand is a Ghanaian who lived most of her life outside Ghana, married to a white man with kids. Now that she is in Ghana, she still lives a carefree life with little or no regard to the strict “must and must not” rules that comes with women of her age.
Freda Rhymz also made my list because she finds herself in a very male-dominated genre. A genre that comes with its own culture and attitude, I wanted to know how she is able to thrive in there with all these expectations.
Like Freda Rhymz, OV also finds herself in a male dominated industry and yet she’s doing so well. But what makes OV different on this list is her tomboy nature and her unique fashion style. Which is why her contribution would have given a clearer look into the issue.
Finally, Feli Nuna made my list as some form of a control group. She is an incredible musician born and raised in Ghana, having grown been cognizant of some of these cultures and its restrictions. I wanted to know how these ‘rules’ are affecting her in her chase for sucess in the industry.
Now after a week of chasing the managements of these wonderful women, I was hit with so many excuses and blockades it got me wondering why these women who always want the attention and are complaining are unwilling to speak out about such a topic. Because I figured they would be thrilled to speak on or address an issue like this which has got everything to do with the success of women in the Ghanaian music industry.
OV’s phone was never reachable even though Blakk Cedi gave me her line, Stephanie Benson was never reachable even though I hit her up on social media for long. Now to those, I was able to reach, Fantana and Feli Nuna were simply unable to speak to the media because they had no product ready to push and until they were ready, no interaction with the media.
Least I forget, Becca was the first artist I reached out to because of her total representation of an ideal African woman and her quest for equality for women in all walks of life. Like Feli Nuna she also turned me down because of an upcoming project.
A day to my deadline and I was freaking out about not getting anyone to talk to, with the tosses from these artists’ managers. Freda Rhymz came in at the nick of time to save my story, but that was not enough for a series. A single person’s point of view on such a topic was simply not going to cut it.
So ill rather talk about why the women in the industry shy away from the media unless they have an agenda or product to push.
Feli Nuna will be dropping a body of work soon and for that reason, she wouldn’t want to be in the media prior to that. She would only speak when her work is ready and she is ready for a media tour.
Fantana for instance, her management was unwilling because to them the media always finds a way of doing the opposite or more than they promised to ask on air.
There also is the topic of things said by these artists at interviews being misconstrued or taken out of context for the “selfish” gains of said media house. Which is why some women would rather have a product before stepping into any form of interview, so that no matter how the interview comes out, they still get to divert the attention on the product.
These actions and inactions by the media have made it thrice as hard to reach these artists for important discussions. Artists like Sarkodie would also want to have a product before they step out for an interview.
I think if the media will stop looking for an angle with these artists during interviews and would look at protecting these artists like they want to protect their jobs, maybe the women will be willing to speak to the media freely and help with important discussions that could shape the narrative for all women in the industry.
Story by Matilda Mensah Marfo