Ofori Amposah, was until recently a Ghanaian high life musician, known for his velvety voice and alluring lyrics. After what looked like a promising and successful career in the music industry, the musician announced he had received a calling to serve in the vineyard of the Lord.Many welcomed this change in direction, but after serving as a prophet and even starting a church, the musician has decided to go back to making music. His latest release ‘Alewa’ is a love song pregnant with some controversial lines of lyrics that could go against his image as a man of God. This case raises an interesting question whether it is possible to be in the secular world of music and effectively work as a messenger of God.
Firstly, I am not ashamed of the Gospel but in this case, I will not attempt to usurp the right of God by passing judgement on the career decision of another man. My analysis of this issue is purely informed by my interest in helping individuals and organizations make appropriate decisions regarding their brands.In the nutshell, I am not a religious fanatic, I am a branding pragmatic. I truly want my readers to kindly take note of this caveat.
When I heard rumors to the effect that Ofori Amponsah was heading back to highlife music months after spiritually–induced hibernation, I didn’t place premium on those stories. Knowing the leg- pulling antics of the Ghanaian media, especially those great writers in the entertainment arena, I resolved not to pay attention to how the ensuing debates on the story panned out.
‘‘I think the media want to take the man- of -God from his pulpit to the console’’. This was my verdict, a selective attitude that ‘deafed’ me from hearing what others could confirm.
But when the ‘Hah’ signature hum of Ghana’s fastest rapper, Sarkodie, dropped, I knew I was up for a treat. The pills of my doubts sublimed. The media has, once again, proved me wrong. In fact, the snippets of information were ‘all for real’ (Ofori Amponsah nick-name).
Yes, the man of God is back to what he is best known for. I mean a good highlife song weaved and laced with creativity.
Stripped-off my lighting right and simmering in the heat in my single –room, I could not help but listen to the song as many times as my dying-battery could allow.
As a composer, I took keen interest in listening to each line of the song. I wanted to be sure whether months of church life had not taken a toll on Ofori Amposah’s vibes, an essential ingredient for cooking a good highlife music. On this score, I submit that ‘Mr ALL4REAL’ did not disappoint in conveying his message in a vocal maze that is consistent with the theme and the context of his song. He left no stone unturned in this regard, to say the least.
As he weaves his ingenuity on the bars, I knew that the decision of Ofori to rope him in on the project was prudent even as he moves to resuscitate his lapsed high-life career. Arguably the best rapper in the country, Sarkodie, did not disappoint in pulling off strings of classic rhythmic rhymes, a trade mark of his budding career.
Notwithstanding the great contribution Sarkodie’s involvement will hand to the success of the project, I think a line of his in the song will equally court controversy for Ofori Amponsah. The line, ‘‘Ma menfa nka wo, s3 3bia woa busua koraa ampenea, woa nyem’’. To wit, when you get pregnant, your family will have no option than to give way to our relationship (This is an inference not a direct translation).
I am aware that culturally it is not acceptable for a woman to get pregnant before she gets married, more so, when the pregnancy is intended to compel the family to give in to a relationship it would have otherwise frowned-on. I am sure these cultural injunctions against pregnancy out of wed-lock is intended, primarily, to protect the dignity of the woman and integrity of the family. I am also certain that many religious sect frowns on pregnancy outside of marriage.
If this is the general sentiments in the cultural and religious fronts, then I submit without any doubt that Ofori Amponsah must brace up for a tough time as he promotes his song. The jabs that he is receiving from his colleague musicians following the release of his song bears testimony to this point.
Elsewhere, this would not have been an issue. Who even cares? Much as I believe that Sarkodie’s usage of the line was intended to get his rhyme on track, I think it had better not been used. Not only is it culturally and religiously acceptable, more so, as a man of God, Ofori-Amposah’s life(message and image )will be under strict and constant scrutiny.
As a Communicator I am aware of the reputational risk inconsistencies in message and image can court for a brand. In their book How to Speak in Public, Ehrlich & Hawes, devoted a whole chapter to buttress their conviction that message and image must be consistent for any communication to be effective.
It is on this basis that the verbal punches at Ofori Amponsah has not come to me as a surprise. How he juggles between two identities. Thus, projecting a Christ-like image while conveying a secular-message, is a branding dilemma that branding experts will baulk at.
If there is any musician who has done this well in recent times, I cannot see beyond Obrafour. He has done so well to re-brand himself from an executioner to a preacher. He is no longer Obrafour but Obrafofr)’ and when his lyrics are on the waves an image of a changed man, a true rap s)four is projected. It is instructive to note that Obrafour did not do this by merely announcing a change in his name neither did he pull this off by changing his genre from Hip-life to Gospel. He did this by ensuring that his lyrics, even those of the artists he features were consistent with his brand. His recently released ‘Pimpinaa’ song, bears testimony to this assertion.
Honestly, Ghana is not yet an open society where some of these infractions die at their arrival. And especially as a man of God, people will be on the look out to test whether Ofori Amponsah’s image as a Preacher is consistent with his message as conveyed in his songs. If he is liable to what other parties will say in his songs, then he has a personal responsibility to censor contents in a manner that is consistent with the brand image that he wants to project.
Much as I am impressed with his decision to challenge the status-quo, I am equally concern with how these inconsistences will affect his personal brand.
In my estimation, a good branding coach, can be of immense assistance as he works to maintain a consistent message and image now that he is back to High-life music. Perhaps, joining the ranks of preachers who are in different genre other than gospel music, Ofori Amponsah can take some branding lessons from the rap S)fo),Obrafour.