It’s not every day one gets to pick on busy minds in Ghana’s entertainment industry, and with a person like OM, it’s always a delight talking about everything from music videos to life away from the cameras. Abraham Ohene Djan, better known in entertainment circles as OM, is founder and CEO of Ohenemedia. In 1993, then only 19, he accepted an offer to travel to Accra from his base in the UK to help set up broadcasting equipment for the owner of Metro TV then MediaNo 1, Mr. Talal Fatal. After this visit, he returned to Ghana in 1996 with only one hundred pounds in his pocket and a computer to start a company. All he had was a sense of adventure and determination to succeed.
Sitting across from OM in his new office at Awudome Estates in Accra, he intoned “I came to Ghana in 1993 and for the first time three years, I think I’d only done two or three music videos. I shot Reggie Rockstone’s ‘Choo-bu-eh’ video which was like the beginning of popular hiplife in Ghana.” From this time onwards, OM was involved with the creation of SMASH TV and a number of commercials. He shot the first ATM (Money Link) advert for Standchart and the Goldstar advert featuring the one time former Ghanaian WBA welterweight champion Ike Quartey. Abraham later worked for the Pan African Festival project (PANAFEST) on assignment to cover Stevie Wonder’s visit to Ghana. These initial achievements saw OM forming his own multimedia company SI-FEX, which would later become OM Studios. When hiplife and hiphop surfaced in Ghana in the late ‘90s, OM and some colleagues started producing the music and entertainment programme, Close Up, on TV3. The idea was to help promote hiplife music and also give hiplife artistes some exposure.
For Abraham Ohene Djan, this may have been the period when people started associating the initials OM with music video productions. He said “I produced Obrafuo and Tic-Tac and I did videos for them, and in those days you put your name on it. So people, I guess, got used to the idea of Abraham Music Videos.” OM believes the music video scene has greatly changed since the good old days of popular hiplife, and that music videos from the top producers in the country could compete favourably with well-produced and directed videos from South Africa and even the US. In his view, cutting-edge equipment is now used in the production of videos with even better concepts and more dedication on the part of artists, producers and directors of music videos.
Although a graduate of Creative Media from a UK university, he considers himself a technician and says: “I know a lot about television broadcast equipment, both digital and analogue and film equipment.”Abraham has successfully shot six productions locally with his film camera, and this achievement is an indication that filmmaking in Ghana has a bright future. On the question of what makes a good music video, he discloses that if a music video suits the song and draws more people towards it, then it is a good music video. It’s OM’s opinion that good music would naturally sell, and that a good video would extend the life of a good song. A good video he says: “can bring attention to a bad song and make it successful. There are some songs you wouldn’t consider buying, but because the video is appealing, you’ll pay attention to them.”Looking into the future, OM intends to make videos that would get people thinking. “I think we overdo videos in Ghana.
I want to create simple videos that can fit out there internationally without drawing attention to the fact that it’s coming from Ghana or coming from Africa.”For many people working in the audio-visual industry, achieving success means observing the often stressful professional schedules; not to talk of the sleepless nights. OM admits that the call to duty sometimes causes him to stay at his office for a month. He admits that although this may be a problem for his family, the passion for his chosen profession and the support he gets from his family keeps him going. A typical day at the office would normally involve browsing the internet to research the latest technology in media. And also looking at a list of projects to be carried out as well as coming up with ideas for projects. Abraham, who used to a huge fan of computer games, says he now spends less time on games. Instead, he watches television as leisure and loves cars. “I’m a very simple person. Most people come to the office and they ask me for the boss. I have flaws like everyone else. I think the only thing that makes people different is how they use their minds.” Abraham Ohene Djan was born in Kumasi to Dr. Ignatius Ohene Djan, a lawyer, from Brong Ahafo Region, in Ghana, and Madam Florence Appiah, a Teacher. He spent the early years of his life in Kumasi, and although taken to the UK at the age of 8 years, he has fond memories of ‘Ash Town’.
As I sat across from OM in his office, I was determined to get him to reveal one of the many secrets we all tend to keep as humans. I asked him: “what was the craziest thing you ever did?” He cracked up laughing and so did I. “I will tell you, my brother”, he said solemnly. OM then disclosed that he’d never learned how to swim but agreed to be ferried, by a little boy, in a small locally made canoe to take a shot of the Adomi Bridge. He was ferried right to the middle of the river and back in order to take a shot of the bridge for a Vodafone documentary. As usual, the passion for the job took the better of him, but then after safely returning the thought that the canoe could have could have capsized, made him shiver. “I can’t swim, but these are some of the risks we take. I never thought about it when I was doing it, but when I finished; I was shaking a little bit. I could have lost my life.”
For many young people aspiring for success, OM believes they shouldn’t just blindly imitate what some successful people have done…they should rather get into professions they have a passion for. Abraham Ohene Djan has, over time, established himself as one of the big players of the audio-visual industry. He has produced programmes for multinational companies across Africa. The recent expansion of OM Studios and the establishment of Fiesta Television, he says, will prepare his company to produce cost-effective content for television and radio industry in Ghana and across Africa.
is ut metus.